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tell off my sister for giving too many gifts.

(29 Posts)
lexlees Wed 16-Dec-15 17:22:39

My sister is a lovely woman, giving and generous. She is a SAHM
​and her husband earns just enough to support the family. Money is tight for them. We meet once or twice a week and go shopping. Since November she has been buying left and right - for everyone and anyone she knows. We are not talking about £3 gifts but £10-15 a time.

Finally her husband (who is lovely) sent her a text yesterday saying there is only £90 left to last til pay day on 27th and to please stop spending or there is nothing left to spend for food. She got very annoyed and angry at him. She texted that he knows she spends a lot at Christmas and he should have budgeted their money better and told her how much there was before she went out that day! She admitted she felt bad for stressing him like that but went on to spend another £20 on two more 'final gifts'.

Its like she gets a high from buying gifts, from wrapping them up and giving them. She doesn't expect anything. I know they got rid of all of their credit cards a year ago and are on a cash basis. Let me get this clear - she doesn't have any very close friends or family in the area (other than me), yet her 'gift' list extend to about 27 people. This includes the ladies at the school office, hairdresser, people at church she hardly knows, the friendly barista at our regular coffee shop, people who invited her out to coffee once, the neighbour that said hello once, the one that really took the biscuit was another mother's child minder who 'always waves to me' and 'the usher at church who is always so welcoming' (er - its his job to welcome people!!!!). Her Christmas card list extends to over a 100 - all very expensive charity cards.

I did gently try to tell her she is stressing her husband and buying unnecessarily. Every time I said 'why don't you buy something cheaper' she responds that it is too shameful to give a cheap present. She is so proud and prim and proper!

She has always been like that though, she gives and gives well (even when it was her own money - she once racked up a huge credit card bill - paid off by her husband shortly after they married). She doesn't expect anything, but if you give something, it better be high quality or she will literally chuck it.

Please don't get me wrong, I make out like she is a spoilt brat and she isn't. She is the wisest, kindest and loveliest person I know and my best friend as well as sister. She is just unrealistic in her spending power! She spends as if her husband earns £100k, but he earns half that. She is always optimistic - her nickname is pollyanna. When I ask if she is just trying to make people like her, she insists she just simply enjoys giving and doesn't care two hoots if they like her or not or even reciprocate.

Am I being unreasonable to have a strong chat with her about it? Or should I leave it as it is just once a year?

NeedsAsockamnesty Wed 16-Dec-15 17:28:02

Sorry but she is a spoilt brat.

If she has a shopping addiction and she is using money intended to feed her family and not resolving it then that's being a spoilt brat.

If she does not have an addiction issue and she's just doing it anyway then she's alsl being a spoilt brat

whois Wed 16-Dec-15 17:31:03

Gift for the hairdresser over food for the children wouldn't typically be considered great parenting.

FrozenPonds Wed 16-Dec-15 17:34:22

She can't really be buying great gifts if they are £10 a time.

She is buying tat for people whose reaction is going to be 'WTF!?'.

Maybe she could start a new career as a personal shopper.

theycallmemellojello Wed 16-Dec-15 17:41:51

I think that there are a lot of issues here.

Firstly, I am wondering why it is your role to "tell your sister off." Obviously you don't have any authority over her! In terms of who has the "right" to lay down rules about her spending, that would be her and her husband (as a joint decision).

I am also wondering where you get your understanding of the couple's financial information on - how do you know how much she is spending as a portion of their budget and so on?

I think that you are mixing up disapproval of profligate spending (which IMO is misguided - there's nothing wrong with spending or present buying in itself, if you can afford it) with worry about whether your sister is in control of her spending and able to understand budgeting.

I think that it is definitely legitimate to have a sensitive chat if you think your sister has a shopping addiction or is using buying to cover up unhappiness or is simply unable to control impulses. However, I think that it is important that that chat does not come across as telling her off or in any way telling her what to do (as you don't have the right to do this!). Rather, just try to understand things from her perspective, what does she think she's doing and so on, and offer help and support.

I am also a bit confused about what you say about her husband's income and the fact of them having only £95 to last til the end of the month. Is it really correct that he earns £50k but they run out of money at the end of the month? Is this just the money they set aside for "general spending" in that month, or do they literally not have any savings or money set aside? If the latter then they have far bigger budgeting problems than a few extra presents at Christmas. If the former, then I think it's possible that the husband is being unreasonable here - has he just made a unilateral decision about how much money they set aside for Christmas? As a SAHM she works for the family as much as he does, and should have as much as a say as he does in questions like this.

It comes across like you are siding with her dh in an argument that is between them. Is that really what you want to do? I think it's unlikely that you have all the facts about what is going on between them. The fact that he is texting her about stuff like this makes it seem to me like he's not treating her very nicely - surely this is something they should talk through together? At the very least, you could stay neutral in a disagreement while still helping your sister to get in to better habits if that is indeed what she needs.

Finally. I completely disagree with the poster calling her a 'spoiled brat'. Unpleasant nonsense.

Wagglebees Wed 16-Dec-15 17:46:44

She doesn't sound like a spilt brat at all. I feel very sorry for her and I'd be trying to find out why she's trying to buy friends and needs to be liked so much. She sounds lonely. sad

Wagglebees Wed 16-Dec-15 17:49:14

Or everything that mellojello wrote. Seriously, just read that post because that's all you need right there.

NeedsAsockamnesty Wed 16-Dec-15 17:57:20

If they have £90'left for food because she is buying tat for randoms and to punish him for calling her out on it she reduces there food budget to £70 by spending an extra £20 on tat.

And she has been doing this since November

Then you can disagree all you want but it does not change my opinion.

Switch this to someone's husband splurging on drinks rounds or golf games for friends to appear generous and very few people would give a shiney shit why he was doing it.

lexlees Wed 16-Dec-15 18:02:50

Hi, I am not sure about their budgeting arrangements -

My sister tells me everything! As far as I know DH is a real sweetheart, so there is no 'bad treatment' - just a bit of frustration. The text he sent was just matter of fact.

The £90 was what was left in the bank account - not left in a budget. I have no idea how they budget - it seems more like they don't budget at all.

I think she said her DH earns about £58k

theycallmemellojello - thank you so much. Very practical.

I think it maybe just wiser to say nothing. If does it all again next year, I will broach the subject then - rather than afterwards.

Gosh, could there be a deeper problem for my sister? I honestly never thought she had a shopping addiction - she almost never buys for herself. I had never thought about it. Could she be deeply lonely? She has always been a loner though. Somethings to think about definitely.

AutumnLeavesArePretty Wed 16-Dec-15 18:06:31

If he was wasting all the money she alone earned then no doubt she would be very cross.

If she wants to waste money, she could get a job and waste her own money.

lastqueenofscotland Wed 16-Dec-15 18:09:47

£58k is an awful lot of money to only have £90 left.
Sounds like they really need to learn to budget...

scarlets Wed 16-Dec-15 18:18:38

It sounds like she's trying to purchase friendship. Is she lonely?

If someone I waved at from time to time or had said hello to a couple of times, gave me a Christmas present, I'd find it odd and a bit unsettling.

The hairdresser would normally be cash tipped, and there will be a gratuities box for the barista and his colleagues. Neither of these people will expect a gift.

I feel sorry for her, if I'm on the right track. If so, you help her widen her circle and/or find a part time job?

d270r0 Wed 16-Dec-15 18:22:31

58k is a high salary and more than an awful lot of families get. Money should not be tight for them on that! If she spends £10 a present on 27 random people, thats £270, not a huge amount at all if they have an income of 58k. If money is really tight for them than they should look at their spending habits overall because they should be able to get by on a lot less than that.

StealthPolarBear Wed 16-Dec-15 18:26:21

Bit confused as to why a £10 present is automatically tat

SSargassoSea Wed 16-Dec-15 18:26:46

Maybe it's boredom. Does she have interests and hobbies?

If you are her sis you should have an inkling as to why she does this.

Imv many pressies, unless asked for, are a waste of money, people buy their own stuff!

NeedsAsockamnesty Wed 16-Dec-15 18:34:40

Bit confused as to why a £10 present is automatically tat

A £10 gift is not automatically tat, but given that she is buying for mainly strangers she is unlikely to know likes and dislikes unlikely to be able to put much person tailored thought into it so chances are she's buying the type of stuff people get for those they don't know very well and my guess is that is more likely to be tat than not.

nightandthelight Wed 16-Dec-15 18:51:22

I feel for the people receiving these gifts, I would feel very uncomfortable if I received a gift from someone who I just waved at in passing!

Does sound as though your sister has a bit of an issue with shopping and I do feel for her.

How are they proposing to do Christmas dinner with such little money left?

StealthPolarBear Wed 16-Dec-15 18:54:53

Ah ok. I assumed the implication wad a £10 box of chocolates or bottle of wine was tat and felt very inferior!

FlameProofBoots Wed 16-Dec-15 18:55:42

My sil does this. She is also a SAHM and buys for everyone including her hairdresser.

She literally filled my car up with this year's presents for the five of us (well six actually as she's bought the dog a bag full too). I find it embarrassing to be given armfuls of gifts, I'm a SAHM too at the moment and we have stuck to a strict £10-£20 per person.

She does it throughout the rest of the year too, which random gifts of clothes or jewellery.

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Wed 16-Dec-15 19:02:17

I wouldn't say she fits the description of spoilt brat, quite the opposite as she seems to get a buzz out of giving. The only problem is her being a Santa Claus is costing her poor dh money, so on that basis she is being a tad selfish.

SaucyJack Wed 16-Dec-15 19:06:15

She sounds bored and lonely, and desperate for something meaningful to do with her time. It is not "normal" to buy Xmas presents to people you wave to on the school run. Agree it may well make people feel uncomfortable.

I don't know what to suggest now she's bought them. Maybe direct her to a charity collection for next year where her gifts will be appreciated by people who may not get anything else.

2tired2bewitty Wed 16-Dec-15 19:07:51

There was an Alvin Hall type program about a couple like this a few years ago, massively overspending on gifts for everyone they'd ever met seemingly. TV crew tracked some of them down later in the year and asked if they remembered what gifts they had been given, none of them did. Faces of overspending couple when shown the footage were deeply embarrassed. Any chance of doing something similar to demonstrate that people don't expect to have their friendship 'bought'?

NeedsAsockamnesty Wed 16-Dec-15 19:28:16

I wouldn't say she fits the description of spoilt brat, quite the opposite as she seems to get a buzz out of giving. The only problem is her being a Santa Claus is costing her poor dh money, so on that basis she is being a tad selfish

She gets a buzz out of giving whilst her own family have £90 left in the bank that's less than a tenner a day to live on until payday and they have not even been food shopping, so she spends another £20 just because she's cross about it.

More than a tad selfish

theycallmemellojello Wed 16-Dec-15 19:35:35

But is it really only the sister leaving them with £90? Shouldn't the dh have like £3k per month after tax? And the sister, as far as OP knows, has spent £300 pointlessly? Where's the rest of the money going? Either the sister's spending problem is way worse than OP knows (getting rid of credit cards sounds ominous) or there is some very poor budgeting on the part of both parties. Actually, op, if this was my sister, I definitely would say something. They sound like they're in a mess.

Senpai Wed 16-Dec-15 20:46:00

Me and DH had arguments about things like this. We were both just terrible at budgeting and communicating what we spent.

We ended up doing one joint account that is strictly for food, bills, and essentials, then we divide up personal fun money equally. So we can spend whatever is in our fun account on whatever we want whenever we want.

I suggest they do something like that.

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