Madame X at My Open Wallet posted about her Moral Quandary of accepting cash from her parents, especially during financial hardships.
I faced this problem recently as well. For all my life, I have accepted cash gifts from my family for birthdays, Christmas, and some other random holidays or events. After getting married 3 years ago, I got a new source of revenue from my in-laws. I am flush with joy that both sets of parents find me worthy enough to send me their hard-earned dollars, but here’s the problem:
My wife and I make more than both sets of parents, plus grandparents, combined
That’s right. People that make far, far less than us are sending us their cash.
Also, my parents and grandmother have quite a bit of non-home debt. My wife’s parents have very little debt overall. But, none are in the position to ever get to really retire, especially with bills, debt and cost of living always going up. So, the question is:
Is it right for me, as a grown adult, to keep taking money from my parents or grandparents?
My answer is NO. Personally, I think that giving people money without directing them towards using it in a specific manner, such as for debt or schooling, is an unwise investment. Sure, I’ll give money for weddings, but that’s something different. But for other events, if you’re going to give cash, tell the receiver that you’d like it used for say, their student loans, or to put in savings for school. If you can find out where to send the money to directly, then do so. It’s one less reason for that cash to burn a hole in their pocket.
How did I handle stopping the cash gifts? I simply bought a cheap thank you card, wrote out a Thank You note detailing why, in diplomatic terms, I would rather they keep the cash, and sent the card, with the cash inside, back to them. I may deposit the cash and send a check instead if it’s a larger amount.
My note said something like this:
Thank you sincerely for your cash gift. However, at this adult stage of our lives, I would rather you keep the cash for your own savings or debt repayments, and give me the gift of your company by visiting when you can.
For example, my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday 2 years ago and I replied:
Nothing material except the whole family coming down to visit for the weekend.
That was enough of a financial strain in itself to request material things as well. My family complied and it was one of the best birthdays I could remember because we all had a great time touring the D.C. area together.
So, think about that cash gift next time it arrives in the mail or in person. Do you REALLY need it more than the giver? Would you really put it towards your debt or savings IN ADDITION TO what you already planned to save or pay down? Give it back with some kind words, and move on to more meaningful gifts than money.
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