Giving Christmas gifts vs giving money


My MIL and I have been having a discussion regarding giving gifts or money this year. She doesn’t know what to give my BIL for Christmas and is considering just writing him a check. She talked to him about it, and he says that if she sent a check, he would rather pay off his student loans than buy some new gadget for himself. MIL doesn’t want him to “blow his Christmas money on paying off loans.”

She’s asked me what I think on the issue. She feels that if she’s the one giving the money she should be able to have some say in how it’s used. I am of the opinion that if she wants him to have a gift, she should buy him one. But if she wants to give money, then she should respect his decision to do with it as he pleases.

So what are your thoughts on it? Is my opinion unrealistic?


I agree, I think if she wants to give him a gift, then give him a gift. If she wants to give him money she can't really tell him how to use it. My first reaction was to think how lucky she is that he is responsible and wants to pay off his loans!


I agree about the loans. I think it shows great responsibility on his part. And I think that it is harder for him to pay off his loans rather than buy himself a new gadget to play with. Surely the gift would be more fun. :) I wouldn't consider that "blowing" his money.


I’m personally pretty fed up with all the materialism at Christmas. It’s out of control. People getting their feelings hurt, unreasonable expectations of gifts, worrying sick about how much to give to whom, and how to pay for it, etc. It’s all way, way too much, in my opinion. We have lost the true meaning of Christmas, except with regard to lip service or an afterthought. I asked a little kid the other day (4 years old) what Christmas was about, and without any hesitation, he said, “Presents!” I asked if there was anything else, and he said, “Santa Claus.” Hoping, I asked, “And who is Santa Claus?” He said, “He brings us presents.” Nothing whatsoever about Jesus, Saints, heaven, or anything related. Pure materialism. Period. How do we fix this?!


I think your MIL has lost sight of what it means to give a gift. It sounds like she wants to give him a gift because she sees it as an obligation, yet doesn't know what specifically to get him so she is just going to give him money but restrict him from spending it how we wants. Gift giving should not be such a struggle that will cause conflict, frustration, and resentment. It should be a sign that the giver cares for someone and wants to give them something they think will make them happy.

I agree that if she is going to give him money, she can't have control over what he spends it on. If she wanted him to have a specific gift she should have bought it for him, and I think she should be grateful she has a son who is repsonsible enough to use the money wisely rather than buy a useless item.

Has your MIL or BIL asked for your opinion on this? If they haven't, it's probably best not to get involved and let them work out their gift giving issues on their own. If your MIL wants to turn presents into a power struggle, let her keep the drama to herself!


You know what would have been a rocking gift? To pay some towards those student loans herself and then present the “PAID” receipt in a card at Christmas.

I had a friend who was dealing with serious stuff and mentioned that her cell phone was going to be cut off and thus her ability to talk to her kids. I don’t have a cell phone myself, but I knew it was her lifeline. It was an old clunky phone, but she carried it everywhere so her two kids could call her.

So I was having a good month and had a spare few bucks. I called the cell phone company and paid her month’s bill. It really isn’t hard to do this stuff - you call and explain and they are happy to take your money. When my friend went to pay at the last minute and totally stressed as it was coming out of her food budget, she was told, “no, you don’t owe anything, your friend paid that for you.” Easy, easy, easy.


She could give a gift card. I'm pretty sure you can't pay student loans with a gift card.


She is trying to control with money. Once she GIVES it, it is HIS to do with as he sees fit.


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