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Respecting a Gift Giver Who Sticks to his Budget

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.

Jennifer

Friday 28th of December 2007

I grew up with this same philosophy. If you get a $20 pair of pajama pants for $3, you are still giving a gift worth $20. That's how I always looked at it.

I have a friend who feels very differently. She would argue about what would happen if the person tried to return the gift (either it didn't fit, or they didn't need/want a pair of pajama pants) - then they would get a credit for only $3.

So I do worry a little about giving frugal purchases as gifts (but I still do it). :)

One Frugal Girl

Thursday 27th of December 2007

A few of you mentioned being more excited by a bargain, then an expensive gift purchased at full price. In my house it certainly helps that both my husband and I feel this way.

Dividends4Life -- Thanks for mentioning my post on your blog.

Mrs. Micah

Thursday 27th of December 2007

I'd think my husband was an awesome stud if he pulled that off! :)

It's too common, of course, for people to feel that relationships have to have a certain monetary value. I'd love to have a gift I like, even if it's free.

4Life

Wednesday 26th of December 2007

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing it. I think your brother-in-law is fortunate to have you and your husband helping him. I plan to include your article in my weekly carnival review this Friday.

Best Wishes,

wealthy_1

Tuesday 25th of December 2007

oops! I meant I agree with Donna