How To Keep Your Father’s Day Spending Low But Loving


June 12, 2014 – By Brian O'Connell

Fathers Day is only days away, and the mission for family members is to treat dad like a king for a day without spending a king’s ransom on gifts and swag.

That’s no knock against dad, although Fathers Day is the “smallest of the gift giving holidays,” according to the National Retail FederationThe NRF says spending on Fathers Day this year will top $12.5 billion, or $113.80 per gift giver, down from $119 last year.

Consumers will likely try to get creative and stick to a budget when picking up presents.

“As we saw with Valentines Day and Mothers Day this year, consumers are keeping to a strict budget,” says Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director at Prosper Insights, a consumer analysis firm. “Whether they spend $10 or $100, millions of Americans will find creative, affordable ways to show dad how much they care.”

The good news for sons, daughters and moms?

There are many ways to shop creatively for Fathers Day without doing too much damage to the bank account.

The Boston-based nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling has a set of budgeting tips that can help take care of dad “in a both thoughtful and budget-friendly” way.

“The important thing to do on Fathers Day is simply to show dad that you care,” says Steven Trumble, chief executive at ACCC. “You don’t have to spend a fortune to let dad know that you are thinking of him. There are plenty of ways to demonstrate your gratitude without breaking the bank.”

Here are a few ideas from Trumble and the ACCC:

Lobby for a hobby

Time is as valuable commodity as cash, so use some time to spend time with dad doing thing he loves.

Score with chores

Help dad finish a task around the house, such as cleaning out the garage or painting the deck. He’ll value getting the job done as well as having loved ones help him do it.

Get cooking

A lot of dads love to grill, so putting together an old-fashioned barbecue, built around a trip to the grocery store for ribs, corn and coleslaw (don’t forget the beer), is a great idea.

Focus on the “details.”

Take dad’s car or truck down to the car wash and give it the works. A good auto detailing job can cost between $50 and $75 — well below the $113 average spent on Fathers Day. (Or just buy the supplies and do it yourself.)

Phone it in

Take some time to stock dad’s smartphone with apps built around his favorite passions (golf course GPS apps, updated scores of major league baseball games or a list of good local diners if he spends time on the road.) If you’re not sure, just buy him a gift card and let him pick out his own apps.