Posts filed under ‘gifts’
While it’s always nice to hear from readers who agree with my posts there is nothing I love more than finding an intelligent reader with a different point of view. I received an interesting response to a recent post in which I asked readers whether or not they would turn down a financial gift from their parents.
My post focused on the gift of financing a home, but the reader, (a long time reader at that), said I was being hypocritical and at the very least a bit unfair. She pointed out that I accepted a sizable gift from my parents in the form of tuition and at times room and board. It’s an interesting point, which made me reflect on parental gift giving.
In theory I like to believe that I will make the right decisions for my son. He is not even a year and a half old yet, but I still dream about who he will become. I want my son to be kind and compassionate without getting stepped on and walked over. I want him to stand his ground and simultaneously reach out his hand to help others stand up. I want him to be proud without being vain. I want him to take life seriously, but also to find happiness and joy in all of the little moments that make up his life.
Having said all of that I also believe that the majority of a child’s personality is programmed long before birth. I know that I will have an influence on my son, but I’m not certain how much. And of course as he grows and matures he will be whoever he is and we will love him because of who he is not in spite of it.
In terms of gift giving I want my son to appreciate what he has to work for as well as what he receives. The reader who emailed me asked if I would have appreciated my degree more if I had to pay for it. I can’t say for certain. I do feel that I have a greater appreciation for my homes because I had to work for them. If someone handed them to me I don’t know that I would feel the same. Do I have less appreciation for my degree, because I didn’t pay for it? Possibly.
My father did not make a lot of money when I was growing up. For as long as I can remember he stressed the importance of paying for our education. While a lot of parents pay for their children’s tuition I do not know how many of them stress the importance of the gift. My brother and I knew that my father was sacrificing his own goals in order to pay for our schooling. My brother struggled in his first semester at college and wrote my father a letter telling him that he would do better, that he knew my father wanted us to earn a degree and that he didn’t want to lose the gift our father had worked so hard to give us.
The reader’s question to me is an interesting one. In my opinion if your parents provide money for college you still have to study hard and perform well to graduate. The degree should help you maintain independence and self-reliance as you can now start your career and earn money for yourself.
I’m not sure you can compare the gift of a house with the gift of tuition, but I guess the real question is does the gift need to teach you something? Can’t your parents give you something just because they have the money to do so? Do you have to learn to be better or do better with every gift you receive?
I need to take a little more time to think about the answers to those questions. In the mean time I’d love to hear what you have to say. What do you think?
I received an interesting question in response to my recent post on unequal gift giving. A reader emailed me about a situation in which parents provided financial assistance to a child who earned less money than her sibling.
Here is the scenario: The family consisted of two children who were both girls. The older daughter worked as a system administrator. According to the email this sister earned a high salary and was easily able to afford the items she desired. The younger daughter worked as a kindergarten teacher. Salaries were never discussed between the two sisters, but it was assumed that the older daughter earned at least twice as much as the younger one.
The parents routinely provided gifts to the younger daughter who taught elementary school. They paid for smaller items like sports equipment for their grandchildren as well as bigger items like summer vacations and the down payment on a new car.
The younger sister knew the older sister was upset about these gifts but she couldn’t understand why. In her mind her sister was set in life. She earned a lot of money and didn’t need anyone to hand her anything. The email went on to say, “I need the money to pay for sports equipment, cars and summer vacations, my sister doesn’t. So why is she so jealous?”
Based on the short email I received it’s difficult to say just how much financial assistance the younger sister received from her parents. Here are my thoughts based on the information I was given.
Need is an interesting choice of words. The reader says she “needed the money,” but her older sister may beg to differ about that. The older sister may think the younger sister could find used equipment for her children or ask them to play a sport that isn’t so expensive. I wanted to play the piano when I was little, but my parents couldn’t afford one. I played a rusty old, hand-me-down trumpet from my brother instead. This may have harmed me if I had been a musical prodigy, but since I wasn’t I survived just fine.
The reader doesn’t say what type of car she purchased. Her parents may have provided a down payment for a reliable used car or a less expensive sedan. On the other hand, she may have asked her parents to help her with a brand new, luxury model. Is the younger sister driving a nicer car then the sister who pays all of her own bills? The older sister may get jealous when the younger one receives bigger and better toys then she owns. Since the older sister does not receive financial assistance from her parents she only buys what she can afford, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want a nicer, bigger car too.
The reader didn’t mention where she went on vacation. Did her parents pay for a week’s stay at a luxury hotel that included ocean views and spa treatments or did her parents provide $300 for two nights at a nearby hotel? I wonder if the younger sister is taking a nicer vacation then the older sister who has to pay for everything herself.
One thing that should not be overlooked is job satisfaction. The younger sister may love teaching school. She may go to work smiling at the thought of teaching children to count and read. While she earns less per her hour her overall enjoyment and job satisfaction may be leaps and bounds higher than her sister who sits in a cubicle all afternoon.
As the older sister trudges to work each day she may be bitter that she doesn’t enjoy her chosen career. She’d love to quit her job to teach, but she also knows that it can be hard to support her lifestyle on a teacher’s salary. If the older sister quit would her parents support her like they do her younger sibling?
Perhaps the jealousy comes from being stable, following the rules, paying your bills on time and working at a job you don’t enjoy while your sibling works in a fulfilling career and lives a lifestyle that would be unachievable if it was not subsidized by her parents. It is possible that the older sister believes her younger sister should have chosen a higher paying career if she wanted all of the perks that come with having more money.
Of course, it is also possible that sibling rivalry started way back when the two sisters were children. Sometimes children feel that a sibling receives much more love and affection from their parents then they do. When you are a child you may use hugs and kisses as a barometer of your parents love for you. As an adult you may begin using gifts and dollars.
What do you think?
Last week I asked my readers if they would accept a gift from their parents. I wrote the post after learning of a friend who is about to receive a beach home from his folks. I appreciate the honest comments and emails that were sent to me. I wonder if I shouldn’t have also asked the opposite question, which is would you buy a large gift for your children?
I stumbled across an interesting article this weekend about Mick Jagger who, despite his wealth, does not believe he should buy homes for his three adult children. According to a recent CNN article, “Those who know Jagger well — including his oldest daughter, Jade, say that he strongly believes that children ought not think themselves entitled to their parents’ money and that they have to make their own way in life.”
His daughter Jade went on to say, “I was never a trust-fund child. Dad’s got a healthy attitude toward work. You have to look after yourself.”
So what do you think? If you had a lot of money, like Mick Jagger, would you buy properties for your children?
I imagine my husband and I will amass quite a bit of wealth throughout our lifetime and I want my son to understand that a lot of hard work and planning went into our bank accounts. At this point in time I can’t imagine buying him a home. I want him to experience the joy and pride of making it on his own. I also don’t want him to think that life is a cake walk.
My husband is adorable. Every year he remembers to order flowers for my mom and grandmother. What a good son-in-law, right? The trouble is he spends a lot of money each year shipping them out on Valentine’s Day.
Buying flowers online is expensive enough, but shipping and handling can often cost another $20 to $25, especially if you want your recipients to receive them on Valentine’s Day.
So I nearly passed out when my husband told me he spent nearly $400 buying my mom, grandmother, mother-in-law and I flowers for Valentine’s Day. Of course, each of us live at a different address and four deliveries quickly added up to over $100 worth of shipping costs.
So what’s a frugal girl to do? I’m happy that my husband cares enough about me and the rest of our family to buy flowers, but I can’t get over that price tag.
My husband says it’s only once a year and it makes everyone feel special. When I told him we could pick up flowers from the grocery store and deliver them he said it’s not the same.
So I said next year he should ship me food instead. While flowers are pretty I don’t think they’d be as enjoyable as an equally expensive box of chocolate covered strawberries.
I have a stack of gift cards in my home. I bought a few of them at discounted prices and received a bunch of others as gifts over the years. If you name a place I probably own a gift card for it.
You know how it is, you return an unwanted gift to a store you rarely frequent and they hand over a shiny merchandise card. You don’t have time to shop for anything right then and there so you vow to return to the store at a later point in time. You think even if you can’t find something for yourself you’ll surely find gifts for other friends or family members. The only trouble is you never return to the store and that gift card sits in your wallet, safe, desk drawer or some other random location for months or possibly years.
I used to have a couple of gift cards that fit neatly inside my wallet. Then one day I realized I needed an entirely separate wallet just to house all my cards.
I checked the balances, wrote down the amount remaining and placed them in the safe where some of them have sat untouched for years.
I’m torn on what to do with them now. If I sell them I’ll probably receive somewhere between 60 and 90% of their value. If I sell them at an auction site I may receive even less when I subtract out eBay and PayPal fees.
Part of me thinks I may actually use these cards even though I haven’t touched many of them for years. I don’t have an immediate need for the money, but I also hate the idea of letting those cards sit idle for so long. I suppose by selling them I would earn interest on the money, though rates are so low these days that wouldn’t amount to very much.
Part of me thinks I should go on a spending splurge armed with hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards, but the practical part of me knows I really don’t need anything right now. I also hate the idea of buying things I don’t really want or need, because I absolutely despite unwanted clutter.
So what do you think? Do you have unwanted gift cards sitting around in your purse, wallet or desk drawer? If so do you have any immediate plans for them? Do you think I should try to sell the cards I have or hold on to them in the hopes that they’ll be used some day? If you were in my shoes, what would you do?
I believe in Karma. I deeply believe that when we put good thoughts into the universe good energy will be returned to us. This doesn’t always mean that things will work out perfectly in life, but every time someone bestows a kind act on my behalf I do my best to pay it forward.
When I was pregnant with my son my husband’s aunt, (who lives a few states away), sent me a very large package. Inside was a plethora of gifts wrapped in polka dots and pastel colored paper.
The gift giver included a beautifully written note explaining the contents of this unexpected package. It seems she received a similar gift when she was pregnant with her first son over 40 years earlier. She told me she was passing on a family tradition and that the gifts inside were intended for our unborn child.
My husband’s aunt asked me to count the number of doctor’s visits that were remaining in my pregnancy. Days later another box landed on our doorstep. Inside were enough gifts to open after each and every doctor’s appointment.
Given my history of medical problems, (that resulted in blood clots, pulmonary embolisms and surgery), I am always nervous around men and women in white coats. Despite the fact that we were visiting doctors for such a happy occasion I still worried every time I walked into the office.
My insecurities and anxieties were further heightened when my obstetrician unexpectedly passed away. I went to the emergency room one morning with strange pains and was told he died hours earlier in the same hospital. At the time I was mid-way through my pregnancy.
My doctor was a gentle man who had been my gynecologist for over fifteen years. He was no ordinary doctor. He sent me a $100 check on the day I got married. He always took time to ask me about my husband and joked at my last appointment that he had been waiting for me to get pregnant for years and wouldn’t miss the birth of my son for anything in the world. I was saddened beyond belief by his passing and by the fact that an unknown doctor would deliver my child. The box of gifts arrived just in time to pick me up, just days after I learned of his passing.
These gifts meant more to me than the gift giver could ever know. I cried for two days straight after learning of my doctor’s death. He was not just a doctor to me. He was more like a friend. These gifts gave me something to look forward to after each appointment at the new doctor’s office. They eased my anxiety and somehow helped lessen my emotional pain.
I always knew I wanted to pay forward this act of kindness and last December I found the opportunity to do so.
When my husband’s friend told us his wife was expecting I began searching for baby gifts to pass on the tradition. I found adorable little outfits and sleepers along with practical items like diapers and changing pads. I wrapped them in tissue paper I received at my own baby shower, (I was told that’s good luck), and asked my husband to deliver them after my friend’s wife passed the 20 week mark of her pregnancy. (I was very superstitious about my own pregnancy and didn’t accept gifts until I reached the mid-way point. )
Two days ago we received news that our friend’s wife unexpectedly delivered a baby boy 14 weeks earlier than expected. At only 26 weeks gestation their child will most definitely endure an extended stay in the NICU.
The new mom was understandably distraught when she was released from the hospital without her infant son bundled in her arms. In an effort to cheer herself up she sat down and opened all of the gifts we provided. (We also gave her two bags of clothes my son had worn from birth through six months.) Her husband told us it felt like an impromptu baby shower and truly lifted her spirits.
I am so glad my husband and I decided to continue this tradition. It warmed my heart to know that our gifts provided a moment of joy during such a difficult time in their lives.
Sometimes in life we touch people in ways we never would have expected. Something magical happened when I opened that box of gifts from my husband’s aunt. I just knew I had to pay that feeling forward.
Every Christmas we inevitably receive a bunch of gifts we don’t want to keep. Sometimes we receive a gift slip in the box, but more often then not we have no way of returning the item we received. In fact, many times we don’t even know where the gift was purchased.
When I was growing up my mom had a rule about gift giving. If she gave us a gift we didn’t like she asked that we let her know so that she could return it. She absolutely hated the idea of wasting good money by purchasing something that would hang unworn in our closet or that would end up in a box headed directly for the donation center. Over the years I’ve openly told her to take back anything that didn’t fit or simply wasn’t my style.
This is in direct contrast to the way my husband’s family works. In his family you never tell the gift giver that you don’t like something they purchased. Unfortunately this often results in receiving the same unwanted item year after year. It’s not the gift givers fault. I believe they assume you like the gift since you never told them otherwise. In fact, I’ve seen family members feign excitement over a gift they’ll never use.
So what’s the rule in your family? Do you tell the gift giver that you don’t like a gift or do you smile and accept it without saying a word?
If you keep the gift what do you do with it? Do you attempt to return it without a receipt, list it on eBay, donate it or re-gift it? Have you ever thought of telling the gift giver you wanted to return the item for a different size, style, etc?
I personally hate the idea of wasting money on an item someone doesn’t want. I wish every one close to me would tell me the truth, (in a tactful manner), even if that meant every single gift I bought was returned.
What do you think? Would you be offended if someone told you they wanted to return the gift you gave them?
**NOTE** – It seems I should have been clearer in this post. I am specifically talking about close family members. For example, children, parents or spouses. I am in no way implying that you should make a comment about gifts you receive from classmates, friends, neighbors, etc. In those cases you should certainly smile and say thank you. I learned that lesson as a very small child. In fact, you shouldn’t make comments to anyone about a gift unless you know they will be receptive to it. (Like in the case of my own mom.)
For the past two years my husband and I have given my son one gift each. He was born in October of 2011, so last year he was only two months old when Christmas rolled around and this year he was just a few days over 14 months.
At this age he doesn’t know the meaning of Christmas, he can’t tell us what games he really wants to play with and he certainly doesn’t know if he should receive two gifts or a room full of presents.
This year he received a bottle of Mr. Bubbles for extra special bath time fun and a toy that sings when he turns it’s pages. The toy was intended to distract him during long car trips to North Carolina. He opened those two gifts then helped my husband open the four gifts, (two each), that we bought for each other.
Some friends and family members seemed surprised by the lack of gifts under the tree, but for the time being I decided that my son simply has enough. Thanks to the generous hand-me-downs of friends and family members our living room already looks like the toy department at Target.
I’ll never forget some of the early Christmas’s for my niece and nephew. They received box after box of brightly wrapped paper and spent little more than a second or two looking at the gift before ripping into the next one.
I want my son to have time to reflect on the gifts he receives and to take the time to thank the gift givers for all that he receives.
This year my son received only one gift each from my grandmother, parents, brothers and sister-in-law. The rest of the money that would’ve been spent on gifts was funneled into his 529.
As my son ages I know he probably won’t be happy with my two gift rule (one from mommy and one from daddy). I’m sure he’ll circle pages of the circulars and provide long wish lists for us.
In fact, I wonder how long I can continue the two gift policy and I wonder if there are any parents out there that feel the same way I do?
On Christmas Eve my husband and I placed $50 grocery store gift cards into holiday cards, loaded my son into the back of our car and drove to two nearby fire stations to deliver them. At both stations we were welcomed in by friendly volunteer firemen who were elated to receive an unexpected Christmas gift.
My son is too young now to understand the value of our gifts, but I believe we may have found a new Christmas tradition. As he gets older we can explain that these men and women volunteer their time to keep us safe. In light of all of the negative things in the world I want my son to know that there is a lot of good on this earth. The fact that people are willing to step into burning buildings to protect total strangers has always astounded me. I want my son to remember that in light of troubled times there are everyday heroes who walk among us.
Of all the Christmas gifts I purchased and wrapped this year, these gifts cards were by far my favorite. Isn’t it funny how a gift to a stranger meant more to me than all the gifts I wrapped for loved ones? It’s not that I don’t love my family. I definitely do. It’s just that this gift seemed extra special, because it was so unexpected by the people who received it.
I would like to continue this tradition for years to come. While we will probably provide a gift for the firehouses each year I would also like to think of other unexpected ways to give. As my son gets older I hope that he can join in on the fun. Maybe we can pay for groceries for someone in line or provide an extra large tip to a friendly waiter or waitress. Maybe he’ll want to provide a gift for his school bus driver or for the woman who reads stories at the library. The key is to spread a little holiday joy for someone who isn’t expecting it.
Have you ever provided a gift to someone who wasn’t expecting it? If so, what did you give?
Over the years my Christmas wish lists have changed dramatically. One year I asked for practical gifts, one year I asked for fun gifts, one year I wanted to focus on consumable items, the next I concentrated on interesting experiences.
As much as my overall desires have changed one thing has remained steady. Every year, for the last ten years, I have without fail asked for one thing. It’s a simple, but very expensive request: a gift certificate to the spa. It’s a luxury I often feel guilty buying for myself, so I truly love it when someone else splurges for me.
There are so many products targeted at pampering women, but very few available for men, so when BlogHer contacted me and asked me to promote the Art of Shaving, (a site full of pampering shaving products for men), I jumped at the chance.
My husband and I recently took my son for his first hair cut. Well I should say hair trim, because I only let the barber trim his bangs and right above his ears. We walked into an old school barber shop where men line up and wait their turn in the big black chairs.
I’d never stepped foot into a barber shop before and I was quite fascinated by the old-school barbers who warmed towels, lathered up a man’s face with thick brushes and shaved his beard with a flat edged razor. When they finished the man’s skin looked as smooth as my fourteen month old son’s.
The Art of Shaving website helps men get this clean, pampered, professional feeling in their own home by focusing on 4 elements of the perfect shave. Those elements include preparing, lathering up, shaving and moisturizing. They sell shaving kits and shaving related products that help men achieve the perfect shave.
If you really want to pamper your husband consider buying him the ProGlide Power Shave Set for Christmas. This set includes a razor, battery, pre-shave oil, shaving cream pump, shaving brush and after-shave balm pump in an elegantly packaged gift box.
Right now the Art of Shaving is offering Free Ground Shipping and 10% off ProGlide Power Save Sets, through 12/30/12 when you use promo code 10PowerShave at checkout.
There are lots of gift sets available on the Art of Shaving website. The set above retails for $175, but there are much less expensive kits available starting at $25. If you are interested in pampering that special guy in your life this might be the gift for you.
Here are two other deals you might be interested in:
- Free Ground shipping and $15 off your purchase of any The Art of Shaving Full Size Kit, until 12/30/12 with Promo Code: 15offFSK at checkout
- Enjoy 20% off your purchase of The Perfect Shave Solution. Valid unitl 12/30 No code needed. Discount automatically applied at checkout when you purchase a full size Pre Shave, a full size Shaving Cream or soap and bowl, Shaving Brush, Razor and After Shave.
In all the years I’ve known my husband I don’t think I’ve ever bought him a pampering present. In fact, I typically buy his razors for free or close to free using a combination of coupons and drugstore deals.
Maybe I need to rethink my gift giving strategies. Have you ever splurged on pampering gifts for the men in your life and if so what did you buy?