All I Want for Christmas … and My Birthday!

I’m no Scrooge, but I am a little bit cheap when it comes to birthdays and Christmas. It’s the reciprocal thing…

My logic around presents is that you and I will probably give about equally – if I spend $50 on you, it probably means you’ll spend $50 on me. Money being the fungible thing it is … I always think it would be a lot easier if we just spent $50 on ourselves and bought something we actually want!

In my world, this is exacerbated by my vision for location and financial independence. Buying and owning ‘Stuff’, no matter how beautiful or sentimental, costs money (which might otherwise be invested for my future) and occupies space (which makes it hard to travel with).

But I get the whole ‘gift-giving’ thing. My annual Gifts budget is up over $2,000, meaning my beautiful wife and I average more than $40 each week on gifts for ourselves (not often) and others (we know a lot of awesome people). And that’s not designed to be reciprocal – an awful lot of that is new babies or children’s birthdays, and not even I expect an infant to spring $50 for my birthday each November.

Still, if you’re wondering (or Googling) “What is an awesome gift to buy Jacob Aldridge”, here’s a decent list:

  • Board Games. I’m planning to retire early into a digital nomad lifestyle, and I know from experience playing board games with my beautiful wife is a lot more rewarding than binge-watching tv shows (though that also has a place). We recently bought Pandemic (which is brilliant) and Carcassone (early days) – a great gift would actually be to come ’round our place for takeaway pizza and a games night! As a gift that will keep on giving, I’m currently eyeing off Jaipur, Hive, Dominion, and maybe a Pandemic expansion pack (or Legacy).
  • Byron Bay Chocolate Company Choc Coated Coffee Beans. When people feel they have to ‘treat’ me, this is the treat I choose! I don’t believe there’s such a thing as ‘bad chocolate’, and I’m a quantity over quality kind of guy – a jar of these (or, I live in hope, one of the giant boxes) is the best of both worlds.
  • Gold Class cinema tickets (with optional extra drinks voucher). I love my movies, but I can’t justify the $50 – $80 this costs. Still, I enjoy it every time and good movie season follows my birthday and Christmas every year!
  • There are some books on my list I can never seem to wrangle out of the library – Millionaire Next Door, Antifragile, and Your Money or Your Life are the ones that come to mind. I’ll update this list over time. [Just added: any of Scott Adams’ oeuvre; Mission to Mars by Jim Collins; and either of Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.]
  • Cash for experiences. This was easier when I was travelling more. Some people don’t like giving cash, but I found it worked if I let them know it would go toward a specific travel experience. This also helps us to justify some of those pricier things – my cousins bought us a honeymoon gondola ride in Venice; my immediate family got us a dawn hot-air balloon over Capadoccia in Turkey. These don’t have to be fancy experiences either – if I had to spend $20 we would go grab dessert at the Eat St Markets; if I had to spend ~$50 we would go try Bounce; if I had to spend ~$100 I would take my beautiful wife on a Toowong Cemetery Ghost Tour

I’d love to have people experience that feel-good emotion by giving me cash that I bank to help buy my financial freedom. Each $100 invested will buy me a birthday ice-cream every year for the rest of my life! But I recognise that I can’t excite people to buy me some Vanguard funds or knock my mortgage down another little bit.

Maybe one day! Until then, any or all of the above are gratefully accepted.

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