Fantastic Gifts for the Frugal Mom –
So what gift do you buy for the frugal mom on your list? Frugal moms know that EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS. They weigh the price of every alternative. Every item (even gifts) must have a function. They must serve a purpose. So how do you buy for a frugal mom?
To a frugal mom, the amount invested in a gift is always weighed against what could have been purchased with that same amount of money. What quantity of groceries could have been purchased with the value of that item? How many rolls of toilet paper is that frivolous item worth? This doesn’t mean that a frugal mom would rather get toilet paper. It just means she knows the opportunity cost of one item over another. Any completely frivolous item is a source of guilt or remorse for a frugal mom because she’s going to have to think about all the more practical items that could have been purchased for the same value.
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What NOT to Buy for a Frugal Mom
First of all, if you are buying a gift for a frugal mom, you should never buy her anything expensive unless it is something she has actually expressed an interest in owning. Frugal moms research everything a long time before they actually buy anything. They browse in stores. They read consumer reports. They compare prices online and in person. If you are paying attention at all, you can probably come up with one or more items the frugal mom in your life has been stalking.
One thing you should NOT do is ask other random people what to get for a frugal mom. You SHOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER ask random, high-maintenance women at your workplace what to get for your extremely practical wife. I’m just putting that out there because sometimes men are well-meaning but a little clueless.
The Gift of the Magi: Horror Story Edition
Hopefully, I don’t upset my husband by sharing this story. He really was trying to be thoughtful, and I do appreciate that sentiment, but he was a little misguided.
You know that story The Gift of the Magi? Well, this is just like that story, except it’s the horror film adaptation of the story.
For most of the years of our marriage, my husband and I have not bought each other gifts for holidays or birthdays. We made the decision early that if I wanted to stay home with the kids, not exchanging gifts was one way we could keep from causing additional spending. We actually spend relatively low amounts on the kids for holidays as well because they have too much stuff the way it is, but that’s a whole other post that maybe I’ll write someday.
One year, we had some extra money at Christmas time. It was while he was still working at a different company, and I think he ended up with a decent bonus that quarter or something, so he decided to surprise me with a nice Christmas present. He didn’t want to ask me what I wanted because he was trying to make it a surprise, and if asked I would have said, “Nothing. Spend it on the kids!” anyway.
Instead, he asked his female co-workers what he should get for me, and they told him to get me a pair of nice diamond earrings. I sometimes wonder if he really has been living in the same house with me for decades because he seems to have missed a few clues here and there. I barely wear jewelry. I don’t really like jewelry. It’s uncomfortable to me. I especially don’t like expensive jewelry because then I have to worry about losing it. My wedding band set came from a pawn shop and only cost $89!
Related Post: You can read the story of my husband’s accidental proposal in the post about our daughter’s engagement – Married in High School: The Proposal.
I love my wedding ring because it’s perfect. We didn’t start our married life in debt for it. It’s smallish, so I’m not always catching it on stuff, and it’s not so expensive that I would be devasted if something happened to it. My favorite earrings are a pair I bought at Disney World for under $10, and I only bought those because I had a gift card balance.
But my husband listened to the co-workers in his office who were all professional women who wear make-up and dresses and jewelry every day, and he bought me these absurdly expensive earrings. I 100% appreciate that he wanted to get me something nice. I appreciate that even more now. But at the time, I just wanted to bawl about it.
My Frugal Mind Could Only Think of All the Things We Could Have Bought Instead!
I was absolutely mortified by the thought of all the more practical things we could have purchased with that money. We could have taken the family somewhere fun. We could have bought a new vacuum cleaner which we desperately needed. We could have put it toward finishing rooms in the basement which I so desperately wanted.
I had gone YEARS without buying anything for myself. Every dollar we had at that time was dedicated to bills. I was on a $30 per week grocery budget to feed us in those years. And then he had a little bit of extra money but bought something for me that was so far off from anything I would have ever wanted. There were a million ways I could have spent that amount of money in a way that could have been helpful, and he spent it on earrings. I would have rather he just spent it on hunting stuff that he could have enjoyed rather than earrings that served no purpose at all for either of us.
I promise I didn’t tell him at the time. It would have been rude. I think I did a decent job of pretending to be thankful because I knew he was trying to do something kind, but it was really EXTREMELY HURTFUL to me. It was extremely hurtful that he apparently didn’t pay enough attention to know that I don’t even like jewelry at all and that jewelry would be the absolute last item on my list. It was extremely hurtful that after several years of marriage, he was so non-observant that he knew absolutely nothing about me. NOT A SINGLE THING if he thought buying me expensive earrings was a good idea.
It was even more hurtful that he let women who are NOTHING like me pick my gift. Guys, NEVER, EVER ask random women from your work for advice about what to buy your girlfriend/wife. NEVER. (The only women it would possibly be acceptable to ask would be her mother or sister(s) who might actually have a better idea what she would like.) Why on earth would you get your woman some gift that another woman wants? I realize asking other women what to get for your girlfriend/wife might be somewhat common practice with men, but it is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Women have vastly different tastes, and a woman is going to tell you what she would want, not what your wife would probably want.
A Frugal Mom’s Nightmare
So my husband spent this huge (huge to us, probably not huge to everyone) amount of money on diamond earrings that I was terrified to wear, but I did wear them because I knew it would hurt his feelings if I didn’t. And then one day, just a few months after that Christmas, I was rushing around trying to get all the kids dressed for something. I was trying to get all their shoes on them, and I was grabbing the diaper bag, and putting one of the earrings into my ear as I was running out the back door. The earring fell into the massive pile of shoes in our laundry room, and it was gone.
I had to stop everything to look for it. I went meticulously through every shoe. I picked up every tiny rock from the floor. I cleared out the two rugs. I had to leave and go to wherever it was we were going, but I came back again that night and looked for hours. I cleaned the laundry room from top to bottom. There was no earring. It had simply vanished. ALL THAT MONEY WASTED!
I still have the $10 Mickey Mouse earrings that I haven’t managed to lose in nearly a decade, but I only had those expensive earrings for a couple of months. I still want to puke when I think about that earring. It’s probably in our laundry room somewhere. We’ll probably find it someday when we replace that flooring or move a shelf.
I know I should have appreciated those earrings while I had them because they really are a token of my husband’s love, but they were a constant source of stress for me. They were too expensive to wear, but they were too expensive not to wear as well. It was a no-win situation. I should have appreciated them, but I really only thought of them as a total slap in the face because there were so many things we actually needed then, and even things I might have wanted, but instead there were these totally wasteful earrings serving as a constant reminder that my husband knew zero about me. It was pretty insulting.
Yes, I realize that was a really immature and ungrateful attitude, and it’s probably some form of poetic justice that I lost one because I didn’t appreciate what I had. I should have just been thankful to have a husband who wanted to buy me something nice (however misguided), right? And the next time he had some extra money at the holidays, he actually got me a Kindle e-reader, and that was really awesome because a Kindle is something I really wanted but never would have bought for myself, so sometimes he does pay attention.
I wish I had some great sappy moral to this story, but really, we’re just much better off if we don’t exchange gifts. If you don’t have unlimited funds, and every dollar has to count, it’s probably better to not exchange gifts at all, or set a small limit and go pick out your own gifts. Surprises are just too risky to me because they can end up being really wasteful of valuable dollars, and I have a very hard time with wasteful. Buying your extremely practical and shamelessly frugal wife fancy earrings could turn into a disaster. (Really earrings weren’t the problem. I would have been thrilled with $5 earrings that I could wear without fear.)
Now that I’ve likely terrified every man from ever wanting to shop for a gift for a woman again, we can get on with the list. If you must buy a gift for a frugal mom, you need to know what frugal moms want.
What do Frugal Moms want?
I can’t actually tell you what the frugal mom in your life wants. You probably need to figure that out for yourself by paying attention to her needs and interests. I can only give you a rough idea of the thought processes of a frugal person and a couple of examples that might fall into that category. You need to do your own homework to figure out what products might fill that role for your favorite frugal mom.
1.) Frugal Moms Want Gifts That Make Their Lives Easier
Frugal moms know the value of both money and time. Items that serve a practical purpose and make their lives easier are always appreciated. Household gadgets can be very helpful to busy moms.
A kitchen gadget that I find very useful is the Instant Pot.
I don’t use my Instant Pot as often as I should. I still find some of the functions a little intimidating, but I love having it to make yogurt. Making yogurt in the Instant Pot is SO EASY and cheap. I can’t even stomach storebought yogurt now. It tastes too artificial. I also make an amazing Applebee’s Copycat Spinach and Artichoke Dip with the Instant Pot.
If the frugal mom in your life already has an Instant Pot, you may want to consider Instant Pot accessories. There are tons of accessories she might like. The glass lid works a little better for making yogurt. Tiny cheesecake pans are also a great add-on.
2.) Frugal Moms Want Gifts That Help Them Save Money
Saving money makes frugal moms happy, so a gift that can help them save money over time could be a good choice. Disposable zipper bags can become a pretty big expense in a large family.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of these reusable zipper bags come across my feed.
3.) Frugal Moms Want Gifts That Fit into Their Frugal Habits
I recently received a complimentary Lotus Trolley Bag to try, and I’m convinced it’s the perfect gift for a frugal mom!
Frugal moms are the ones who shop at Aldi where you have to buy the grocery bags or bring your own bags from home. The Lotus Trolley Bag is perfect for Aldi. If you don’t have an Aldi near you, I’m very sorry. I have no clue how people who don’t have an Aldi nearby manage to afford food.
4.) Frugal Moms Want Gifts That Are Useful and Practical
You’ve probably already been able to conclude from the above categories that frugal moms like gifts that are practical. Practical items might be things like:
I constantly use cooler bags of various shapes and configurations because one way we save money here is by taking our own food and drinks to events. This Crew Cooler II is one of my favorites. It has a decently large dry compartment on top to stash granola bars, crackers, or peanuts. The smaller zipper pouch on the front is great for plasticware, and the side pockets can hold hand sanitizer or other small items. It can hold a surprising amount of drinks, sandwiches, and fruit as well.
I also have a really nice backpack cooler with the dry compartment on top which is nice for events where you’ll be walking around for hours. I can’t find the exact one I have because it’s a fairly old Ogio brand one that I bought at a resale place with tags still on it, but it’s similar to this configuration.
I have about ten other cooler bags because different situations call for a different size or other features. Don’t ask my husband or my kids about it. LOL. They don’t think I need to own that many, but hey, I paid barely anything for them.
My favorite hard-sided cooler is this Folding Table Cooler. I have an entire post devoted to the Folding Table Cooler because it’s one of my all-time favorite purchases. The video review we did for the Folding Table Cooler is actually the most-watched video on our YouTube channel.
5.) Frugal Moms Want Gifts That Relate to Their Interests
Frugal moms do occasionally have interests of their own. They might have fewer hobbies and personal interests than many other people because hobbies often cost money, so many frugal moms just avoid the temptation altogether. But if the frugal mom in your life does have a hobby, gifts related to that hobby can be good.
Some moms like scrapbooking, so a Cricut might be a good gift for a mom who loves scrapbooking. These machines are expensive which is why I’ve never personally been able to get into scrapbooking, but many people I know love the Cricut. It’s a tool that some crafty frugal moms even use to make money by selling vinyl decals.
You should do a lot of research before buying a Cricut though. I don’t know much about them, and I’ve only linked the one above as an example.
When my husband got me a Kindle e-reader, it was a perfect gift for me because I read. I’m a hoarder of books anyway, and my Kindle lets me hoard hundreds of books without taking up space in my house. There are also hundreds of Kindle books available for free (practically all the classics), so the Kindle played to my frugal sensibilities. I doubt I’ve spent more than $10 buying books in the whole time I’ve owned it. I’ve only purchased a book a few times when something I wanted was on sale for 99 cents.
Is the frugal mom in your life interested in fitness? She might want specific workout gear. Is she passionate about horseback riding? She might want gear for horses. Does she like to sew? She might enjoy tools related to sewing. If you use your best detective skills (or simply pay attention), you can surely find something she will love.
Frugal Moms Aren’t as Tough to Figure Out as You Might Think!
Frugal moms just want everyone to get a good value for their dollar. If you’re a frugal mom, what would you add to this list?
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