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Gifts Under $5: 30 Sweet And Creative DIY Gift Ideas

Gifts Under $5: 30 Sweet And Creative DIY Gift Ideas

We live in increasingly difficult economic times, and the looming specter of Christmas will only draw any financial short-comings that you may have into sharper focus. The fluctuating state of the global economy has therefore played a pivotal role in driving the increasingly lucrative thrift market, which grew by more than 14% between 2011 and 2013 in developed economies around the world. If you want to save money without compromising on the quality of the gifts that you give to your loved ones this year, however, you may be better served by considering a wide range of DIY gift ideas that can be brought to fruition for less than $5. This will also enable you to proffer gifts that are meaningful and bear a personalized touch. Consider the following ideas: –

Quirky and Fun Gift Ideas

1. Colorful and Diverse Dotted Tumblers

Dotted-Tumblers

    Simply by taking existing tumblers that are clean and in good condition, you can embellish these with faux petals in a host of variable colors. Not only is this exceptionally cheap, but it also offers you the flexibility to experiment color and even alternative materials.

    2. Sparkling Glitter Shot Glass Vases

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      On a similar note, you could even look to turn simple vases into stunning table centers for any outdoor event. Glitter is extremely affordable to source in bulk, while the finished product looks extremely alluring and create a higher-end visage.

      3. Beautiful Copper Dipped Shot Glasses

      Copper-Dipped-Shot-Glasses

        While copper dipped shot glasses create a similar visual effect, they are a little harder to make. Still, by layering a typical shot glass with parchment paper and using a foam brush to apply paint to the lower portion, you will create an unusual effect that wows guests.

        4. Personalized Coasters with Unique Photographs

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          While the idea of transferring images onto canvas or materials was once quite complex, modern technology and photo-shopping software has changed this. With this in mind, you can use open-source programs to transfer personalized images onto basic coasters to create a unique, customized gift.

          5. Stunning Instagram or Pinterest Canvas Print

          Instagram-Canvas-Print

            Similarly, it is relatively cheap and simple to create a unique canvas print using imagery source from either Instagram or Pinterest. Whether you include personal photographs or a stunning piece of imagery, this is a gift idea that can be created quickly and for well under $5.

            6. Quirky Picture Magnets

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              While creating quirky and personalized picture magnets requires a slightly different process, it is still relatively simple and affordable. Using clear gem accents as the base, you can add images using magnet tape and create a unique gift idea for loved ones.

              7. Authentic Coffee Filter Flowers for the Home

              Coffee-Filter-Peonies

                If you want to create gifts that infuse the recipients’ home with color and vibrancy, authentic coffee filter flowers represent an ideal choice. Start by scrunching disregarded coffee filters together and connecting them using a slender piece of floral stem wire, before adding a color of your choice and creating anything from peonies to roses.

                8.Visually Unique T-Shirt and Towel Produce Bags

                T-Shirt-Towel-Produce-Bags

                  If you have been inspired by the thrift market, you will recognize that every individual item in your home boats potential value. You can cut and embellish old T-Shirts and towels to create visually unique produce bags, for example, which in turn will help the recipient to reduce their waste and eliminate the need to use plastic bags.

                  9. Bold and Vibrant Spray-Painted Jars

                  Gold-Spray-Painted-Jars

                    Sometimes the best ideas are also the most simple to execute, and this is certainly the case when it comes to DIY gift creation. Old pasta and condiment jars can be quickly transformed through the application of specialist spray paint, for example, with gold capable of creating a particularly alluring effect. You can even add lettering and create a personalized message if required.

                    10. Stylish Fabric-covered Books for Readers

                    Fabric-Covered-Books

                      In a similar vein, the application of bright and textured fabrics to books can also create a unique and stylish gift option for creative individuals on a budget. Whether you cover a notebook or the latest best-selling novel, these covers are simply to fit and can be created from a host of different materials.

                      Bath Bombs and Creative Cosmetic Gifts

                      11.Colorful and Fragrant Bath Bombs

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                        While there are a number of dry and wet ingredients go into creating a homemade bath bomb, you will have many of these in your home as staple cooking or cosmetic products. Including baking soda and an essential oil of your choice, you will need to follow a precise recipe and ensure that you focus on creating a colorful and fragrant gift.

                        12. Sweet and Exfoliating Lemon Sugar Scrub

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                          Although there is a common drive among home-owners to reduce the amount of water that they use on a daily basis, this does not mean that we should not enjoy the occasional bath. Instead, we should look to use cost-effective and environmentally friendly cosmetic products to make these experiences enjoyable and sustainable in equal measure. Take this homemade lemon sugar scrub, for example, which combines natural ingredients such as granulated sugar, coconut oil and lemon zest to create an organic and effective skin treatment.

                          13. Cute and Customized Cosmetic Bag

                          Makeup-Bag

                            Whether you are a novice or talented seamstress or tailor, you may want to apply these skills to create a customized cosmetic bag for a loved one. Simply by sourcing cheap exterior and lining fabric for the body, can can create a beautiful bag that is embellished with a functional zipper for easy usage.

                            14. Exotic Bath Salts

                            Bath-Salts

                              Bath salts are a hugely popular gift item at Christmas, while they are also created in a similar way to bath bombs and include many of the same dry ingredients. The most important of these are coarse sea salts, baking soda and Epsom salts, with food coloring and an essential oil of your choice will also infuse the gift with a unique shade and fragrance.

                              15. An Alluring Gardeners Skin Scrub

                              Gardener-Scrub

                                Every individual has their favorite color or scent, and it is important to infuse this in any homemade cosmetic gift that you create. Fans of the outdoors may benefit from this unique Gardeners Skin Scrub, for example, which can be made cheaply using readily available ingredients such as coconut oil and a unique combination of tea tree and peppermint essential oils.

                                16. Silky Body Butter

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                                  As you can see, coconut oil is a key ingredient of all homemade cosmetic and bathroom products. Along with citrus fruits such as lemon and orange, it can be used to form the base for a versatile body butter than can also be applied as a lip balm or skin moisturizer.

                                  17. Cleansing Soaps and Body Washes

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                                    As the thrift and homemade gift market has exploded, so too companies have developed products to help satisfy this rising demand. You can purchase low-cost soap bases that melt in the microwave, for example, while there are also soap molds in which you can set your homemade gift. Before setting your soap in the mold, however, you will have the opportunity to add a personalized list of ingredients and fragrance oils.

                                    18. Personalized Soap and Shower Gel Bottles

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                                      If you are loathe to create a homemade cosmetic product, you can still design a personalized or monogrammed bottle to hold individual soaps and shower gels. You can actually create a personalized label on the inside of your bottle, by printing it first onto transparent overhead paper and then inserting.

                                      19. Creative Mason Jar Candles for the Bathroom

                                      candle jars

                                        No relaxing bath is complete without a candle, so why not create your own unique product as a festive gift this Christmas? Mason Jar candles are particularly appealing, and they can be easily created using soy wax flakes, colorant and a wick. You can also add a scent of your choice, as you construct your unique candle in the jar and around the wick.

                                        20. Simplistic Wash-clothes for Presenting Bath Goodies

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                                          Not only is this idea unique, but it is arguably one of the most simplistic and affordable of our concepts. It can be executed by folding a wash-cloth and embellishing to create a unique shape or even an animal, before being packaged and tied together with a brightly colored ribbon or bow.

                                          Functional Gift Ideas

                                          21. A Fun and Attractive Shark Purse

                                          Shark-Purse

                                            While it may not sound like it, the shark purse is an extremely functional gift idea that will also add some bite to your outfit. You can make this easily too, firstly by cutting your pattern out from a blank piece of paper before transferring this onto your chosen material. You will then need to add the fin and individual teeth using white felt, before pinning the pattern to the fabric and completing the design.

                                            22. Personalized and Fun Photo Bookmarks

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                                              On the topic of simple DIY gifts, all you need to create a personalized and fun photo bookmark is some meaningful imagery and homemade tassel. The first component can be created from existing photographs of loved ones, while the decorative tassel can be manufactured simply by being wrapped around cardboard, embroidered and looped through an appropriate part of the image.

                                              23. Stylish Wine Glass Slip-on Coasters

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                                                Give the wine-lover an ideal gift this Christmas with some innovative and stylish slip-on, wine glass coasters. They are designed to lift with the glass as you sip, and can be easily made by cutting several wineglass-size circles from colored felt, before cutting a square opening and adding four diagonal cuts at each corner. Use fabric glue to cement the design and create a functional, affordable gift idea this Christmas.

                                                24. A Quaint, from Scratch Tea Set

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                                                  Tea is a quintessentially English drink, and one of the nations’ favorite. As a hot beverage it is also extremely popular during the winter, while it can also include a list of ingredients that are tailored to the needs of the individual recipient. A particular favorite includes ginger, cloves and dried apple chips, which are mixed together and then added to your individual tea filters. You can then use a string to tie together, and even add some festive cinnamon sticks or figs to complete the gift.

                                                  25. A Customizable, Handmade Travel-mug Cozie

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                                                    On a similar note, why not create a unique and customized travel-mug cozie for those winter morning commutes to work? Using a pre-existing pattern, you can set the size to suit a standard coffee travel mug before cutting out specific letters or shapes to personalize the design. On a final note, you may want to consider adding layers of fabric to embellish the cozie further.

                                                    26. A Functional Chalkboard Planner

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                                                      For gift recipients who like to lead an organized life, you should consider creating a six panel chalkboard planner. This should included six frames in total, five for each working day of the week and one for addition notes. Be sure to tape off your wooden frame with painter’s tape, while it is also a good idea to apply several coats of magnetic spray on the front of the glass if you want to add even more functionality to the design. To add the finish, use a paintbrush or a small, foam roller to apply your chalkboard paint.

                                                      27. A Recyclable Book Keepsake Box

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                                                        The ultimate in flexible storage space, the recyclable book keepsake box is an ideal gift for loved ones this Christmas. It is also easy to make too, as you apply craft glue to the inside back cover and allow to dry before adding some more to the edges of the book. The use a crafts knife to cut out a small rectangular square of space in the middle and remove the pages to finish your quaint hide-away.

                                                        28. A Bright Ceramic Serving Platter

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                                                          Bright and functional in equal measure, a colorful ceramic serving platter is the ideal gift for home-proud recipients who love nothing more than entertaining. You can create a vibrant motif around the edges of a cheap or existing platter, taking care to use ceramic paints for background colors and porcelain paint pens for more detailed aspects of the design. To ensure accuracy and a high quality finish, use a stencil for any lettering or large shapes.

                                                          29. A Uniquely Designed Vanity Dinner Plate

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                                                            On a similar note, you can also portray a visual representation of your favorite person on a ceramic dinner plate. This is ideal for recipients who are more than a little vein, while it can also be developed from a single photograph. Simply transfer the finer features on the plate use a tinted, porcelain paint pen, before taking a paint brush and adding color to larger spaces such as hair or a bandanna. The final design needs to be set and ‘baked’ according the specific manufacturer instructions.

                                                            30. Versatile Labelled Containers for the Home

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                                                              While standard storage containers are already functional by themselves, erasable labels add even more value and enable them to become versatile surface fixtures. Simply bring this gift idea to life using colorful vinyl stickers that can showcase chalk marks, ensuring that each label can be re-positioned according to your needs. Remove the paper backing and then relocate the label on each container, before embellishing this with any additional color or adornments.

                                                              Featured photo credit: Rubbermaid Products – Flickr via flickr.com

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                                                              Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                                                              How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                                                              How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                                                              Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                                                              In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

                                                              5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

                                                              Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

                                                              1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                                                              Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                                                              It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

                                                              Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

                                                              2. Keep Them Realistic

                                                              It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

                                                              It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                                                              3. Account for Inflation

                                                              Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

                                                              Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

                                                              For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

                                                              4. Short Term vs Long Term

                                                              Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

                                                              As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                                                              More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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                                                              5. To Each to His Own

                                                              The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

                                                              It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

                                                              By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                                                              11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                                                              Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

                                                              • Ensuring healthy savings
                                                              • Making smart investments

                                                              You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

                                                              Ensuring Healthy Savings

                                                              Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                                                              This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                                                              1. Track Expenses

                                                              The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

                                                              Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

                                                              2. Pay Yourself First

                                                              Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

                                                              Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

                                                              The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

                                                              Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

                                                              3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

                                                              Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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                                                              Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

                                                              At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                                                              Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                                                              You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                                                              4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

                                                              Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

                                                              If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

                                                              Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

                                                              All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

                                                              5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                                                              In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                                                              Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                                                              Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

                                                              If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

                                                              If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                                                              So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                                                              6. Talk About It

                                                              Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

                                                              Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                                                              7. Maintain a Journal

                                                              For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                                                              So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                                                              Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

                                                              When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

                                                              At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

                                                              Making Smart Investments

                                                              Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

                                                              8. Consult a Financial Advisor

                                                              Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

                                                              Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                                                              9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                                                              Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

                                                              Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

                                                              Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

                                                              It is here where that classification will help.

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                                                              So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

                                                              10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                                                              Einstein once remarked about compounding,

                                                              Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

                                                              So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                                                              Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                                                              11. Measure, Measure, Measure

                                                              All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                                                              If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

                                                              If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

                                                              Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                                                              The Bottom Line

                                                              This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

                                                              As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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                                                              Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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