Bargain Betty

Bargain Betty’s money savvy tips

Christmas spending


I have quite strong views about Christmas Spending, but I appreciate that there are other money personalities out there and I’m not necessarily right and other wrong.  I’m intriged as to what others feel on the subject of presents:

1. Why do you give? Do you give to get something in return, do you give becuase it boosts you psychologically, or some other reason.

2. Do you think families should set spending limits on Christmas spending?

3. Do you like receiving money or vouchers?

4. Would you prefer money or vouchers to a present?

5. Does an expensive present mean more to you than a cheap one? (Be honest here)

6. How do you feel when you get something you don’t want?

7.  Any other thoughts about Christmas spending?

Birthday cake topper


I really should do a posting about birthdays.  It’s my son’s birthday today and even though the party is at home it’s cost a small fortune.  I do have to say I was very impressed with, from which I bought a Manchester United cake topper.  This is the company’s website:

I phoned the company at 9.30pm UK time. To my complete surprise a real person picked up the phone at that time of night and the order went out in the mail the very next morning. The parcel arrived six days after the order was placed and the total cost including postage etc was NZ$13.40. That’s a bargain.

It is even personalised with “Happy 9th Birthday Milo” on it.  When I did a quick Google search last week  I couldn’t find a New Zealand company offering these – although there probably is. Even if I did, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been that reasonably priced.

Ice cream cake


I had a Bargain Betty moment at my daughter’s birthday party this weekend. In fact three of us had it at the very same moment.  Maia had been expressing an interest in an ice cream cake earlier this year. I thought she’d forgotten about it and her aunty made a very nice heart-shaped cake.

On the morning of the party Maia had a hissy fit about not getting her ice-cream cake.  We were in the supermarket at the time and I looked at the ice cream cakes, thinking she could have two cakes.  At $19.80 it was beyond what I wanted to spend (having a trolley of party food and supplies already).  So I convinced Maia to let me buy a $3.99 pack of ice cream and a $2.76 pack of lollies.

When we got home we put the lollies in the bottom of a cake tin, pressed the ice cream in and froze it. When it was frozen it was simply turned upside down and pressed out. The kids loved it.

It was only afterwards that I realised what a bargain cake it was.  $6.75 in total and only a few minutes to make.



We waste a huge amount of money on presents in our society. How often have you received something and your heart dropped. It may have been expensive and you don’t want it. Or the giver simply didn’t understand you.

I was thinking about presents this week because I’d promised my daughter a “special treat” if she didn’t come last in the school cross country. Believe me. This is quite a feat for her. She kept hassling me to tell her what the treat was. The truth was I couldn’t decide.
She finished the run ahead of at least eight other children, which surpassed my hopes by a long way. I was so proud of the effort she had put in. Once she got her breath back she asked me what the treat was. I turned it around and asked what she wanted. The answer was a chocolate bar of her choice. This turned out to be a whole lot cheaper than what I had in mind and she’s over the moon.

It just shows that gift giving can be kept under control by simply asking what someone wants. Although there will be the occasional entitled individual who asks for something expensive.  My experience, however, is that people usually suggest something affordable that they’re going to use or cherish.

With friends and family I produce Christmas and birthday lists and ask for them in return. That way no-one can ever be disappointed or offended at what he or she receives.

I wrote this some while back in a NZ Herald article about Christmas:

Who really needs to spend $1000 on a flash toy for their husband, wife or partner? That sort of expense should be budgeted for during the year, not given as a gift. That’s just an excuse to overspend. If a child (or adult) really wants a super-expensive present, consider giving a voucher or note that offers to match what they save dollar for dollar. You could also do what the Americans do and “re-gift” last year’s unwanted presents. If this sounds too cheap, then consider giving away a valuable possession to a loved one.

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