Personal Finance 

When Is A Gift More Than A Gift? [Part 3]

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I am proud to present the third and final installment of the discussion between Saladdin and Tim with regards to gifts, which was spawned from a post I wrote about ideas to solve the 20% down payment dilemma. Tim and Saladdin come from two different schools of thought. As we’ve read in prior parts, Tim argues that one should not judge the gifter and simply be honored to be receiving the gift. Whether the gifter is a parent, relative, or someone else; one should accept the gift graciously instead of rejecting it out of hand. Saladdin comes from the perspective that one should not accept charity and one should work for their share in life. Both perspectives are powerful and both are certainly understandable. In this final chapter, we tie up some loose ends.

Part 1 and Part 2 are available if this is the first time you’ve seen this discussion.

Saladdin: Just as I do not think you are running around with your hand out yelling give me, give me you shouldn’t think that I am running around murmuring under my breath “Those lucky rich bastards. I really pity them driving dad’s car.” I don’t lose sleep over others. Yes I think about this stuff but in a way that I try to learn what really makes me tick. I want to understand my thought processes while maybe fixing some loose wires.

I would like to answer the question about being a parent to my girlfriend. (All the sex jokes aside here since we are just a couple of friends talking over a few beers.) I just don’t see the reasoning. It is a give and take relationship. I never consider the help a gift because of that reason. It is no more a parent relationship then with your marriage. Do you not help her? Would you stop helping her? Can she not leave you also? I just don’t see the difference. I guess you are a parent to your wife also. Maybe I just did not explain myself well enough.

I lived in Japan for 2 years. I never knew that such an importance was placed on the color of envelopes until then. Of course I was just a kid who had never been out of my home state except to see some Cardinal games.

Maybe I am getting too philosophical but off the top of my head I can’t think of too many things that do not have strings attached. Isn’t an obligation a string? As a parent, brother or husband do you and I not have obligations that are automatic and come with the territory by birth alone? Are those not strings?

The definitions of pity and jealousy, I think, separate us. They are both legitimate, human emotions and I have them both. I’m not jealous of my friend or you for that matter. As an adult I can’t recall whispering “Boy I wish I had that instead of him…” I have another friend that last week won 100K in the lottery. His wife was laid off work just last month. When he told me the thought of jealousy never entered my mind. I was actually happy for him. Of course I had to bite my tongue when he told me his spending plan. But that is another story.

But again, what is wrong with having pride?

I think we are closer then you realize in our opinions. You mention your friend and the parents buying them a house and the difference in values. Also to me it is not the gift itself but the values behind it. I think I phrased it as the way the gift was received not the gift itself.

I would like to ask do you think it right to solicit for a gift. Is it ok for someone to go to their parents and ask for 20% down?

Tim: There is nothing wrong with soliciting the 20% down payment either. If your friends and family can afford to do so and chooses to do so, why not. They in fact do have the ability to say no. We have no qualms about soliciting money from a bank, yet we somehow have an issue with soliciting money from family.

Perhaps it is the way you are explaining your relationship with your girlfriend that makes it seem you are acting the parent. We already know you acted the parent for your brother. Your expectations for her out of your assistance. It isn’t a mutual sounding relationship. We also know that she doesn’t need the assistance as she comes from a family of means.

I guess you could wax poetics all day long about pride. Many philosophers and writers have. There is nothing wrong with pride,
whether it be a proud parent wanting to continue supporting his children, or earning everything on your own…only when it turns to
hubris does it interfere with rational reasoning. I use to have the mentality that I was going to do everything on my own. Then I realized, sometimes it is ok to have others help you.

Money isn’t the end all, and it doesn’t define us. To say that somehow getting 20% from family and friends is wrong or somehow defines you and your legacy as a person, is putting an importance on money that does not exist.

With that, this epic three part introspective, for Tim and Saladdin, was very eye opening. Tomorrow I’ll write up a post in which I share my thoughts on the matter, which may or may not be of interest to you all. Again, if you have thoughts or points you want to mention with regards to what these gentlemen have said, the comments are open.

{ 2 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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2 Responses to “When Is A Gift More Than A Gift? [Part 3]”

  1. GeekMan says:

    Perhaps I have a worldview vastly different than Saladdin’s, but I’m just not seeing the validity of his arguments. Let’s try running a series of examples and see where it leads us, ok?

    1) Saladdin is buying $50.55 worth of groceries with cash and while paying finds himself short by five cents. The cashier is having a good day and waves Saladdin on saying that a nickel doesn’t matter. According to Saladdin, he would rather not buy the food than accept that “gift” of a nickel from the cashier.

    2) Saladdin is buying a car and after all the haggling is done arrives at a price he and the dealer feel is fair. As Saladdin is about to pay his girlfriend mentions some ad for cash back on the car that Saladdin was unaware of. Would Saladdin refuse that “gift” of cash back because he’d already negotiated a fair price?

    3) Saladdin puts his girlfriend through school, buys a house and furnishes it for himself and his girlfriend all by himself. Two days before his girlfriend’s graduation she makes it clear that she has fallen in love with someone else and is leaving him. Will Saladdin then demand money from her for the house, furnishings and her tuition?

    4) Saladdin is hanging out at a bar when an old friend he hasn’t seen in a long time joins him. This old friend and Saladdin have a good time catching up while drinking, each person paying for their own drinks. At the end of the night, Saladdin goes home only to recall that his old friend paid for the last round of drinks. Would Saladdin hunt down this old friend to “pay him back” and remove the strings of owing him a drink?

    Personally, I agree with Tim. Most of the time, a gift is a gift, is a gift. It sounds to me that if Saladdin would learn to just accept a gift every now and again, or maybe even give a gift without expecting anything in return, his life would be much happier.

  2. saladdin says:

    Thanks Geek for the thought out response. Since this is directed toward me I will address your points.

    1. I would put back enough stuff to cover what money I did have.
    I once drove back to a mechanic after my car was serviced once I realized he incorrectly added my bill and he shorted himelf. I offered him his money.

    2. No. I would not refuse it. I don’t see that as a gift. The car dealership is getting something from me, interest. This is not a gift.

    3. No. But don’t married people do that ALL the time. It is called divorce. Alimony, child support etc.. Why am I different? It seems some are hung up on married vs not married and think the relationship rules are completely oppposite.

    4. The circle of friends I have never split bills. When we go out one person always gets the bill for everyone. And I mean always. I can not remember a time when this did not happen. It does not matter if I am alone and there are 3 of them. There is a fight for the bill. Sometimes I get up and fake going to the bathroom and pay so they don’t have too. Their turn to pay is guaranteed to come back around. Again, not a gift. Just trading off.

    I would just add that these are not arguments as you called them and have no problem with you questioning them in such a thought out manner. However, you call them arguments but I call them principles that I live by.

    Also, implying I am not happy is way off target.

    Thanks for reading my long emails Geek.


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