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Why a Birthday is a Financial Minefield

October 11th, 2014 at 04:21 pm

I have a birthday coming up at the end of the month, and for some reason, birthdays are always financially difficult for me.

Here is why: I don't want anything. Well, nothing that you can buy, anyway.

What I do want: everyone to be nice to me, do my housework (my birthday is on a Friday this year, so the housework is minimal, but include doing the dishes, making dinner, tidying up, etc.). I like to get a card from F, too, because she makes the sweetest cards, and I cherish them and save them.

What I don't want: more stuff! I am working diligently to get rid of my stuff, and I have plenty of clothes and everything else in my life (and I am very thankful for that). I don't want to eat out, either.

My husband really wants me to have something, but I think I can convince him.

My mother, though, is a different story. She is going to send me a check (which I do want, actually, because there is nothing more satisfying to me than paying off something (like the new tires we had to get for D's car). But she says she won't send me the check unless I spend it on myself. Which is sweet, and I know she loves me and doesn't think I do enough for myself. But I swear I am far from deprived and it really makes me feel good to watch the red categories in my budget tracking go to black (or in the program I use it's green - even more satisfying).

So, what do you think? What do I tell my mom?

8 Responses to “Why a Birthday is a Financial Minefield”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    That is a tough one, but honesty is the best. Tell her what you would do with it. Pay off debt. Tell her how that makes you feel. Then leave it up to her how to handle her gift to you.

  2. Kiki Says:

    The tires were needed for your safety and paying them off gives you a peace of mind for the safety of your hubby and F. Doing something for yourself should be your choice-this choice feels right for you.

  3. Wife of the Deacon Says:


    I have a hard time with the same concept. Spending money on myself is something foreign. HOWEVER, that being said, two weeks ago I received $300 - my part of something was sold. Express conditions of money: use it on something I'd like. I hemmed and hawed and then decided to price concert tickets for an event I've wanted to see since I knew it was coming in April. Waited until the last minute and splurged - buying affordable tickets in the pit. This was an event at the Chicago Theatre last Saturday. I got pit tickets for $105/seat. This was a steal since pit tickets were going for $285/seat. I ended up in the freaking first row at Erasure. Smile And I had enough to buy myself and DH concert Ts. Frivolous? Absolutely. You bet!

  4. scfr Says:

    While I understand that you don't want anything for yourself and feel blessed with all you have, the giver of the gift (your mom) does have the right to stipulate what it is for. It's as much your mom's right to do what she wants with her money as it is your right to do what you want with yours. (At every gift-giving occasion I contribute to my niece & nephew's college funds. I give more generously because frankly it is something I approve of. If my sister asked for money for their future car fund, I would give much much less.)

    I'm sure you can come up with something that would satisfy you both. You say that you don't want to go out to eat on your birthday. Is that because you hate to eat out or because you feel it's not necessary? You also say that you want someone else to cook & do the dishes. It seems that going out to eat would get you what you want. Would that be a choice your mom would consider an appropriate use of her gift money? Maybe there's a new local joint that you've never tried? Or one of those cooking classes at a local farm, where you learn how to prepare new dishes & then eat them on the spot? It might feel good to support a local entrepreneur.

  5. ceejay74 Says:

    I understand your feelings, but maybe to respect your mom's wishes you could try something new that costs money that you've never tried. A play? Massage? Train ride? Since it's not money you would get unless you used it on yourself, and your mom does want to give it, get creative and try to have a good time!

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    I'd probably just take the gift and hold onto it until you find something you want to splurge on. (Which might not be immediately, but eventually something will come up). Of course, you can always throw it at debt today and then keep the dollar amount in mind to splurge later. Kind of how I handle these things. I don't care for stipulations on gifts.

    I think a gift for savings or debt is totally different. (Like scfr's example). It's very direct and I have no problem honoring those type wishes. But when you start judging how I spend my money, when it's a gift to spend, I think that gets to be a bit too much. The problem is that "enjoying" and "splurging" is very subjective. The gift comes with an element of control and disregard for what we enjoy. (My in-laws are really bad gift givers in that regard. Always very generous, but the cash gifts are never worth the baggage they come with. So maybe I am a little more sensitive to this type thing).

    My mom always says, "I want you to spend on yourself" and I sometimes do and I sometimes don't. But I don't think she would ever have any big problem with whatever I decide to do with that money. She never interjects much because she is a gracious gift giver. IF she pulled me aside as you describe above, I'd hold onto the money for a splurge, like I first suggested. But she would have to understand I might not spend it for a few months until something came up.

  7. Buendia Says:

    That is brilliant, actually - because something might come up in the future. Actually it'd be nice to go up to Red River to cross-country ski this winter, and it's not really in the budget, so that could be a good thing! It would be the whole family, and I know she wants me to do something just for me, but I want my family around! X-c skiing is something F and I love to do together...

  8. rob62521 Says:

    I say take it, save it, thank your mom, and when you find something, be sure you tell your mom you got it and now happy you are.

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