Great gifts for almost any occasion

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You just remembered that a special someone’s birthday is coming up. Or you want to send a little token for a kindness. Or does a loved one need a pick-me-up? But who has time to go shop-to-shop or browse hundreds of websites for the perfect gift? My goal is always to make shopping easier for you, so I’ve compiled a list of sites and apps that help make gift-giving an absolute breeze.

 

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Cakes, cupcakes, cheesecake, brownies, cookies, pies, towers…did I catch your attention yet?  If your recipient has a sweet tooth, this NYC-based baked goods gifting company makes it easy to choose the perfect sweet treat, allowing you to search by theme, occasion, gluten-free, and more.  Overnight delivery in beautiful packaging is available nationwide and you have the option to request a personalized gift card.

Pricing: $27 and up

 

ekuBox 

Eku stands for Eat, Keep, and Use, and their 60+ gift options are elegant and well-designed with a curated selection of soothing self-care items, delicious foods, and even baby essentials. ekuBox was founded by Paula Slof, who created this brand so she could share her gift-giving skills with others while also supporting small businesses. For every box purchased, EkuBox plants a tree. Gift cards for $100 and up are also available.

 

Prices: $58 and up

 

Gentleman’s Hardware

This men’s gifting site offers functional and stylish kits and standalone items, including barware, grooming accessories, tech essentials, and fishing gear. The site is easy to shop with a helpful gift guide page organized by interest. You can also purchase a gift card if your favorite guy might want to shop for himself.  $25, $50, and $100 gift cards are available.

 

Pricing: $10 and up

GiftYa

Sometimes, the best gift is spending money! GiftYa is a way to send a colorful e-gift to your recipient’s favorite shop, restaurant, salon, etc. There are lots of fun designs to choose from and you can further personalize it with photos, video, and a message. The Giftya arrives on your recipient’s phone or email inbox in minutes. They link it to their credit card and use it whenever they want, so it can never be lost or stolen!  They can even switch retailers or opt for a Visa gift card. Shop via their site or app.

 

Pricing: $5-$100

Goodly

This gifting site makes it fun to find the perfect present for anyone on your list! Search by category, collection, gender, color, brand, and price. The tastefully selected items include stationery, socks, snacks, and home goods, and everything is nestled in stylish, sustainable packaging.

 

Pricing: $58 and up

Groupon

If your recipient might prefer experiences to “stuff”, gift them the gift of Groupon! This marketplace is packed with amazing activities, including spa services, ax throwing, and flying lessons. Many of the activities feature exclusive discounted pricing so you’ll get a bang for your buck. If you think they’d like to choose their own adventure, gift cards for $25-$100 are available.

 

Pricing: $5 and up

Joann

This craft and fabric supersite has a gifts page where you can shop by interest or budget. Choose from DIY gifts, like a candle-making kit, to ready-to-use items like a macrame hammock. If you think your recipient would prefer to shop for themselves, gift cards are also available.

 

Pricing: $.60 and up

Knack 

I’ve written about Knack several times over the years, and they continue to impress. Knack is a custom gifting platform that makes gift-giving easy with ethos-based collections, individualized gift baskets, and expert advice. Whomever you are shopping for, you will surely find a perfectly curated present. There are countless pre-designed boxes organized by theme or you can create your own, choosing from foods, books, beauty, home items, and more.

 

Pricing: $33 and up

 

Nuts.com Gift Drop

Who doesn’t love snacks? This new gifting feature from Nuts.com allows you to send a gift card for a basket packed with your recipient’s choice of treats, including dried fruits, nuts, chocolates, and other yummy goodies. Select gift size and occasion, enter the recipient’s email and a message, and they build their own gift at their leisure.

 

Prices: $59.99 and up

 

Ocelot Market

This marketplace for products from around the world represents more than 80 artisan-focused brands and makers with accessories, apparel, items for the home, and more. When you select Gifts for Her or Gifts for Him, you can tailor the offerings by brand, type, price, size, color, where the items are made, and gender.  Gift cards are also available.

 

Pricing: $6 and up

Punchbowl

Sometimes a card says it all. With Punchbowl, which is a subscription-based digital greeting card service, you can send digital greeting cards to anyone on your “nice” list, from teachers to loved ones to clients. There are a dizzying number of designs to choose from for pretty much any occasion, and there are lots of options for customization, from uploading a video message, adding your company logo, and including a gift card from a major retailer.  The cards can be delivered by email or text to one person or multiple people. You can even set reminders for important occasions, so you never forget a birthday again.

 

Pricing: $3.99 per month and up

 

Seattle Chocolate 

Another perfect present for your favorite sweet tooth is from woman-owned Seattle Chocolate, which not only carries mouth-wateringly good treats, but they partner with artists to present their treats in fabulous designer packaging. Their latest collection is a collab with New England-based artist Ali Mac. You can shop by occasion, artist, treat preference, and more.

 

Pricing: $4.99 and up

SmashUps from American Greetings

This new offering from American Greetings takes digital greetings to another level with easy to create, personalized, entertaining, and shareable videos that feature celebrities, talking characters, or selfies.  They can be delivered to your recipient by email, text message, or via social media. A digital gift card can be added to the greeting via email. Available on iPhone and Android.

 

Pricing: $6.99 per month or $29.99 per year

Sugarwish

 

Sugarwish started out with a focus on sweet treats, but they have now expanded their gift offerings to include other categories, like coffees & teas, and wines through Vinebox by Sugarwish. You can’t go wrong with Sugarwish because the gift invites the recipient to choose a mix of items that suits them. I also appreciate the packaging, which is always festive and well-constructed. Once you determine how much you want to spend and add your message, you can send a gift notification by email, text, or social media like Facebook or Twitter, and even Slack!

 

Pricing: $23 and up

Sterling Forever

Looking for jewelry? Sterling Forever is a one-stop jewelry shop with hundreds of options, from bracelets to custom necklaces, many of which are inspired by design trends or celebrity favorites. Gifting is easy on the site because you can search by price, metal, stone, and category.  All pieces have a lifetime guarantee. Gift cards for $25 to $250 are also available.

 

Pricing: 30 and up

 

Uncommon Goods

 

This online marketplace allows you to sort through a selection of artisan-made “uncommon” gifts by price, occasion, recipient, etc. There is a broad selection of all sorts of items, from jewelry to home goods. Shoppers can also now purchase Uncommon Experiences, which are expert-led one-of-a-kind experiences, like dream decoding and hanging plant design. Gift cards are also available.

Pricing: $10 and up

Zales

Zales is another reliable gifting destination for jewelry. There are thousands of pieces to choose from and their dedicated gifts page allows you to search by necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc. by occasion, gemstone, budget, and more. Gift cards from $50-$2000 are also available.

 

Pricing: $20 and up

 

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This article originally appeared on TrueTrae.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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How to tell if you’re living beyond your means

 

Living beyond your means is an easy trap to fall into. And if you’re not keeping close track of everything that’s coming in and going out of your financial account, you may not even realize you’re doing it. But if you often run out of money before the month is over and you don’t know exactly where all the money is going, it could be a sign that you’re living above your means.

 

Over time, living a lifestyle beyond what you can actually afford can lead to mounting debt and also keep you from reaching your financial goals.

 

Related: Budgeting for basic living expenses

 

 

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Simply put, ”living above your means” means that you are spending more money than you are earning. People are able to do this by relying on credit cards, loans, and pior savings to cover their expenses. However, the process is not sustainable, and eventually overspending is likely to catch up to you.

 

Living beyond your means can also mean that you’re spending everything you bring in, and, as a result, don’t have anything left over for saving or investing, such as building an emergency fund, saving for a short-term goal like buying a car or a home, or putting money away for retirement.

 

Here are 10 red flags that you’re living a lifestyle you simply can’t afford — and tips for how to get back on track.

 

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If most or all of your paycheck is spent immediately on bills and you don’t have anything left over at the end of the month to put into savings, you are likely living over your means and may need to make some adjustments. If your current lifestyle has become a habit, you may feel there is no place to cut back. However, if you get out your monthly statements for the past three months and take a close look at where all your money is going each month, you will likely find places where you can cut back on spending.

 

This might be ditching cable, cooking (instead of ordering take-out) a few more times per week or quitting the gym and working out at home.

 

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If you’ve been putting a lot of your expenses on your credit card and/or don’t always pay your bills on time, you may see your credit score take a hit. This number is important because it can be accessed by anyone considering giving you new credit and may be used to determine the interest rate you’ll pay on a home or car loan, and also new credit cards.

 

If you aren’t sure what your credit score is, you can get a free copy of your reports from all three credit bureaus. Looking it over can help you understand why your credit score has dropped, and help you take the necessary steps to repair it.

 

For example, you might set up automatic payments for the minimum amount due on credit card bills and loans so you never miss a payment. You may also want to pay down your balances on your credit cards and lines of credit. This can lower your “credit utilization rate” (how much of your credit limit you are using), which is factored into your score.

 

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If money is feeling a little tight, you may feel that now is not the time to worry about retirement. But you likely won’t be able to work forever, so it can be wise to make saving for retirement a priority and to get started early.

 

Thanks to compounding interest (which is when the interest you earn also starts earning interest), the earlier you start investing in a retirement fund, the easier it will be to save enough money to retire well. You don’t have to contribute a lot; even just putting aside a small amount of each paycheck into a 401(k) or IRA each month can help you build wealth over time.

 

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Keeping your rent or mortgage below 30 percent of your monthly pre-tax income is sometimes recommended because it can leave you with enough income left over to save, invest, and build wealth in general.

 

Staying below 30 percent can be difficult, however, if you live in a region of the country where the cost of housing is high. Nevertheless, spending a lot more than a third of your income on housing can leave you “house poor” and put your other financial obligations at risk.

 

If you find that your housing costs are taking too large a chunk of your monthly paycheck, you might consider downsizing, taking on a roommate or finding a way to increase your income with a side hustle.

 

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Another sign you may be living beyond your means is that your savings have stagnated. Making regular deposits into your savings account in addition to your 401(k) or IRA allows you to work towards your short- and medium-term financial goals, such as putting a downpayment on a home or a car or going on vacation.

 

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An overdraft fee, or “non-sufficient funds fee,” is charged when there’s not enough money in your account to cover a check or debit card payment. Mistakes happen, and a one-off overdraft isn’t necessarily an indicator of overspending. But repeat offenses can be a sign that you are living too close to the edge and don’t have a clear picture of how much money is going into your account and how much is going out.

 

You may want to start tracking your spending and keeping a closer eye on your spending account to make sure you always have enough to cover your electronic payments.

 

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Many people think making and following a budget will be too complicated. But having a budget can actually simplify your spending decisions by letting you know exactly what you can and can’t afford.

 

Having a budget also helps to ensure you have enough money to cover essentials, fun, and also sock some away in savings. If you’ve never set financial parameters for yourself, you may want to consider taking an honest inventory of how much you are bringing in each month and how much is going out each month.

 

Once you get a sense of your own patterns and habits, you can work toward building a realistic budget that allows you to spend and save more wisely.

 

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Leasing a vehicle you would not be able to purchase outright or finance can be a major financial red flag. Leasing lets you rent a high-end lifestyle, but many people end up with leases they really can’t afford.

 

You might be covering your monthly payments, but if you can’t do that while meeting your other expenses and also putting money into savings, then your car is likely too expensive.

 

You may want to consider downgrading your vehicle or saving up enough money to buy a car — either outright or by making a solid downpayment so your monthly payments are low.

 

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It’s fine to use your credit card to pay for everyday expenses and the occasional big purchase. But if you can’t pay off most of the balance each month, you’re likely living beyond your means.

 

Rather than give over part of your paycheck just to interest each month, you may want to cut back on nonessential spending and divert that money toward paying off your balances.

 

Rawpixel / istockphoto

 

Not having a stash of cash you can turn to in a pinch can be a sign that you’re overspending. You may be gambling on the fact that nothing will go wrong. But life is unpredictable, and getting hit with an unexpected expense you can’t pay for can lead to a financial crisis.

 

Instead, you may want to build an emergency fund that can cover three to six months worth of living expenses. That way, you’ll be covered should something happen, such as an illness or injury, job loss, housing issue or any other expensive personal matter should come up.

 

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Unfortunately, living beyond your means is all too easy to do. And while a few weeks or months of spending more than you earn may not be a major problem, overspending on a regular basis will likely catch up to you in the form of high debt and neglected savings.

 

Creating (and sticking to) a spending budget can help ensure that you can afford your bills and basic expenses, and still have money left over to save for the things you want in the future.

 

Learn more:

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, parenting, and retail. Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and Flexjobs. She is a contributor at Millie Magazine and CNN Underscored, and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Newsweek, Woman's Day, Forbes, USNews.com, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, MSN.com, Yahoo Finance and numerous others. She has also appeared on TV hundreds of times; including Good Morning America's GMA3: What You Need to Know, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Inside Edition, CNBC and local network affiliates nationwide.