The Huffington Post

When You Feel Obligated To Buy Gifts You Can’t Afford

Do you feel obligated to buy gifts for other people, even if you can’t afford them?

Recently, I was shopping for holiday gifts and enjoying it. Everyone around me was in a good mood and when I passed other shoppers, people smiled at me. There was holiday cheer in the air and festive music played in the background.
I found myself standing in the check-out line behind a woman who had a huge pile of items to buy. Her shopping outing had clearly been successful.
“I’m sorry you got behind me,” she said to me, “This is going to take some time.”
“It’s OK,” I said, “I don’t have anywhere to be. It looks like you did pretty well.” We both just laughed.
Do you feel obligated to buy gifts you can't afford?

Do you feel obligated to buy gifts you can’t afford?

A few minutes passed and the woman turned to me and explained how she has to buy presents for everyone in her family. She went on to tell me what a hardship it is for her immediate family. They don’t make the kind of money her extended family members make but still feel the need to buy gifts for everyone.

“It’s a strain on us,” she said, “And, we pay for it the rest of the year.”
I didn’t know what to say. I just smiled and told her the gifts she picked out looked very nice.

Later that evening, I found myself still thinking about my conversation. Do a lot of people feel obligated to purchase gifts they can’t afford?

I would never want anyone to feel like they “have” to buy me a gift. In fact, even thinking about this makes me feel uncomfortable.
I recognize every family has its own holiday traditions. When it comes to gift giving, it would be awkward to be expected to give gifts, like the woman I met, and feel the financial burden. I could tell she was a bit resentful about this and I don’t blame her.

If you find yourself in this situation, there are many ways you can give gifts that are meaningful but are a little easier on your pocketbook.

Making a donation to a charity, in honor of someone, allows you to give any amount of money you desire. Often, the charity will notify the person you listed on the donation form. This is a great way to help an organization, have a gift to give, and stay within your budget. It’s a win-win for everyone and also super easy.
Homemade items are another way to manage your holiday spending. Taking the time to make something yourself is lovely and thoughtful.
You can always give the gift of your time. An offer to babysit, drive carpool or do chores for someone is a great way to give a gift without having to spend any money. Type up a certificate listing the specifics and put it in an envelope for the recipient to open.

Make your holiday season about the people in your lives, not the gifts you feel obligated to buy.

Give what you want to give, but think twice about buying items you can’t afford. If you’re feeling strapped for cash, be creative and come up with options that will allow you to stay inline with your budget.
Find meaning each day,

Dara