My in-laws just came back from vacation with a car full of gifts for us. T-shirts, key chains, souvenir postcards and photographs, you name it.
The problem is, we can’t really use any of this stuff. We have too many nick-knacks as it is, and we’re really trying to cut back on “stuff.” The t-shirts don’t fit. We have our own photographs from the vacation site, having already visited it ourselves.
To make matters worse, they left the price tags on everything. Now we know that they spent $14 on a pink vase (a vase from the beach?), $20 each per shirt that doesn’t fit, $7 each for two key chains, and $10 for the photographs. It really bothers me that they waste money on us. I don’t mean to be ungrateful, but I would much rather have an hour of quality time with them, or one great gift that we can use, rather than $80 worth of stuff. I’ve tried to explain this already, that we’re really minimalists, but they just don’t get it. They like stuff, so we must like getting stuff, right?
They also buy food for us, and invite us out to eat 2-3 times per week. I’m a planner, and like to schedule meals for the week. (They’ll bring over a rotisserie chicken, just as I’m finishing up supper. Thanks, guys.) They think we can’t afford food, because they’ve seen me clipping coupons and writing out a grocery list. I COULD spend $100 per week on food… but then we couldn’t contribute to our retirement funds, or prepay the mortgage, or set money aside for our “fun” expenses like vacation. We choose to make sacrifices in our daily expenses, in order to have a better lifestyle in the long run.
I’m really concerned about what will happen when we have children. My family is very frugal and thoughtful – we will search for weeks to find the “right” gift, and give just one or two well thought-out gifts per person. His family prefers an all-out gluttony of gifts, most of which wind up back in our “re-gifting” closet for the next holiday, because we just can’t use them.
I can already see our children being spoiled by gifts… and I don’t want that to happen. I grew up learning to appreciate what we had, because it wasn’t much. I don’t want our children to struggle or feel deprived, but I also don’t want them to think that money comes from credit cards and the ATM. Please spoil our children with love, not money.
Does anyone else have this problem? Do your family and friends respect your lifestyle? Have you be able to come up with a compromise that makes both families happy?