Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do some people think that the amount of money you spend on a gift is the most important aspect gift-giving?

Asked by Dutchess_III (26838 points ) February 19th, 2014

A jelly and I were talking in another thread about people spending oodles of money that they don’t have buying gifts for people.

Before I got married I had a friend that I hung out with. We were getting a mutual friend birthday presents. I selected something that my friend agreed our mutual friend would like (it was a fancy roach clip, actually :D), then asked how much it was. I told her and she said, “Well, you’re not spending enough. The more you spend on people the more they know how much you like them.”

It floored me then, and the idea still floors me. Everybody in the 90’s must have thought I hated their guts if they rated my affection for them based on the cost of their presents!

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21 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Because a great deal of people are shallow, and greedy.

Khajuria9's avatar

Because they are intending to get the gift and not your affection.

Symbeline's avatar

I would hope that’s not what people think, but if they do, I guess it’s because the worth of the gift itself justifies something or another. I get things for people that I think, and hope, they want, as opposed to just how much it is. :/

JLeslie's avatar

The majority of the time cost is completely irrelevant when I get a gift. I don’t expect any gifts to begin with. I don’t expect you to bring me wine or flowers when you come to my house. I don’t expect you to give me a birthday or Christmas gift. Nothing. One of my favorite anniversary gift of all time was Krystal burgers on my 15th wedding anniversary, which is the Crystal anniversary. My favorite gifts are unexpected ones on any old day for no specific reason. They are my favorite to give and get. It might be something handmade or something bought in a store that just jumped off the shelf that was perfect for Dutchess and I had to buy it. Might be a $3 something.

However, I admit to price being a factor in some cases. For instance, when my husband’s sister was being hateful towards us for years she spent hundreds on her boyfriend and parents and then got my husband and I nothing or some cheapy gift. Cheapy as in the whole idea of the gift was cheapy not only the cost. It was obvious she put in a lot of thought to everyone else’s gifts, but not ours.

Edit: Sometimes how much money the person giving the gift does come into play. Like for a wedding. If someone is tight on money they should not feel an obligation to spend a lot of money if any on a gift. But, if they are ok on money I do kind of have an idea of how much should be spent on a wedding gift. Some people don’t agree, we have talked about it on fluther before.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Marketing. We are conditioned to believe this by those who wish to sell us stuff. Nothing is as profitable as playing on people’s feelings of inadequacy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Then there is that side too, when people deliberately snub you with money just to be petty. I’ve had that happen too.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

For the same reason why people sneer at someone who volunteers, rather than holds a paying job, as if those hours of service are worthless and frivolous.

It’s a weird mindset, and it seems to be very human. If something’s expensive, it must be – ooh! – extremely valuable. If something’s free or economical, it must be substandard. People really think that they get what they pay for, nothing more and nothing less.

JLeslie's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul I don’t see the connection or analogy between volunteering and gift giving. What do you mean exactly?

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@JLeslie Well, volunteering is gift-giving, but the gift is time and service rather than tangible items.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Volunteering means you don’t get paid, ergo, whatever you’re doing is worthless.

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t know people think volunteering is worthless. I do think it is not the same as a job though. But, that is a comment on the person volunteering not the work they do and how valuable it is.

If someone volunteers to help with their time I think most people see that as very valuable.

Dutchess_III's avatar

SOME people think volunteering is worthless. And you can’t really compare it to a job unless you know what they do. Is a person who gets paid to deliver meals on wheels worth more than the person who does it for free?

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Dutchess_III “Volunteering means you don’t get paid, ergo, whatever you’re doing is worthless.”

Yep, and I learned that lesson the hard way.

I believe in giving back to my community, and I happen to be a CPA. For years, I donated countless hours, and some extremely expensive services, to various charities. Instead of being appreciated, I stereotyped myself as someone who works for free and, therefore, must be stupid and incompetent. I now refuse to do that. I’ll collect canned goods for a food drive, but no freebie accounting or tax work.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend – also a CPA – who told a similar story. A couple of years ago, she got talked-into giving about 2 hours worth of advice to a woman in financial trouble. The woman contacted her, last week, to say that she was in trouble again and had decided to hire a CPA. But, of course she wasn’t hiring my friend, who’d kindly helped her and should have been her first choice.

JLeslie's avatar

The person who delivers the meals is “worth” the same. But, I will dare say that only people who have worked a full time job who need the money really know what it is like to have a job. This came up during the time Mitt Romney was running for President and that whole thing when someone in the media said, “she has never even had a job.” My opinion is that is a valid point. Mrs Romney doesn’t have experience with having to drag herself into work day after day when she hates her job, or worrying that being ten minutes late for the third time this year might get her written up, or be at the mercy of her boss letting her take her vacation days when she wants them. As far as the work, certainly people who volunteer or do unpaid work are both “working.”

For the most part I want to get paid when I work. I did volunteer for three years as the social chairperson at our car club. I planned about 2 events per month. I think that counts in terms of resume in that I can plan an event. I don’t think it counts as really working like when I work for an employer. I could quit, I could have been more lazy about the job andndone fewer events. Maybe they would have replaced me if I had done that. Still, nothing close to the pressures of a job. I don’t feel like I was valued less for the work I did whether I did or if they had pay someone to organize events.

I don’t mind giving free advice to a friend at all. Even if they choose to hire someone else. I find odd maybe that they might do that. But, when it comes to accounting or legal, maybe they didn’t want to disclose all their income to the friend, there could be a reason. When my BIL wanted to sell his house I would have been fine if they chose another realtor. In fact my SIL chose another realtor and what upset me was not that she chose somene else, but that she did not seek my opinion at all or ask for me to help look over the documents. I lived about 40 minutes away, so I easily could have listed it, but understandable if she wanted someone who lived in the community.

creative1's avatar

Funny I try to spend the least possible on anything but I have to say when giving a gift I certainly put a lot of thought into it and try to gear it to the person receiving it and not the cost of the gift. I love it when I can get a normally expensive gift for next to nothing. I gave my neice the melt and mold for christmas which was going for $59.99 and I got it for $11.00 brand new at toys r us, just because I spent little on the gift didn’t make her like it any less, it was one of the hotter toys for kist this christmas.

Blondesjon's avatar

Because it is.

fucking duh

JLeslie's avatar

When I worked in retail many people when buying a gift didn’t want to buy something on sale. I think that is ridiculous.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@JLeslie ^^^ Isn’t that amazing? Apparently, the same item is more valuable at its full, retail price and then magically loses worth when it goes on sale. The gift doesn’t cost as much and, therefore, no longer reflects generosity.

There are so many fallacies and misconceptions about the value of money. When people step back and truly examine their behavior, they benefit.

Example. Someone needs to buy a $40 item. The same item’s available, at a store on the other side of town, for $20. Most people will drive across town to save $20. But, if the same person’s spending $2,000 for a new sofa, and can make the same trip to buy the same sofa for $1,980, the person likely won’t do so. That $20 just changed from 50% to 1% of a purchase, so why bother? Well, it’s still the same $20 savings, and it’s still worth the effort.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. Very interesting @JLeslie and @SadieMartinPaul. What is also interesting is that as I was reading your comparison I thought, “Yeah, I’d drive across town to get a $40 item at half the price,” then, when I got to the sofa I thought, (thinking as I’m reading) “That’s just $20 off of $2000. Not worth making a special trip for!” Then I read on…very, very interesting. Thanks.

JLeslie's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul Yeah, like the person who drives drives 5 miles to save 10¢ a gallon when driving there and back cost a $1.50 in gas, so it almost evens out and wasn’t worth the time.

I think thengift thing was they don’t want to be perceived as cheap. I typically have an amount in my head when I am buying a gift and I spend the same whether on sale or not. So, the person receiving my gift gets a better gift if I find something sale. I use my Bed Bath and Beyond and Macy’s coupons all the time when I buy gifts. If something is on sale even better. Better for the recipient.

Now, there are some items that don’t go on sale, and back in the day before gift registries and gift receipts, buying one of those items meant the receiver would get their full money back if they returned or exchanged it. In that way I can see the logic.

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