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When is a gift for a girlfriend too much?

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When is a gift for a girlfriend too much?


When is a gift for a girlfriend too much?

My son is a senior in high school and just turned 18.  He works about 15 hours a week as a dishwasher and banks about $120/wk. We provide his car, gas, insurance, cell phone, and any general expenses for him to live.  He uses his own money for eating out with friends and buying miscellaneous items, but generally saves most of his money for when he goes to college.


This past weekend he mentioned that he was going to the mall with his girlfriend (dating for over 1 year).  I warned him not to spend too much money because Christmas was coming and he was concerned about the cost for gift for his family and friends.  Later in the day I noticed a few tweets by his girlfriend – “It’s shopping spree day”, “I am so thankful to have such an amazing boy in my life”, “today was one of the best days of my life”, etc.  That led me to check out his bank account (it is still attached to my online banking because it was opened when he was a minor).


He spent $405.78 shopping (Abercrombie, Dicks, American Eagle, Nike, etc.) and another $65.95 for dinner at an expensive restaurant – Total $471.73.  I have not seen one item so I believe they were all purchases for his girlfriend. 


I’m upset that he would spend a month’s salary on one day of spending for a girl that goes shopping with her mother several times a month for ‘stuff’.  So, should I say something to him? How about her parents (I know that I would not let my daughter accept gifts of this magnitude), should I tell them? Should I say little, but start requiring him to put 50% of his check into savings?  Should I start charging him for his insurance and some expenses?  Should I keep this to myself? 


Super star contributor

Re: When is a gift for a girlfriend too much?

Hi @Runge, welcome to the forum!


I can understand your concerns, and also your frustration at your son spending that amount of money in one day. I'd be upset as well, especially with Christmas coming up after he's expressed his concerns over affording presents for family and friends. It's a difficult one because your son is 18 so is an adult now and able to make his own choices and decisions. 


My daugher's 15, she works part time and is saving for a car and further study as well. Because she's working she pays for her own phone bill now. Once she gets a car she'll be paying for most of the running expenses, mainly because I can't afford to run two cars, but I think it also teaches them respect for the value of money and the reality of the cost of living. She spent $320 on a dress for a formal, which I thought was outrageous for something she wore for 2 hours and will never wear again, and she regrets it now. I'd given many other options, but she dug her heels in. But she had to do it that way to learn the lesson.


It might be an idea to have a talk to your son, maybe not about those purchases in particular, but just in general about smart spending and saving. Try and provide an opening to see if he opens up about that day - he may regret the spend, he may feel he had to spend the money to keep this girl's affections, or he may have been planning on this day, and thinking to himself that part of his savings was going towards these purchases? 


Being 18 it would also be very reasonable of you to say he needs to start contributing towards the cost of his car, or to pay his own phone bill or whatever you decide. These things are expensive and it might help him budget and understand how much essentials cost. 


Let us know how you get on!  



Super contributor

Re: When is a gift for a girlfriend too much?

Hi @Runge


Tricky situation, definitely.   I agree with @taokat that now seems like a good time to discuss with him being smart with his money so he can start working towards goals etc.


Because of his age, my suggestion is to allow him the space to make his own choices about where his money goes.

However, that doesn't mean removing all responsibility from his plate. As @taokat says, he's old enough to be contributing to his own life and associated costs. Have you thought about what that might look like for you?


Sometimes with these situations, what really bothers us as parents is their values around the action. For example, my daughter, last Christmas, spent all her money on her friends and didn't get her family anything. Although she was only just old enough to use her money to buy things for anyone and I didn't expect her to pay for much, I had to explain to her that it was really hurtful that she spent all her money on her friend and none on her family. She seemed to understand and it hasn't happened again BUT she does spend way more on her friends than I think is appropriate, it's just that I don't get to make that decision for her because it's her money and she's meeting her current obligations. 


Do you think if you had an agreement with your son that he contribute to things, you would be ok with him spending his money however he liked?

Star contributor

Re: When is a gift for a girlfriend too much?

Hey there @Runge how did you get on with your Son and the spending around his Girlfriend? Look forward to hearing how you're traveling Smiley Happy