A friend wanted to give me a gift of money, she wanted to make sure it was ok if she just gave me the money instead of a gift, then I could get what I wanted. I accepted the offer and said that it would be put to good use. (She hadn't actually handed me the money yet)

I then followed up with, "I have a bill I could put it towards, so that would be nice to pay off." This didn't sit well with her and she immediately said she wasn't going to give me any money if it was just going to go for bills. "I want you to get something for yourself. Forget about bills for a moment."

flickr/cc - oskay

I was a little upset that she had changed the 'rule' on the 'gift' and now it came with a condition. She might as well just keep the money and use it on herself. Well, that wasn't a good response and things escalated into a war of words- Me accusing her of being materialistic and having a spend, spend mentality; and she accusing me of being tight fisted and not having any fun.

Eventually the fire subsided and we talked about it as civilized people. I explained that it gives me pleasure to pay a bill and know that it isn't haunting me, that I'm not a slave to the bill. And she told me that seeing me buy something I have always wanted made her happy, that she could do something I would put as a low priority.

Eventually, she came around and said that I could do with the money as I pleased, since I was clearly happy about paying off the bill. I was glad to see her come around, not that it was about getting me the money, but that she understood happiness doesn't come through added 'things' to my home and the reason some things are a low priority is because I have higher priorities (like bills) that take precedence over other things.

All in all a lesson learned about someone else, you just never know how they view money.

A couple of questions for you:
Have you given money gifts with strings attached? Why?
Would you have used the money for bills or a something on your low priority list?


  1. Jill // Wednesday, December 01, 2010 9:21:00 AM  

    Interesting post. I have tried to give money with strings attached and it was a disaster so I quit. Now I either give it or not. No more strings. When I gave it with strings, a friend and her son were destitute and about to be evicted and she called asking for money (so different situation than yours) for christmas. I got a grocery gift card and 50$ for gas to get them through the holiday. There was 200$ on the gift card. That could feed her and her son for quite a while with groceries. Instead, she somehow talked the grocery store into giving them cash for the card, or maybe sold it to someone...I don't know but cash was had rather than grocery-gift-card, and took her son out to eat for every meal for a couple of days, got her hair died, and bought an outfit with the gas money...for herself. In about 3 days it was all gone and she called again for money. I learned that I got upset more about her poor use of money because I had given it with conditions. If I had said "here's 250$ have a blast" I would not have felt bad. Instead I had tried to "help" her with her financial planning. She wanted a good time, not financial planning help.

    So I quit giving her money and I only give money when I can REALLY let it go and let the person do what they want no matter how I would have used the money in their situation. If I can't, then the gift becomes a problem in the friendship and money isn't worth that. I figure people make their own choices and I don't have to support them if I don't want.

  2. Dawn // Wednesday, December 01, 2010 9:27:00 AM  

    I understand where you are coming from, I also gave some money and it wasn't used the way I thought they were going to use it. That meant I had to "rewire" my thinking and not be so attached to the money I gave them.

  3. Mrs. J // Wednesday, December 01, 2010 10:12:00 AM  

    That's a really interesting and relevant post. Thank you for sharing.

    I'm like you, and always apply money I receive to bills. I think paying extra on my mortgage is a real treat! My husband and I both have family members who feel like money they give us should be spent on stuff or fun. I understand the "fun". We're both in our early 20s and don't have much expendable income, so we don't frequently do the "fun" things that our peers get to do. I'm perfectly ok with this, but I can understand why our family wants us to go out and enjoy ourselves.

    What really confuses me is when people insist we buy a thing. I've rarely bought an object that brought me happiness. The peace of mind knowing that the bills are paid, or I have a little in savings, brings me much more happiness!

    After dealing with your friend, do you have any advice for explaining to people why you don't want or need "stuff"?

  4. Karen // Wednesday, December 01, 2010 1:00:00 PM  

    I always ask for money with the intention of either getting something big that I've been saving up for, or to pay off a bill I may not be able to otherwise. That way I can use my money for other fun things or towards other things.

    in my eyes being able to pay off a bill is a great gift!! OR pay extra, whatever it may be!

  5. Anonymous // Wednesday, December 01, 2010 1:39:00 PM  

    After all my failed attempts at giving to "help?" others I have quit doing that. Either give a gift or not. I have also learned that you can't always "help" others out of their situation.

  6. Hammy // Friday, December 03, 2010 6:41:00 AM  

    I prefer receiving money because I can justify spending it on something that I wouldn't spend my own money on.

    Giving money with strings attached - you'd have to say that gift cards could be construed in that manner. If you want to force somebody to shop at a particular store and they aren't redeemable for cash. Can backfire though if that shop isn't in the area or they refuse to shop there for any reason.

  7. Hollis C // Sunday, December 05, 2010 6:56:00 AM  

    My girls and nieces and nephews are in their 20's and I have no idea, really, what they most need or want. So I pick an amount of money that fits into my budget and give it to each of them inside a holiday card. I write a personalized note expressing my best wishes and hopes that this money will be beneficial to them, and if they feeel so inclined, I'd love to hear what nice thing they did for themselves.

  8. Stacey // Tuesday, December 14, 2010 1:40:00 PM  

    I really liked this post, and I am glad you took the time to explain to your friend that sleeping well and not worrying over a bill made you happy and that you're thankful for her.