Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Want to Give My Parents a $1500 Tanning Bed for Christmas, But My Wife is Against It”

I’m male, 32, married five years ago. My parents have done two crazy cool things for us since we got married: First, they helped put $100,000 on a nice new house for us. Then, two years ago, my parents bought us the brand new $45,000 truck that we had been dreaming about. Again this year they’re doing something crazy: They’re taking us to Hawaii for a week, paying for our airfare plus lodging at a five-star hotel. So I decided I want to do something crazy and buy them a tanning bed for Christmas to say thanks for giving us so much. (I’d want to give it to them early, so they can tan for the Hawaii trip.)

The tanning bed is only $1,500. I make $60-100K a year on commission, and my wife makes $25K year. We have a $2,400 mortgage, plus we eat organic food, lol. (We also give some money to help others in need.) My wife says she does “not want to give expensive gifts…we’re not rich, like they are…and we’re trying to save for a car to replace our junker second vehicle which is on its last legs.” My parents are 60 years old, so I mean I’m just saying they’re GOING to give us a crazy amount when that happens.

In my mind, it’s just something I want to do, to say thanks. I feel like a $45,000 truck, alone against a $1,500 gift, is a good deal, lol. It’s not like we can’t afford it, but it will take slightly longer to save for a new car for her. I think she’s being selfish. I don’t know how to reason with her. Any advice? Or am I being ridiculous, as she says, to think something like this? — Tanning Bed of Bust

I think you’re being a little ridiculous. A tanning bed, really?! You realize tanning beds are super dangerous, right? They are one of the leading causes of skin cancer. And they’re huge and cumbersome. But regardless of all that, $1500 is a really big amount to spend on a gift, especially when you are struggling to save for a car for your wife. It’s ironic that SHE is the one driving the junker and you call HER selfish for not wanting to drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a really dumb gift for your very wealthy (I’m assuming) parents.

Look, I can just about guarantee that your parents do NOT want you to spend that kind of money on them (regardless what the gift is). They spend a lot on you and your wife because they can afford it and because it brings them joy. It’s enough for them to enjoy your company on a wonderful vacation and to see you and your wife building a home together in the house they helped you buy. If you truly want to express how much these “crazy” gifts from them have meant for you, write a heartfelt, handwritten thank-you letter expressing as much. Maybe after your Hawaii vacation, you could have a little album made with photos you take on the trip and give it to them with the thank-you letter, sharing some of your favorite moments of the trip, how meaningful it was to spend that time together, and how lucky you feel to have parents who are generous enough and able to create opportunities like a wonderful family trip to Hawaii. And then you can also include how much you and your wife continue to enjoy your truck and your home, both acquired only with their help. That will mean so much more to them than a tanning bed that might give them cancer.

And then you and your wife should set a gift budget — decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts each, and then figure out about how much per person or per set of parents that breaks down to. If there are occasions — like weddings or retirements or milestone anniversaries — that don’t happen every year and you’d like to spend a little extra, decide now how high you’re willing to go on a very special gift, considering the lowest income you might make in a given year (ie. based on a 60K salary for you and not the 100K, which is not a guarantee). Even though you make more money than your wife, and even though your parents are financially generous beyond the average set of parents, you must make your financial decisions jointly with your wife. That is what marriage is about. She gets as much say about big-ticket items as you. If she says no to a $1500 gift for your parents and she has a good reason for it (you really CAN’T afford it if it cuts into savings), you have to respect her and her wishes if you want your marriage to continue happily.

Finally, if you need a gift idea for your parents and want to give them something to enjoy in Hawaii without dropping $1500, can I suggest some comfy flip-flops (made from recycles yoga mats!), a beach bag full of nice sunscreen and beach reading material, and treat them to a great meal on your vacation — all thoughtful gifts that won’t break your budget (or marriage!) OR cause cancer!

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

71 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD November 12, 2018, 8:33 am

    Ya this gift is a bad idea for many reasons. Maybe LW is trying to get that inheritance earlier. Shocking your wife doesn’t want to drive a broken down car longer than she must to give your parents something they’d likely have already bought if they wanted it. Doesn’t impact you in your new truck huh.

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie November 12, 2018, 8:39 am

      THIS. If they can afford to give you $200K, they can afford to buy themselves a $1500 tanning bed (despite the big tanning risk).

      They don’t want you to buy them things. They want to spend time with you. If you can afford to go visit them an extra time in the year, that would mean the world to them.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor November 12, 2018, 8:54 am

    See a financial planner together and work out a structured budget that includes a budget for gifts. Spend within that budget. You guys are going have a lot of these kinds of spending questions going forward and it will be easier if you are working within a mutually agreed upon framework.

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  • avatar

    Randee November 12, 2018, 9:02 am

    I can’t imagine giving someone something that a) expensive b) dangerous c) enormous. I mean, I live in New York so I’m always thinking of space, but if someone gave me something that essentially needed its own room to exist, I’d be a little cheesed.

    I don’t recommend tanning beds or tanning salons, but if you *must* give the gift of a suntan, perhaps 3-4 visits to a local salon along with the suggestions Wendy made is far more reasonable and practical. At some point in our lives, gifts are best made in a downsized way — with more emotion and thoughtfulness than showy price tags. Honestly, it means so much more.

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    • avatar

      Kate November 12, 2018, 9:16 am

      Or a certificate for a spray tan. Lol.

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  • avatar

    Rebecca November 12, 2018, 9:54 am

    I need a shower to wash off all the materialism that got contact transferred to me by reading this letter.

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    • avatar

      ktfran November 12, 2018, 11:05 am

      Totally agree! The parents are subsidizing their lifestyle, which is fine if the parents want to do that… and I hope they are BOTH showing appreciation instead of taking it for granted.

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    • avatar

      Kate November 12, 2018, 11:17 am

      His joking that “they’re 60 so just saying,” they’re going to leave him a lot of money is pretty gross. Ew.

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      • avatar

        Rebecca November 13, 2018, 8:56 am

        My parents are in their 70s, and were I to start thinking/talking like that, they’d probably strive to outlive me out of pure spite. I love them tons, and no money or things could make up for the time we can spend together.

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      • avatar

        JD November 13, 2018, 8:57 am

        My aunt and uncle used to joke about this in front of my grandparents. It made me ill. I finally asked them flat out to stop.

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  • avatar

    Poppy November 12, 2018, 9:56 am

    @LW you are not necessarily being ridiculous in that you want to show appreciation but its in the way you want to show appreciation that is redonkulous. A freakin tanning bed?! Unless this is something your parents have discussed but never acted on getting I would not do that. If you want to show appreciation then I would suggest when you go on your Hawaii trip pay for a dinner or one of the activities. Hawaii isn’t cheap, the food there is pricey. Its hard to say what an appropriate amount would be since we dont know your spending habits/saving habits but dinner and a nice thank you card should suffice.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star November 12, 2018, 10:53 am

    Think of some other way to show your parents that you appreciate the tremendous financial help they’ve given you. Perhaps you can be sure to keep in touch on a very regular basis. Send emails, text photos, invite them to local (free) events with you, host a dinner party with your great organic food, etc. You can show your love through time and effort to be close rather than extravagant gifts. Or, if you really want to give them something tangible (maybe that’s how your family shows love), how about a thoughtful keepsake for their home like a framed picture of the two of you or a special ornament for their tree?

    Your wife should be happy to help come up with ideas that don’t cost tons of money. She’s NOT selfish unless she accepts their gifts without wanting to bother reciprocating in any way.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark November 12, 2018, 11:28 am

    Eh… A tanning bed is hilariously beyond the realm of hopelessly ridiculous. But for fuck’s sake, if somebody is taking you on a lavish FIVE STAR trip to Hawaii — I think one can try harder than flipflops made from used yogamats…

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy November 12, 2018, 11:43 am

      Haha – touché, Mark.

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      • avatar

        CanadaGoose November 12, 2018, 6:06 pm

        Might I suggest the LW invest in family photography while in Hawaii as their gift to all of them? His parents would love beautiful photos of all four of them, and then of each of the couples. Most hotels offer this service. It’s not cheap but neither is Hawaii is at Xmas (double the cost of summer – your wife could buy a new small car for the price of the trip for you two), so spending some money on something you will all treasure would be a MUCH better option than a tanning bed. Try Flytographer if your hotel doesn’t offer pics – and book the shoot in advance.

        Also, more people are living late into their ’90s, so maybe don’t be such a buzzard about your inheritance, lol. (What’s up with lol over and over again? Sounds like you’re a frat boy.)

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  • avatar

    Oracle November 12, 2018, 11:28 am

    You are being ridiculous. I am sure your parents do not want to send their time at the dermatologist getting lesions cut off. Show your appreciation by spending time with them. With your income, you really should be able to afford a “newer” and safer car. Something is wrong with your budget.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph November 12, 2018, 11:39 am

    Y’all are missing it.
    “My parents are 60 years old, so I mean I’m just saying they’re GOING to give us a crazy amount when that happens.”

    LW is giving his parents a cancer box so that they will die sooner and leave him that sweet sweet inheritance.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph November 12, 2018, 11:44 am

      P.S. 60 isn’t that old. They’ve probably got another 20+ years left. So I guess helping them to an early grave is the best way to get that cash.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse November 12, 2018, 11:49 am

      That’s the sentence that struck me as well.

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie November 12, 2018, 11:50 am

      Unless Medicare goes away, then everything goes to the doctors. Or they need additional nursing care, not covered by Medicare. Or the market turns. Or they buy a house on the coast line.

      Never count your chickens before they hatch.

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    • avatar

      keyblade November 12, 2018, 11:50 am

      The wife wants to live within their means, but husband doesn’t feel the need to take it saving seriously because he knows mom and dad will keep his standard of living high. His wife will be the one screwed if they end up separating or getting divorced before the son gets his big life payout.

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 12, 2018, 12:05 pm

        I’m not sure the life wants to live within their means. She also helped pick out a house that required a $100k down payment and $2,400 mortgage.

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 12, 2018, 12:06 pm

        * wife. Not life.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros November 13, 2018, 10:21 am

        There’s nothing that indicates that she did anything more than move into the house with him. I’m not sure where the idea that she specifically chose a house that was super expensive came from.

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 13, 2018, 10:39 am

        And I’m not sure where the idea comes from that she doesn’t? Unless she’s a passive partner and lets him make all financial decisions? As a partner, she presumably has some say and if she didn’t want a $2,400 mortgage, she could have said so.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros November 14, 2018, 11:59 am

        I mean, the entire letter is about a conflict they are having over money where he won’t agree to her getting a car that isn’t a clunker (where he is making an argument for a ridiculous and ostentatious gift). I think if they were equal partners in making financial decisions, she’d probably have a decent car right now. The LW’s solution is to ask an advice columnist what to do, rather than making a decision with the wife… not really the best sign for their ability to come to an agreement.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph November 14, 2018, 1:17 pm

        I don’t know that we need to crucify the wife for the price of the house, who knows what real estate is like where they live, maybe the only way to afford a house at all is to go big with the down payment like that. Spending big on a house doesn’t mean you should make it rain over all aspects of your life

        Sticks out to me that he drives a $45k car and she drives a clunker rather than, idk, taking that $45k and buying two $22k cars (which will still get you a pretty nice new car).

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    • Lucidity

      Lucidity November 13, 2018, 8:52 am

      That line made me sick, too. I hope his parents both reach 100.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 November 12, 2018, 11:54 am

    Wow you are using your parents wealth to live way above your means. Your making between 85k-125k as a family and your Mortgage indicates you think you make much more than that. Don’t spend your money like your parents are already dead, they’re probably going to live another 30 years and a lot can happen in that time. Unfortunately it looks like they are going to bail you out a lot in the next 30 years.

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    • avatar

      MaggieB November 12, 2018, 12:07 pm

      Good catch. My husband and I are at about the same household income, and while we live in a high CoL area and are accustomed to paying a higher percentage toward housing, that mortgage would be a very tight squeeze, certainly not allowing a $1500 gift budget.

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    • avatar

      Kate November 12, 2018, 12:35 pm

      Yeah honestly, your mortgage alone is more than 25% of your income, then add in utilities, insurance, and home improvement costs, and you guys are paying too much for housing. Exhibit A: you can’t afford a safe car. And it sounds like you’re not really saving any money. This isn’t a great situation.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph November 12, 2018, 6:04 pm

        And don’t forget they like to “eat organic lol” which I think is saying they have a high food bill, too.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros November 14, 2018, 11:56 am

        But who needs to save money when you are excitedly waiting for your parents to croak! You know, potentially in like 30 more years, but still… 😉

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  • avatar

    keyblade November 12, 2018, 12:31 pm

    True. She only makes 25k and she is living in a brand new house and has a brand new truck. She is probably in an awkward position. Her husband seems to be the one comfortable accepting this lifestyle. I’m assuming the gas-guzzler was probably more his dream than her dream but its hard to object to in-laws wanting to give their child a free car. The same with a $100,000 down payment on a brand new house. Houses are a little different but it’s difficult to imagine a $450,000 brand new house is going to vastly appreciate.

    It still doesn’t make sense to tell in-laws you won’t accept a 100% free vacation. But I can understand how she is in a difficult position when she isn’t the primary bread winner. Nobody wants to be the bubble-bursting budget brigade when isn’t equal in what she brings into their material lifestyle.

    So if the letter writer is reading this, your wife is already in a weird position of having to accept high-end privilege she hasn’t earned but seems to make her family happy. Respect her discomfort. Gifts may be your parent’s love language but if they are yours, you should find a way to give thoughtfully rather than in splurges. She’s right, your in no position to reciprocate and if it makes you feel that bad or guilty, stop accepting the gifts.

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    • avatar

      keyblade November 12, 2018, 12:34 pm

      Nobody wants to be the bubble-bursting budget brigade when that person isn’t an equal in what she contributes towards their material lifestyle.

      *you* are in no position, not your

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  • avatar

    wobster109 November 12, 2018, 12:35 pm

    Look you. The amount they give you does not magically give you a bigger budget. When they take you to Hawaii, that doesn’t cause you to have more spending money. If you try to keep up with their spending, you will spend yourself into debt, or even worse, you will spend your wife into a car accident in that junker.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 November 12, 2018, 12:37 pm

    The lols really threw me for a loop. This is no laughing matter. If you think it’s all lol, why not give your wife the new truck, and you drive the junker, since it’s all lol to you.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie November 12, 2018, 1:00 pm

    I have some relatives that counted on inheritances. They spent lavishly from the minute they married. Last grandparent died, inheritance. Blew through that. Remaining parent dies, blew through a multi-million dollar inheritance. How? Had to live in the right neighborhood, had to lease the right cars. Had to send their three kids to private day school. Had to have the right clothes, the right this the right that.

    Save your money. Take your folks out to a nice dinner. Better yet, invite them for a visit in your big house.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 12, 2018, 1:10 pm

    Would your parents even want a tanning bed? Do they go to a tanning salon now? It seems like a strange gift bought out of impulse rather than real thoughtfulness.

    I get wanting to do something nice for them, especially if your family shows love by giving nice gifts. If the gift you give your parents delays the purchase of a new car I think your wife should be the one driving the dream truck while you drive the old junker car until it is replaced. If for any reason you find that idea unacceptable then you are the one being selfish. I’m assuming your wife is driving the old junker car and you could care less about that. Believe me when I tell you that when people see you driving a $45,000 truck and your wife driving an old junker car they will be saying all kinds of unkind things about you and how selfish you are and make comments about what kind of jerk keeps so much for themself while their wife goes without. I work with someone whose husband is that selfish and nothing good is ever said about him.

    When your generosity means that your wife makes a sacrifice and you don’t then you aren’t personally being generous. If you want to give your parents a gift you can’t afford without financial sacrifice then make sure the sacrifice is on your part. Then see if your wife agrees.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse November 12, 2018, 1:15 pm

      I have to think with their lavish spending, they’d have one if they wanted one.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse November 12, 2018, 1:14 pm

    The mortgage and $100,000 down caught me as well. Why do you even have a house that’s that expensive, on your income, with no kids? It boggles my mind. Do you need a huge gas guzzling truck? What happens if you suddenly become ill or injured and can’t work?

    And all this while your wife’s car is on its last legs.

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  • avatar

    Essie November 12, 2018, 1:25 pm

    This is from the American Academy of Dermatology.

    “Even one indoor tanning session can increase users’ risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent.”

    LW, if you give them a tanning bed, your inheritance is going to their oncologist, not you.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros November 12, 2018, 1:41 pm

    My reading of this situation is that you grew up with an incredibly wealthy family and, therefore, didn’t learn how to live within your means. People with your income don’t usually give out $1,500 gifts. Also, my assumption is that your parents gave you those gifts because they DO have the money to do that and because you can’t afford those things on your own. If you get expensive gifts BECAUSE you can’t afford them, then turning around and spending excessive amounts of money sort of defeats the purpose.

    I also gotta be honest that you having a $2,400 mortgage is really irresponsible (and part of why I think that you were raised to be sort of spoiled). Your expenses on your current salaries are outside of your means (you know, if you didn’t have parents to foot the bill for stuff for you). You for sure can’t really afford a gift that expensive because you have the house of someone who makes twice as much as you. I hope that if you have kids, you try to raise them like normal human beings.

    Aside from that, the gift choice is bizarre. Who really needs their own tanning bed just for a vacation? If they truly do want to tan (which is pretty dumb, TBH), get them gift cards for a tanning salon or a spray tan. The fact that you seem to think that individual people need their own tanning bed prior to a specific vacation is the other reason that you seem sort of out of touch. I mean, if they wanted a tanning bed, they could buy one themselves. It sounds like you want to be like them in that you give people super extravagant gifts. Do you usually feel like love is best conveyed through money?

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  • avatar

    RedBlue November 12, 2018, 2:00 pm

    Inheritance, lol. We’ve already told our kids not to count on much when we kick off. They are adults, pushing 30. If they aren’t established by now, it’s too late. Of course, we will have some assets, like the house, but no one should count on an inheritance as their source of income not happiness. We help them when we can but they are grown ass adults.

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  • CurlyQue

    CurlyQue November 12, 2018, 2:08 pm

    Definitely don’t do the tanning bed, and don’t be looking forward to your parents death (they’re only 60!)!

    Re a more lavish gift, why not look into experiences (excursions, restaurants, etc.) that you can give while in Hawaii and be enjoyed by all of you? Or maybe spa time for just the two of them?

    Also re your wife and her car. If this gift is going to cut into saving for her to not drive a junker and you drive a brand new $45k truck…let her drive the truck and you drive the junker while you continue to save.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 12, 2018, 4:07 pm

      It says so much about him that he sees it as no hardship at all if she is left driving an old junker for longer than necessary just so that he can give his parents an extravagant gift. I doubt he’d be so enthusiastic if the sacrifice came from something that he needed. He could trade in his truck and buy two cheaper cars that were both in good condition and have money left over to buy a gift for his parents. I doubt he’d be willing to do that either.

      LW You’re the selfish one. You want to use the money that is needed to buy your wife a better car to guy a gift for your parents. Your wife needs the car. Old junkers tend to be unreliable and not as safe but you don’t seem to care about any of that. Would your parents really want your wife driving around in an old junker just so that they could tan at home? The thing that comes through is that you don’t care about your wife.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ November 12, 2018, 2:52 pm

    I feel like “Let’s blow all of our money and live well above our means because my parents are going to die and leave me a lot of money!” is a pretty ridiculous take for someone with parents in their 60s who are apparently healthy enough to be traveling to Hawaii for a week. Dude: (1) gross; (2) they might live for decades yet; (3) they might have expensive last illnesses that will eat up a significant portion of their assets; and/or (4) they might not leave all or a significant portion of their assets to you, since it’s their money. Live within your means, stop coveting things you cannot afford and, for the love of god, stop equating material things and money with love and happiness. Finally, if you cannot afford a new car, then you cannot afford to be giving people $1,500 gifts. Full stop.

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  • avatar

    JD November 12, 2018, 3:35 pm

    If you really want to drop $1500 I really want that Peleton bike, I’ll just send ya my shipping address I am sure Wendy would be happy to forward it to you. There is also this really cute new Gucci bag, you just let me know.

    hahahaha

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  • avatar

    ele4phant November 12, 2018, 3:57 pm

    Umm, people think a $2400 mortgage is a lot? That’s my mortgage, and it seems downright steal in the housing market I live in. Together, my husband and I make a more than 125K, BUT we also are living way way below our means. We are socking away a ton into savings and retirement, and still managing to eat out a far amount and travel internationally once a year, there are a lot of places the fat could be trimmed and we could still afford our house.

    I dunno – I feel like as long as the LW is being reasonable in other areas of their finances, and they are both relatively young and anticipate your incomes continuing to grow, this mortgage should be entirely affordable. Which I guess leads to…are they being reasonable with other aspects of their finances? Maybe not, if they can’t even afford to buy her a better car. Again, on their income, I feel like you should be able to at least afford a reliable used car for her.

    Anyways, seems like the LW came from a family that shows love and affeciton through gift giving. He grew up in that environment, and continues to recieve that treatment from his parents. I can sort of understand now that he feels (falsely?) that he’s finally on solid financial footing, he’d like to return some love the way he was taught to do.

    But, yeah, $1500 is kind of a huge gift, and you need to be on the same page as your wife. And if you can’t even get her a decent car, you don’t have $1500 to spare. Think of other ways to show your love and appreciation to your parents, and if you need to, get your financial lives in order so your wife doesn’t feel stressed out and you guys can cover the basics.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant November 12, 2018, 4:04 pm

      So just occurred to me – $2400 is my monthly payment – so taking into account insurance, taxes, all that jazz. If the LW is paying 2400 on just the mortgage, then I take it back, that is a pretty big mortgage for your income.

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    • avatar

      Kate November 12, 2018, 4:07 pm

      I think your housing costs shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income, rule of thumb. So if they make $100K, then $2,400 is already 29% of their income and that’s without utility bills and other home expenses that go into that percentage. So yeah, they’re overextended and having trouble saving. Would have been better to take that gift and buy a less expensive house with a lower monthly payment.

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    • CurlyQue

      CurlyQue November 12, 2018, 4:13 pm

      I think $2,400 is a lot considering his parents gave them $100,000 to use as a down payment which for a reasonably priced house should’ve brought their mortgage payment down

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      • avatar

        CanadaGoose November 12, 2018, 6:11 pm

        Depends on the housing market. Where I live, the average house cost is over a million dollars, and in many neighbourhoods you need closer to $1.5M if you want something that’s not a teardown. You can’t even buy a one bedroom apartment for under $400K (in the suburbs).

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      • avatar

        JD November 12, 2018, 6:43 pm

        Ya same. Pretty much no one where I lived is capable of living by the 28% rule. Rentals actually changed it to 50%. There just is no option there otherwise even if you find the cheapest place.

        Where I moved now I heard someone complaining about their rent being so expensive and said it was $400 in the same sentence. I nearly spit out my drink. God I hate this place haha

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      • avatar

        Kate November 12, 2018, 7:19 pm

        Right, but again, if you’re paying so much for housing that you can’t afford a car – that you need to get to work – or to save money for emergencies and home improvements, then you can’t afford to be living in that neighborhood. Or not in that house in that neighborhood. Either a smaller place or farther out.

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      • avatar

        keyblade November 12, 2018, 10:04 pm

        @CanadaGoose- don’t most places with high living costs tend to require correspondingly high salaries?

        Also they’ve been married five years and the letter writer describes getting a nice new house as the first gift. Because the second gift occurred two years ago, the house was bought somewhere within the first few years of marriage. It’s possible the writer meant it was new for them, but I took it to mean a newly built house, so I assumed that meant they didn’t live in a million dollar housing market. I guess I also figured a truck wouldn’t be ideal for someone commuting to a larger city, but I’m most certainly reading into it.

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      • avatar

        CanadaGoose November 13, 2018, 4:14 pm

        @keyblade Housing cost does not necessarily correlate to incomes. Where I live, a combination of foreign investment and increased population has created a housing crisis. It’s the top election issue here. The number of homeless people is going through the roof. People live in campers on the streets and police ignore bylaws because there is nowhere for them to go. Vacancy rates also hover around 0%. Two professionals (think doctors and university profs) cannot hope to avoid a home on their combined salaries alone. It’s horrid. You can’t even rent a 2-bed apartment for $2400 in many neighbourhoods, let alone have that be your mortgage with only $100K down. Employers can’t stay in business and pay people enough for housing (their business rents are insane) so it’s a huge mess.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant November 13, 2018, 4:49 pm

        @canadagoose – truth.

        While it’s not quite as bad where I live (I’m guessing you’re in Vancouver?) we have a very lopsided economy. If you are working in tech – you can afford things here.

        If you work in virtually any other industry, good luck to you. Many people definitely have to pay more than the recommended percentage in housing costs here. Or move way out – but then there are costs for commuting.

        That said – it sounds like the LW is not necessarily making smart fiscal decisions if he can afford a tanning bed for his parents but not a reliable car for his wife.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 12, 2018, 4:18 pm

      Plus their income can be as low as $85,000 per year. The LW doesn’t mention things like taxes or utilities or insurance or gas or service vehicles or anything else. I get the impression that he has no idea what expenses they have. Maybe the wife pays the bills and is much more aware of their cost of living and what they have left to spend each month. It’s childlike to assume you can afford something when it means you can’t save for something else that is definitely needed.

      He also seems to have no clue about life expectancy. He should expect that at least one of his parents will live into their 80s. If they live a healthy lifestyle he should assume they can live well into their 80s.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse November 12, 2018, 7:44 pm

      It’s a lot if their combined income could be $85k, AND his parents put $100k down. Given his ostentatious post, I’m curious what he actually grosses. They can’t afford a small second car.

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  • avatar

    Sarah November 12, 2018, 4:23 pm

    LW I am married to someone just like you and let me help you out, Be careful what you are expecting when your parents kick the bucket. We have always lived below our means and it has been a struggle with my husband who until last year had a mom and dad that would write a check when I said we couldn’t afford something. They covered the downpayment (difference that we could not afford to live in the neighborhood they wanted) on our home, kept my husband in a new Volvo, and covered a vacation every year for us. So I get where you are coming from but 2 years ago the unthinkable happened and my FIL died from a heart attack leaving my MIL over the finances 18 months later she died. When we executed the will she had made so many terrible financial decisions that we needed to sell her home to cover the bills. She had fired her financial advisor and sold the stock that paid the dividends that they had been living off of. That same stock we were guaranteed from my FIL would have paid our children’s college tuition and kept us in the new volvos.

    Your parents don’t want a gift, our parents favorite gifts have always been when we have professional photos taken even before we had kids. My mother loves a tanning bed and doesn’t care about the health effects so I get it, but she would have a fit if I spent money I could have spent on her grandbaby on something for her. They have money get them something sentimental, if they want a tanning bed they will get a better one than you can afford.

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  • avatar

    Ange November 12, 2018, 6:04 pm

    Those tanning beds are illegal commercially in Australia, I can’t even imagine wanting to give someone the gift of potential cancer. But yes, stop relying on your parents to fund your lifestyle. Even if you give them the $1500 gift you’ll probably be back to them with your hand out once the bills get janked up from buying it so they’ll end up paying for it anyway.

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  • avatar

    CET November 13, 2018, 8:37 am

    I’m sorry. Nobody wants to own a tanning bed. That thing would be a huge monstrosity and besides, they cause cancer. Nope. Bad idea. You and your wife need to think of a gift you both agree on and a price limit you both agree on. Listen to your wife…her opinion is important too. One day you can pass on the generosity to your children when they are first making their way in the world and are struggling.

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  • Lucidity

    Lucidity November 13, 2018, 9:27 am

    While there was a lot expressed in this letter that turned me off, I think LW loves and appreciates what his parents have done for him. It’s admirable that he wants to show them that. Gift-giving is a love language, and when you’re raised in a wealthy, privileged environment, it’s easy to start equating the monetary value with affection. You can tell he feels that even this lavish gift would be an inadequate response to what his parents have given his family.

    If LW can’t get past the importance of the amount of money spent on the gift, I suggest working for it. When my husband and/or I want to buy something that’s outside of our budget, we get a temporary extra job (or two!) in our spare time. He has driven Uber to pay for a vacation and is coaching baseball to save for a new car, while I tutored to pay for my extravagant wedding dress and am currently pet-sitting to be able to give my sister a live band as a wedding gift.

    Working for the extras you want makes you appreciate the value of money, and gives you the satisfaction of delayed gratification. It’s good for the soul. I wouldn’t recommend a tanning bed, but whatever you gift your parents, they will appreciate it more knowing you put time and energy into obtaining it, rather than taking the money from something you need.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite November 13, 2018, 11:00 am

    Everything about this letter feels gross. You’re driving a brand new truck and she’s in a junker? And you think she’s the selfish one?

    Look, your parents gave you a truck, vacation, and huge help on what seems to be an extravagant mortgage that they probably had to co-sign on for you to qualify. Attempting to get past the fact that a tanning bed is a weird present in general even if they plan to tan for the trip…

    $1500 is a huge present on $85K of gross salary plus up to 40K in commissions. You seem to couch the large mortgage and choosing organic diet by reporting charitable giving… but it’s a misinterpretation of how wealthy you are it seems. You don’t mention other large expenses like student loans or insurance on that truck but life adds up quickly. Your parents aren’t going to time their deaths for whenever you need an emergency fund so you need to start thinking ahead. She’s right. You’re being absolutely ridiculous.

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    • avatar

      JD November 14, 2018, 11:29 am

      My husband would always put me in the safer, newer car just because he cares about my well being and wants to protect me. He always makes sure I have a new car first and foremost. He also is far more capable of handling issues that could come up roadside if something went wrong (changing a tire, which I can do but I am not strong, safety walking up some random road alone at night, stuff like that). But ya, wife is selfish. Ridiculous.

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  • avatar

    Hazel November 14, 2018, 10:47 am

    what everyone else said, plus “my parents are 60, so…..” ouch, dude. Just ouch. I mean, putting a number on anyone to imply their time is nearly up is a bit much but 60? Yowser.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros November 14, 2018, 11:53 am

      That is precisely why I don’t agree with the folks who are bending over backwards to talk about how he’s sweetly trying to show his love. Sure, maybe that is all he was taught — that money = love. But anybody who sees 60-year-old parents and assumes that they are going to die soon and thus give them piles of money is not getting the benefit of the doubt from me…

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie November 14, 2018, 11:55 am

      Right? 60 is so not old anymore. You’re talking 20-25 years most likely, barring any significant health issues. And once you start on the health issues, there goes your inheritance. Medicare only covers so much, you have to keep getting classified and reclassified to get services like in home health care or physical therapy. And it’s the details, you need a hospital bed – ok. You want one with the push button thing so you can raise the person to sitting? Extra. You want a new mattress? Extra. Nice wheel chair? Extra. New cancer treatment? Oh my god so much extra.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros November 14, 2018, 4:57 pm

        Yep! My stepgrandpa made a ton of money through investments. He passed away and set it up so that his wife could live in a really, really nice facility. It’s SO EXPENSIVE. None of the kids are getting inheritances, most likely. His stepkids are upset, but my stepmom and her sibling are cool with it because their mom is happy.

        But I think that if these parents are used to a high standard of living, then it’s very likely they are going to end up in a similar situation if they live a long time.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 14, 2018, 3:39 pm

    LW You seem clueless in many ways. You know that you pay a mortgage and that you buy organic foods but you don’t seem to realize that you must pay for other things like taxes and utilities and insurance and getting the cars serviced, etc. You seem happily disconnected from your own cost of living. You’re also clueless in thinking that your parents will probably die any time now. Unless they both have some terminal conditions they will likely live at least 25 more years each and at least one of them will probably live 30+ more years. I get the impression that you don’t feel you need to save for a car for your wife because just as soon as your parents die you will have loads of money to spend so why worry about saving for a car when you’ll have loads of money very soon. You also seem callously unconcerned about your wife’s welfare. You don’t care if she is driving a car that is on it’s last leg and will sooner or later leave her stranded or broken down on a road or where something will fail and causes her to be in a wreck. You seem to think she is selfish for wanting something newer and safer.

    If I was your parent and you seemed as clueless to me as you do here I would put any inheritance you were to receive in a trust that gave you a payment every month but would never let you get your hands on the principal. Your parents may also be spending their money. You can’t take it with you and it is their money that they earned and saved and invested and they may choose to spend most of it enjoying life including buying you nice gifts. You should never assume that there will be lots of money to be inherited.

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