I 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 )