by Erayne Gee Hill, Director of Community & Public Relations
I confess; I'm a holiday procrastinator. When it comes to spending money for gift-buying and decorating for the holidays, I am extremely behind. Having a seven-year-old doesn't help either. His excitement over Santa's impending visit, makes me even more anxious--oh, the pressure! Our house is the only one on the block that is sans the inflatable Frosty, lit candy canes and red bows. And, don't mention shopping for gifts. I am that nut that shops the day before Christmas Eve. Oh well, it will all get done, but I'm just not there yet. I've learned to embrace my tendencies, and experience has taught me a few lessons--buy something that appeals to everyone and make one stop work. Here are gift ideas for my fellow procrastinators:
Holiday Gift Cards - I confess again; for the last few Christmas celebrations, I have given out VISA gift cards to all family members. From kids to mature adults, everyone likes money; and, they can definitely find uses for it. Unity One offers holiday gift cards for a small fee of $3 in addition to the amount loaded on the card. One trip to the credit union is all it takes, and there are usually no lines. :-)
Toiletries - Ahh, this is a good one. One year, I was extremely behind in my shopping (that's nothing new), and I searched for the store with the fewer amount of cars in front of it. This particular year, it happened to be Bed, Bath and Beyond. A lot of things were out of my price range and didn't meet my criteria of practicality except--an electric toothbrush by Oral B. Only $29.99 and in different colors, the toothbrushes were sensibles gifts that I knew would get used. Now, I'll warn you--when my family opened their gifts on Christmas day, there were no gleeful shouts. However, I can guarantee you that everyone that was given a toothbrush used it for many years following that Christmas. If the electric toothbrush is not your idea of a good gift, find something in the line of toiletries; they are practical and cost-effective.
Data Storage - Practically everyone you know has a flash drive attached to their key chain or in their purse. What a great, compact gift. Depending on the storage size, the price of your flash drive can be as low as $6. If you have more money to spend, consider an external hard drive. You can find them for as low as $45. Go in the store of choice on a mission, grab a handful and make your way to the checkout counter. Shouldn't take your more than 15 minutes.
Magazine Subscriptions - If my family is reading this, feel free to purchase subscriptions to People or Instyle for me for Christmas or anytime, for that matter. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving. Each month, you are reminded that you are loved. Did you know that Amazon sells subscriptions? Right now, you can get a 12-month subscription for Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness, Maxim and others for $5.
Food - Sweet treats are always great, cost-effective gift ideas. Have you been on Pinterest lately? Nothing says love than someone who has slaved in the kitchen cooking and baking for you. If you receive an edible gift from me that has not been bought at a store or bakery, you are pretty SPECIAL. It takes time, patience and skill--which I'm lacking most of the time. Break out your recipe book and get it going -- cake pops, cookie pops, peppermint candy, homemade gumdrops, fudge, rice krispie treat trees, etc.
But wait! Get your money straight first.
If your budget for spending is lower this year and saving hasn't been realistic, there is a solution. Visit your credit union, and have a discussion with a member service officer to discover your options. Low-cost personal loans are one way to go. Notice that I wrote "low cost." You are more likely to get approved because of your relationship with your credit union. Until December 24, Unity One Credit Union is offering rates as low as 5.85% APR*. Borrow up to $2,500 for 12 months. Click here for more information. Better yet, have a no-obligation conversation with a Unity One staffmember for FREE about smart borrowing.
*APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Rate quoted "as low as." Must qualify for the lowest rate. Other rates may apply. Payment per $1,000 borrowed at 5.85% APR for 12 months is $86 monthly. Not available on existing Unity One loans. Certain restrictions may apply.