Everyday Living, Where My Money Goes

Unlucky 13: I’ve been broken

OK – it’s not really that bad, but I did buy 44 oz. of Diet Mountain Dew loving this afternoon after my lunch break. For $1.38, I am now happily caffeinated, although I’m still lacking focus.

I have an issue that I want to bounce past the blogosphere this afternoon. I recently found out that a member of my family’s church passed on in an ATV accident. The fellow was 60, but lived at home with his mom (the church’s caretaker) and although I really didn’t know him, sending a card with my condolences is the respectful thing to do for his mother who I’ve known since I was a newborn. What I am wondering though is if I should enclose money in the card or if I should make a donation in his memory to the church. And this isn’t a matter of my “no-spend” rule. I just don’t know what would be the best thing to do.

It’s kind of funny – I’m 30 years old, but up until my recently married state, I’ve kind of skidded by on the whole “gift giving” thing. (All of my friends are currently howling with laughter, because they have probably been victims of my crappy gift giving.) My typical gift for weddings? Picture frames (bought on sale at Kohl’s) or photo albums (usually found at Target). I have never spent a lot of money on gifts and was rather horrified when I opened a card from my childhood best friend Gina and found $40 in it. I mean – GINA! I probably owe you money from childhood! You have a child and I still imagine that we’re on our parents’ allowances and don’t have a lot to give. And my other friends who gave me pricy gifts and have upcoming weddings – c’mon people – you should know me better! You could have just given me $10 or a six-pack and I would have been grateful.

Sorry – this one is something of a rambler, but it’s kind of funny how things change when you get older. I know that if I sent a sympathy card to the church caretaker, that should more than suffice. But I feel older and I feel like it’s finally time for me to step up to the plate and act like an adult and not just rely on my folks to put my name on a wedding gift for a distant relative or to ignore the customs of giving money for memorials at funerals.

The good part is that because of my recent no-spend (sans my caffeinated goodness), I can actually afford to tuck in a check or some cash into this sympathy card. I can look on my buddy Ben’s wedding registry and actually buy him something that he wants.

I don’t know … what’s the consensus on gift giving?

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9 thoughts on “Unlucky 13: I’ve been broken

  1. i give what i can afford. i don’t give expensive wedding gifts either. i don’t believe in paying to be in attendance or buying a couple some expensive gift because they are not paying for it.

  2. I guess for a funeral, I see it in the same category as a charitable donation, not a gift, and give according to my own personal donation “rules” I live by. So, I’d say if you knew the family it’s a nice thing to give a memorial as a donation, rather than making random charitable donations. In general – I really hate what the whole gift giving process has become in our society – either I feel obligated by our society’s rules to give gifts based on the occasion, or I feel like if I give someone a gift that I’ll make them feel guilty or that they owe me somehow. IT’S A GIFT!!!!! By definition, that means not expecting anything in return. Which I don’t. But somehow I feel guilty because I make someone else feel guilty or compelled to give me something. So I end up hating the whole process. Which sucks because then I just don’t want to give (or get) anything!

  3. I work for hospice, and deal with many many families going through the pain of losing a loved one. Oftentimes, the person that died contributed to the household financially, and the family is strapped due to their death. I would look at this woman’s overall situation – if you feel it would really help her out to give her cash that could go to funeral expenses, then give her the cash. If she seems to be doing ok financially, then you could give a donation in her son’s name and honor him that way. There is no way to really know, but if you have known her a long time you will probably have a sense of her situation. I have known many a family grateful to have cash donations that helped take care of the cost of final arrangements for their loved one…

  4. I might call the church and ask someone there what needs the woman has. A lot of times they will know if she would prefer help with funeral expenses or if she would prefer a donation. When my mom died we requested donations to a charity in leu of cash or flowers. Just a thought.

  5. Having just lost my father rather suddenly (the day after Easter), I think giving a gift of money to the gentleman’s wife is a lovely thing to do. I was fortunate enough to be able to cover all of the funeral expenses, but it was still a blessing to receive additional funds from my loved ones and friends. She can always decide to use it at her discretion (she may choose to donate it, save it, etc).

  6. I have some of the same problems with gift giving. I’m more than happy not to receive gifts from people, but I’m always worried that I’m not meeting expectations when I give less than what I see other people giving for gifts.

    Lately, I haven’t been giving much of anything, simply because so many of my family members and friends have started the “money swap” practice of gift giving. If the only thing I can come up with to give someone is cash, then I just haven’t been doing it. That’s not what gifts should be. Once, I literally saved the $20 I got from my Mom on my birthday and re-gifted it to my Sister on her birthday. No big deal. I got it back on my anniversary!

    I did make an exception when my aunt passed away recently and I made a larger than average (for me) donation to a local cancer organization that helped her with gas money when she needed it to go for treatments. I wanted to give that money more than I’ve wanted to give anything in a long time.

    That’s what I’ve been using as my rule lately. I give what I feel in my heart I want to give and if my family and friends (and especially mere acquaintances) don’t like it, they don’t have to. I don’t ask them for gifts and I don’t expect them.

  7. I admire your compassion in sending the greeting card. My sister recently died and I was overwhelmed when I got home and saw home many people, some who I hardly know, send a nice note of condelences. Keep up the good work. We need more people like you out there.

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