Why Am I Unpopular at Christmas?

Posted by Madison on December 19, 2007


I’d like to think that as the family financial guru, I give the best gifts! I put a lot of thought into each one and come up with gifts that will keep on giving, sometimes for the lifetime of the recipient. So why do people dread my great gift giving ideas?

My Gift Ideas

One of our younger family members just opened a Roth IRA. Her brother is going to open one too. My gift idea? Let’s put some money into their newly opened retirement accounts!

Our niece? We’ve already opened a 529 plan for her with the intent on depositing money each holiday.

For our kids? I wanted the grandparents to put more money into their 529 plan so they could take a bigger tax deduction.

My Rationale

All of the kids have toys already. When they get a new one they play with it for a little while and then move on. At first I tried to keep the toy store out of the house but it really is a tough battle to fight. Especially when you have the first two grandsons on both sides of the family.

Investing for the future is such a terrific idea. Investing early is always a key to success, or at least it has been for us. I keep thinking about 20-30 years down the road when they are all thanking Aunt Madison for setting up these accounts.

The Responses

Mr. Dupaix informed me that college kids don’t want deposits into their retirement accounts.

And while the college account is nice for our niece, we need to get her a toy too, because opening a certificate isn’t any fun on Christmas Day.

The grandparents want to do “the grandparent thing” and buy toys for the kids. Tons of them. I’m not alone; Paid Twice fights the presents versus college fund problem too.

Action Plan

I found that some battles just aren’t worth fighting. I bring this up every year in some form or another. Last year I tried to give stock certificates to family members before being vetoed. I’ll surrender and give clothes and toys, and let my kids receive toys.

I’ll still contribute quietly to each of their 529 plans but on Christmas morning I won’t be able to avoid calculating how much a $100 in toys would be in 63 years when my toddler hits retirement age. ($40,527 I mumble under my breath at 10% per year.)

And of course I’ll still brainstorm another way next Christmas to force financial freedom on my family. Maybe, just maybe, one of these years they’ll let me run wild with an idea.

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Comments to Why Am I Unpopular at Christmas?

  1. Keep fighting the fight! Although I have given up asking the grandparents to change their ways. 🙂

    Thanks for mentioning my own personal dilemma 🙂


  2. Give them collectible books. That way, you are giving them something that is also an investment, but looks like a regular present, and it encourages good habits.

    Lost Cause

  3. @Paid Twice: Grandparents will be grandparents!

    @Lost Cause: Great idea… Do you have any that you recommend?


  4. Since when do people get to veto what gifts *you* give *them*?
    I’d say give ’em stock or contribute to the IRA anyway, and let them thank you later, when they have a $10k investment portfolio instead of a basement full of old toys they outgrew! 🙂


  5. @Dave: The ideas were vetoed by my husband, not by the actual recipients. Either way, maybe I just might contribute anyways!


  6. I don’t trade in books, so I can’t recommend anything in particular. A hardcover first edition, signed and inscribed by the author, with a dust jacket. Collectors must have the dust jacket. Sort of like an art purchase, but cheaper. You are gonna buy the books anyway, right?

    Lost Cause

  7. I gave my eldest sister an investment book last year and she was fine with that. The younger sister is a lost cause in terms of fiscal responsibility, so I just bought her a computer game when it was on sale mid-year.

    My seven-year-old son has more than enough toys, so he’s happy to get a few token toys for us at Christmas time. His grandparent’s will still get him too many expensive gifts, but I’m not going to be able to change that.

    I don’t begrudge him getting some more toys at Christmas time – he spends half an hour or so busking with his recorder most Sunday afternoons (after his piano lesson). He usually earns around $20 each session (up to $50 in the weeks before Christmas) and he saves all the money he earns! Once a year I transfer $1000 of his earnings into his retirement account.

    My parent’s still insist on giving me a Christmas present, so for the past couple of years I’ve requested a silver “proof” coin as a present. It’s not too expensive, and it’s bullion value is around half the cost so it has some long term wealth. As a “collectible” coin it may even be worth more than it cost after a few years.


    Enough Wealth

  8. @Lost Cause: Great idea. I’m much more of a library book person myself, but financial books would be a great gift.

    @Enough Wealth: I’m very impressed with your son’s retirement account and I want to hear more about it!


  9. That’s too bad that the grandparents aren’t into your great ideas for gifts. Luckily my son’s grandparents are totally into anything which represents savings and investments such as educational funds.

    Toys are fun but how many do they need?



  10. @ Mike: That is wonderful for your son! I think we crossed the “too many toys” threshold the day after our first son was born!


  11. You might want to go 50/50. Spend the same money, but put half toward what you want ($50 today = 20K at retirement) and half toward toys. A lot of the toys that last the longest aren’t expensive

    And stock certificates ARE fun to open – you can wrap them the same as any other present. Give a notebook or some other place where they can store these.

    Their appreciation for your favorite gifts will increase as they age, although they may or may not spend the money wisely.

    Debbie M

  12. @ Debbie: Stock certificates are a great idea! I think I’ll add this to the list in the future for my kids.


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