My brother-in-law is on a very tight budget. Due to numerous indiscretions throughout his late teens and early twenties he was forced, through poor decisions and lack of money, to live with his parents. This past summer at the ripe old age of twenty-five he moved out into an apartment of his own. To his credit he started pursuing a bachelor’s degree via night classes at a local college and has remained steadily employed for quite some time now, but without a degree his salary is limited and his expenses are high. Between paying for school, rent, utilities, and work related expenses, like gas and car repairs, his bank account is almost always running on empty.
Today as we were out shopping for Christmas presents, (a family tradition for my husband’s family), my brother-in-law mentioned his desire to purchase pajama pants for his girlfriend. My brother-in-law was thinking about heading over to Victoria’s Secret, but my husband, who has been trained in the art of conscious spending, convinced him to head to J.C. Penney. I don’t think my brother-in-law was particularly thrilled at the idea of buying his girlfriend an item that wasn’t name brand. When we arrived at J.C. Penney he looked through the racks then said, “maybe I’ll just buy her some sleep pants from the university store.” But my husband wouldn’t have any of that. He said, “pants will cost $50 at the campus store. Just buy her a pair here.”
My brother-in-law went back to the racks and found a pair of sleep pants that were super soft and super cute for $20 with an additional 50% discount. Plus I had a coupon for $10 off any $10 purchase. After applying the discounts the pants only cost $9.99 so I added a pink sweatshirt for my niece that would enable us to use the coupon. The total for both items was $8.38. The total for my brother-in-law’s gift to his girlfriend was $4.43.
As we were walking out of the store my husband asked my brother-in-law how much he made an hour and calculated how many hours of work his savings would allow him to forgo. Then just for kicks as we walked by Victoria’s Secret I took a peek at the price of flannel PJs. The average price was $36.50.
When we mentioned the incredible savings my brother-in-law made an interesting comment, he said, “this is great as long as my girlfriend doesn’t find out how much I spent on her.” I told him I couldn’t disagree more. I think a woman would want to find a man who is responsible with his money. I wouldn’t want a gift from someone if they couldn’t truly afford to give me. In fact, I would think a girl would have greater respect for the man who knows how much he earns and how much he can spend without blowing his budget.
I’m not sure my brother-in-law was convinced by the value of his savings. On the way home my husband and I joked that he’ll probably buy his girlfriend another gift. It seems he felt guilty for spending such a small amount of money.