Oct 1, 2008

The Gift of Giving

Over the years, I have somehow reached the stage that no matter who gave me what, for Christmas or Birthday, I either already had it, didn't need it or didn't want it. In the past 3 years or so it has become ridiculous in that people are still buying things, sending them over large distances, and almost immediately after opening they are unwanted.

Yes, this sounds like I'm ungrateful of these gifts but it's not true. What I would prefer is that someone who actually needs something should get something. I have told my family and friends that, instead of buying me anything (anything at all) that they should give something to charity. This could be food gifts, old clothes, spare time volunteering and of course, cash will work too. All I ask is that I am told which charity they gave to - I don't care about the amount - just my curiosity at work wondering who people enjoy giving to.

Pretty wrapping
Photo: judson

I also be happy if they just kept the money for themselves too. That's a personal choice. What I'm saying is, I'm doing okay, don't worry about me.

Lately, I have also been giving charity gifts to family (with one exception). The past couple of Christmases, I have bought a number of gifts from World Vision and sent the family the card saying so. It's a charity that I like and I feel the cause is good. There have been chickens, school uniform, school desks, garden equipment and other things given to families on my behalf to those that need it. I'm not sure my family approved but they shall be getting a similar gift card this year too.

I mentioned an exception and that is for children in my close family group. Birthdays and Christmas is for children so I shall probably get them something until they are 18.

I also sponsor a child in Malawi and each month a certain amount of money is taken from my account. Again, I'm sure a number of you would wonder if that is the right thing to do, especially since I have plans to Retire at 40. Well, that's just something I see as an actual expense and it is (and has been) a part of the budget that I just can't see myself stopping it. Granted, it does add up over the space of a year, but remember, charity donations are tax deductible (in New Zealand) and at the end of the year you can claim back the tax you'd have originally paid on the donations. In fact, I got a healthy figure back from the government just last week.

In conclusion, I prefer not receiving anything to receiving something that is unwanted. I also prefer giving charitable donations as gifts to those that are not in need themselves. I make an exception for kids.

And yes, all my gifts are now accounted for in GnuCash so I know exactly how much I've given to family, friends or charities over the space of a year.

What do you do? What do you like giving, what would you like to receive? Any exceptions?

(This post was inspired by Frugal Dad's talk of Why Cash Offers More Flexibilty Than Gift Cards.)


Don said...

Your mention of gnucash made me think it would have been ironic if you had decided to start saving and realized you needed some software to track you spending. If you were a regular windows user you would probably have shelled out for a propriety money management program, the first entry would have been "software from dick smith $350" :)

Anonymous said...

@Don, you're so right.

Over the years, I've whittled myself away from proprietary software and have been only using free software for the past 3 years.

It feels good to know that this is another way in which I'm in control (which is making me think about a new blog post - thanks!).