Family Gift Money

I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt a need to spend family gift money. Sometimes I’ve dealt with this in a way of fidgeting with my own money such that I’m spending the family gift money and keeping more of my own in savings.

My parents paid for my college education. They paid the tuition and dorm fees directly to the school and gave me exact amounts of money to cover the specific textbooks I bought, the groceries I bought and my meal plan (the first two years), and my rent and utilities (after the first two years). They simply bought my plane tickets to fly home, so no money was exchanged there. My mom is pretty detailed as well and we both kept pretty good track of what was going on. The money my mom gave me to pay for specific things was used exactly for those things in my accounting and my savings was used for other things.

Since college, there has been money too. I’ve tried to tell them that I don’t need the money and to not take it, but they won’t let me. My mom told me she would just transfer the money to me anyways and that she didn’t want it. So I keep taking it.

They gave me about $8k for my car. It cost me $21k with taxes. They kept encouraging me to buy a fancier car, like one that would cost closer to $30k, but I stuck with my original price range, so with their money, I had more left in savings after buying the car than I would have otherwise.

They gave me more money when I was looking at condos (once I was close to putting an offer in) than they did when I was buying a car. That made it really helpful. One of my tricks though is that I don’t count the money as mine until it is fully in my own bank accounts and they don’t have access to it anymore, which made buying the condo kind of scary in case they changed their mind. (Which they didn’t, thankfully.)

The problem here is that I feel like I need to spend the gift money, not save it. There was some more money after the condo closed, which I put into a “buy stuff for the condo” fund, but I don’t feel like I can use it to pay down the mortgage. And then, recently, I received some more money from a relative’s passing, which is a reasonably small amount as far as the random money goes.

My current idea is to leave the money alone in a savings account and buy something nice with it, like artwork, that I wouldn’t necessarily spend my own money on. But then should I really spend “their” money in a different way than I would spend my own? For example, I would feel comfortable using the money from this relative’s passing to make the last mortgage payment, but not one in the middle, if that makes sense. I want to use the money for something memorable since the relative is no longer around. It would be nice to be able to remember that that piece of artwork came from Grandma or that table came from Mom and Dad.

I don’t know how many of you see family gift money, but this is something that is really difficult to talk about with other people. Most people think “What’s wrong with your parents giving you more money?” I feel so guilty every time they give me money because I don’t feel like I need it and I kept putting off publishing this post because I even feel guilty talking about it anonymously.


12 thoughts on “Family Gift Money

  1. I give money that my parents gave me to charity (DC1’s school primarily) or save it in a separate account to pay directly for DH’s relatives’ educational expenses.

    • I like the idea of giving the money your parents give you to DC1’s school. That seems like something that grandparents would want to do. (Or at least something that mine would do.)

  2. Once again; I really appreciate the comment left above by nicoleandmaggie because, I think that is a very smart way to utilize the additional funds. Food banks or other organizations like the Boys & Girls Club are always looking for supporters and they can recognize the gift(s) as an anonymous gift or in any fashion that you would like the charitable gift recognized.

    I would also consider setting up a separate investment account for the funds and purchase some low risk dividend paying stocks. Another option is to send your parents a gift every time that they send you a check; maybe, that will reduce the amount and/or frequency.

    • My parents tend to give money associated with specific life events, like college, college graduation, buying a first car or a first home, etc. So I have a feeling that there will be no more money until weddings, if they do give any. There may be money as they try to offload their estate before probate kicks in, but that I would have no problems using for whatever purpose.

      I like your general idea to increase donations and invest part of the money though, thanks!

  3. I think your idea of using them to buy something that you can appreciate as a keepsake of that life event is a good idea. I’m sure your parents would enjoy knowing that you bought something lasting with their gift and it will be something you can continue to appreciate for a long time.

    • I think that deep down, they’re trying to help me with the important parts of my life. I’ll definitely buy something special with the money from the relative, to be able to think of him or her every time I use the item or see it in my place.

  4. I love the idea of buying something special. And just think of how happy it makes your relatives to give these gifts to you. It sounds as though they can afford these gifts and then hopefully you will be able to do the same for your kids someday.

    • As much as I really wish I could say I bought the condo all on my own, I really do appreciate the fact that parents helped me. I love knowing that I won’t move for many years.

      Now to figure out what to do with the money from the relative that I will hold close to my heart for many years! :)

  5. I’ve only accepted one significant cash gift on the scale you’re talking about from a family member and, all I can say is, never again. In the future I’ll only accept an inheritance directly from the estate of a family member if anybody is generous enough to give me anything and that’s it. The gift in question was good natured at first, but then it was used as an excuse to justify self-destructive behaviour and a series of poor choices (on the part of the gift-giver).

    The only other large gifts I’ve accepted is free living space. I think, besides being thoughtful and allowing me to save a lot of money, these gifts have been extremely mutually beneficial to boot. For example, right now, I pay the utilities and I’ve cleaned/improved the house lots.

    • In my case, it’s been mostly okay. I’d far rather take their money than free living space. There are a lot fewer strings that way. It sounds like the free living space has worked out really well for you though and that’s awesome!

  6. My mother used to give me money, along with other random gifts, and it bothered me. I didn’t need what she gave and worried that there would be strings attached. A wise older woman told me that I can’t tell someone how to love me, and if this is my mother’s way of showing affection then I needed to accept it and not complain. At the time she could afford to give and she always gave with no strings attached.

    As far as what I did with the money, I bought myself expensive items that I needed (like a computer) and saved the rest. I totally understand your desire to buy something permanent or memorable with it, because that is what I would want to do. My thoughts are that I want to do something with money given to me that would make the giver happy.

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