WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Creating a gift reserve

Posted February 3, 2011

This week's Thursday Thoughts is shared by Anna at  You may have noticed that I often link to her fabulous weekly retail and mall deals and she has offered to share some of her best tips for Creating A Gift Reserve. My thanks to Anna and please share your favorite places to stock up on frugal gifts.



Creating a Gift Reserve

One of the best tools you can use to cut your Gift Giving Budget is to create a Gift Reserve. Imagine shopping from your own stash, as opposed to running to the store. Can it save you money? In 2010, our family spent 40-50% less than the previous year on gifts, simply by using a Gift Reserve. Let me show you how.

A Gift Reserve is a "reserve" of items you've bought at rock bottom prices (ie dirt cheap!). Typically, if you buy a gift at the moment of need, you'll spend more than if you planned ahead. ("Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin) The goal is to cut your Gift Giving Budget. If you buy items at rock bottom prices, you can stock up for a gift giving opportunity.

Where should I keep my Gift Reserve?

Anywhere you have space. Consider using a spare drawer, a box in the attic/closet or under the bed. (Just make sure little fingers can't find it.) Also keep it organized. If necessary, keep a list of all the items in your Gift Reserve.

How will I know what gifts I'll need in the future?

* Plan ahead. Make a list of all Christmas/Holiday Gifts, Birthdays, Weddings, Anniversaries for the year. If you have three weddings this summer, you can buy three gifts when you find a great deal and save money.
* You can also buy gifts that are age specific to your child(ren), because inevitably they'll be asked to parties by their classmates.
* Start looking now for gifts for Christmas and the Holidays. If you wait until the last minute, you could be spending more than your budget allows.
* Be an opportunist when it comes to great deals.

What about Gifts off a Gift Registry?

Would your friend be happier to know you put yourself in a financial disadvantage because you felt compelled to buy something expensive off their registry, rather than buying them a high quality gift at a fraction of the cost? If you're on a tight budget and you give a generous thoughtful gift, it shouldn't matter.


Here's your challenge for the week: Make a list of all gift giving opportunities for the year. The list will change as you go, but it at least gives you a place to start. Then watch for Hot Deals to add to your Gift Reserve. By the way, check out Your Retail Helper's Retail Round Up every Thursday afternoon, which is a huge list of printable mall and store coupons you'll need for your weekend shopping!

Anna Bannister is the founder of Your Retail Helper. She's passionate about saving money on all things Retail. Watch for Hot Deals, Coupons and Tips at


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  • j3434 Feb 4, 2011

    rcc--i totally get what you're saying...and b/c of that and the frugalities (is that a word?) of our mutual families, we don't do any adult presents at all for bdays or xmas, and we don't get any either. we just spend time together and dote over the kids. weddings and babies we buy for, and it's usually not from the registry b/c i like the element of surprise too much...(and i don't want to be told what to do!). and occasionally we will feel SUPER thankful to a grandparent or friend and shoot them a gift card...but usually we would send a handmade card or picture of the kids holding a thank-you sign or something instead. but, yeah, for the kiddos, shopping ahead is a great plan.

  • Oxymoron02 Feb 4, 2011

    My problem with a gift reserve *broadly* is the same as my problem with Xmas ... too much impersonal stuff. If I never got another Xmas present, instead all of my loved ones decided to give gifts just because I'd be a much happier camper. I prefer to give and get gifts that SCREAM from the shelf "BUY ME! I'm perfect for *so-and-so*" and just because it's Tuesday.

    It's not that I'm anti-frugal. I'm anti-thoughtless. I would rather get nothing than another patchwork sweater with a pink teddy bear on the front (heaven help me, Faye, if you ever meet me it will be ABUNDANTLY clear why) ever again. I would rather be thought rude and give nothing than give the equivalent to someone else.

    Though I'll admit, I'm liking the idea of keeping a stock for when impersonal is OK, like small children's birthdays. I don't get invited to those much, having teenagers and a newborn, but I can see that being useful on the horizon.

  • methinks Feb 3, 2011

    I have done this for years. I start shopping in January for anything that is on sale for anyone in my family and friends gift list. It helps me give more and save money. I just keep the items I buy in totes and give them at birthdays and holidays.

  • taw2 Feb 3, 2011

    I have been doing this for years. Avon gifts, freebies, gift with purchase etc, and stash I do. I have it all spread out, so my husband doesn't know what I'm up to, until I pull out something for his niece. Who doesn't like a cute pair of earrings???? for a gift!

  • t0tAlChA0s Feb 3, 2011

    Last week I stocked up on gifts from Justice with the 40% off code. I went straight for the clearance stuff! With a niece that breathes Justice, it helped out alot!

  • j3434 Feb 3, 2011

    is it just me or is it harder, as a general rule, to stock up on boys' and men's gifts? i seem to see stuff for girls more often time. well, i guess if i'm saving there, it doesn't hurt the pocketbook when it comes to the boys and having to pay a little more. wait, except i seem to only ever need boys' stuff!!

  • dkg0502 Feb 3, 2011

    When Land's End had their canvas bags cheap on sale during the year I picked one for each of my two nieces. I filled them with mouthwash, toothpaste, body washes, shampoo/conditioners, personal products, scented soaps, floss, even the free after ECB/coupon Oral-B toothbrushes that were so hard to find this past year. They called me to thank me and were beyond thrilled with this really practical gift and told me how much money I just saved them. Their mother told me later that it was like the best present they got. They are in their twenties and money is tight! And I didn't tell them that I paid almost nothing for any of it! That's the best part!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Feb 3, 2011

    I think I find the most stock up gift items at Target and CVS at the post-Christmas sales. in January. Between toy, bath & beauty and makeup clearance, I usualyl get some great gifts for 75-90% off. Then I stock up on the freebie and almost free candle, beauty and bath products throughout the year for gift baskets. I have also purchased clearanced food baskets, like a hot chocolate gift set. I remove the food items (and we enjoy them of course!) and store the non food items to use in gifts during the next holiday like the mugs, cutting boards and knives, wine glasses, etc.

  • Nancy Feb 3, 2011

    "I inventoried my entire kitchen/pantry/freezer/fridge and it was VERY helpful!" - pirategirl

    Bless your heart! That is a huge undertaking! I've reduced my inventory taking to a quick visual - checking for 'holes' in the spaces I store things and seeing what is low ;)

  • Nancy Feb 3, 2011

    Have done this for a long time, not as well organized I might add!

    After holiday sales are a great place to score excellent gifts to stash away for upcoming gift giving needs.

    And always, always be prepared to take advantage of clearance sections. For instance, CVS had just 2 of the digital photo key rings clearanced, out of the blue, and they were under $2 each, normally $10. I grabbed them both knowing there would be a time, place I would want to have them as part of a gift.

    You just never know when you'll find something on clearance to add to your stash of gift items.

    And if you find that you never use them, and wish to donate them at holiday time, or if you want to sell them at your yard sale to get your investment back, you haven't lost a dime but increased your ability to be prepared for any gift giving need.