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Please Don’t Give High Upkeep Gifts

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Red Bow on Mercedes BenzI don’t know when car companies started running commercials where people, usually spouses, bought each other cars as gifts, but it always struck me as a little ridiculous. A car purchase isn’t something that should be entered into lightly and, if I were to give one to my wife, she probably wouldn’t like it if I ran off and bought her a car without talking it over with her first. It could be a gift but, let’s be honest, it would never be a surprise in our household (and in most households, I’d imagine).

One of the reasons why it wouldn’t be a surprise is because cars are both expensive to buy and expensive to maintain. Most gifts cost little to maintain relative to how much they cost to buy, but cars are in the category where the upkeep costs are significant. They aren’t alone, it’s very easy to get a gift for someone that will end up costing them quite a bit just to enjoy it!

In our troubling economic times and with people looking to tighten up their belts, it might be a good time to think about the gifts you’re giving and making sure they don’t entice your friends or relatives into a bad financial situation.

Here are some other gifts that are high upkeep:

  • Apple iPods – The iPod itself is expensive but if you want to put music on it you need much more.
  • Cars – This is the most obvious one and gifters know this (and it’s usually not a big deal because the gifter and giftee are often related somehow).
  • Pets – These little guys are expensive, as I learned when I calculated the total cost of owning a dog, and this is another common mistake people make. The gifter gives a furry little guy as a gift but then the recipient ends up not being able to support him and he has to return them to the pound. :(
  • Cell Phones – Gifting a cell phone is normally not going to be a big cost to maintain unless the cell phone starts offering features that require higher service plans to take advantage of. A prime example is an Internet enabled phone where the recipient has to get a monthly data plan to take advantage.
  • Video Game Systems – It’s definitely cool to get a Wii, XBox 360, Playstation 3, or PSP but games are pricey. As a gifter, you could always get them a year’s subscription to Gamefly or some other game subscription service.

Just a thought as we enter the home stretch of the gifting holidays! (and, if you want to get a gift that shows real spirit and is usually quite economical for both gifter and giftee, consider one of these homemade gift ideas from Nickel).

(Photo: sheeshoo)

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22 Responses to “Please Don’t Give High Upkeep Gifts”

  1. Glenn Lasher says:

    I’d like to point out an exception: If you give the item, then give the upkeep/service of the item, that’s okay. I gave my mother a cell phone about three or four years ago for her birthday (shortly before Christmas), and I pay for the service on it.

  2. nickel says:

    Another one would be gift subscriptions, especially things like Netflix. They pitch it as a gift idea, but the recipient has to keep paying every month to keep it going.

  3. My Journey says:

    Funny post! Lexus advertises HARD during football here in NY, so after seeing the 4th commercial I called the wife into the room, and told her to NEVER buy me a car as a gift.

    She laughed cause she was never doing it to begin with!

  4. Patrick says:

    The animal one is a very good point. People go all out and buy the most expensive dog for a person that may not even know how much money and how hard it is to raise a dog. The only way I would get an animal for the holidays is if I was sure they could take care of it. Also, you could adopt a pet since so many need good homes.

  5. Gretchen says:

    Thanks for including the pet comment, as I’ve seen many of them abandoned to our rescue group. If you want to “buy” a pet for someone in your life, how about giving a gift certificate? For one thing, the choice of pet and their personality varies greatly from one person to the next. I, for instance, love big drooly dogs, my sister thinks that her petite and fastidious Boston is perfect.

    As a side note – Ipods are often not that expensive for upkeep, if the person has a sizeable CD collection!

  6. Steven says:

    I would agree with the list, except for the iPod and video game system. All of the others *require* additional expenses to make them work (as much as a pet can “work”).

    One of the silliest gifts I’ve seen is the iPhone. The monthly expenditure is what keeps me from getting one, not the initial cost. Now, if someone were to gift me a year’s subscription for cell phone service…

    • Shelby says:

      That’s a great idea for gamers… let em play stuff before they decide they want to buy it. Thanks for the tip.

  7. Miss M says:

    For college graduation my dad gave me a boat, which then cost $100/month to store. I just wanted a couch or a piece of furniture. I agree you should never give a gift with a recurring cost, that boat has been a source of much tension.

  8. Rocco says:

    On of the best gifts I got was a 6 month Gamefly subscription along with a shiny new Wii. Games are ridiculously expensive and what’s worse, is half the time they don’t measure up to the hype and you’re out $60 on a game you’ll never play again.

    I now count these among my top stocking stuffers and what’s better is that around the holidays they knock off up to 20% on them. They’re a no brainer option for anyone who’s got a console or two. Why shell out $60 a game when that will carry you through unlimited rentals for 3 or 4 months? At least that way you can actually play games before you buy them and decide if they’re worth it and gamefly lets you buy em on the cheap too.

    Here’s their gift certificate info if anyone’s inclined. Single best gift I’ve received period. http://www.gamefly.com/giftcert/giftbuy.asp

  9. Cap says:

    Good post. Got a few gifts that ended up costing me more money. My first camera phone from years ago was one such gift with high upkeep cost. I had to say goodbye to my grandfathered cell phone plan at Pacific Bell and switch to a higher cost plan on Verizon. Would of said no to the gift but didnt want to be a jerk as it was a gift from a girlfriend at that time…

  10. Secret Santa says:

    I bought the bf an iPod for Christmas and spent the past month (secretly) loading his entire CD collection on it, in addition to a few games which I purchased and hours and hours of free television shows and podcasts. He shouldn’t have to shell out a $ for a VERY long time!

  11. Tim says:

    not sure about this. i guess i would rather have a gift that requires, by your definition, high maintenance, if is use it all the time, versus a closet full of sweaters or ties that i will never wear. so what is worse: something that requires maintenance or something that is never used/worn?

    • jim says:

      Well obviously something that requires maintenance! I think, in retrospect, the iPod was a poor example because you can get lots of stuff for free and because you can upload your CDs. I think the best example is a pet, where maintenance is a huge issue.

      If you want, you can send me your ugly ties. :)

  12. Dave says:

    I totally want to buy my wife a car and have it in the driveway on christmas morning. She needs a new car anyway and she knows exactly what she wants, but she has stated dozens of times that she’ll kill me if I do that – she thinks it would be inconsiderate of me to buy her a car without her even seeing it or driving it.

  13. AJ Kumar says:

    I agree, buying a car is NOT A GOOD IDEA. Not only do you raise a bar that’s nearly impossible to beat for you to beat the following years, people are very picky when it comes to cars. Hence why they have an overwhelming choice of options.

    I personally believe that the best gifts are experiences compared to materialistic goods. Obviously it depends on the person, but I gave the gift of skydiving :)

    • jim says:

      I’m a big fan of experiences vs. things too, I like memories. :)

      • Ahope says:

        Ahh yeah! I’ll take the experience gift. Like for a photographer they can receive a photo shoot seminar session with their favorite Studio Trainers.

        That was a blessing Indeed.

  14. Carla says:

    I cant imagine one of us buying a CAR for the other. We purchased our cars together and put a lot of thought in research into it before going to the dealership. Then after that, we needed to drive the cars to see if it would work for us. Even if money wasn’t an issue, I don’t see the point of giving (or receiving) a car to the other.

  15. sara l says:

    My husband and I were watching one of the many car commercials recently and I told him I’d hurt him if he ever did that. The maintenance doesn’t bother me (you have to maintain any car), but the up front cost is way too much in my eyes.

    On the ipod note, it was one of the best gifts I ever received. I spend around the same (or less) each year on CD’s and load them onto my ipod but get to take my entire music collection with me wherever I go

  16. Levon says:

    An iPod is fine because you can legally fill it up with music you already own on CDs. This point is clueless, the rest are spot on.

  17. Brad says:

    I would completely disagree that an iPod has to be high maintenance, at least in the sense of having to buy music. I have never purchased anything (that I recall) from the Apple Store, yet I value my iPod greatly. I still have the “old” 160GB version which I have all my music collection and a large number of videos I got from many sources, including iTunes itself.

    Free stuff abounds. The only large “cost” is my time finding and clicking stuff to load, along with the listening. I won’t ever listen to a lot of it, but it allows me to have plenty of choices wherever I am!

    Brad


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