How to Handle Someone Who Gives Too Many Gifts

First world problems, right?  How can you complain about someone who gives too many gifts?

Believe it or not, that’s something I’ve struggled with this holiday season.  I have one relative who, simply put, is buying too many gifts for me, my husband and my kids.

If this relative was independently wealthy, that would be one thing, but I know that she’s also trying to save money for some home repairs and a trip of a lifetime to Europe.  I wish she would buy each of us just one gift and put the rest of the money in her vacation fund.

Do you also have problems with someone in your life who buys too many presents?

If so, there are things you can do.  (Though you’ll probably want to implement most of these suggestions AFTER this holiday season.)

Too Many GiftsSet a gift giving limit.  Most people buy gifts because they want to be nice, and they want to do something special for you.  However, people can overstep their bounds.  This year between all of my relatives who like to give gifts to our kids, the kids are getting more than enough presents.  Combined with the gifts my husband and I were going to give, my kids were going to have way too many gifts.

I set aside some of the gifts I was going to give; I’ll use them next year.  I also had my mom set aside some of her gifts for birthdays.  I’ve also asked some of the relatives to set a limit of one or two gifts in future years so that our children are not drowning in presents.

Accept and be appreciative.  Another idea is to simply accept the many gifts and be appreciative.  After all, as Trent Hamm, guest blogger on The Christian Science Monitor, points out, “These gifts are given out of love.”  Hamm, who struggles with his family members giving his kids too many gifts, explains, “People give our kids gifts because they love them so much and it’s their way of expressing it.  For me, telling them  not to do so is akin to saying, ‘Please don’t express your love and caring for our children.’”

If someone like a grandparent routinely goes overboard with the gift giving, you can reduce the number of presents that you get your kids and save money.  You can just reap the benefits of saving money, or you can take the cash that you saved by not buying so many gifts and instead give the cash as a present to the prodigious gift giver.  Everything comes full circle this way.

Direct the gift giver’s generosity.  I remember when I was little, my mom’s friend wanted to get me a Christmas present.  I was a prolific reader, and she got me Green Eggs and Ham.  I was well beyond that book.  Too often, people try to be generous by giving a present, but the gift they give is not necessarily what the recipient needs or wants.

You can direct the gift giver’s generosity by steering her to a wish list.  You could create it on Amazon, and then you would be able to keep track of what has been bought, and you could also have some say in the plethora of presents coming into your house.

Do you struggle with well-meaning relatives buying too many gifts?  If so, how do you handle the situation?

 

Have We Lost the Meaning of Frugality?

My grandparents were married during the Great Depression.  Their first few years together were spent in severe economic hardship, and the financial lessons they learned during that lean time never left them.

They always had one car.

My grandma wore the same dresses throughout my entire lifetime.  I think when she died, the dresses she still had were 25 to 30 years old.

They rarely went out to eat, opting instead to cook and eat simple meals at home.

My grandparents did without much of the time, and they were very frugal with their money.

They sold their house when they retired and lived in a 5th wheel trailer parked on the side of our lot, less than 20 steps from our house.  All of their possessions fit in that space, and their home was not cluttered.

Has the Meaning of Frugality Changed?

Lost FrugalityNow, the definition of frugal seems to be different.  People try hard to avoid doing without.

Now, the motto seems to be, “Why do without?”  Live like the Jones’ without spending money like the Jones’.

Whereas my grandparents carefully bought the groceries they needed, today’s frugal zealots clip coupons and create grocery storage spaces out of their garages.  They have rows and rows of processed food that they got for pennies on the dollar thanks to couponing.

Many mom bloggers are making their fortune sharing all the hottest deals available.  Kids’ winter jackets for $8!  Hurry, buy women’s turtlenecks for $4 today only!  Get your child the Barbie princess house for the low price of $48!

Hurry!  Hurry!  Buy the bargain.

Do You Really Need That Bargain?

So many consumers are on the hunt for a good deal that they never stop to ask themselves if they really need the item that is on sale.

What if your child doesn’t need the Barbie princess house?  What if your child has so many toys, she whines about picking them up and doesn’t take care of the ones she has?  Is that Barbie princess house still a good deal?

What if you never even thought about buying that item until you saw it on sale and didn’t want to miss out on the savings?

We’re Overwhelmed with Stuff

Look back at pictures of people’s homes from 60 or 70 years ago.  Their homes were not cluttered.  They were much more like the minimalists’ homes of today.

Now, we take advantage of so many “deals” that our homes are overflowing.  Here in Arizona where there are no basements, and therefore no built in storage, most people can’t park in their garages because they’re stuffed with possessions.

We don’t need all of this stuff.

Snagging a great deal on something we don’t need isn’t a deal.

It’s a waste of money.

Keep More Money in Your Pocket This Holiday Season

We’re entering into the busiest shopping season of the year.  There will be good deals, plenty of them.  You’ll likely be tempted to buy as many gifts for yourself as you will for others.  After all, the prices are so good.

But ask yourself one simple question–Do I need it?  If you don’t, it’s not a deal.

Do you think the definition of frugality has changed?  Do you or someone you know struggle with buying more than you need because something is on sale?

 

 

Do You Compare Your Finances to Others?

I belong to several Facebook groups, and recently, a woman in one group asked the seemingly innocent question, “What do you pay for cell phones and car insurance?”  She added, “We pay $180 a month for our cell phones and $345 a month for our car insurance.”

Say what?

When you read that number, you automatically think one of two things–“Wow, she’s paying a fortune for cell phones and car insurance!” (that was my initial thought), or, you think, “Sounds about right.”

Comparing FinancesA few of you may even think she’s getting a good deal.

My husband and I each carry a cheap cell phone from Tracfone that is for emergencies or occasionally checking in with one another.  We don’t spend any more than $10 to $20 a month on them.  Our car insurance is about $55 per month.  (We only have one vehicle.)

After reading how much this woman spent, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  But why?  I really don’t know her situation.  Her cell phone plan might include cell phones for the whole family.  Her car insurance is likely for multiple cars.  Maybe she has teenage drivers, or maybe she or her spouse has gotten a ticket recently.

Besides, I have no idea how much money she makes.  These bills might not be that extravagant in relationship to her income.

There’s really no point comparing my situation to hers.  To do so would invite complacency toward my own budget at best, and a loosening of the purse strings at worst because, hey, other people are spending a lot more than me.

The Only Time You Should Compare Your Spending to Others

Generally, I try not to compare my spending or budget to others.  Circumstances vary widely, and knowing another person’s exact financial situation is difficult.  Too often, especially online, we get a snapshot of someone’s finances and think we see the whole picture when we don’t.

We make assumptions of our own financial situations based on others.

Ultimately, we need to strive to do the best we can do with our own budgets.  To beat ourselves by spending less and/or saving more than we did the month before or the year before.

The only time it makes sense to look at someone else’s finances and spending is when they are doing considerably better than you, and you want to learn from and emulate them.  For instance, I knew my husband and I were spending too much for groceries.  One blogger I read has grown a large garden and planted fruit trees so that she can feed her family of 9 for less than $300 per month.  (Yes, you read that right.)

I know I won’t  ever have a grocery budget of $300 per month, but reading her techniques and strategies has encouraged me to cut my grocery budget and try to spend less.  It’s even inspired me to try out once a month shopping to reduce costs.

Ultimately, we shouldn’t compare our finances to others, but if we’re going to, we should only compare to those we wish to emulate.

Do you look at other people’s spending to make you feel better about your own or to motivate you to improve your finances?