Equality of gift giving?

December 2, 2009 at 9:00 am (spending habits)

Growing up, my extended family was generous with the gifts I received (must have been the fact that I was an only grandchild for 13  years). I worked throughout my teenage years and had a lot of disposable income. I guess I got in the habit of buying nice gifts for family. Fast forward to my current relationship.

Last year J and I exchanged limited gifts; we kept the spending down since we both had limited funds. I was in poor financial straights, coming to terms with my debt, putting a rein on my spending, and beginning the budget process. This year isn’t too much different – I still am maintaining a limit to my spending, but the big difference is that I have been budgetting for a full year and have put money aside for the holidays. For J, it’s no different from last year. He is still living paycheck to paycheck, and with an increase in his bills (rent at our new house), he is sure to not have lots of disposable income available.

We’re both mad about cooking and kitchen stuff (only the useful things, not the gadgets). There are a lot of things that we both want and need that match up. There are also a bunch of things I know he needs and wants that I could get him, but they are a little extravagent, compared to what he’ll get me. Should I just limit myself to smaller gifts, or should I splurge on something nice (he’s been desperate for an external hard drive, about $125) plus a few assorted other things?

Does anyone else weigh the disparity or equality of the gifts your partner will be giving in making your gift choices? Am I callous to even consider limiting myself to matching his budget? I think I already know what I’m going to do, but I’m curious how any of you might be handling this…

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