Ask Rene:

How Much Is Too Much When Giving Gifts?


Dear Rene,

I want your opinion on this….

A good friend is totally outraged that I spend and give my nieces and nephews expensive gifts and designer label clothes as gifts.

My husband and I don’t have children or a lot of money but we live comfortably. Before the big dip in the economy a few years ago, I was paid a great salary and would spend about $250 on gifts or give it in cash to each of my brother and sister’s kids.

All together my siblings have a total of seven kids; ages 3-20 years old. Needless to say every time you turn around, there’s a birthday celebration or Christmas gifts to buy. It does begin to add up.

With the downturn in the economy I’ve had to tighten my budget belt, so now I give the kids just $100 for their birthdays. If it’s a gift they expect to get it from an expensive store or with a designer label, so I’ll end up spending quite a few dollars there. I think the kids and their parents would be disappointed if I did less.

My girlfriend thinks I’m crazy. Since I’ve always given expensive gifts, I don’t feel comfortable giving them less than $100 for these very special occasions.

Rene, what do you think? Am I giving gifts that are too expensive to these kids and if so, how do I give or spend less now after always being so generous?

Sarah, Confused Auntie



Dear Auntie:

May I call you Auntie? Better yet, may I call you mom, seein’ as my fervent prayer tonight will be that you adopt me as your own. I must say your letter feels sort of all over the place to me. First you ask about your friend’s disapproval of your gift giving, the down turn in the economy and then you end with how to pull back the reigns on your generous gifting. Whew. Okay, first things first.


1. It's Your Money; Spend It How You See Fit

Image 1 of 3

On this front you need to be self-directed. Forget what your friend says, it doesn’t matter. It’s your money. If you want to light your cigarettes with one hundred dollars bills, who is she to object? Who cares what she says? Unless there’s a part of you that is wondering about this yourself, which I think is entirely possible.