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The Burden of Expectations

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The Burden of ExpectationsIt is that time of year for me-when I get the birthday blues. 

I go through this every year thinking it is going to change, and it never does. Within a two-month period I get ambushed with birthdays: two nieces, a best friend, close co-worker, Mom, nephew, sister, brother-in-law, best friend's son, and last but not least, one of my beloved dogs. 

Whew - it wipes me out just thinking about it.

The best way to describe my birthday blues is comparing it to a re-run of Sex in the City I was watching a couple of weeks ago. 

It was the one where Carrie starts to realize the amount of time, money, and energy that she puts into other people's celebrations; she realizes that because of the way she has chosen to live her life, she seems to get the short end of the stick, so she decides to have a "Single" Shower.  Unrealistic? Sure, but a heck of an idea!  

Let me say, I am NOT a materialistic person, but, I am a little peeved that because 90% of my friends got married at a young age.

I have subsequently spent an enormous amount of time and money on endless:

  • Wedding and baby showers
  • Wedding gifts
  • Engagement gifts
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Travel arrangements, etc, etc, etc. 

For my own big day I chose to go with a non-traditional wedding to try and make life easier for both friends and family. 

This meant:

  • No wedding shower
  • No fancy wedding
  • A location more convenient for everyone (but me and my groom)

For all of my efforts to keep things low-key and easy on our loved ones, I have come to realize that it is really about expectations...managing my own. 

The reason I suffer from these 'blues' is because I want to demonstrate how much I care for these important people with each gift, as if that one gift can communicate how much that particular person means to me.

So if I am unable to give the kind of gift I would like due to financial issues....somehow my more frugal gift diminshes the adoration of that individual. Sounds crazy right...well exactly, it is crazy.

I know that if any of my friends could not afford to shower me with gifts, that would not affect how I felt about our relationship. In fact, I assume I would be aware that this person I care so much about was watching their pennies and would be encouraging and supportive, definitely not expecting a big gift. 

Which brings me back to my birthday blues. This year I am going to try and remember:

  • It is not about the gifts
  • Its not about the money spent

Managing my 'gifting' expectations is as much about me as it is about the other person. I am going to work on letting go of expectations and focus more on celebrating the person.

I wonder why no one wants to celebrate the birthdays of my dogs with me?  I took this fun quiz and failed!  How do you score on your gift giving expectations? 

Related Posts:

Gifts, Gifts and More Gifts

Frugal Gifts from the Heart for All Occasions

How TO Remember Special Occasions and Stay On A Budget 

Katie Lupo SimmonsKatie (Simmons) Lupo

Katie is currently enrolled in the CareOne Debt Relief Services Debt Management Plan (DMP). You can read more about Katie's experience in the My Journey out of Debt blog. In her blog, Katie explores life without credit cards, living on a 'real' budget and making that adjustment from spender to saver. A newlywed, Katie candidly addresses how debt has influenced her choices in love and life. Look for older posts by Katie under the Single and Settling In blog. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • My wife and I were on opposite sides when it comes to gift giving; however, we are now on the same playing ground. Before, she would want to give custom gives (usually engraved) for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Fathers' Day, Mothers' Day, graduations, etc., for our parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It was overwhelming at the least.

    During this economic state we're in today (as a country), I don't think people are really expecting those types of gifts anymore. "It's the though that counts" is a really big thing now. Sure, I would love to get my Dad something really special for Fathers' Day, but I know he was just as happy to get a phone call and card.

    Oh, and along the lines of celebrating your dogs' birthdays.... when it's Fathers' Day, Christmas, or my birthday, there is usually a card from my 4 dogs. I've always wondered how they managed to buy it too - LOL.

  • Katie, I also saw that episode and it really resonated with me.  I live with my boyfriend and have never been married.  Although we've talked about it, we both agreed we would just elope and spend a couple of thousand on a nice vaction if/when we do.  We will simply tell people, and if they want to come, great!  But I won't expect much.

    Over the years, I have spent quite a bit of money on weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, and on children of my friends and family on their birthdays and at Christmas.  Many of these kids are children I barely even get to see because they live back east, but because I started doing it, I don't know how to stop.  

    Because I"m starting law school this fall, I've decided this year that I will not be spending money on the children's birthdays.  I'm not usually there to celebrate it with them anyway, but I will give Christmas gifts since I get to visit and see everyone.

    Of course, some of the marriages have ended in divorce.  There are times when I would like to give myself a bridal shower for "not marrying the wrong guy," but that would probably seem ridiculous.  It would be great -especially in these times, if it were more acceptable to be honest about one's finances and if people getting married or having children could be more aware that not everyone is in a position to gifts.  This was a great way to bring it up!  Thanks for the post.

  • The older I get, the more the phrase "It's the thought that counts" means to me.   I'm a grown man, married and have children.  I don't need my mom and dad, my friends, or anyone else to buy me a gift.  There's no way I can stop my wife, although I have told her time and time again that the best present she can give me for an occasion is to keep the checkbook closed.   She actually listened to me recently.  :)  

    BTW, I scored 8 out of 10 on the quiz.  I still think it's OK to regift if it's something I'm not going to use, but I think someone else would love it.  ;)

  • Great comments and ideas!  This topic is always a hot button for me because there never seems to be a "right" solution.  Cheryl_G...I am glad I am not the only one out there with some of these frusterations!  I love the idea for a shower for "not marrying the wrong guy"!  I am definately in it's the thought that counts mode - nieces and nephews no longer get gifts, they get a fun day one on one with me...creating memories!

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