The Fine Line Between Being Generous and An Idiot

by Nick on May 24, 2012


Hello Step Away From The Mall readers! My name is Erika, and I run the blog From Shopping to Saving where I talk about personal finance from the perspective of a 24-year-old former shopaholic. We get deep over there and talk about saving, shopping (or lack thereof), self-improvement, and more. Click at your own risk!

You know that look on a person’s face when they light up and they start hugging you and thanking you over and over again for that marvelous gift you bought them? Yeah, I live for those moments. There’s nothing better than finding the perfect gift for someone and thinking you are probably the only person that just “gets” them.

It may be because I am overly generous, or maybe it’s the competitive drive that I have to be the best at whatever I do…and apparently I have to be the best at gift-giving. I know what you’re thinking, that’s something only idiots do…and you’re right.

I literally thrive on these moments because I get so exhilarated when I am looking for gifts for people. I keep imagining the sheer happiness that the person will be feeling once they open up their gift. Sometimes there’s just something that I have to get someone, no matter the price. I’ll even resort to looking up these items online and pay for expedited shipping just to get it on time for the birthday/wedding/whatever it is I am attending. That may just be the shopaholic in me though.

I thought I was being generous but I wasn’t. It’s nice to be coined as generous, but do you want to be known as the person who always gives amazing gifts? That would be a hard reputation to keep up, especially if you can’t afford a lot of lavish gifts.

It took me awhile but I finally let go of being the best gift-giver out there. In the process, I have purchased expensive make-up for friends, a Balenciaga wallet for my boyfriend, expensive massages for my parents, and a lot of other presents that I do not even remember. If I can’t remember, how would anyone else remember? It’s nice to give gifts, but think long and hard before sacrificing too much just to give nice gifts.

I was giving gifts that a dual-income family wouldn’t even purchase for themselves, and that’s a bit ridiculous. I have a tendency to put others before myself; so naturally, I had a problem with gift-giving. When my gift budget is the one that’s always blown each month, then there’s a problem.

Find that perfect balance between being generous and being an idiot (like me).

Some questions you may want to ask yourself when purchasing a gift:

How close am I to this person? Does this person reciprocate? Did this person help me? How will this gift make the giftee feel?

The Effects of Gift-Giving

Sometimes people will feel obligated to get you something if you get them a lavish gift. Looking back on my best friend’s wedding, I did not need to get her 3 huge gifts plus a ton of expensive items that she wanted for herself. Add baby gifts for her new baby and as a result, she ended up giving me some nice gifts herself. At the time, she was unemployed and paying a lot of money towards student loan debt (still is) and paying off the hospital stay for when she delivered her baby.

Looking back on that, I feel really bad that I put her in that situation.

Set a Generosity Budget

Since I do like to still buy gifts for others, and I have a lot of people in my life that I appreciate, I am bound to continue to purchase gifts in the future. To solve this problem, I implemented a gift fund. I try to contribute $50 each month to this fund so that I can take money out for birthdays, Christmas gifts, anniversaries, weddings, baby showers, housewarming gifts, Mother’s and Father’s day, and charity.

As long as you aren’t going into debt or giving your budget a heart attack by giving gifts, you will be a generous person, not a generous idiot :) Also, it’s always the thought that counts. As many times as you’ve heard that phrase, it’s always true. I consider the best gifts the ones with the most thought, not the ones that are the most expensive. Big gifts are overrated!

What’s the most expensive gift you’ve bought someone? Do you have a gift/generosity budget?

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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