Home » Christmas » Awesome Gift Ideas When you’re Broke

Awesome Gift Ideas When you’re Broke

Inside: Finding great gift ideas when you’re broke is demoralizing. Get plenty of awesome presents that are inexpensive or maybe even free! And not cheap looking!

For many people, Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day or any other holiday is tough when you are struggling with money.

I totally get it. I have been there.

You may be living paycheck to paycheck or gazelle intense on paying off debt or saving for a house. Maybe you don’t want extra stuff in your house and leaning towards simple living. 

You probably want to crawl under a hole until the holiday is over. You just don’t have extra money to spare. You are not alone (most people just would rather not admit their current financial situation).

Finding awesome gift ideas when you’re broke is demoralizing.

When we were paying off debt, Christmas, birthdays and all holidays were very, very slim. We wanted to think outside of the box to pay off our debt sooner. The hardest part is the extended family didn’t fully support our decisions.

We implemented a no gift Christmas and even today, we still focus on less material gifts and more experiences.

But gift-giving is still the opportunity to bless someone with an awesome gift you found (or made) just for them. Since you’re broke, you need to figure out some cheap gift ideas.

So, what types of gifts can you get when you’re broke? What should I get for Christmas?

Find cool, cheap and free present ideas for any holiday. Plenty of awesome gift ideas when you’re broke. Christmas, birthday, graduation.

What Can You Afford?

First of all, this is the most important step. What amount can you take from your monthly budget and put towards gifts?

Be real. Be honest.

The worst gift to give is when you overspend and then you feel guilty. Each. Time. You. See. It.

Each season is different. The place you are in now will not last forever. (Especially if you follow these steps.) Right now, what can you afford to spend on gifts?

Have you made your Christmas Budget yet? Or do you know the overall amount you can spend on gifts?

If not, that is your first step in figuring out what you can truly afford.

Download the Budget Tracker and Gift Planner now.

Comparison Trap

Oh my! I could write a whole post on the comparison trap and why it is so bad for your personal finances (and guess what, I did; check out how lifestyle creep can break your finances.) Comparing yourself to others is a slippery slope to financial destruction.

But, we do it every single day! 

You see what your friends around you are doing and it makes you feel less significant and incapable of providing the same thing.

With the influx of social media, comparing yourself to the highlights of someone else’s Facebook or Instagram reel is cause for trouble. You are viewing the best moments in their lives. There are very few people who post the low moments and the times when we are struggling.

Also, the comparison trap can lead to a lifestyle creep without even noticing!

Key Tip: You never know who bought what in cash or with debt. So, don’t judge your finances on what you don’t know as fact. In the end, cash is king (aka Millionaire status).

Find Cheap Gift Ideas – Think Outside of the Box

This post may contain affiliate links, which helps us to continue providing relevant content and we receive a small commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read the full disclosure here.

Literally, think outside the box. Gift giving is more personal when you are totally broke.

You are unable to walk into the mall and drop a couple of hundred bucks on someone (even though on the inside you wish you could).

So instead, be creative with gift-giving. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What does this person enjoy?
  • What does this person not do / get on a regular basis?
  • What do I want for Christmas? (Some of the best ideas are what you want, too!)
  • How can I spoil this person?
  • How would I like to spend time with this person?
  • What is this person working on right now (ie: get out of debt, moving towards minimalism)?
  • What would they secretly want? Or activity to do?
  • What is on their Christmas bucket list?

By thinking outside the box (and the copious sales ads), you can discover what the best idea for this person would be.

Many times the best gift ever is one that doesn’t cost a penny.

Download the Budget Tracker and Gift Planner now.

Awesome Gift Ideas – Planning For Future Years

awesome gift ideas

The goal is not to be stuck in this cycle in the future right?

You want to change your personal finances and not live on a bare bones budget.

Don’t despair! There is hope! A light at the end of a very long tunnel!

Learn to save for Christmas, birthdays, and other gift giving occasions now!!!

Pick up some cash envelopes for various holidays and stuff extra money into those envelopes throughout the year. It is the simplest way to start saving for Christmas, birthdays, or any other gift.

This is known as a sinking fund. Money is saved up for a single purpose and held in a different account.

Another idea is to start the 100 envelope challenge. Pick a dollar amount that is doable for your budget and start saving now.

All in all, you want to have less stress with money and the holiday, right?

So, start saving money for next year.

Taco vs Burrito Card Game

Enjoy this wildly popular, yet surprisingly strategic game created by a 7 year old. Our family loves this game!

Make game night fun - guaranteed!

Buy Now on Amazon Get the Expansion Pack
03/01/2024 03:34 am GMT

Free Gift Ideas

Picture of a money bank pig to help you find free gift ideas.

This is so simple.

But, we do it every single time.

Okay, so it isn’t 100% free. But, let me explain…

When buying gifts for your kids or family, think about things that they NEED or would like to have and then buy them as a Christmas or birthday present.

For example, our son needed a backpack for his tennis racket. We bought it for his birthday and gave it as a “free” gift. Did it cost us something? Yes. But, we would have spent the money on the backpack. We spent $20 on his birthday gift and something he needed; instead of spending $20 on a birthday toy and $20 on the tennis backpack. Thus, saving us $20. Get the picture?

The real free gift ideas are spending quality time with someone.

This is something overlooked in our materialistic society. But, spending money does not equate to the best gift ever.

Sometimes, the stress just is not worth it.

Also, many of the fun things to do on Christmas day are free activities you could plan as a gift!

Bonus Tip for Families

Cheap gift ideas for families

In an effort to save our sanity and help our gift budget, decide how many gifts you give each year.

This will help your Christmas Budget immensely!!

For us, these are the three inexpensive Christmas gifts we give to our children:

  • Pajamas
  • One Learning Gift
  • One Santa / Fun Gift

This is something personal for your family and need to think about if that works for your traditions.

To kick off the Christmas holiday season, we always get one of these for each kid.

For birthdays, it is normally an experience or a fun family outing.

For families who are used to getting and giving an overwhelming amount of gifts, it is okay to explain to the children the sudden change. Honestly, you may be surprised at the grace and understanding they give you.

Also, it may be the best money lesson you give to your children during their lifetimes.

Here is a list of The Most Epic Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids Under $10.

Awesome Gift Ideas When You’re Broke

Simple gift ideas

This post is filled with awesome cheap gift ideas. You can give cheap Christmas gifts and still be thoughtful!

Plus anything on this list can be used as Christmas ideas or birthday present ideas.

There is something that qualifies as an inexpensive Christmas gift idea to give when you have no money, right? There are things you can do instead of gifts!

Hint: Bookmark this page for future reference!

Customized Coupon Book

This is probably the first gift idea someone thinks of when you are broke. So, don’t feel like it is overused and silly. A coupon book is a very personalized gift for the receiver.

Also, many times it provides a chance for the person giving the gift and the recipient to spend quality time together.

Here is a list of Coupon Book ideas:

  • Massage
  • Clean Car
  • Housekeeper for a Day
  • Breakfast in Bed
  • Game Night
  • A Morning to Sleep in
  • Personal Chef for a day
  • Explore Downtown together
  • Unplug Electronics for a Day
  • Afternoon at the Park

If they love to read, here are the must-read best finance books to change someone’s life forever.

Cleverfy Shower Steamers Aromatherapy - Variety Pack of 6
$16.99 ($2.02 / Ounce)

Need some unique gift ideas for stocking stuffers for women, Christmas gifts for mom or perhaps just birthday gifts for women in your life?

Shower bombs are made for every occasion.

Buy Now on Amazon
02/18/2024 06:22 am GMT


This can be quiet and romantic. Or it can be fun and whimsical. The choice is yours.

Eating is a daily necessity. The gift is changing things up from the norm. Also, this one doesn’t break the bank because we all have to eat eventually anyways.

We own a cute little picnic set like one of these. Excitement always builds up because the family wants to know where we are going. #CreateMemories

Must read…The Best Christmas Gifts that are Experiences That You Need to Know

Board Games

Thankfully, board games are slowly making a comeback. They are a great gift since most of them are under $20 and even $10.

These make awesome gift ideas when you’re broke.

In addition, you save hundreds of dollars on entertainment out of the house. This is a win-win for anyone living paycheck to paycheck or trying to rein in their discretionary spending to pay off debt or save more money.

Check out Amazon’s list of most-wanted board games.

Personalized Item

perfect Christmas presents when broke

Nothing says love as much as a personalized item. Plus you can get personalized items fairly inexpensive and sometimes darn cheap.

Types of personalized inexpensive gifts:

Just a few ideas to get your creative out-of-the-box ideas following for personalized gifts. Plus all of these gifts are under $30.

Money & Time Saver’s Tip – Sometimes it is cheaper, in the long run, to outsource a personalized item to a company that does them all the time. Also, it might help with your tightened time schedule. Both Amazon and Etsy have plenty of personalized gifts to choose from.

Framed Inspirational Quote

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved inspirational quotes and now millionaire affirmations. They filled my room as a kid and now fill my house as an adult. They are great reminders of simple words to inspire you.

This can be a simple project with a home computer and printer. Or professionally done with an Esty creator and for less than you would think. The choice is yours based on your budget.

Also, I love to put inspirational quotes on canvas. I think it adds a softer touch to a room.

Picture Collages or Albums for Grandparents

Grandparents go googling eyes of pictures of their grandchildren. It is simple and easy to pull together picture collages, albums, coffee mugs and so much more.

For inspiration, check out Etsy or Amazon Prints. Both are full of terrific ideas for personalized picture creations.

Personally, I know grandkid photos are prized possessions.

And don’t you want to give the most memorable gift this year?

Homemade or Knitted Items

Homemade gifts are always thoughtful gifts. However, sometimes the material can be more expensive than you planned. Also, this assumes you already have the required sewing machine, croquet hooks, etc.

In order to save money, scour the thrift stores, Nextdoor, or Facebook Buy Nothing groups. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

If you aren’t crafty, then maybe find a free class where you and the person receiving the gift can go together. This is a double win; spend time together and learn a new craft.

Personalized Playlist

Christmas ideas

To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, I was struggling with really cool ideas. I was feeling like an awful wife. What could I do to celebrate such a wonderful occasion?

So, I created a personalized playlist of all our wedding songs. When my hubby got home, music was playing in the background (which if you know me is totally common). Then, he realized that this was a special playlist just for us. To top it off, I picked up an ice cream cake from where we got our wedding cakes. Yes, you read that right – we celebrated with ice cream!

Make it personal.

Homemade Food

Are you known for (fill-in-the-blank)? For instance, a good friend makes the best jam and jelly ever.

This is a tradition that is going away since very few people actually can make homemade food. These are very meaningful Christmas gifts!

In reality, it only takes a few hours of cooking and most of the gifts cost less than $5 each. Plus it looks so pretty in the mason jars. Some ideas are salsas, jams, pickles, BBQ sauce, mustard, or even your own spice blend.

If this is something you have always wanted to learn how to do, go here for a terrific Start Canning course. Plus for my readers, use the code BLISSREADERS for 50% off.

Favorite Recipes Book

In today’s age, it is easy to pull up any given recipe on the Internet or Pinterest. But, let’s face it…not all are stellar. Once in a while, you will likely get a dud. Recipes from a friend are a golden winner! 

These are tried and tested recipes made with love.

So, pull together your favorite recipes and make your own recipe book.

It doesn’t have to be fancy and perfected formatted. Print your favorite recipes from the web and staple them together with a handwritten note.

This is a great gift for someone looking to try a new way of eating!

Your Talents

Do you have a unique talent? Something worth teaching and helping others?

It could be something simple like helping to clean, paint a wall, and organize. Eye for design – either fashion or home decor. You have been blessed with unique talents and gifts that are special just to you. This could be a homemade or DIY present.

Think of creative gift ideas that center on your talents.

Free Babysitting

Oh my goodness! This is always the TOP gift for any parent out there. #seriously

This gift costs you zero dollars. Only your time.

The most perfect gift idea when you’re broke!!

As a friend of mine stated…when they are out on a date, he wants to spend more time with his wife, but in his head, he is counting the extra time spent in babysitting dollars. The true reality of living below your means.

Typically, family expenses are hit the hardest when a baby is born because of new baby expenses or the possibility of now needing to live on one income. This allows the parents the much-needed time to connect without worrying about the clock ticking on babysitting dollars.

Bonus Tip – Throw in $20 for the parents to catch a movie, happy hour, or bowling.

Charity Gifts

christmas ideas

To this day, this is one of my favorite gifts to give people. It is the chance to bless others through a gift. There are so many organizations out there that can do wonderful things for just $5.

For example, as a retired teacher, I would find a charity gift that involved equipping other teachers to teach students. For the cyclist fanatic, a bike for someone to get to work in another country. A stuffed animal for children so they know they are loved. The ideas are endless.

Organizations that make charity gift ideas simple through their gift catalogs are Samaritan’s Purse, Save the Children, Compassion International, or any organization you choose to support.

In our household, this would come from our “giving” sinking fund. Not our “gifts” sinking fund.

Money Gifts

This type of money gift can fit within any budget! You decide how much you want to spend on the gift.

Don’t worry about thinking giving cash isn’t personal or thoughtful enough! Because that simply is not true. Cash is a terrific gift.

Here are some creative money gift ideas that will surprise you. Plus you can wrap a gift with cash. I can’t wait to do the money tree!


Yep, I let the elephant out of the room. Re-gifting gifts are 100% acceptable.

If and only if, these conditions are met:

  • Don’t give it back to the person who gave it to you.
  • It is still in new or like new condition.
  • Take out the gift tag or note from when you got the items as a gift.

While every gift-giver has the best of intentions, it may not fit your personality or needs.

For instance, giving Starbucks gift cards is a norm in society except for the person writing this blog post who hates coffee and doesn’t go to Starbucks. Every year, I end up with tons of gift cards that I always re-gift. #truestory

Money Puzzle Gift Boxes for Cash

One of the MOST popular gifts!

This maze puzzle cube is a unique cash holder. Perfect for kids and adults, it's a thrilling puzzle box and money maze.

Get yours now and turn gifting into an adventure!

Buy Now on Amazon
02/19/2024 09:47 am GMT

Re-gifting is an awesome gift idea especially when it is more suited for the next recipient.

Download the Gift Planner and Tracker now.

When you’re broke, re-gifting can be a win-win if it is something the new recipient will love. Personally, for you, there is less clutter in your home.

Don’t be afraid to re-gift items because you are afraid of looking cheap. Think of it as being savvy with your money.

Still Need More Cheap Gift Ideas?

Unless you get an unexpected Christmas bonus, we covered plenty of awesome small gift ideas when you’re broke. Hopefully, you answered your question about what I should get for Christmas.

Most of them take a little bit more creativity and thought, but it is completely doable on your gift budget.

We have plenty of resources to help you!

Need more gift ideas when you’re broke??

Which inexpensive gift idea do you like the best?

When you’re on a tight budget, finding gifts becomes an art of thoughtful creativity as you find ways to stretch your money.

You can embrace the joy of giving without breaking the bank by exploring budget-friendly, personalized options that reflect the sentiment behind the gift rather than its price tag.

Because at Money Bliss, the true value of a gift lies in the genuine thoughtfulness that accompanies it, not in the dollars spent.

Don’t forget the popular gift ideas for kids under $10!

Also, remember you can always stay on budget with thoughtful money gift ideas!

And don’t forget to set your Christmas budget!

Know someone else that needs this, too? Then, please share!!

Did the post resonate with you?

More importantly, did I answer the questions you have about this topic? Let me know in the comments if I can help in some other way!

Your comments are not just welcomed; they’re an integral part of our community. Let’s continue the conversation and explore how these ideas align with your journey towards Money Bliss.


  1. I love the personalized playlist idea! After paying for our hardwood resurfacing this year our budget is pretty tight, so my hubby asked me not to get him anything, but that’s no fun! Thanks for all the great inspo you gave me, and for encouraging me that a cheap Christmas is possible!

  2. I have a brother and a sister with large families. We all are very close, the cousins live each other, and we only buy for our own children. I don’t think the kids have ever noticed! I don’t understand families that don’t do this. It’s silly! This is a great list of ideas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *