Clutter costs money. The more stuff you have, the bigger the house. The bigger the house, the bigger the house payment, not to mention electric bill, storage facility fees, pest control, allergy medicine, crane operator... Here are a few tips for limiting what comes into your house through the various special occasions. These are also considerate gift ideas if you are shopping for friends or family who are cutting back.
1) When getting married, scan for what you really need at the moment, not what might look good in your future billiard’s room or your retirement condo. Furnish your kitchen and your bathroom sparcely. When you can afford a big house, then you can certainly afford to buy more items after you sign the deed. If you expect a lot of money doled upon you, set up an account with your bank or travel agency so that people can contribute to your college loans or your honeymoon fund or better yet, a down payment on your first house
2) When friends offer to throw a baby shower, ask for a diaper shower or gift certificates for formula. You could also ask people to contribute toward something big you’d like for the baby like a camcorder or nice camera. Babies do not need a room full of toys and certainly your friends can give you hand-me-downs instead of buying new..
3) When you send out birthday party invitations, ask for disposable gifts. Crayons, bathtub paints, sidewalk chalk, movie tickets . . . all these gifts will be used up within a certain amount of time. They won’t have to be sold three months later at a garage sale. My mother-in-law once gave the boys window markers. It was one of the funnest gifts we ever received along these lines. The boys stood at the window to draw for hours and I did not have to store one single piece of paper before or after.
4) Ask for activity gifts. If grandparents want to shower their grandchildren with something, have them shower them with time spent somewhere fun like the Zoo, Children’s Museum, a train trip . . . You know, all those expensive activities they want you to do with them but expect you to pay your family’s own way. By the way, grandparents, I can tell you that my kids can tell you everything they’ve DONE with their grandparents, but they can’t walk into their room, pick up a toy and tell you who gave it to them. If you want to buy love, buy a ticket to Six Flags.
5) When Christmas rolls around and people want to know what you, the adult, want for Christmas, ask for something you really need or want to do. Over the last several years, I’ve asked my parents for and received Lowe’s Gift Certificates. With my Christmas money, I’ve replaced our toilet, planted spring flowerbeds, painted my room, put a fence in back of the house, stained said fence, replaced our outside water spigot, and put insulation on the water pipes in my basement. Many people don’t like to buy gifts to fulfill a need, but I can tell you that fulfilling a need creates a feeling of relief. I end up more grateful. I’ve also asked for clothes and movie tickets because I love date night with my husband. My mother-in-law and cousins do a great job picking out clothes for me. So far, no movie tickets, but I’ll keep asking.