Author Topic: worried my family will think I'm cheap  (Read 4711 times)

swimgriff06

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worried my family will think I'm cheap
« on: March 03, 2015, 05:36:54 PM »
As I'm cutting the fat from my monthly credit card expenses, it has become painfully obvious how much I have been spending on gifts for other adults. Birthdays, Christmas, and the like. I'm happy to buy reasonable gifts for my young nieces and nephew, but as far as other adults, I want to STOP THE MADNESS. It adds up to a ridiculous amount at year end.

However, I'm concerned that being too hardcore is going to make my family and friends think I'm cheap. It was my birthday last week. About 1 week in advance of my bday dinner with my immediate family, I gently requested no gifts. My brother (normally a big spender and big gifter) respected the request. However, the rest of my family did not. In fact, the gifts I received were even more lavish than usual. I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but then there is the pressure to reciprocate.

My family in particular likes to spend, and to do expensive things together. And I know they will have a hard time understanding if I say I no longer want to participate in the excessive gift exchanges, dinners, vacations, etc etc etc etc........

I know my own mindset is part of the problem. But has anyone else experienced push back when they tried to opt out?

Do I need to just accept that my family will think whatever they will, and blaze a new gift-less trail?

jmusic

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2015, 05:43:22 PM »
Even from a non-financial angle, I have issues with accumulating too much junk and many times gifts are the culprit.  My mom gave me a panini maker for my birthday two years ago that I think I've used maybe twice...

What I did was to frame it as "I have too much stuff and I'm trying to declutter my house..."

Exflyboy

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2015, 05:49:30 PM »
Its hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

Fact is they may well think your cheap, but if your plans include an early FIRE, this really is a small price to pay. You may even help educate them

I never did.. they think I'm cheap, well Cst La Vie... and I never have to work again.. I can live with that..:)

What others think of me (including my family) is simply not relevant.

I don't know how old you are but I suspect you are younger than me.. This is a part of growing up and expressing your own personality, sorry, but the fact is you are your own person and you are choosing to live your life your way.

I applaud you for taking a stand.

Exflyboy

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2015, 06:18:34 PM »
Consider being cheap as a badge of honour..:)

I used to make a joke out of it.. When I got the accusation I used to say something like "Yup I squeak when I walk"..:)

Really this issue is only as important as you let it be

MayDay

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2015, 06:24:57 PM »
We slowly backed it down.  Rather than stopping all at once, we shifted over to smaller, more edible/consumable stuff (you know, the kinds of things we would like to receive!) and homemade stuff like jam I canned, as often as possible.  Then from there it was natural to stop entirely. 


Glenstache

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2015, 06:25:14 PM »
Blaze your trail and hope that you are able to set a good example.

Is it really a "gift" if you are giving someone something they don't want? If they know you don't want it, is it really the thought that matters? This may seem harsh, but I think a lot of people exchange gifts out of habit, sense of expectation, or because they like shopping. I can think of very, very few gifts that have been meaningful over the years, especially relative to the value I place in my friendships. When I think of close friends and relatives, I think of great conversations and shared experiences not that random book/widget/thingamajig I got 5 years ago. That said, on friend's birthdays, we generally don't let them buy their own beer. We also have busy enough lives that making the time to come together as a group is what is appreciated. I am also lucky to have friends who appreciate frugality even though we practice it to varying degrees.

Following through on a no-gift policy will generate some awkward moments if that isn't a norm. But, it can also be an opportunity to talk about things that are important in life. The key is to explain it respectfully and directly, but not dogmatically.

wordnerd

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2015, 07:52:36 PM »
I feel you. Though it's perhaps ideal to address differences in spending directly, I've avoided it with my parents and brothers (all of whom spend like drunk sailors on leave).

I've always been a reasonably good gift-giver for those I know well, so I try to give not overly expensive, but still thoughtful gifts (e.g., books I know they will like, nice olive oils for my brother who cooks). I also write a lot of cards, which seem to go over well in my family. Though clichéd, it sometimes true that the thought counts.

Vacations are tougher. Sometimes, I make excuses. Sometimes, I share accommodations with others. Sometimes, I pay more than I prefer and feel like a pushover later.

My family does (and probably always will), however, think I'm cheap. I'm growing increasingly OK with it.

SaintM

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2015, 08:05:02 PM »
In this regard, my sister and I could not be more different.  If we meet at my parents' house for a holiday, sis will drive up in her Mercedes or late model Tundra, I will come in my beater hauling my hotel room...er camper.  We don't talk money, and I never ask my parents to take sides.

Everyone knows I work short hours and don't take my work too seriously.  In fact, it is quite entertaining, great job security, and a pension when I decide to hang it up.  She works loooooong hours trying to impress her employers, has been downsized twice, watched some of her former bosses go to jail, and has nothing but a piece of shit 401k to fall back on.

galliver

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2015, 08:38:42 PM »
I think there are ways to use gift-giving to express caring and attentiveness, without spending a fortune. I think the current wish-list & registry driven, cost-reciprocity-expecting climate is ridiculous. But I'm also saddened by the idea of a world with no gifting traditions. I think some of the healthier gifts are: consumable (food, drink, bath products, etc), homemade or handmade (food, drink, knit, crochet, sewing, carpentry, product of any other art/craft), or support an interest, hobby, or healthy lifestyle (sports gear; genuinely useful kitchen tools like a mandolin slicer, food processor, etc; paints for an artist, so on). An ideal gift is something a person looks at repeatedly but puts off buying indefinitely, or something they didn't know they wanted, but end up really enjoying. I don't think a good gift needs to be brand new; just in good condition. But I do think that for consumable, homemade or secondhand gifts (like thrift store or refurbished), packaging and presentation becomes key. My sister can do amazing things with mason jars (one time, she filled them with tasty, uniquely-flavored jams; another time, with finger-crocheted scarves).

I don't know who you are or what your specific skills are, but I do think that if you move from expensive gifts to meaningful ones, no one will notice the change in monetary value because the sentimental value and "oh, cool" factor will compensate.

MrsCoolCat

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2015, 09:15:40 PM »
In this regard, my sister and I could not be more different.  If we meet at my parents' house for a holiday, sis will drive up in her Mercedes or late model Tundra, I will come in my beater hauling my hotel room...er camper.  We don't talk money, and I never ask my parents to take sides.

Everyone knows I work short hours and don't take my work too seriously.  In fact, it is quite entertaining, great job security, and a pension when I decide to hang it up.  She works loooooong hours trying to impress her employers, has been downsized twice, watched some of her former bosses go to jail, and has nothing but a piece of shit 401k to fall back on.

I enjoyed your short story! GL to your sister! My brother and I come from parents and a family that saves... but I'm discovering that some invest and others provided the money to their sibling (i.e. my uncle and aunt) to invest... interesting how that works.

Allie

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2015, 10:30:53 PM »
I have not yet had success in this regard, but hope it will come this year.  Previous efforts to request no gifts or smaller gifts have not been successful in my family.  So, this year I am taking it on one member at a time.  My brother is probably reading this forum, although we arent close enough for me to ask, but we have conversations about saving money and have agreed to nix the grown up gifts.  I had a conversation with my mother about our family goals and plans and, although I recall she said something like, "how did you get frugal, you didn't want for anything as a child?", it was a really good one on one talk outside of a gift giving setting and I think next time I ask she skip the gifts, it will be honored. 

Does the talk to everyone you care about and explain individually technique work?  I have no idea, but I'm hoping it does.

Noodle

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2015, 10:45:51 PM »
I second the suggestion to negotiate gift giving one person at a time instead of making a blanket statement to everyone. There may be some who are less enthusiastic givers or who have a harder time knowing what to give, who would be happy to give it up. In our family, we have some adults who give to each other, and some who do not. That also makes the decision about your relationship and not just about what you personally want. I do think it's important to listen to the other person too. For some people, gifts are a love language and the best gift back is to receive gratefully.

LiveLean

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2015, 06:28:42 AM »
My side of the family is on board. My sisters and I do not exchange gifts, only getting modest items for nieces and nephews. My long-widowed Dad asked years ago for no gifts other than to take him to sports events or restaurants, which is great. Even then, pinning him down for sports events is hard and we just end up doing dinner.

In-laws are another story. Wife's sister's family is at the high end of the consumerist spectrum and sister-in-law is still bitter at my wife for not doing something major for her 40th....four years ago. (Wife sent a nice gift, but failed to organize girl's getaway.) In-laws insist on buying me clothing for birthday and Xmas, all of which I give back to them saying it doesn't fit or isn't my size (which usually is true). Still, they don't get the message.

When we bought our second home/rental property last year, my sister-in-law actually said to my wife: "How did you pull that off? I thought you were on the verge of being destitute." Amazing.

boarder42

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2015, 06:34:11 AM »
I fortunately dont have this problem my parents set a spending limit on giving back to them and my brother and i are givers.  and when my parents give us gifts they ask me what i want/need and that is typically just the money they would have spent.  Works amazing if you can change your lifestyle to this.

Briarly

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2015, 06:36:45 AM »
I quit it with the presents in my 20s. I occasionally will get a present for someone if there's exactly the right thing, but I don't save it for an occasion- I just give it. the first couple of Christmases people thought I was crazy! now I never get any comments (and hardly any useless stuff I don't want either). ripping off the bandaid was great for me- no regrets. I know I'm not actually a stingy person at heart and I know my loved ones know that too.

Pigeon

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Re: worried my family will think I'm cheap
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2015, 06:45:26 AM »
Dh and I both have large families.  My family quit exchanging gifts among the extended family years ago.  Dh's family is very resistant. Most of his brothers are physicians and have much bigger salaries than we do. I finally put my foot down.  The money was one issue, but not the only one.  I do 95% of the Christmas shopping and the amount of time and effort the gift exchange took was ridiculous.  I don't mind buying for the kids, but spending days of my life I will never get back shopping for the adults who just don't need more crap and can buy their own crap if they do just had to stop.

One year we announced in January that we would not be exchanging gifts that year.  We reminded them during the summer.  Some of them still got us gifts.  We thanked them and smiled and offered no excuses for not having return gifts for them.  Eventually, it petered out.  The rest of them still exchange gifts at the big family gathering.  It's a little awkward not participating, but that's life.

They also think that we are cheap for encouraging our kids to go to college within our state's excellent system and not at much more expensive private colleges.  I heard my BIL asking my kid why she wasn't applying to Brown or Colgate.  I asked if he was offering to write the tuition checks and that made the point, I think, because he shut up about it already.

They will also think we are cheap when we don't throw $75,000 weddings for our daughters.  Oh well, I can live with that.