I Will Not Force Them to Be Practical

In general I consider myself quite lucky and blessed. I received a room full of gifts at my baby shower, my mom purchased the crib for my son and other than a new dresser and car seat my husband and I have bought very few things for our little bundle of joy.

A friend of mine provided me with two large car loads of hand-me-downs when my son turned six months and another load this past week. All in all she gave me at least ten diaper boxes full of clothes, toys, books and games and the corner of our living room now looks like a small toy store.

When my family asked for Christmas ideas for my son I told them he had more than enough stuff for the time being. Instead of traditional presents I asked for the gift of time. I also asked them to contribute to his 529 or to purchase savings bonds if they still felt the need to spend money.

When my niece and nephew were small my husband and I gave them a savings bond for Christmas and for each of their first five birthdays. We also bought them a small gift, usually less than $10 or $15, so we could watch their excitement at ripping wrapping paper off boxes.

I’m a very traditional and practical gal, so I never thought much about it. Their play room was already filled to the brim with gifts they never touched and for every special occasion their grandparents and other aunts and uncles gave them boat loads of presents. The way I saw it our approach to gift giving certainly wasn’t traumatizing them.

I liked the idea of giving them something that they’ll use in the future. I remember cashing out a bunch of savings bonds when I graduated from college. I was so excited to have the money in hand and so in need of a little extra cash back then.

I expected my family to see my point of view. To realize that my son really doesn’t need anything right now and that he’ll actually appreciate the gift much more in the future.

While some members certainly understood my desire others seemed to struggle with the concept. They want to give my son a gift and watch his eyes light up as he opens the box and reaches in for the toy.

I could tell my mom really wanted to buy my son something despite my wishes. “It’s Christmas”, she said, “he should open gifts and be excited.” I could tell she was disappointed by my request to put the money away for a rainy day. She thought I was being rather scrooge-like and didn’t think practicality and Christmas belonged in the same room together.

Although I see a lot of value in putting the money aside, (believe me he’ll be thrilled with that money later in his life), I certainly see her point of view. I’m not sure where we’ll put the new toys, but I have a feeling he’ll find quite a few under my parent’s Christmas tree.

3 thoughts on “I Will Not Force Them to Be Practical”

  1. I’m the same way. When I have children, I’d want the same thing. We live in a 2 bedroom condo and we are stuck there for years (underwater).We have no room for ourselves, much less a baby. But I know my family and my husband’s family will want to buy buy buy, whereas my focus will be to save save save. Any toy they get will get 5 minutes of play, then they will either be bored with it or it will break.
    I had an idea for my nieces and nephews (between DH and I, we have 1 niece and 4 nephews). Both parents don’t save for themselves or the kids. I wanted to open up a bank account with mine and DH’s name as guardian (to each specific side or both if allowed) and each child’s name. For each bday, holiday, special occassion, we will deposit money into the account to save up for them. I hate knowing that when they are old enough, they will have no money to fall back on for a security deposit on a apt or a car or college. Maybe I’m just too practical and all, but my idea was turned down by DH (not really, just knew the families wouldn’t go for it) and the the families. Granted, I’d still get them a small gift to open, but I just know how they will feel when they grow up and have SOMETHING in the bank for them…as opposed to having overpriced gifts that we had given them over the years that got used a few times.

    • Isn’t it funny how different family members can be? I understand that people want to open presents and I get that excitement factor, but kids become inundated with toys. We have so many hand-me-downs I actually put them in rotation, moving them from one room for a week and then bringing them back. Otherwise it’s too much stuff for him in one room. I think putting the money aside for the future is such a better way of doing it. I will say that I’m torn about the idea of putting money in an account in your name. While I understand the reasoning behind that I think, (as crazy as it sounds), that relatives think their children will never see the money. Of course, if you put it into the hands of relatives that aren’t good with their money, you never know if the kid will see the money at a future point in time.

  2. I have a 529 plan for each of my nieces and nephews. I own the accounts, but each child is designated the beneficiary. The plan also allows you to give others read only access to check on them, and anyone can deposit as long as they have the account number. Each child gets $100 deposited on Christmas and their birthday. Every once in a while i let my brother know how they are doing and when they get old enough, I’ll probably get them cards and include the latest statement. Then i can teach them about saving and compound interest. šŸ™‚


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