People give gifts for a variety of reasons, including to mark an occasion or event, or to show love, thoughtfulness, and care.
There can be another reason for many gifts this year: guilt.
The NPD Group’s annual vacation survey, conducted in September, found that 40% of 3,429 respondents wanted to buy more gifts than usual due to COVID-19. The goal is to bring joy to loved ones, but it is possible for many people to purchase gifts to help them feel less guilty when they are not with loved ones on vacation.
This dynamic is known as “blaming”.
“Guilt is a strange thing that comes up in multiple ways for all kinds of people,” explains Kathryn Summers, a psychotherapist in Durham, NC in an answer that makes them feel simply responsible for it and therefore guilty. “
According to Summers, people typically don’t make a conscious choice to spend or do more to alleviate their guilt. it is usually passed out
“You don’t really know why you’re spending more than usual,” she said. “It’s more like,” It would feel good to me if I bought you something special. “
When generosity is a burden on your finances
Being too generous could be a drain on your finances.
“What makes me most nervous is just the number of people out there who want to show people how much they love and appreciate [their loved ones]but not the feeling of being able to, ”says Scott Henderson, Accredited Financial Advisor (AFC®) and founder of Simplifinances.
Henderson said it usually takes about nine months for people to pay for their vacation expenses, and that this year it may be even more pronounced.
“I think we’re going to see an increased number of people who may be able to spend money without having to buy gifts so people try to make the holidays the best they can because it’s been a tough year,” he said.
The additional expenses may seem small in comparison, but Henderson says it can cost a lot.
“It can get into a vicious circle for a lot of people where it’s really, really hard to get out of it once the credit has started to build up,” he said. “And you go a month and you can’t make the payment, so you start paying interest. Interest can be crippling for a lot of people.”
Henderson also cautions people about the “spending of revenge” that occurs when people try to rationalize the fact that they were unable to do or spend what they wanted that year.
“The holidays are something like this,” I’m just going to screw it up. I’ll just spend vengeance and I’ll just buy what I want for whoever I want right now because I deserve it, “he said, adding that he thinks it’s a common mentality.
But it’s a mentality that can have serious consequences.
“You may not be spending $ 100 on a gift in December, but you may have a balance from November and now, having added a number of unexpected expenses, you will have an even bigger balance in January than you are I’m stressed and I can’t pay off, ”said Henderson.
He points out that because of interest, a person in this situation will end up paying more than the initial $ 100 on top of the November balance that was not paid.
“It just turns into this downward spiral,” he said.
How to Avoid Feeling Guilty
How do you balance both your budget and your donation spirit?
First and foremost, Henderson recommends creating a budget and figuring out how much you can afford.
“You just have to understand what you can do within your limits this year,” he said. “And if it doesn’t spend that much money, it may be more of a gift that you can offer as a service if you don’t have the money.”
For example, helping out with a home improvement project or making a phone call can help you show love and generosity without spending any money.
It’s also important to think a little deeper about why you are giving the gift, especially if the gift for you is not the norm.
“There is a story of gift giving within a relationship,” Summers said. “Whether it’s a friendship, an intimate partnership, or a family, there tends to be a context for how we exchange gifts.”
She said an example of an unusual gift could mean you usually give your friends cute coffee mugs, but then suddenly you give them $ 200 worth of pajamas.
“When the gift comes and it gets out of this typical context, it can create confusion,” she said.
To reduce this confusion, Summers recommends recognizing that the gift is different from previous years and explaining why.
“I know this is usually not what we do, but I am sending it to you because you have been in my heart and mind this year and I want you to know how important you are to me even though we are apart are you offered as an example of how to conduct this discussion.
Being aware of your own motivation is key to avoiding guilt.
“What am I looking for? Am I looking for a specific answer from the other person, or am I doing this because it feels good to give it?” Summers says to ask yourself. “When you are looking for a specific answer from the other person “Prepare to make a mistake as we cannot predict how other people’s responses will be.”
Summers and Henderson suggest asking yourself a few questions about why you’d want a gift, especially a fancy one.
- Why do I feel the need to give this gift?
- Do I regret this purchase after I buy it?
- Will I refuse to buy this gift if the recipient does not provide something in return?
- Do I think this gift will make up for something?
Summers also reminds us that giving gifts may have a different purpose this year.
“Maybe it’s not always guilty based,” she said. “But maybe because we can’t connect personally, we’re trying to find other ways to connect. Maybe giving gifts is more important this year, not necessarily out of guilt, but just as a desire to connect.”
Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with over 25 years of experience writing on finance, health, travel, and other topics.