If you’re reading this, chances are you are a young adult, likely female, who is looking to get better with personal finance and find a way to live in a more affordable and balanced way. That’s awesome! And as we’ve discussed many times, a big part of that is cutting out unnecessary expenses that we feel compelled to take on, but which only serve to drain our precious spending money (which should be saved as much as possible). Often, impulse buys for ourselves or things like overpriced cocktails are some of the first things to go. Because, if we’re being honest, it’s totally not unusual for even the most objectively broke amongst us to head out to a bar for a few drinks to relieve stress, or to pick up a one-time-use Forever 21 dress because you have a party you need to look good for. We all know that we’re capable of wasting 25 bucks or so, even if we shouldn’t.
And yet somehow – and I include my former self in this judgment – when it comes time to give gifts (like for the upcoming Mother’s Day), we are suddenly Sammy Savings who cannot find it within them to spring for a real gift or day on the town. Until more recently than I’d like to admit, I was amongst the young people who suddenly switched into “I’m still a kid” mode when holidays came. I would go home for Christmas and sort of loll about, mostly expecting to be taken care of and lavished with gifts. And no matter how many times I’d gone out and spent on impulse buys in the year leading up to it, I became Scrooge when it came to my parents’ gifts, because ~iM tHe BaBy~ and my presence was supposed to be gift enough. Gross.
Since then, I have seen the error of my ways (and been rightfully embarrassed at the mooch I was until about 22). For every holiday, I go out of my way to get my parents something nice or take them to something special, and spend as much on them as I would want spent on myself, or my boyfriend, or a best friend. Just because they are not technically my peers does not mean I suddenly have an apprentice-like relationship where they should be picking up every check. We go dutch at restaurants, I treat them whenever possible, and the relationship is much more about reciprocation and “let me get this” than me being a parasitic adult toddler.
Part of being mature financially is understanding that you are an adult – no matter what shows about manchildren or Lena Dunham would have you think – and part of being an adult is giving to those who have given so much to you. And no matter how much you claim to be broke, you are an absolute liar if you say you couldn’t manage to scrimp and save 25 bucks for a nice gift or fun activity with some thought and energy (and you should be saving more if you can, of course). You can find tons of awesome things on Etsy at that price, or make something useful and fun yourself, or take her out for a day on the town. You can peruse sale racks and outlets, you can find something of value at a low, low price, which will come on top of the lovely, thoughtful card. Card-only gifts are the stuff of children, and you are not a child.
And for the love of God, a phone call is not a gift. An “I love you” is not a gift. It should be PART of the gift, yes, but you are a goddamn adult. If you are far away, send that woman a bouquet. Make her day. (I should take this time to mention that my boyfriend is the oldest of three boys, and – pardon the gender norm – boys tend to be less on the up-and-up when it comes to thoughtful gifts. Last mothers’ day, I forced him to send her a beautiful bouquet to arrive the morning-of with a nice card, all the way in France. That woman was OVERWHELMED, and gushed about how it was the first time one of her boys had gone out of their way to do something like that. It took ten minutes online, a little bit of thought, and 30 bucks. It should not take years of a committed relationship to motivate you to do that. [Also he is going to be mad at me for putting his business out there, but that’s what he gets for being a little present tapeworm.])
The point is, that woman birthed you (or adopted you, or is your Victorian-era guardian). She is your goddamn MOM. Who could be more deserving of the money you normally would throw away on a couple drinks and some wings at happy hour? If you don’t take the time to go out of your way and plan something lovely, and instead throw together a shitty card and a phone call at the last minute, you are a Bad Kid. Even in your mid-teens, you should be realistically getting a gift for her, but by the time you reach an age that starts with 2, you truly have no excuse.
You’re a grown-up. Get right with your life. Get your mom a fucking gift.