Thursday, September 29, 2016

Back To Basics: Gifts

This is a category that is totally out of control this year. Most of it is my fault because I spoil my grandchildren and children at every opportunity. I think nothing of spending $200.+ dollars on them when they are here. It doesn't even have to be Christmas or their birthday. We just have to go to the toy or clothing store and I buy them whatever they want. This has to stop because as they are getting older(old enough to notice), I don't want them to think that money grows on trees.

Their parents are trying to teach them about being responsible with money and here is Grandma just buying them whatever they want. Fortunately my children have never said a word to me about it.

But let me tell you about a conversation with my grandson last weekend. My son and Hubby were busy watching the Buffalo Bills game. My grandson(he is 6) came to me and asked me if I would buy him some more Pokemon cards. Two weeks ago, I bought him a training set of cards for $50.+ tax. He was so very excited. It's just two weeks later and he wants me to buy more. At first I said no but then I gave in and purchased him 100 cards on Amazon for $ 16.52 plus tax. I know it's not a lot of money but these constant purchases are really adding up. 

More importantly this conversation really bothered me. Is he thinking that whatever he wants, he can just ask me for it? I have to learn to purchase responsibly for him and my granddaughter. I never did this with my own children. They got gifts for birthdays and Christmas and perhaps something once in a while related to sports that they were in.

So I am cutting back on the constant buying for them. I want them to realize that you have to work hard for your money. My grandson has weeded the patio for me every once in a while and I give him a couple of dollars. I think that is the way to go. I can always find some chore around here that they can do to earn some money for the toys and things they want. They need to learn that work and money are related. Their parents have household chores for them that they are expected to do for no money. Then they have extra jobs that they earn a few cents at. They are being taught to save their money for the things they want. That is what I used to do with my kids. This is what I need to do with my grandchildren.

So gifts will be reserved for birthdays and Christmas. There may be a rare exception but not the constant buying that I have been doing. This will be hard on the kids but especially hard on Grandma. But we will get through it. 

But I need your help! I have no idea what is a responsible amount of money to budget per person for birthday and Christmas gifts. How much do you spend on your adult kids or grandchildren for those occasions? How much do you spend on your children? I would love to hear what you do for your families. Please leave a comment and share.

I love the idea of buying 4 gifts for the grandchildren at Christmas. Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Do any of you do this? 

My children we give gift cards to. They really enjoy those rather than some item that they don't need or want. But what is an average amount? 

We stopped exchanging gifts at Christmas with our extended family a few years ago. Hubby and I buy whatever we need all year long so we don't exchange gifts on birthdays or at Christmas.   

I also have had 4 baby shower gift baskets to make in the past year or so. That has not been cheap. I need to buy one or two gifts for those occasions.

We also seem to get a lot of other invitations for weddings and birthday parties. We have to learn say no more often. Sure there are some that we really want to go to like the 80th birthday party that we are going to for a long time friend(55 years). But there are others that we can turn down.

During the year, I save money towards Christmas and birthday gifts. I use rewards credit card cash back money, Amazon points, Saving Star rebates and Ebates cash, bottle deposit returns and rebate checks, saved change, etc. Any little bit of extra money that comes our way goes into that stash. It adds up to a great deal of money by October of every year. I will count it up on October 1st. Then I will start saving for next year.

We give gifts every year to our mailman, UPS men, garbage men, hairdresser, etc. I am wondering if this is really necessary? They get paid to do their jobs so is this overkill?  Do you do this? I would love your thoughts on this.

I have to set a certain amount of money for each of these occasions and stick to it no matter what. But I don't even know where to start. Any thoughts or help would be appreciated. 

I just can't continue to let our money dribble out the door in the form of frivolous gifts especially for no occasion at all. I would rather invest that money into the trust where in would be better used for my grandchildren's college education.

Thanks in advance for your help.


  1. With gift giving to our son (only child), for his birthday we give him a dollar for each year. Example: this year he turned 33 years old. He got 33 dollars. Next year when he turns 34 he will get 34 dollars.

    1. Hi Kathi D,

      I love that idea. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think you are wise to nip it in the bud with the "no occasion" gifts. The grandson needs to be paid a very little amount for his efforts, one dollar instead of five or ten. You can suggest he saves and maybe start an account for him or get his parents to open a savings account for him.

    My friends who had more money than god, gave a ten dollar token gift to teen grandchildren and then added money to their college account. She said she gave them a $5 gift until they turned 10 and then gave them $12 and at 16 she gave them a $15 gift. All along, she gave them money for college account.

    If the six year old pouts at your not giving him gifts each time he asks, you still have time to turn him around.

    Thankfully, my children do not mind my giving their children second hand gifts. I can shop wisely and give the little d-daughter a like-new pair of skorts for $1 or a $1 pair of jean shorts for the g-son. Nothing ever looks worn and my children know I don't have a lot of money.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing. I have decided to give him a "job" to do for me once in a while and he can save that money for his "toys". He will be set for college. I love that you buy second hand. I will make more of an effort to look for things that way.I am still struggling with budget numbers but I will figure it out.Thanks again.

  3. Sounds like you have a good idea with the "job" to earn some money for his toys. I know you enjoy your grandchildren, but you can still spoil them a little on holidays and birthdays and such. I'm sure they will appreciate the college fund when they don't have to take out student loans.
    I think every family is different, and the amount that we spend on gifts will be different too. Now that my children are teens, their gifts are more expensive, so they may get only one or two big gifts as opposed to several when they were little. Experiences are important to me, so we budget a cabin weekend in the Smokies in December with my brother and his family. I like making happy memories.
    So do what works best for your family, and I'm sure that your grandchildren will appreciate the college fund instead of the pokemon cards when they are older.

    1. Thanks for sharing Kathy. I will spoil them but just not as much. I want them to learn that work equals money.

      I like Happy Memories too. That is why I go with my family to Disney World every other year. That's why I got to their sporting events etc. I was just taken back by my grandson asking. He has never done that before. I was just looking for general amounts not exactly what people spend every time. Is it too much to spend $3000. or more on your family at Christmas? Or is $1,000. enough? Stuff like that.

    2. Sounds like you have lots of happy memories!
      We budget around $100/month for Christmas, so $1200 for the year. Depending on what they want, we might spend $100-150 for each of our children. Or we may do a family gift like a PS4 with a game for each child, but I don't think we will spend that much this year. My son may get some computer parts to upgrade his computer. I really don't have any ideas for presents this year. :(

    3. Hi Kathy,

      This very helpful. Thanks!

  4. I've always put away $2,000 for Christmas gifts, décor and Christmas Eve and Day dinners. Always give to both sides of the family: parents, siblings and kids. It got crazy so over time each family moved to a Pollyanna method where either each sibling or each couple gave to one other sibling or couple with a $50 minimum which I try to stick to. For my nieces and nephews, until they get married I budget $40 each, after marriage $40 for the couple. For my parents and MIL I budget $50 each. When I say budget I try to get something of that value so if I get it cheaper good for me. I also include in those budget numbers the shipping costs since most of my family is not local.

    This year we do have a change on Hubs side in that we agreed to no gifts for B-days or Christmas. WIN! Just B-day cards and a Christmas ornament, and I threw in that I'd like us to get together for dinner once a quarter. We shall see if that happens since its not my side of the family I'm not arranging it.

    We also host for the Hubs side of the family, including his Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc. a classic Italian 7 Fish Dinner and we provide everything for that including liquor. Sometimes my MIL will chip in $100 but with all that fish and booze it gets expensive. But memories are worth it!

    Yours, DeeCee

    1. Hi DeeCee,

      This is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing how you do it. I usually do Thanksgiving for some or all of the family. Christmas is a toss up.

  5. I know it's been a long time, so firstly let me say that I'm so happy to hear that your DH is on the mend.

    Oh boy, my son does the same thing as your grandson. He's a huge Mario fan and always wants the latest game. He has a special jar for Mario savings (chore money) and he knows that he has to wait until Meijer (our grocery store) has extra 10% off general merchandise, before we purchase anything.

    As for holiday gifts. I can't really give you a set amount because, as you know, I only shop the sales/clearance :) I usually budget around $1500 for Christmas. $500 for DH, $500 for DS, the rest for school teachers and my 5 nephews/nieces. My DH only wants gift cards to the farm supply store and DS only wants Nintendo Mario items. Last year our wii U broke just before the holidays, so we had to replace that. Cost of $300 (part of DS gifts)! Yikes. This year Nintendo is releasing a new version of the old NES system for $59. This will include 30 old games. So I'll add another one or 2 new releases to that. Between Amazon gift cards and sales, I figure I can come in under $200 for DS this year. I don't mind buying Mario games, because I enjoy playing it with him. I only purchase new games, because the wii U is super sensitive to scratches or marks on discs.

    For my nephews (all teens), I've spent under $20 each this year. They only want clothing, because I buy name brand items and those cost an arm and a leg in their country. They don't mind that I buy it on clearance either. They're always impressed with my shopping Ralph Lauren currently has an extra 30% off most items. I checked clearance and got them each 2 tshirts for $5.59 each and stocked DS summer wardrobe at the same time. I also have an extra RL tee for each that I got from Macys earlier this year and American flag boxer shorts from American Eagle. Had GCs for both stores. My teen niece will be getting a VS cellphone purse. Got it free with a GC or coupon. Also adding a Clinique (free gift with purchase makeup bag filled with travel sized items). My youngest niece will be getting some Frozen clothing (free with Kohls GC compliments of swagbucks)and a Barbie doll ($5 clearance). So in total I spent around $41 plus I'll add airmail shipping of around $65. That's $106 for 5 people. I'm so hoping to spend under $1000 for Christmas this year.

    So you see, to me it all depends on the deals I can find. I have a pretty good idea what each person likes. So when I see rock bottom deals on those items throughout the year, I stock up. HTH

  6. Hi Pubbler,

    It is so good to hear from you. I think about you often and wonder what you are up to. I tried to e-mail you but I lost your e-mail. I also miss your deals. You are the Queen of Deals. Do you blog anymore? Thanks for the good wishes for Hubby. How is your son?

    Thanks for sharing what you spend and do. It is very helpful! E-mail me!

  7. Let's see. . . I have young kids (9 & 10), but no adult children. We don't buy our own kids gifts unless it's either their birthday or Christmas. I'm all too familiar with the Pokemon craze. ;-) They do save up to buy their own items, through their chores. They do things like: take out the garbage, water the plants, etc. For all of their weekly chores, they earn around $2. Nothing crazy. They are also rewarded for good grades on a report card.

    For the holidays, my budget (not including travel, as we typically fly from San Francisco to Portland, and combine it with a vacation) is $2,000. That includes: a rental car while we are there, chipping in for the holiday meals that we enjoy at my parents house, and all of the gifts.

    We spend $150 on each of our kids. As they've gotten older, it's been hard to get it below $100. This includes a few books, a few small stocking item, and one larger present. We don't exchange any adult gifts (other than for my spouse) but we buy gifts for my 2 nephews, and give bonuses to the kids teachers & nanny.

    1. Hi Hawaii Planner,

      Thanks so much for sharing. I love how they earn and save. Those amounts seem very reasonable to me. I hear you on keeping it below $100. My granddaughter is 9 and a 1/2 and I never know what to get her. It is hard to know what she is in to these days especially when I only see her 3-4 times a year. The almost 7 year old is easier.

  8. I try to stick to $75-100 each for my 2 daughters and $50-75 each for my 2 granddaughters. For other family members, around $20 each. Hubby never wants anything, so I usually get him candy. Total is around $500, not including Christmas dinner, which we host. We decided that Christmas is really for the little ones and there's no need to overspend at this time in their lives. I'm sure the budget will go up as they get older though.

    1. Hi Life in Mooseport,

      Thanks so much for sharing what you do in your family. I so agree with you that Christmas is for the little ones and there is no need to overspend at this time in their lives.

  9. Hi AD, this is Chris. I have $100 put in my savings every month for Christmas. We budget $200 for each of our kids and our son in law. I have changed how I shop for Christmas since I was sick. The past 2 years I ask them for ideas for one gift they would really like, I deal shop hard for it, and then we give them the rest in cash. I like to see them open something still.

    We have a new granddaughter as of last April, and for Christmas this year we also budgeted $200 for her and got her a nice kids table and chair set. We will try to do the same for our son when he gets married and has his first child. As our kids are starting to have children, we decided we will try to get some big things like the table and chairs, maybe a wagon, maybe a sandbox, etc. that they can use for all of their children. Then as the kids get bigger, we will probably go the route of getting them family passes to the zoo, science museum, etc.

    Our parents are still alive, so we try to budget $50 each for them. Hubby and I don't usually get each other presents for Christmas, other than maybe a little token thing that we see or some special candy for our stockings. The rest of our Christmas budget we use to buy the pecans I use to make 10 lb of sugared pecans, maybe postage for Christmas cards if we send them that year, and a little for the after Christmas sales.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for sharing. I love these ideas!