Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

equitable gifts?

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

Amazonia posted 5/22/2013 09:08 AM

Background (skip if you don't want to read it )
For the first time in my adult life, I find myself financially stable. Right out of college I was living in LA and making $22K/year and then I moved overseas to do development work and was making $3600/year (no, I didn't forget a zero ). Then the divorce... so now I have a job that pays decently well, I avoid spending money like the plague, and I have built up a few months' savings in the bank.

I think I spent more on my parents than they did on me this past Christmas. This has definitely never happened before. I got them a joint gift. I should mention that they always spend exactly the same amount on my brother and I down to the dollar, to the extent that one year I got a 3 pack of chapstick (which I don't use) because his gift cost $2 more than mine.

My parents are not "stuff" people. We've never been big into gifts or holidays. We are also not close, although I've always been closer to my dad than my mom. The years they remember my birthday, I generally get a $50 check about a week late. The years they forget, occasionally I'll get a $100 check a few months late, because they feel guilty. Some years they have completely forgotten.

My mom is very weird about money. She does not spend. Ever. They don't have a mortgage because she "pays herself" what they would be paying in a mortgage instead and saves up in that way for a new home. Same for car loans. When we were kids we have extremely strict budgets (for things like clothes) and small allowances tied very closely to chores. Money is a big "currency" for my mom (no pun intended, but I don't know how else to describe it). My dad isn't really the same way. He's much more relaxed; maybe he has to be, since Mom gives him an allowance every month and that's all the control he gets.

Current Situation
So for Mother's day/Mom's birthday (about a month separated), I got my mom a $200 knife set. She's never owned more than a few cheap paring knives, which have been getting duller and duller in the drawer for the last 30+ years. She doesn't actually know anything about knives, so I would say she doesn't even realize how much I spent on the set, except that I can guarantee you she went online and looked them up on Amazon afterward to see how much they cost, because that's what she does with gifts.

She called and was all teary about it, etc. since I normally just send a card, having been broke off my ass for so long. So it seems that it meant something to her, and I'm glad if it did. That was the intent.

Father's day is coming up. Dad's birthday was a few months ago, and I didn't get him anything. I'm wondering if I've inadvertently suckered myself into needing to figure out $200 to spend on him.

Actual Question
Do you try to keep gifts "equitable" or focus more on the sentimental/emotional value of the gift?

[This message edited by Amazonia at 9:08 AM, May 22nd (Wednesday)]

Pentup posted 5/22/2013 09:13 AM

I used to ballpark it with my parents for Mothers Day and Fathers Day. A few years ago, I quit that for birthdays and Christmas. I typically budget about the same, but sometimes I find a gift that is perfect. Sometimes it is extravagant and I tell the recipient, you were this years winner in the gift lottery. Sometimes, it is. $3 item, but it is perfect.

With $$ being your Mom's thing and not your Dad's, I would say you have not. If it was reversed, I would thing you might have.

Sad in AZ posted 5/22/2013 09:16 AM

In a word, no. It's more important for me to find something meaningful, which can be difficult. It also took me years to realize that something I think is absolutely 'awesome' is not necessarily something the recipient will like especially with my mom. She's a true child of the depression and will absolutely ignore something costly. Even something she needs will go unused, like good shoes. She has the worst feet in the world and refuses to shop anywhere but Walmart--and she can well afford to.

These days, it's more about spending time with her than finding a gift.

Lucky2HaveMe posted 5/22/2013 09:19 AM

She called and was all teary about it, etc. since I normally just send a card, having been broke off my ass for so long. So it seems that it meant something to her, and I'm glad if it did. That was the intent.

Sounds like her love language might be gifts and you nailed it!

I don't worry about the equity. One year I gave my dad a bumper sticker for his bday - it read "Beware of my little wiener" They have dachshunds and he always has one of them in his truck and has a great sense of humor. He liked that gift so much and it cost me less than $5! I could have given him $50 cash and it would not have been the same to him.

So give what you WANT to give, not what you feel obligated to.

Disclaimer: This does not work with my kids!

idiot85 posted 5/22/2013 09:27 AM

Don't go for the same monetary value... Sentiment is more valuable- to me anyway!

Also- I bought a knife set for my brother for Xmas and everyone thought it was a weird gift... It was totally appreciated though

Edited to add: I love that disclaimer- we have to count carrots and chips in my household to avoid "she has more than me". Ha

[This message edited by idiot85 at 9:28 AM, May 22nd (Wednesday)]

somanyyears posted 5/22/2013 09:31 AM

..interesting dynamics here... first thought is that any gift should come from the heart.. shouldn't be about the money, but the thoughfulness put into the gift. well you know the person and their needs and wants.

..if your dad, let's say, loves fishing, then taking time to search for fishing related items would tell him that you know what he would appreciate and treasure, coming from you. him a cheque sends a different message..

..if you are worried that your mom will compare what you spend on him to her 200 dollar gift and then be pissed at you for spending more....or less on him, then it can create other problems.

..especially if your mom is so money driven..

..showing favoritism towards one can result in hurt feelings or resentment if it's blatant.

..have you thought of sending a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, where both mom and dad could attend and both share in your gifts? you ever just ask them if there is something they would like for each of their upcoming special days?

.i would suggest better, more open communication on the topic of gifts, to take the mystery out of it.

..hope you all can get past the dollar amounts and focus more on the act of giving and sharing in the moment and the meaning of the day.

..good luck


[This message edited by somanyyears at 9:58 AM, May 22nd (Wednesday)]

jennie160 posted 5/22/2013 09:40 AM

My parents are a lot like yours in that they are big savers and don't get mortgages or car loans. They were really strict with money growing up but have loosened up a bit in recent year. But there are still things that they won't buy for themselves even though I know they would like/use them.

I typically try to keep their gifts equal but if there is something I know that one would really like I will spend extra without keeping things equal. Typically that ends up being my mom, I can relate to her better and know what kinds of things she would enjoy and don't feel I will be wasting money buying something she won't use. But it works out because my brother relates better to my dad and will usually spend more on him.

I think as long as you put thought into the gift for your dad and there is some emotional value added to the monetary value it should help even it out.

Crescita posted 5/22/2013 11:26 AM

I wouldn't worry about dollar amounts, but would try to find something of comparable value and thoughtfulness. They can get a ballpark on price, but they will really never know how much it actually cost you anyway.

Kajem posted 5/22/2013 12:51 PM

I think I would keep my budget about what was spent on mom. Then go about finding the perfect gift for dad.

Let us know what you find.



Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.