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gift giving...

Since I have known my fiancé his mother dictates what gifts we buy for her or the grandchildren or his father.  I have always thought its weird that she tells us "this year for christmas I want everyone to pitch in to pay for x (usually has us give her cash)" or she will call and say "for granddaughters xmas gift everyone is pitching in for x".  They don't have a lot of money and like to give the grandchildren large gifts so she has everyone pitch in.  I wouldn't mind but its usually more then we would spend on a child.  I have never said no because I do not want to cause conflict.  However this year we have a joint account, are paying for a wedding, and just bought a house.  He has me do the shopping.  I went out and bought the grandchildren gifts already.  I was on the phone with her about something unrelated and she then told me we are pitching in for something.  I told her that I had already purchased a gift when she said well this is what they want and we can't afford it so I told them we would all pitch in.

One gift we all pitched in for when she gave it to the child she states it was from her and her husband, my fiancé, and his brother.  She left my name out of it.  It was a 4 year olds birthday and not worth getting mad over.

I guess with this long story I am wondering how do I stop this for the future.  My fiancé doesn't like change and won't want to deal with telling her no.  Next time I would like to not have her even ask to pitch in.  Maybe tell her before hand that I already got gifts so we are all set?  She just guilts me into it by saying she can't afford it.

Re: gift giving...

  • This is a FI problem, until he intervenes and tells his mom no or at least is strongly supportive of you telling her no, you are stuck. As for her guilting you into it, this is an opportunity for you to develop some firm personal boundaries because nobody can make you feel guilty without your permission.
  •  nobody can make you feel guilty without your permission.
    I agree 100% with this.  Just out of curiosity, does she also specify what amount you need to give?  If you do decide to chip in for these larger presents, you should always choose how much you are able to put in.  There's no reason why you have to give more, just because you're pitching in instead of giving your own gift.  If she doesn't feel as though you put in enough, simply reply that it's all you can afford with your budget right now.  It seems to be an excuse that works for her, so why can't it work for you? 

    Before you ruffle too many feathers, talk with your fiance, and make sure that you're on the same page.  You don't want to put in the energy to fight the current system, and then find out that he actually liked it that way.  It should go without saying, but you two need to have a unified budget worked out, that you both agree on.  "Gifts" should be one of the budgeted items.

    I think the way that you responded to her money request was fine.  Simply say "oh, that sounds nice, but we won't be pitching in because we already purchased a gift for them."  It is perfectly acceptable to let her know that you would prefer to purchase your own gifts from now on (although, sometimes it might be nice to have the option to just toss in a few bucks into the pot, rather than go shopping).  If she complains, or requests again, simply, "I'm sorry, but we really can't afford to pitch in for such a large gift.  We already decided to do our own gift shopping instead."

    It's possible that you'll discover there is a root reason for this particular method of gift giving.  Sometimes when an individual or family prefers to limit their possessions, they'll either request specific gifts, or no gifts to prevent from having to deal with toys/clothing/gadgets that they have no room or use for (and thus, simply donate elsewhere).  If that's their case, then I can understand this gift method a little more.  If the reason really is that they like giving expensive gifts, but can't afford it, then that's their problem, not yours.  Having the desire to give expensive gifts doesn't entitle someone else to your money in order to fulfill their own gift giving dream. 
  • Oh no, I wouldn't stand for that.  I enjoy giving gifts and picking out those gifts for people so not I wouldn't chip in if I didn't want to.  Your MIL also has some set of steel balls to be reaching into your pocket book and taking out what she wants.  She has no right to be telling people without your permission that you all will be chipping in.  

    However, like others have said this is a husband problem.  Why is he more concerned with his mother's feelings than yours and how come he has no problem telling you " No " but can't say the same thing to his mom ?
  • Well,I have to ask- why did you buy gifts when you KNOW what she's going to do AND you aren't going to stand firm on "we already bought gifts?" (because it sounds like you gave in and will still give $$).  Yes, this is a DH problem, but it's also a YOU problem.  You KNOW what was going to happen. 

    That being said - the two solutions I see are:

    1- put it on DH. If you can't afford to give what MIL asks for, put it in front of DH.  "here's our budget, here's what your mom wants.  what solution do YOU have?".  Make him fix it or deal with her.

    2- put is on DH.  Don't be the gift buyer.  If that means you all just contribute every year, then so be it.  But this is what his family does, he's fine with it. Outside of the AMOUNT being dictated to you, why do you feel the need to change how his family does things? 

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