Christmas and money, am I just humbug scrooge?

cuddlepooDecember 27, 2007

Well, now that Christmas is over I am mulling over the money spent. DH had a budget of $600 each for two adult children. Add maybe another $500 for a few other gifts he bought for others combined. I thought that was just too much. Are this typical for adult kids? We don't gift eachother for Xmas. I also see my family spending big bucks on their younger children for all the 'must have' big ticket toys. Bah humbug!

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Advertising = hypnotism = brainwashing.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 3:39PM
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Posted by cuddlepoo: "I thought that was just too much."

The question is can you afford it???

I'm sure Oprah or Bill spent ten times that on a gift for each of their friends.

It's not about the dollar amount spent it, is about how it fits into your overall budget and income.

If you are drowning in debt and have no retirement savings then yes, $600 on each kid and another $500, is too much. Conversly, if you have a seven figure income, a $600 xmas gift for your own child might be considered stingy in that social sphere.

Since you came here to post about your DH's decision to spend $600, it obviosly bothers you and it is an issue between you and your husband with the focus of the conversation being your income, budget and longerm financial goals. You won't be able to get a cut and dried definative yes/no answer here that will be your bible for your unique financial situation.

I am surprised that you DH did not allow you any input and make it a joint decision when he decided on your xmas budget.

As far as your observation on what your other family memebers spend on their kids I think that is really their business and nobody else's. Unless you are seeing them headed for financial ruin with thoughtless purchases and mounting debt, there is no reason to involve yourself or twist yourself up with angst over it.

Some families shower their kids year round with iPods, laptops, ski trips, ballet lesons, dvd recorders, Hannah Montana tickets, and Hillfiger clothing. They say "We don't do xmas gifts" because there is nothing left that will be "special" to give the kids. Other families don't hand their children everything they ask for whenever they demand it, and make xmas a dream come true when they open their xmas day gifts - It might look like a lot of gifts in a huge pile but the kids didn't get anything else all year. It does not make sense to use, 'how other families enjoy the holiday' as a yardstick against one's own circumstances.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 3:53PM
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Oh I had my input, he had a higher budget in mind to start with and thought he had come down to a good compromise after our initial conversation. So don't even try to paint my DH as a domineering ogre. I'm not having any of that. And twisting myself up with angst about other people's spending? Huh? You have a talent for creative writing! And if I have an opinion that I think that some people are just materialistic and many kids today spoiled with expensive gifts, then I will say so, and if you don't like that, tough. And were not drowning in debt, and we could afford a much more expensive house than we have. There are a lot of things that we could fit into our budget, but why? Just to feed other people's need for things? Or to impress people? Why?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 4:10PM
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I personally think that $600 for each ADULT child is too much money. I also think that $600 is too much to spend on a child. That amount does not fit my budget. But maybe it fits yours. How old are these adult kids? When we were young my mom spent about $250 each for my sis and me. Now that we are both older(39) she spends about $75. Do you have any grandkids yet? My mom usually spends about $150 on each of my kids. I think $150 is too much for her to spend. My DH and I are the parents and we like to buy the things our kids need. I guess she is just being a grandparent. I agree with you on spoiling your kids with expensive things. Maybe next year you and your DH could donate most of that money to your favorite charity in your kids names. Just a thought!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 5:08PM
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depends on several things. can you afford it? do you buy gifts that are items that are needed or will be used. we bought our son a GPS system. Yes, it was expensive, but we know he will use it and it will also give us peace of mind knowing that he may travel 60 miles in the wrong direction! Had we spent that money on something that would just sit and not be used, then i would have a problem with it.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 9:16AM
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Since this is the Money Saving Tips Forum, I think it's too much money for gifts. How much you make isn't a good criteria with which to judge how much you should spend, either. It's can you pay for it without going into debt that matters to me. If you earn $500,000 a year and spend $550,000, you really can't afford anything! You're beyond broke!

Personally, I can't understand the "we don't give each other gifts" ideology either. Especially when you seem to be more than generous with the adult children in the family. Hubby and I really need nothing - and can easily afford to get anything we need or want - but we love getting each other one thing from the Dollar Store and wrap and place it under the tree. The dollar gifts draw the most attention when we exchange gifts. One year I received a coloring book and we had a great time as a family coloring that Christmas. Adults just don't color enough these days! It's how much fun and how unexpected the gift is for a BUCK.

CASH-ONLY Christmas is also a MUST in our family - nothing on credit cards that takes another year to pay off. If you can't afford gifts, then make or bake something - it's the spirit of giving, not the cost of the gift that counts.

We enjoy being together, playing board and card games and eating, rather than trying to "impress" each other with a load-of-crap that gets tossed into the next garage sale or donated to a thrift store.

With our 2 adult children/1 spouse and 1 nearly 12-year old granddaughter we all decided on a $10 gift budget this year (so that was a total of around $80 for our immediate family). Another $15 for inexpensive plastic trays to hold the homemade goodies we made and gave to the neighbors and friends. So I'm sure we spent less than $100 for Christmas gifts this year, but that allowed us to give MUCH more to worthy causes that help less-fortunate folks.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 3:49PM
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This definitely calls for a conversation between you and your DH.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 11:23AM
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Spend what you can paying only cash. I am not against re-gifting and have received some wonderful things from a good friend that way. (win win situation for us both). I have also received some much wanted thrift store/garage sale novels as a gift's not the money spent IMHO. Budster

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 1:16AM
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$600.00 each for your adult children...that sounds reasonable to me. Given the costs of items today. I don't have a problem with that amount. And as you stated it is a reduced compromised budget. If it makes your husband happy to give gifts to his loved ones, more power to him. I must admit I don't understand the no gifts between husband and wives mentality. I would never not give to someone I love at Christmas.
As stated before as long as he isn't spending the grocery money and you are financially okay I fail to see the problem. Your other family members spending habits/gift giving are just that. THeir way to do it. Not a lot of anyone elses' business. It does seem you are torked off a bit about it just by reading your negative response towards them. Different budgets for different families. That's what makes the world go round. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 4:14PM
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I really reverberate along the same lines as your post. I'm as well off financially as I have ever been, but it just galls me to have this forced and coerced you-must-spend-a-lot-fof money-because-it's-Christmas mentallity. I'm not Scroogy, I give to charity all year long and I'm the first with my toys for the homeless, etc. And I don't stint with my grown daughter or husband, either. I just don't like being bled dry. Examples from my Dec. checkbook:
Totals for food, small gifts etc. for work parties: $250.00! Food and gifts for family parties, both mine and my husband's: almost $300. Not counting the high cost of gasoline driving 4 hours round trip to one family and 3 hours rt to another. Gifts: my daughter really needed a graphing calculator for college- Cost $230. I would have had to buy it anyway, this way it counts as a gift. Husband, don't ask- way too much for tools etc that will never be used.

Candles, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, Xmas cards etc.etc. I get after Christmas the year before, so not too much, but still it adds up. In January I will get an astronomical electric bill, because they just hike it up automatically, making us think we had too many lights up. Same with the gas heating bill.

Holiday food- astronomical, as everybody expects the woman of the family to put out a spread that would embarass the decadent emperors of ancient Rome. And the whole time the stores keep playing the carols faster and faster, and we are supposed to get all dewey eyed with the season and buy, buy, buy.

But people are starting to see through all the manipulation. I know two families now who spend the day serving food at a shelter instead of regaling each other with a lot of stuff nobody really wants. The merchants may just have begun killing the Golden Goose. As Old Joyful said, Advertising = hypnotism = brainwashing. But we are starting to wake up.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 6:19PM
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What we do at Christmas is to give gifts the person can use all year long. I'm fortunate to have family members and friends who are real "doer's" so they are always thrilled with a tool that they wouldn't buy themselves, but really DO need. My woodworking shop is filled with past Christmas presents and when using them, I fondly remember the person who was kind enough to give me such a great tool so that I can do more things, and save money by making it instead of buying it.

I think more people should develop useful hobbies so that they stay home more and spend their time in the workshop instead of spending money on canned entertainment. I could spend 5 years in my shop and still not have all my projects done. Back in the 50's and 60's, there was a lot of basement projecting going on all over the country. People were building radios, hamm equipment, doing wood projects and metal working-------all sorts of things. And the magazines of the day always had ads and articles on how to do and build things. Remember the King Midgit?? Today, not many people work these hobbies anymore. More and more people know less and less on how to do the most simplest of repairs or builds. Our attention is on being "wired", being in the loop, being connected, knowing sports facts, keeping up with what celebs are doing. We're nothing but a bunch of what I call "bicycle seat sniffers." Which means we're more focused on others and what they are doing than focusing on what's REALLY important.

So Christmas, for us, serves a great purpose. More GOOD toys so that we can DO more.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 12:54PM
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Amen to Green Zeus! We watch other people on TV clean, fix and decorate their homes, refurbish cars, cook, play poker, and generally live their lives. Kids today watch children on TV playing instead of playing themselves. It's weird!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:32AM
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In my family, $600 is a lot. To give a gift that big, it'd be a once in a life time trip or possibly a house payment or something really needed.

I agree with giving gifts people can use. A hobby gift is great. Santa brought our kids bikes so they can ride them when the weather warms up.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 11:40AM
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$600 is a lot of money to me too> We have 3 adult children and one's husband, and the most important thing to all of us is getting together. We do exchange gifts but do not spend $600 on all 6 of us put together.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 6:20PM
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I personally think it's better to get together with family than to spend a lot of money and end up broke after Christmas.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 12:15PM
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asm198 - Zone 6a (MO)

I'm torn, I guess. If you can afford to give that amount and want to do so, why not? However, I don't think that it would be worth it to spend that amount of money on things that the other person may not want or need, just to say/think that you've been generous.

I will probably be flamed for this, but for me personally, I would rather get a cash gift (or nothing) than another trinket that isn't something I collect or more candles, body wash, or random stuff that the person saw at the store.

I am never ungrateful when I receive any gift, but I have so much of that stuff that I have no more room. I enjoy getting gifts to add to various collections that I have displayed in my home or something that would fit my personality. However, I have more candles that I could ever hope to use/display in my home and I could very likely not buy lotion or body wash for the next decade and have plenty.

My reasoning for wanting cash (again, I would never say this to the people who give me gifts) is that there are things in our home that we would like to replace, such as our bed and couch. I would never ask someone to buy us either one, but money that could be used for that would be awesome.

I'm not a money grubber, as that might make me out to be. Some of the neatest gifts we've received were random, antique things from family that belonged to grandparents that have passed on.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 3:24PM
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asm 198, no rock throwing from me, to me it makes more sense to get someone something they can actually use. sometimes it bothers me but for the last couple years, have been using gift cards for parents and inlaw, they pretty much have enough "sweathers" a card to supermarket or to the hardware store seems much better, maybe one of those money cards is even better so they could have more options to use it.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 10:49AM
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asm198, I agree with you too.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 5:38PM
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My Mom is 84,blind and disabled, has everything she needs. For Christmas, I give her postage stamps, Yardley lavendar soap (her favorite), and pre-threaded needles for small sewing jobs. None of them cost a lot of money, but I know she uses them. A gift certificate to a local grocery store is good,too.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 12:02PM
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my inlaws give both myself and my DH $500 each for Christmas and my mother gives us $500 as a joint gift. It is very generous of them (yes, they can easily afford it). We really appreciate it! We are able to bank it as I buy our family gifts early and with cash-so this feels great. I think it needs to be a gift the person can use and one the gifter can easily afford whether it be $5 -as my favorite aunt sends or $500. All of that said, DH and I have wished that Christmas was every other year-then maybe it would be special again.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 2:23AM
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Well if you lived in our family group, no one would be receiving "XMAS" gifts. If I see something through out the year that would truly enhance someone's life, not lifestyle, I buy it then. At Christmas the only gifts that can be given are in the form of donations to each person's favorite group. No Toys for TOts allowed as our family insists on Time for Tots. This year I "received" three pair of boys jeans, one girl's jacket, two pair of boots, and seven books. Into each of the pockets, I placed a dollar bill. I heard the children had a wonderful Christms.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 2:30PM
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Here's a different take. Several years ago, my Mom gave each of her kids $500 for Christmas. It was an amazing gift! $500 really makes a difference when you pay your rent/mortgage in January. She said someone once gave her a gift like that and since she could that year, she passed it on.

Fast forward. My kids are grown (26 and 28) and at Christmas we get them things we know they need, like sheets, underwear, etc., and something fun, like music or DVDs. They are very, very appreciative, and generous to one another and to us. In their stocking they get a check for $500. I know this helps with heating bills, rent, etc. Every December they tell us not to "go crazy with the money again" and every year we do anyway. It's our way of doing something special. We spend lots of time together at Christmas, and this check is just a little way of Mom and Dad giving them a leg up. We'll do it as long as we can. Our Christmases were small when they were growing up, and we all did without vacations and the latest electronics and things. Now we can, so we do. It makes us all feel good. We have raised two very generous, hard working, independent, loving people, and $500 once a year isn't too much, to my mind. (And every gift is paid by cash!)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 3:33PM
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