All posts tagged: Money

Giving money for Christmas: When and how to do it right

I do a similar post every Christmas, as this question keeps coming up in conversations I have with my friends and readers. First of all, let me demystify something: it’s perfectly normal to have people in your life you simply struggle to select a gift for. So don’t panic 🙂 With the rise of individual wish lists on websites like Amazon and Pinterest, it’s no wonder that many of us would actually prefer to get cash and spend it on something we truly want, instead of receiving an item we would bury at the bottom of our storage cupboard (or for more entrepreneurial spirits out there – sell of on Ebay). Even Martha Stewart agrees in an interview on Bloomberg (the full article is here) that it’s better to give cash than a bad gift. Here is my very quick guide to giving cash for Christmas: Wife/ Girlfriend – Not a good idea. She’ll be upset that you didn’t listen to her hints about “those shoes I showed you on my iPad a few weeks …

How to much should I spend on gifts?

Christmas is a budgeting nightmare. To help us figure out how much to spend and on who, even MS Excel offers a ‘Holiday Gifts’ template. But ultimately it’s up to us to decide, and it’s a bloody hard task. There is no gifting etiquette which would clearly establish how much you should spend on a gift for someone. Our society has come up with all sorts of precise instructions for various social interactions, leaving gifting completely out of the equation. Gifting for me is as much a creative process, as it is a pragmatic calculation of your current resources, so it’s really important to know what you can afford. A favourite designer of mine, Artemy Lebedev, argues that his best creative ideas never come out from the “outside the box” thinking. Instead, having clear boundaries and goals can help you streamline your thinking. It allows you to focus on the problem at hand – so you are essentially “inside the box”. In the context of gifting, think of “the box” as your pot of money, …

Stop Self-Indulging, It Really Isn’t Making You Happier

Every time I read another article in a women’s magazine about the healing powers of shopping and spa weekends, I cringe. Not because I strongly disagree, but because I think they are promoting a fundamentally wrong assumption that we should enjoy spending money on ourselves, and the more, the better. Before I explain how I’ve come to this conclusion, let me go back a bit. Up until very recently, most of our daily activities were shared. People were working without computers, requiring cooperation and dialogue; shopping was a special occasion, when families gathered for a day at the market; and holiday preparations involved an entire neighbourhood. The new culture of the 21st century celebrates career-focused individuals, praised for achieving everything on their own. We create our social media identities and fill them with selfies at work after midnight, exercising at the gym (we need great bodies to go with our blossoming careers), and then with our latest designer purchases (hashtagged #selftreat and #metime). As a Londoner working in the City, the financial district, I am …

Gifting Resolutions For 2015: Let’s Share!

We are approaching 2015, meaning it’s time for our annual New Year resolutions. I’m not a big fan of the typically masochistic ones, like hitting the gym 4 times a week (however good your intentions are, how long will you last!?), but I think setting positive aspirations, like finding love or travelling with friends more, are a good way to start a year. With this in mind, I have created a short and rather uncomplicated list of easy and pleasant things. In a recent book that I’ve read titled “Happy Money: The New Science of Smarter Spending”, the authors argue that gifting and other similar occasions, when we spend money on others and share experiences, have a much more positive effect on our happiness and well-being than, say, buying a new handbag for ourselves. So, here is my take on 2015 resolutions: Listen to my loved ones Gifting inspiration often comes from conversations – you have to be curious about the people around you to come up with great surprises. Your partner loves cooking, but …

Is It OK to Give Money for Christmas?

You, my dear readers, are likely to belong to one of these groups: you are either fully sorted for Christmas by now, and all your focus is on finding that perfect turkey, OR you are currently browsing online and planning to run to the closest shopping centre, as soon as the office clock hits 5pm. Either way, there is one question that pops up every year: is it ok to give money for Christmas? Ultimately, people have their own Pinterest wish lists full of things they just don’t have cash for, so why not give them the means to treat themselves without going bankrupt, right? Well, if you belong to the Martha Stuart fan club, you will be pleased to know that she is all up for it! In an interview with Bloomberg (the full article is here), the domestic guru claims that it’s better to give cash, if you are time poor (like a high level finance exec, who reads Bloomberg on his Blackberry) than a bad gift. I agree with her that it’s …

The Importance of Budgeting

Surprisingly, there is no gifting etiquette, which would clearly establish how much you should spend on a gift for someone. Our society has come up with some very precise instructions on various aspects of social interaction, leaving gifting out of the equation. My experience shows that setting a budget for a present is a very good starting point. My favourite designer, Artemy Lebedev, once rightly pointed out that he worked much better with established boundaries, versus trying to come with an idea “outside the box”. Think of “the box” as your pot of money, and work with what you’ve got. Gifting is as much a creative process, as it is a pragmatic calculation of your current resources. I use my own of system, which is not perfect, but it keeps my bank statements happy (oh, by the way, underspending is also a crime!). Firstly, separate all potential “receivers” into four groups: Very outer circle (“I barely know them through a friend of a friend”) Outer circle (“I  know a bit about them and we speak …