You may hear people joke about how there’s a greeting card for everything. A few decades ago, the classic TV show Rosanne poked fun at the “card for everything” ideal when the eldest daughter Becky received a “sorry about your embarrassing gas” card from a family friend.
We as consumers not only buy cards for everything, we buy a lot of gifts for the people around us as well. On holidays, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, retirement days, weddings, engagements, housewarmings, and on special occasions in general, we buy someone a gift. If a child receives a good grade or a person lands a new job or promotion, someone may very well get them a present. Normal life events and accomplishments are rewarded with a gift.
Statistics published on American Research Group indicate the average American allocates around $800 for Christmas gift shopping, as of 2013. This is truly a lot of money. For some, this is a month’s house payment spent on a single holiday. On Valentine’s Day, Cardhub reports the average man spends around $175 and the average woman around $89.
A gift card has become one of the more common gifts people give for birthdays, Christmas, and other random events. With a gift card, you’re basically saying to the recipient: “Here’s some money for you to go buy what you want, because you know what you want better than I do,” and in most cases, the recipient appreciates the gesture. A gift card is a good, solid, monetary gift that generally works out well.
There are of course, however, some financial and money-related gifts that are not such a good idea. This list of bad financial gifts contain financial gifts and gestures people sometimes do not appreciate.
1. A Financial Self-Help Book
There are countless self-help books out there and many personal finance-related self-help books have a similar theme; they tell you how to organize your finances, what percentages to spend on what, and what percentages to save for what. They are incredibly helpful and educational tools, especially considering the financial literacy statistics in America. For instance, according to the National Financial Educators Council, “around 69 percent of parents admit to feeling less prepared to give their teenager guidance about investing than they do having the ‘sex talk’ with them.”
Although these books have value, these types of books generally offer advice and guidance people need to seek on their own accord. If you go and hand one of these books to a friend or family member as a gift, you may be indirectly saying: “Happy Arbor Day, you stink at managing your finances, here’s a book to help you.”
2. Bad Financial Advice
Sometimes, friends and family members will ask members of their circle what they would do in certain situations. “I really love this house, but it’s way over my budget, would you buy it if you were me?” or “I think I deserve a Lexus, even though it’s over my price point, don’t you?” a person may ask you, looking for validation.
Answering “go for it” is generally the worst way to go in those situations. If something happens, and your friend or family member ends up in a financial bind later on, you’ll probably wish you’d stayed out of it. The ideal response is no response. You don’t know your friend or family member’s exact financial situation, and without being a financial professional who’s reviewed his or her budget, there no way to truly make an accurate assessment.
3. Your Debt
With this ring, I give you my debt. In a marriage, you give yourself to someone for life, which is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. But marrying someone with high amounts of debt or a bad credit history can certainly impact your financial future. Although your credit file generally remains the same — that is, your spouse’s bad credit and debt does not climb onto your credit file — opening joint accounts and filing for credit together becomes a lot tougher.
This means if you buy a house together, buy a car together, open a joint checking or savings account, or take out a loan together, for instance, your spouse’s high debt or negative credit history may result in higher interest on a loan or even prevent you from getting a loan together in some cases.
4. A Partially Used Gift Card
A gift card makes a pretty great gift. According to Cardhub, the gift card industry has more than $100 billion in sales, and more than 60 percent of us buy gift cards for birthdays. If you have a gift card lying around the house, however, and you’ve used some of its value already, it’s usually not a good idea to give that card as a gift.
Imagine being the recipient of the partially used gift card. You open it, think you have a $50 gift card to Amazon, only to find out that you really only have a $22.38 gift card because the person who gave it to you bought a toaster first, then gave you your gift.