On Monday, we mentioned practical holiday gifts. It’s nice to find the perfect gift that will be appreciated and used frequently, but there are many gifts that cost more than the sticker price. Advertisers love to tell people that huge, sparking, expensive gifts are what it takes to show that special someone how much we love them, although I’m not sure saddling someone with a gift that continues to cost money or hours of work is the best way to say you care.
It absolutely amazes me that a person would go out and finance something that costs thousands of dollars without telling their significant other, yet every year, one of my Facebook friends seems to do just that. We’ve all seen the post with the picture of a new car with a big bow that says something to the effect of “Look What Hubby/Wife Surprised Me With!”
Then, all the comments seem to support this concept. I would love to be the person who has the guts to reply, “Wow, you gave 60 months of debt.”
People need cars, and buying new or financing might make the most sense for your situation. However, if you feel it’s OK to go out and make a huge financial decision without household input, that speaks volumes for the state of your finances. Either one person is so clueless they would be in dire straits if you weren’t around, or you are comfortable keeping money secrets from your partner. Either way is a recipe for disaster.
Financing Any Gift
Along with cars, there are tons of offers this time of year for financing jewelry, furniture, appliances, and just about any consumer good you can think of. Zero down and no interest for six months might seem like a good idea, but when all the holiday bills start rolling in next month, you might have to put off making a payment on your zero interest purchases. That leaves a short window to pay everything off to avoid heavy finance charges.
If you do need or want to buy something you can’t afford right now, the very best way to do that is to start putting payments aside before you actually make the purchase. That way, if you get into a bind, you will have extra money stashed to help out. If there are no emergencies, you’ll be able to buy your item outright in a few months. Maybe it won’t be in time for Christmas, but who really wants extra monthly payments as their gift?
I am a big believer in pet ownership and have had multiple foster and permanent dogs over the years. Giving someone a puppy, kitten, or even a goldfish might be OK for the right person, but I don’t think surprising someone with a pet is ever a good idea.
Pets take lots of work and can be very expensive. Thinking someone will grow to love their pet because you love yours is a mistake, and if you believe children will step up and take care of a new four legged friend, you might as well go ahead and send your own list to Santa.
Animal shelters see a surge in pet surrenders in December and January. Some of those are due to families not being able to afford Christmas gifts and their pets. Many are because people who receive pets as gifts are not ready for pet hair, soiled carpets, and being awoken at the crack of dawn by a new, playful puppy.
Pet ownership can be a rewarding experience, but wrapping Fido up under the tree is not a good gift idea.
Don’t Give Gifts That Cost More Than The Sticker Price
While we all would like to give the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season, it’s important to choose things that bring joy and don’t end up as an added expense. Before giving a gift you know will take money or time, think several months down the road. If your idea doesn’t seem as exciting then as it does now, it’s probably not the right gift.
Have you even been surprised with a gift that included added costs? If in a relationship, do you think it’s OK to finance a purchase without telling the other person?