Author Topic: Help for Spendy Parent  (Read 4141 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 63
  • Age: 37
  • Location: New Jersey
    • my journal
Help for Spendy Parent
« on: May 16, 2017, 08:49:15 AM »
For years I've been trying to tell my mom that I don't need her to buy me things for my birthday or Christmas. I've been living on my own for 9 years and I have all the things I need (and plenty I don't). My birthday is coming up and she's hounding me for gift ideas.

I know that she wants to express her love through material things. Often it means clothes I don't wear or electronics I don't need.

She often thinks I'm too frugal- I'd say I'm about 50% Mustachian in my spending habits. She wants to do nice things for me, and to her that means buying things. (Gift cards are not a thing in my family).

I love her dearly and she's also my best friend, but I just need help on what to say to discourage the unnecessary consumerism. I'm going to be 32. I don't need birthday gifts. I would appreciate any wisdom you can share.


  • Guest
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2017, 09:00:45 AM »
We fought this battle before I went Mustachianism because hubby and I were dual military and moving all the darn time and too much stuff was the devil.

Eventually we just whittled everyone down to consumables or gift cards.  For example, I like Starbucks but would never buy it myself.  If I get a gift card, I will happily plot the best afternoon to spend $5 on a latte.  Especially if she thinks you're too frugal, see if she will be convinced to gift you a gift card to somewhere you enjoy but would rarely splurge on.

In terms of consumables- do you like any specialty food or lifestyle or hobby items she would feel good giving you that you use up frequently?  Coffee, teas, bath stuff, etc .  Even for my children I've started pushing the family toward consumables...good quality crayons and construction paper that they use up and then can be bought again the following year to everyone's satisfaction.


  • Guest
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2017, 09:03:25 AM »
Another option we used was letting family members upgrade things we already needed as gifts so they could get the gift buying they wanted. 


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 223
  • Location: Philadelphia
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2017, 09:33:55 AM »
Ask her to donate to a cause you really care about. And ask her to respect your wishes. Even if she doesn't understand it, she should be willing to do what you want.


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1450
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2017, 09:41:47 AM »
Ask her to take you to brunch or dinner.


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 294
  • Location: Humble, TX: World's Biggest Oxymoron
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2017, 09:43:43 AM »
What about treating you to a day out somewhere? A tour, or boatride, or some kind of day trip where you can spend time together and make memories.  She should love that.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 124
  • Location: Ottawa, ON
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2017, 09:58:57 AM »
Some great ideas in here! I have an Amazon list of things I would like, but I won't buy unless I get them on sale or something. I send relatives the list when it's Christmas. It includes things like luggage, a nicer coffee mug, new workout clothes, non thrift-store versions of things I use everyday, etc.


  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 778
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2017, 10:38:27 AM »
I've been in the same boat and found that I've had the most success with two things- 1. Limiting the dollar amount to something reasonable, like $50 or $80. It still results in getting stuff you don't need, but at least it puts limits on the severity of the issue. and 2. Rather than a day out, which I found usually leads to- over expensive cocktails or a fancy meal that tends to cost more than tactic 1., I've started trying to get parents involved in hobbies, and just spending some time together doing something less usual. For my mom, what has worked is having her garden with me for an afternoon. For my dad, what's worked is having him go out trash scavenging with me, which he oddly enjoys and has led to a few rescued trash projects of his own.


  • Guest
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2017, 10:44:06 AM »
Kelvins idea is what we do with my inlaws.  Here's the ongoing Amazon wish list of things...choose from there


  • Guest
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2017, 11:17:12 PM »
Ah Jeez!    It makes her feel good!   

Take the gifts with a smile and move on.    Be a Mensch ;)


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 475
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2017, 12:20:57 AM »
We have a similar issue, somewhat on steroids now that we have kids of our own.  Plus, all of our parents are divorced meaning we get it 4x over.  We've worked hard to set some limits, otherwise our house would be overrun with cheap stuffed animals and plastic toys.

First, we ask them to check with us before buying anything.  To make this fair, we try and maintain a list so that we can give good suggestions when asked (and can avoid flat out saying 'no').  Some items that we've found work best:

Memberships to local organizations are great.  Zoos, museums, concerts in the park, etc.  This is especially true for kids, but also a nice gift for adults.

Magazine or book subscriptions.  Again, great for kids, OK for adults.

Donate to charity in our name.  Simple and effective and results in us not accumulating random stuff we don't need or want.

Visits.  Spend the money to buy a flight and come see us!

In the end we still end up with 'stuff', but it's less than it used to be and we just donate the excess every year or so.


  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3556
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2017, 05:14:25 AM »
I have this problem in reverse - my grown kids want to give us gifts for Occasions, and we don't need anything, and if we just *want* something, we usually just buy it.

So I do keep a running Amazon wish list of inexpensive things that I like/could use, and this time of year I really urge the kids to get me things for the garden, which is how we discovered this weekend that one daughter doesn't know the difference between geraniums and petunias!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 63
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2017, 06:55:05 AM »
We ask for things we need but don't want to buy. Example past birthdays have been nicer bed sheets, or flannel lined jeans. These are things I wouldn't buy on my own because I have jeans and sheets. However if someone else is paying for the upgrade then I let them.  Another thing I've done is ask to be taken out to dinner with the family.  One year I asked for tickets to an orchestra.

If your issue is THAT she is spreading money, rather than what to have her get you then I can't help you. You can only control your spending. Don't try to control theirs. Make it the most useful you can. I suppose if you really want it to stop then ask for the same boring thing each year or refuse idea and make it a surprise. But realize in their mind you are taking something away from them (enjoyment of giving) when doing this.

My last suggestion is to take the oldest thing in the house (coffee maker, toaster etc) upgrade it via gift and donate the older one to charity. This helps your parents and someone else.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 97
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2017, 02:15:22 PM »
Your mom's not going to stop, at least not without hurt feelings. This is her way of showing you that she loves you. You gotta find a win-win situation.

I used to have this same problem with my mom. Whenever she'd visit, she would arrive with bags and bags of paper goods, cleaning products, etc. I asked her repeatedly to stop, but she wouldn't. A lot of it was stuff I'd never eat, like three dozen tins of sardines or huge containers of Nutella, so I'd end up donating it to the food bank or giving it to neighbors.

Finally, I got smart and began giving her a list of things I wanted and could use. Now everyone's happy. My mom can still go shopping and buy things, and I can use the stuff she gives me.


  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8748
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
Re: Help for Spendy Parent
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2017, 08:23:47 PM »
If the gifts aren't hurting your parents financially, say thank you, I love you mom, and smile.

Then sell it at a yard sale a while later or give it to charity.  It's just not that important.

If you give it to charity, and you are asked where it is, you can say you gave it to a deserving poor family who had fallen on hard times because you wanted them to feel the love and care you did when you received the gift...