Rejecting Expensive Christmas Gifts: Admirable or Insulting?

Expensive Salvatore Ferragamo WalletI’ve got a habit that drives a close friend nuts. She always buys me an assortment of Christmas presents every year, and every year I end up returning at least one of her gifts because it is way too expensive.

This year she got me a $390 wallet by Ferragamo (picture). I used to have a Ferragamo wallet three years ago, but it got lost or stolen in a tennis locker room one day. I was so mad because the wallet was a present and also very expensive.

I’m not into name brand items, although I do appreciate well crafted things. Quality, not quantity is something I’ve learned to cherish the older I get. For the past two years I’ve been happily using a $30 Fossil wallet everywhere I go. If I lose it, no big deal. My friend wanted to treat me since she knows how little I treat myself (she’s read my entire Budgeting & Savings category).

When I opened the present, my immediate thought was, Sweet! But this wallet could feed a lot of starving kids. Gotta return it.

My friend could sense my desire to return the wallet so she made a preemptive blurt, “No! You aren’t going to return this gift! If you return it, you will make me very sad!

The last thing I want to do is make a thoughtful person sad. But at the same time, $390 is a damn lot of money for a wallet! I don’t want to be one of those folks who totes around luggage that costs more than the items inside. My Fossil wallet has been working just fine. No, it won’t get looks from the ladies when I whip it out to pay the bill, but who cares when I’ve got a sexy smile?

I began to rationalize with my friend why she would feel sad if the wallet was returned. I told her, “Is it because you feel bad facing the sales clerk?

She immediately said, “No, it’s not that at all. I just want you to want to have it! I enjoy giving you something I know you’ll like and use. You always return my presents!

I told her I appreciate her thoughtfulness, but the cost is just too much for me to accept. I bought her a gift worth roughly $125. The only way I would feel OK is if I bought her a present of equal or greater value. But then the cycle would never end until we both go broke!

The best solution to our gift giving quandary is to stop giving each other gifts. I stopped exchanging gifts with my parents and adult relatives long ago. Instead we just go out for lunch or dinner when we’re in the same city and fight over the bill. I would propose the same to my friend, but she just loves giving and receiving gifts. It’s been a part of her upbringing. It wouldn’t feel right to ask her to change.

The second best solution is to present the situation to all of you and ask what would you do if you were me? She earns an above median income for San Francisco, but is not rich. If she was a multi-millionaire or had a huge trust fund I honestly wouldn’t feel as bad.

She says the gift makes her happy, but the gift makes me feel guilty. So wouldn’t logic dictate she should return the gift if she wants me to feel good as well? I also get a thrill out of returning things because it feels like I am or my gift giver is saving money. And we all know that saving money makes us happier!

Have you guys ever rejected gifts or asked the giver to return the item because it cost too much? How did you go about rejecting the gift while demonstrating your appreciation without making the gift giver feel bad? What type of compromise did you make?

Average Inheritance Amounts By Country: Have You Had The Talk With Your Parents Yet?

Average Inheritance USA and by country table

If there’s one topic more uncomfortable than discussing how much money you make or where babies come from, it’s the topic of inheritance. Talking about inheritance just feels wrong due to the greed it connotes and the finality of it all. But 100% of us will die, and 100% of us should be thinking about how we should give our assets away in an equitable manner. The best withdrawal rate in retirement doesn’t touch principle so we can ensure there’s money left over for others.

Dave’s post on taking care of his 97 year old grandmother got me thinking about a curious outcome that may occur. No matter how much love and time Dave gives his grandmother, her irrevocable trust will likely stay the same. Most of her assets will likely go to her son, Dave’s father who has financial issues of his own, and then her grandchildren. I’m sure grandmother appreciates all of Dave’s efforts. But at the age of 97, there’s no changing the will/trust to reward Dave for all his hard work during her most difficult years.

I’ve never had the inheritance talk with my parents because to discuss such things feels like extremely poor taste. Besides, they should have decades of healthy living ahead of them.

Thinking about inheritance is similar to how folks under 40 think about Social Security. There might be something in the end, but nobody counts on it. The only people who seem to talk about inheritance are super wealthy families with family businesses succession plans or people who are financially struggling and have no shame to ask their parents for more.

NO EXPECTATIONS SINCE COLLEGE

Personal Finance Advice For Couples: When One Partner Isn’t Interested In Finances At All

Divorce Rate Declining

Source: StateOfOurUnions.org

The following is a guest post from reader, Erin Opalek. Erin is a married 30-something saver who engages in synchronized saving and other questionable leisure sports. If you’d like to try your hand at personal finance blogging, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and send me your proposal! My goal is to have every single one of you give it a go before 2020. 

Over the years, I’ve had a bunch of married friends express a desire to get their personal finances in order. Pretty much everyone agrees that financial uncertainty is stressful, and following a plan is a great remedy for that stress. So what’s the biggest obstacle I’ve heard about getting started? Surprisingly, it’s not that one person is a buy-like-you’re-dying-tomorrow wastrel. Instead, it’s usually been the fact that one partner hates the thought of even talking about money. So how does a couple tackle their finances when only one half is interested?

It’s a question that I’ve pondered a lot lately. Because, here’s the deal: while I think personal finance is neat-o, it’s not really my husband’s cup o’ tea. But we’ve been able to stick to a financial plan, save a ton of money, and never worry about how to pay for expensive surprises like that furnace that crapped out on us a few years ago. How have we made it work? How did we get here?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

The Stealth Wealth Compendium Of Useful Phrases To Deflect Attention

Invisible Man Memorial Ralph EllisonThe Rise of Stealth Wealth is here to stay as long as there’s an ever growing government and widening income inequality. It’s only a matter of time before enormous social unrest wipes the country clean of the wealthy like a tsunami. “Be rich, act poor,” is a mantra to protect our families and our finances.

The people who are ruining it for the rest of us with their “look at me” attitudes all have one thing in common: insecurity. Psychiatrists point to the need for people to overcompensate in order to prove they are not failures based on educational or socioeconomic “deficiencies.” There’s always a story behind each target-basking person. We should reach out to help, which in turn helps others survive.

I’ve provided specific reasons for why you want to join the Stealth Wealth movement along with 15 suggestions on how to blend in better. Now I’d like to propose some common phrases we can use in every day conversation to help deflect attention away from the curious and envious.

There’s a fine line between being modest, and being obsequiously modest. If people can tell your false modesty, you’re no better off than telling them you are the bomb shit.

USEFUL PHRASES TO DEFLECT YOUR WEALTH AND SUCCESS

The Rise Of Stealth Wealth: Ways To Stay Invisible From Society If You Have Money

Invisible Man in Boller HatBecoming wealthy has never been easier in America thanks to quantitative easing, improved financial education, an improving economy, a widening safety net, and a bull market in stocks and real estate. Surviving as a wealthy person on the other hand, has never been tougher. The government goes after you if you make much more than $200,000 a year (medicare tax, AMT, deduction phaseout, credit eliminations, education tax, etc). If the government doesn’t get you, regular citizens will. Who did you cheat or rob to get to where you are? This is a real problem for those who want to make it big in the land of dreams and hand guns.

Freedom is one of America’s greatest attributes. Yet, if you go too far on the income curve you’ll start feeling like a prisoner to society. Despite the rich giving more to charity in one year than many others will give in their lifetimes, people will protest their wealth and hate them forever. Class warfare is no fun, even if you do have the financial means to own a bazooka.

Most readers here are ambitious folks who want to improve their financial health. In a recent survey about whether there is a correlation between the number of credit cards one owns and net worth, a good 22% of you indicate net worth amounts over $500,000. Another 13% of you have a net worth of between $250,000 – $500,000. Those are great figures for the average reader age of between 27-34. In another 10 years, I’m sure everybody is going to be that much wealthier. But once you get to where you are going, you’ll wonder what’s next. Never lose site of the fact that it’s really the journey to financial independence that’s most rewarding.

When society turns their back on you for being successful, just recollect on all your struggles and take a deep breath. Be proud of your accomplishments because you know you’re not just doing it for yourself, but for your family as well. You don’t have to be ashamed for not being the dumb ass in high school who thought it was cool to skip class every week to smoke weed. You shouldn’t feel bad that you worked summer internships during college while your buddies went off to play. And you should certainly not feel embarrassed by your frugal habits and smart investments once you found a job.

Unfortunately, society has a fantastic way of discrediting your achievements. “Nobody is self made,” and “You didn’t build that,” are my two favorite retorts. Just try taking yourself completely out of the equation and see where that logic goes when there’s nobody to think, dream, and execute. When you are outnumbered, resistance is futile. You must blend in and rage with the rest of them. Or you can Go John Galt to protest government waste.

With the below suggestions you’ll be able to better walk amongst the shadows without fear of retribution any longer. Your family will be more guarded from bullies lurking to recondition your children every chance they get. Once you finish reading this post, never speak of its matters beyond your immediate family and friends again. We’ve got to protect our own little community on the web.