The tanning bed is only $1,600. I make $70-110K a year on commission, and my wife makes $30K year. We have a $2,800 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, and I mean, they’re going to give us a crazy amount when they die…
In my mind, buying them a tanning bed is just something I want to do, to say thanks. I feel like a $55,000 truck, 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 my wife. 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, $1600 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 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. 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 your base salary and not your commissions, 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 $1600 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.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.