Winnipeg cheapskate untangles gift giving

Jeremy Bradley is a Winnipegger who has no end of ideas when it comes to saving money.
Holiday gift giving doesn't always have to be expensive. (Sandra Thacker/CBC)

When it comes to giving gifts, Winnipeggers are always looking for new ways to save.

Jeremy Bradley is a Winnipegger who has no end of ideas when it comes to saving money.

This past spring, he launched his book The Official Guide to Being a Winnipeg Cheapskate.

Since then, Wal-Mart, McNally Robinson Booksellers and Chapters have continued to sell out.

Last week, Bradley gave us five tips for how to save on our hydro bill. This week, we wanted to know if he had some ideas for saving when it comes to gift giving.

Here are his five tips:

1. I have long been a believer in buying youngsters fun but educational gifts. It is also when I run to a dollar or discount store and load up on construction paper, markers, paints and other supplies to encourage creativity. I have also found stencils online to print out and collate to make a colouring book. It’s true, a little resourcefulness can prevent you from wasting money on an expensive book when you can make one for much cheaper.
2. Another colouring book idea is taking family photos and digitally editing them and using special treatments to strip down a picture to be black and white or stencilled. Print them out and make your own book. Again, this might be cheaper but it’s also more personal than simply colouring generic images. (Might also be a good chance to change Aunty Pat’s hair from grey to ravishing brunette. She’ll love you forever!)
Jeremy Bradley is the author of The Official Guide to Being a Winnipeg Cheapskate. (Createspace)
3. For kids that are a little bit older, rather than buying presents make a coupon to spend the afternoon together. Take a trip to the mall or go see a movie and instead of spending sixty bucks on presents for two kids, you can create memories for cheap and have a good time in the process. My cousin did that with me when I was a kid. Instead of getting me something for my birthday she took me to the museum and Touch the Universe. I still remember the fun we had and going with her downtown on the bus. She bought me a can of Welch’s grape soda and it made my day.
4. What happens with the cousin whose name you drew in the family gift exchange? Oftentimes it is a secret who picked whom, but in our family there are only a few people you can pick. The rule is we can’t have someone in our immediate family we already buy for. Mathematically it ends up working out. I will buy for a cousin since my brothers, sisters-in-law and parents are excluded from the names I can get. If you play your cards right you could end up with the person who picked your name. That’s a perfect scenario because you can easily say, “Hey, I don’t need anything for Christmas, do you? No? OK, let’s just do a lunch together and call it even.” More often than not that’s the easiest and cheapest way to eliminate buying one more present for the holidays.
5. Make a donation. Sure you are putting up the money today but with a tax receipt you might be getting some back in the long run. Find out if your potential gift recipient has a favourite charity or believes in a cause. For example, if they are an animal lover, donate in their name to an organization and have a special card sent to them. This is also good for kids because it will make them feel they are part of making a difference and that they belong to an organization when they receive mail from an animal welfare organization.

Author Jeremy Bradley will be signing copies of his book The Official Guide to Being a Winnipeg Cheapskate, on Saturday,  Nov. 30  atChapters Polo from 2 to 5 p.m. and Sunday Dec. 1 at Coles Kildonan Place from 2 to 4 p.m.


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