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How to Bless the Less Fortunate Without Making Them Feel Like a Heel (Part 2)

how to bless the less fortunate 2

The following is a guest post from a reader who asked to remain anonymous. If you missed part 1, be sure to read it here.

When someone you love has a tight budget, it can be hard to know the best way to help lighten the load or otherwise bless them — especially if you’ve never been there.

Here are some tips to help you understand how you can help:

Don’t (Just) Offer To Help Out

Like many people with limited finances, if you ask me if I need help, I’ll usually say “no.” We can almost always make ends meet. Accepting help can be humbling, and I just don’t want to be that kind of person that has to always be on the receiving end; I’d much rather give.

However, if you don’t actually ask or offer  — but simply help us out with a gas card or whatever, it can be a huge blessing!

The other side of this idea is that if you do offer, please actually follow through.

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived at a significant distance from family, and just traveling in to be with them for a holiday is often hard to swing.

One year, things were particularly tight, and my dad offered to pay for our gas if we came in. We came, but he never delivered. I never asked, and we spent the next couple of months barely scraping by.

Get Others To Pitch In

I really love to give and entertain and play hostess, but it’s really hard when money is tight. When I was single, my apartment was kind of the hub for my group of friends. As a result, I’d often end up buying and preparing the food when we’d get together.

While I enjoyed doing this, it was really hard on my very limited budget.

One time, I actually mentioned in an e-mail that it would be great if everyone would pitch in a few bucks. Many of my friends lived with their parents and made far more than I did, so I knew they could afford to help with food. When the evening came, I desperately hoped someone would remind everyone about pitching in, but no one did.

Carefully Consider Gifts

It can be awkward to receive certain kinds of gifts when money is tight.

First, there’s the gift that requires you to buy things in order to use it. Toys with batteries are infamous for this, but I’ve received other money-pit gifts, as well. One example was a tart warmer that required me to purchase tarts to use it. I’ve also received accessories like necklaces or scarves that I had no outfit to match.

Next, there’s the frivolous, extravagant gift that just doesn’t seem to make sense when I live so paycheck-to-paycheck. I’d much rather receive something I can use or a small gift, along with a gift card, so I can buy that thing I’ve been eying at the store.

Even $10 or $20 to spend on me can be so much fun when you rarely have extra spending money! I also love it when people ask if I have a “wish list.” (I keep one up on for use when I earn gift cards from Swagbucks, Plink, or Viewpoints.)

Third, there’s the generous, anonymous gift. If you really want to spoil me, I may feel bad about your generosity because I can’t begin to return the favor. That’s when an anonymous gift can be the best gift of all. You can hear me telling everyone about how wonderful it was and secretly know that it was from you!

The author is a freezer-cooking, baby-wearing, stay-at-home mama who does freelance writing while her 3 young kiddos nap. She’s married to a wonderful man who’s the pastor of a small country church and prefers to remain anonymous due to the content of this post.

photo source

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  • Siobhan says:

    When money was tight for my best friend I would tell her about all of the stuff I got couponing that cost me next to nothing and how I’ll never get a chance to eat it all, would she please take it off my hands for me.

    So it was more like she was doing me a favor, and I knew those bags of frozen veggies, boxes of cereal, health and beauty products and loads of cleaning products were going to great use.

    I think even inviting a family over for dinner is a great way to bless them with something, if they ask to bring something I always say something like bread- cheap to make or to buy. Plus I hate leftovers, so its great to send them home with some of those as well.

    • Mama of 3--Anonymous Author says:

      That’s wonderful! Way to think outside the box and find a way to bless your friend without risking insulting her.!

  • Ellen says:

    Others may disagree with me on this, but I think practicing a little kind assertiveness would help the author. If her dad offered to pay for gas and they made their travel decision based on that offer, is it so horrible to quietly pull him aside and say something? Maybe a simple, “Dad, we’re so glad you offered to pay for our gas because we really enjoy seeing the family. Do you want us to tell you our total expenses after we get home or are you planning to take care of it now?”

    And when friends are over, just a simple announcement: “Thanks so much for coming, everybody! We’re sharing the costs for the evening so if you want to put a few dollars in this basket, that would be great.”

    Since both situations were pre-discussed, I don’t think it’s the same as asking for a handout. It might involve swallowing just a little bit of pride, but I think it’s much better to be assertive and follow up rather than quietly harboring any hurt or resentment. How do you know they didn’t just innocently forget? If you do your part in gently reminding, then it’s up to them whether they follow through or not.

    • Jennifer says:

      That was my thought, too.

    • Michelle says:

      I totally agree. Assertiveness goes a long way.

    • Susan says:

      Same thought here too. I’m guessing that her dad just forgot all about the offer to help with gas money. There’s nothing wrong with kindly bringing mentioning it to him. These kinds of conversations don’t need to be confrontational.

      As for her disappointment that her friends didn’t contribute money to help pay for dinners at her apartment, I don’t know how long ago that was, but I get the impression she is still stewing about something that happened quite some time ago. If you can’t afford to host parties, then don’t, or ask your friends if they would please bring X to share. I think most people would gladly contribute if asked in a more direct but friendly way.

    • Dianne says:

      Thank you!

    • Joan Young-Santiago says:

      My thoughts as well. As for friends, plan who is bringing what in advance in leiu of bucks but they need to reply in advance what they are bringing!

    • Elizabeth says:

      I do agree that a tactful request for the promised gas money might have done the trick. However, sometimes assertiveness doesn’t always work. When I was younger, my grandmother offered to pay for a large expense for my parents that she never followed through on, even after my mom carefully asked her about it (after the bill had come due). Her broken promise affected my parents’ finances and I remember that even though I was a kid. Sometimes people become stingy after the fact and don’t follow through on their promises. It was a good lesson for me as a kid to remember that sometimes even those you thought you could trust will not follow through on promises, AND that keeping a promise is really, really important, whether it’s financial or otherwise.

    • Yes, but if you haven’t been in that position before, it’s tough enough to live it in a daily basis let alone ask people for help – or even to live up to their end of the deal.

      • Lizzie says:

        I don’t think she’s stewing. I’ve been there before and you can share what happened–doesn’t mean you’re bitter!
        When I was a single mom, someone through our church offered to pay our mortgage when the time came that I needed help.
        I scrimped and saved and spent the tax return. I sold things personally dear to me so that I didn’t have to ask for help until it was really necessary.
        When I needed to ask for help I was told that the person wasn’t going to help anymore. They said, “well we told you about their offer to bless you.” Well, it was a blessing when I heard about it but was much less than a blessing when I discovered they didn’t really mean it.
        I think sometimes people make offers to make themselves feel better about themselves but they never intend to help the person they made the offer to.

        If you’re not sure you can do something just don’t say it until you know it’s something you can do. You have no idea how it feels to be destitute and be thrown a life line only to have it yanked away when you’re drowning.

  • Cate R. says:

    Posts like this are one of the reasons I really like this site. This is not an often heard from perspective. I can relate to a lot of what this writer is saying. I would add not to throw it in people’s face when helping them. More than once I’ve been reminded of what someone has done for me in a moment when they happen to be criticizing me. It makes me cautious of accepting anything from anyone. It really is hard to receive help sometimes, but when people give out of the no-strings-attached abundance of their heart, it can be beyond touching, life changing even.

    • Cate R. says:

      P.S. After reading some of the comments I can see where people are coming from with regard to nit-pickiness and unecessary concern over awkwardness. I still think it’s a good unique perspective to consider though and helps start a hopefully grace filled conversation. I’ve thought a lot actually lately about how we need to take ownership of our decision to be a sahm, especially when it means serious sacrifices like it does for many of us. We’re not pitiful victims, we’re just doing what we think is important. It puts a new spin on “less fortunate”, regardless, it’s good to talk about these things.

      • Mama of 3--Anonymous Author says:

        I debated on using that term (“less fortunate”), but I thought that in context, it would be obvious that I was going with the “wealthy” or “affluent” meaning of the word. I consider myself quite blessed and “fortunate” in many, many regards! Thanks for your input!

  • Courtney says:

    I’m probably in the minority here, but this post rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t like it when people complain about gifts they receive. Just about everyone – rich, poor and in-between – has received gifts they don’t like, or that aren’t particularly useful, or that aren’t their style. That’s just part of life, and I think it’s important to be gracious and not be critical when someone has taken the time and effort to give a gift.

    • Rachel Horne says:

      I agree. Just re-gift it.

    • Debi says:

      As I have been in the shoes of the writer, I can definitely relate to how she feels, but I agree that there seems to be some ungratefulness in this post. Goodness, I would never expect anyone to know my wardrobe well enough to buy coordinating jewelry….I don’t even think that’s something my hubby could do. This post struck me as ranting…a little. We all need to vent, but let’s keep that out of the public eye.

      • Mama of 3--Anonymous Author says:

        I’m sorry it came across that way. I guess I used that “voice” to make a point. I don’t “rant” or contribute to drama on my personal FB page, for what it’s worth, but I thought it would be helpful for some people who have never “been there” to think of how they could better bless those in different financial situations.

        The topic at hand wasn’t about how to be grateful, but it is definitely key to receive everything with grace! There’s just a lot out there on that topic, already, so I thought I’d write about something somewhat unique.;)

        • Theresa says:

          Why would you need to buy a tart warmer? Couldn’t you warm them in the oven? Or give them to someone who already had a warmer? Seems to me that was your decision to buy the warmer.

          • Melissa says:

            She didn’t buy the tart warmer. It was given to her as a gift.

          • Lisa says:

            She received a tart warmer, with no tarts or candles. A tart warmer is either electric, or needs tea light candles below to melt the tart wax. A tart warmer without a heat source, or the tarts to melt, is pretty useless.

          • Lizzie says:

            I don’t think you put wax tarts in the oven…

          • Jill says:

            I’m pretty sure she means a warming device that melts wax (or wax-like) “tarts” that give off a scent, kind of like a candle. 🙂

            • Theresa says:

              Whoops. I read it wrong. When I hear tarts, I think of food not candles so that was my bad. I still don’t understand why she couldn’t regift the warmer or sell it instead of complaining about the additional costs with buying the tarts for it.

              • R says:

                It probably was a re-gift because the giver may not have had or wanted to buy tarts too! Throwing your junk on those without a use for it is silly, I think trying to see it would be a better idea.

        • Sarah says:

          To the author, I agree with your post, though I also agree with others who have mentioned some assertiveness would have been a good idea. But what I don’t understand is why it’s “socially unacceptable” or ungrateful or politically incorrect, or whatever, to just communicate needs/wants clearly. Of course I am grateful anytime ANYONE thinks of me with a gift, no matter WHAT the gift received is. But why can’t people just ask what folks need or get to know them well enough to give something that is actually appropriate? Re-gifting is fine and often someone who CAN use an item can be found, but why have to go to the trouble — trouble for the giver, guessing what to give, and trouble for the receiver, finding a new person to “re-gift” an item to? Back when I worked full-time, we had a secret gift exchange. Items were to be kept to under $10. We had a wish list posted, where we could all mention what we’d like to have (if we cared). I was unsuccessful in getting a $10 gift card to a grocery store, which I could have really used, given that I have a chronically sick husband who was not able to work. I got a lovely vest, which I’ve worn once since 1992, when I received it. The person who gave it to me said that gifts were for giving people something they wouldn’t buy for themselves, not something practical, like a grocery card. I saw her perspective, but still thought it is much less wasteful to give things you know will actually be used. Currently, we have a $30 dried fruit tray from Harry and David, given to us by a well-off family member. It is also lovely, but unfortunately, we can’t eat the fruit because of the high sugar content and the artificial coloring. We will find someone to give it to or take it to a Christmas party, but I was a little surprised that this family member didn’t know us or our health situation(s) well enough to know we wouldn’t be able to eat it. I am very grateful they sent us ANYTHING, truly. But I would have loved $30 to spend on fresh fruit. My biggest issue with useless gifts (unless they were bought VERY INEXPENSIVELY) is that so many do not have even their basic needs met, in this country and around the world. To be spending money and passing things around (re-gifting) seems almost sinful, wasting time and wasting money that could be spent more wisely. To anyone who is thinking of exceptions to my feelings, I will concede there are times when “frivolous” gifts turn out to be important ones. I’m thinking of the Bible story where the sinful woman poured oil on the feet of Jesus and washed them with her hair, and the disciples chastised the act, saying why the waste, when that perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us but that they would not always have Him, and why chastise the woman for doing such a beautiful thing?

    • poo says:

      I agree. Infact I was intrigued when I read part 1 but the author seems negative in more ways than positive. I do not mean to be rude or impolite but we all have received gifts that aren’t particularly useful or sometimes rather useless to us. Also how would the other person know what you think are “useless”. Sorry for being so straight forward.

    • Sara says:

      I totally agree. I was rubbed the wrong way by this post. Asking someone to give you something annonomously just so that you don’t have to know who gave it seems a little selfish. Someone took the time to purchase you something and just because they had more financial means to do so that you do, doesn’t mean they should have to keep it a secret. Getting accessories to match your outfits would be ideal, but if it doesn’t work out, be grateful and move on.

      • CarrieM says:

        But she is giving tips to those who really want to help her. I would welcome those tips if it would benefit someone I cared about. I know it’s hard to understand when everyone’s backgrounds/experiences are so different. Much grace from either side is definitely required in these situations.

      • christen kieffner says:

        It’s not selfish. My husband has been unemployed a year now. It has been incredibly difficult. It’s been a blessing when someone has given us a needed gift card, but can be awkward. Someone asked me if we needed and I was honest (and grateful), but was embarrassed at the same time. Once someones sent us a gift card in the mail and it was sign “from, Jesus” it was incredibly thoughtful! I didn’t feel awkward over the fact that we can’t afford to be the one blessing others, but was so grateful because it was so needed. Plus God WAS the one to bless them financially and they in turned share it. Plus I agree, she is just trying to give people ideas. If you’ve never been there, it can be hard to understand. 🙂

      • kelliinkc says:

        I did not pick up on any negativity or ungratefulness on the part of the author while reading this post. Comes as a surprise to me that people are thinking that! I appreciate the article as the author intended it– to give guidance to anyone wanting to bless an individual or family going through tough times from someone who has been in some tough times. I guess my practical side just appreciates these types of tips. LOL

    • Julie says:

      Courtney, I can completely understand where you are coming from… however, it’s not just about money, it’s not just about rich or poor. We are in a financial position right now, that is very similar to the financial position we were in a few years ago… however, right now, I am in a place where I am feeling blessed, where our circumstances are under our control, not out of our control. I can afford to be giving, and this also makes it much easier to receive with grace (and when I say “afford,” I’m not talking about money.) To me, the author sounds like she is where we were several years ago. She is feeling beat down. In this position, it is hard to accept graciously, because you want to give, but you need to receive. It is difficult to be gracious about a gift you cannot use, because you agonize about every. single. cent. You look at everything differently. You see value in only the useful and so when someone gives you something you can’t use, you will still be gracious on the outside, but you cannot help but see the “waste.” This is a mindset that I never would have understood, if I hadn’t been there—

      • jennifer says:

        Thanks for posting your perspective. I was thinking the author was really acting ungrateful and small-minded. But after reading your comment, I see where she’s coming from.

      • Guest says:

        You hit the nail on the head. I think these posts are coming from a place of embarrassment and probably exhaustion being in the situation they’re in. My experience is that if you’re genuinely okay with where you are, you aren’t that sensitive about it.

      • Jen says:

        Yes, thank you for your thoughts on this. I, like Jennifer, was thinking how ungrateful she sounded, but now that you put it like that, I get where she is coming from and what you are saying. Thank you.

      • Mama of 3--Anonymous Author says:

        “It is difficult to be gracious about a gift you cannot use, because you agonize about every. single. cent.” That is exactly what I was trying to get across! Thank you!

        You probably would have done a better job writing this post than I did, but I felt like it was a perspective many could benefit from reading!

        I’m actually past that place I was in at the time–I have extra tarts for my tart warmer, now–and if memory serves, I described the gift backwards–I was given tarts for which I needed to buy a tart warmer! lol

        • Tabitha says:

          I have a dear friend in this position so I really appreciated the perspective. We have been so broke that bills had to be rearranged so nothing got cut off and we did watch every single cent. Honestly my thinking changed back then and I still hate to see wasted anything. BUT I still tread lightly with my friend bc she seems to have even less plus she has relatives that do everything in part 2 of this article. She also has a relative critcizing her husband bc he doesnt make a high hourly wage. She is sensitive even though she’s us a wonderful, creative person. I think it’s just so wearying being in constant stress mode.

        • Rachael says:

          I normally read this blog but never comment. Today I have to. “It is difficult to be gracious about a gift you cannot use, because you agonize about every. single. cent.” It is a gift. G.I.F.T Something you do not ask for. Someone thought of you and wanted to make you smile. Life is too short to take the joy out of receiving a “hug” wrapped up in a cute little package. Jewerly that doesn’t match your outfit? Regift it. And then smile knowing that person thought of you at that moment. I have been on the giving end and now on the receiving end (since cancer treatments cost so darn much). Either way, not being happy with what you receive and suggesting more appropriate items that would better benefit your family…I think you have lost the whole meaning of gift giving and receiving.

      • Been there says:

        I have also been there, and it is SO hard!!

        For the folks complaining that the author wasn’t appreciative enough about the gifts…that’s not at all what she’s saying! I’m sure she was very gracious about it. What she’s saying is if you truly want to bless someone who is struggling, there is a better way!

        Last year, we were struggling in a major way. We had niscalculated our insurance liability (we have our own business), and our December budget was really tight.

        The best gifts I received? One family member gave us a gift card for a local pizzeria and a movie rental coupon. Best gift ever!! Another friend have me a $5 Starbucks card. Bliss!!

        When you are literally counting out change to buy milk, it’s tough to appreciate a plaster snowman or new earrings deep down.

        Last year, a sweet friend who knew my struggle gave me a hundred dollar bill to buy gifts for my kids. She said, “please take it. You give and give…and it’s your turn now. Next year, pay it forward.”

        I cried and took the money. This year, I gave it to a family whose husband just lost his job. I told him where it came from and said the same thing.

    • Alicia says:

      I don’t think the authors intent was to be ungrateful at all. I think she’s simply offering another perspective, which resonates with many of the readers at this site, myself included. As far as the gift examples, I really think they were just examples. I’m sure the author was grateful for the gifts she received, again she’s just offering suggestions from another perspective. As a mother of two who lives paycheck to paycheck, this post is much appreciated! I’m happy to know there are others in my shoes around the holidays. 🙂

      • Lydia says:

        Alicia, I totally agree! And I for one, thoroughly enjoyed these posts and never once thought that people would take them as being ungrateful. Maybe it’s one of those things that until you’ve been in the shoes, you just don’t understand it?

        We had a period when we were first married where money was incredibly tight and I totally understand and could relate to everything the author wrote. Money is once again very tight for us this year and I found myself nodding many times as I read these two posts. I also found it to be a good reminder of how to bless others that we know that are strapped financially.

        To the author, thanks for sharing this! I think you did well at giving perspective! I know how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck…but as I was reading it, I kept thinking that you sounded content. Funny how we can all take things so differently. 🙂

    • mariah says:

      You have a point on how the receiver SHOULD respond, but I think this is a post about what a GIVER should do…from a receivers perspective. I absolutely agree that we should graciously accept whatever we are given and if it’s not something we need or can use then God will provide our needs another way. I also think this post will help some givers, this season, realize how they can truly give to bless.

    • Emily says:

      Courtney, I agree with you – the author does sound ungrateful and a tad picky. HOWEVER, I have been where she has been and I have cried inwardly (only inwardly!) on holidays or my birthday when I got some fun, very frivilous gift that was totally “useless” – when we were so strapped for money a nice kitchen knife or simple pair of new blue jeans or even $10 to Target would have been a luxury gift. Our wealthier family members would never give something “practical” because that’s not the point of a gift in their eyes, but when you are really struggling to make ends meet, giving nice, practical gifts that ease the budget for a month or two is the best way to help. This post is to help those more comfortable in life be able to give better gifts to those who are struggling…. she’s simply being honest.
      I would add – during that time in our lives the best gifts we got were gift cards to restuarants and coffee shops – places we could have never gone on our own. We also were “gifted” a meal every week by one of our students’ families (both of us teachers) and that one nice meal a week really helped our food budget stretch.

    • I think she was just giving suggestions for those who want to know what to give someone who is “less fortunate” and may not know what to gift them…you know?

    • Theresa says:

      I agree. Maybe the person giving the necklace noticed she didn’t have a lot of nice jewelry and wanted her to have one nice piece for celebrations, such as birthday or anniversary dinners. To me the author seems prefer her relatives not give gifts at all but instead hand her cash. The author has forgotten the meaning of the season. Holidays are not for your relatives to pay you but to celebrate being together. As for the get-togethers with friends at her apartment, why didn’t they do pot luck? And just because her friends appeared to have more money does not mean they had to pay to attend a party she hosted. I will gladly bring a dish to share but being asked to pay to attend a friend’s party doesn’t sit well especially if the friend extended the invitation, planned the meal and bought the ingredients herself.

    • Raquel Evans says:

      Graciously receiving a gift without complaint when it’s given is just as important as you say, and it’s a good point. However, I don’t think in this post she’s complaining about past gifts in a bitter way at all. The post is directed at the giver, with suggestions to help to give more graciously and helpfully. The author herself might say entirely different things if she were writing to the person receiving the gift.

    • Kristina S. says:

      I totally agree. We go from paycheck to paycheck but are thankful for any gift. Whether a scarf matches or not isn’t important. What is important about a gift is the thought behind it. And if you are cold any scarf will do.

  • h says:

    The link to part one is not working.

  • Pamela says:

    Both Part 1 and Part 2 rubbed me the wrong way. We, too, would be considered the “less fortunate” in our families, but we actually think we are blessed beyond belief and wouldn’t trade our situation for anything in the world. I am a SAHM (the others aren’t), we spend a TON of time together as a family (the others don’t), and we love our simple lifestyle (while the others feel sorry for us!). We are confident in who we are and what we are doing, and it’s OK that our other family members don’t understand us. And….about being “outgiven”: why do parents think THEY need to be the biggest givers financially to their kids??? Where does that silly “rule” come from? Our kids receive very few gifts from us, and they’re given tons by other family members, but my husband and I think that is just great! Saves us money! 🙂

    • Amy R says:

      I could not agree more. I hear a lot of pride, ingratitude and discontentment in these posts. I think that the issue is not so much with insensitive family members as is it with an overly sensitive recipient. She is “fortunate” to stay at home and fortunate to have a family who wants to give to her kids. I have been at both ends of the spectrum and have truly learned to be content in whatever state.

    • Leigh says:

      I agree. My in-laws out give us by far at birthday’s and Christmas and I would never want to take that away from my children. It’s a blessing to me that they want to give them what we can’t afford.

      I keep reading this series, but I really dislike it… the attitude of the posts just bother me.

      We are tight on money and I don’t consider myself “Less Fortunate” the less fortunate are people who DON’T have homes and DON’T have food, not people who barely scrap by. God has blessed me and my family even if we don’t have a lot and I don’t want to seem ungrateful.

      I’ve felt like her, truly I have. I have gotten mad at the in-laws for out-shining “Santa” and my mom gave me a good ole’ mama lecture and told me that it was pride and she was right, I had a bad attitude. God has helped me get over it. I can’t do what everyone else does and that’s alright. I choose my life and all-in-all it’s a great one.

      • Couponc says:

        I agree as well. I view the truly less fortunate as folks who out out on the street, were survivors of the supertyphoon, etc. NOT someone who has options ehen push comes to shove. Be happy with what you have, I know of friends who would love the support you are receiving but have no family.

  • Courtney says:

    The more I think about this post, the more I wonder why the author describes herself as “less fortunate”. She and her husband have chosen to be a stay-at-home mom and a pastor, so of course they are not going to make a lot of money. That is the life they have chosen, though – so why describe herself as “less fortunate”? To me, less fortunate means someone who is negatively impacted by life circumstances beyond their control, and that doesn’t seem to be the case here at all.

    • Diana says:

      I really don’t think the author’s goal is to complain, although it may sound like it. I think she is simply trying to help others understand what type of gift/aid is most helpful to people in her situation.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am trying to keep an open mind with this post. I see the point of being sensitive to those that are poor or on a tight budget. But, in fairness, not everyone knows what financial situation others are in!!! I am a very practical gift giver and never or rarely give gifts that people want, but what they would need. But I can say, as others have said, you should accept a gift and if it fits, great, if not, then donate it or re-gift it. I don’t expect gifts to be a lifeline for someone, just a nice gesture.

    I find the writer in dire need of some assertiveness training. My husband is the same way, he’d go broke for 4 months before asking for help or reminding someone of a financial assistance they’ve offered. Also, thru a recent major move, I had to learn to accept help! If your dad said he’d give you money, then remind him kindly. Things are busy and people forget. You know your finances, if people offer help, drop the “awkward” routine and allow God to bless them by graciously accepting their offer.
    If your friends were told to bring food or a couple bucks towards it, don’t keep having them over empty-handed waiting for them to offer it up to you! Put out a basket with a fun note saying “donations for the yummy grub” or make a list of food and have everyone sign up for something ahead of time.

    I feel like the writer wants everyone to feel bad or sorry for them because they have kids and she stays at home. That life comes with a sacrifice if your husband doesn’t have a well paying job. I too SAH with our kids and we live paycheck to paycheck. But I don’t expect people to feel sorry for me or to know our financial situation. They can guess, but still. There are situations that can’t be helped as in a family with a widowed parent, a family with illness or job loss. Tough times come and in those situations it’s easier to figure out what people need. But when you choose a lifestyle, not everyone just assumes you are rubbing nickles together to survive.

    Be open to offers of help graciously realizing that God will bless the giver, be forthright and remind people when they offer and don’t follow-thru, and don’t expect people to know your financial status. If you grew up with money, they probably think your family or parents help you.

    • Allie says:

      I agree with being open to offers of help but I also understand the author not wanting to ask, particularly if the offers of help are often not followed through with. If you constantly feel like you have to remind someone of their offer to help, it begins to feel as if you are asking and not just accepting. My MIL always helps my husband’s siblings without them asking but then tells my husband, if he wants or needs anything he should ask. It makes us feel as if she is not giving freely to spread joy but rather uses the “you must ask for gifts” as a way to make herself feel needed and in control since he is more independent than his siblings. It is difficult to inwardly feel gracious (even though we always outwardly express graciousness) when the gift isn’t genuine. It is not a “gift” if you have to “ask.” Gifts should be given without expectation of something in return.

      • Lindsey says:

        So true! It’s not a “gift” if you have to “ask.” Nobody wants to have to ask or “remind” someone of their offer to help. When you already feel needy, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to have to do that. I think it’s so easy to say, “just remind the person they offered.” Yes, that suggestion would be easy if you were already monetarily comfortable, but in this situation, the person is not. Therefore, having to ask would defeat the whole meaning behind being a blessing to her vs a burden.

  • Becky Swab says:

    Be direct, and less awkward. I think it’s important to ask for the gas money or friends to pitch in a few dollars if it’s so important. If you dad says he will pay for gas, it’s perfectly fine to ask for the money. He offered. Take people at their word. Or, if you feel uncomfortable asking friends to pitch in a few dollars, have them bring snacks or bring something instead. I lead many groups and host a lot! I often ask people to bring things. It’s OKAY to ask for help. People are understanding.

  • Andria says:

    While I realize this post was meant to be in a certain “voice” and I honestly wouldn’t want to hurt the author’s feelings…I have to agree with those who felt a distinct sense of ungratefulness and expectation in it. Making the choice to be a one income family (as my family has done) is just that…a choice. However noble the reason, choosing one income is not the same as truly being less fortunate due to circumstances beyond one ‘s control. Treating those around you as though they are meant to provide you charity because you chose one income or being unsatisfied with the gifts they seem to have generously given seems rather innappropriate. If you can’t afford to entertain in your home, it shouldn’t be your guests burden to help foot the bill. We are in a similar situation in the fact that we are a one income family that supports more people on less than anyone else in our family and while from time to time I might complain to my husband about feeling a little left out or “poor”, I certainly wouldn’t deem it appropriate to make the members of the family who make more than us feel bad for doing so. We are all called to be grateful, charitable and content no matter how little…or much we have.

    • Debi says:

      Well said.

    • Angela says:

      This post is wonderful, plain and simple. The author reminds us to be thoughtful in the light of others, whether they are “fortunate” or not. Thank you for writing this!

    • Ana says:

      I agree. The first post rubbed me the wrong way, but this one is just too much. A gift is a gift. Be grateful that these people are thinking of you and want to give to you. If you feel that they’re doing it for the wrong reasons, then that is their issue. Give what you can, and appreciate what you’re given. Try your best to let go of your pride and enjoy your life:)

  • Laura says:

    These two articles have contained some valuable information, but I just can’t seem to get past the tone of both of them.
    I’m going to guess that people would consider us “less fortunate” if they saw my husband’s paycheck, but we do not feel like that at all. We certainly don’t expect or even want people to treat us differently because of it. Sure, we could make more, go on expensive vacations, etc., if I worked a full-time job, but that is not the life we have chosen. Certainly that does not mean that other people should have to plan their gift-giving or conversations around the life that we have chosen for ourselves and could change if we desired to do so.
    For instance, in the first part of this article, the writer said that people should refrain from discussing their expensive trips, etc. around her because she didn’t have anything to add to the conversation and could feel left out. However, living by that principle would make it impossible to talk about almost anything! For instance, as a SAHM, should I refrain from talking about my daily activities with my children when I am around my cousin who has chosen to be a working mom?
    Also, I believe that any gift should be received with thankfulness and appreciation, whether it is a dollar store trinket or an expensive necklace. I don’t believe that the people that love me should have to consider all of the aspects of my financial status when purchasing me a gift–I just appreciate that they wanted to show their love to me in this way!

    • Yvette says:

      I have to agree with most of the other comments on here, this post rubbed me the wrong way too. If you choose to stay home with your children and your husband does not have a high paying job, things are going to be very tight – but that was your choice. No one should feel like they have to bestow anonymous gifts of cash or gift cards on you. My husband is a firefighter and I stayed home with my son when he was young. We were on an extremely tight budget, but I never expected anyone to give me give me gift cards instead of gifts they hand picked. Whatever happened to “it’s the thought that counts”? We made the decision to live like that, and we never felt like anyone should feel sorry for us.

      Another saying my kids and I have comes to mind here – “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit!”

    • Amanda says:

      It has never crossed my mind to keep a wish list of things that I can show people to get me as a gift nor have I ever thought once on what I wanted someone to buy for me especially as we have chose to become a one income family so I can be home with my kids. There is no expectation for gifts especially material items. I don’t give gifts at the holidays either ) to the adults) because just spending time together is enough for all of us!

    • Maria says:

      I agree totally! While we should all be sensitive to not brag about our accomplishments or possessions, we should also be mature and kind enough to rejoice with the things that bring our friends and family joy! I am thrilled when my sister gets to re-do some part of her house, or my friend goes on a trip to Hawaii for their anniversary, even though neither of those things will be do-able for us for a long, long time. Like you say, we choose to be a one-income family, and while having more money would be useful at times, God has provided exactly what we need. My husband loves the work he does, which is more important to us than finding something that might make more money…
      I think that it’s too easy for us to assume that others are looking down on us or that they have ulterior motives when often they just enjoy being able to give gifts to us or our kids. And even if their motives are less than pure, it is up to us to assume the best and react graciously.

  • Jenna says:

    I guess I took both posts completely different than most here. I didn’t think the author was negative or trying to degrade anyone. I actually understand where she is coming from. The necklace gift probably was appreciated and she probably was grateful for the gift, but when you are barely paying for groceries it would be a natural reaction to have wished it to be cash or a gift card instead. That’s not being ungrateful or negative, it’s being realistic. I have wished sometimes that my family would take into consideration where we are at financially when they give us gifts, because some gifts they give us that are extravagant will basically go to waste, which makes you feel bad.

    • Anne says:

      I agree with your take on this series and your feeling about gifts from your family. My husband’s family tends to give us non-practical gifts that go to waste. We are very, very fortunate and my husband has a good job he enjoys with excellent benefits, but we don’t have room in our budget for the extras we used to be able to afford when I worked full-time outside the home, like vacations and eating out. We aren’t living pay check to pay check but we choose to live within our means, save for retirement, etc. The gifts from my husband’s family like gift cards to expensive local resorts and restaurants will go unused unless we can figure out a way to discreetly trade them or donate them to a charity auction. I understand that his family hopes we will enjoy these things and experiences and I appreciate theirngenerosity, but I hate that they spend so much on something we won’t use.

      • Stephanie says:

        A dear friend of mine was going through a terrible time- job loss, medical expenses, etc… her family gave her jewelry and tree ornaments for Christmas. Her family did not believe in practical presents yet she had no food in the house and didn’t have winter boots with 18 inches of snow on the ground (and they knew it). She sold everything they gave her on Craigslist to pay part of a bill.

  • Teresa says:

    When I first read Part 1 and Part 2 it really upset me beyond words! I wasnt even going to comment but then I had to 🙂 I understand some of your points but God has blessed you beyond measures! You are NOT less fortunate! You have three children where some people wish they could at least have one. You have a husband that has been called to pastor and for you to be a pastor’s wife. You have the ability to stay at home that others only wish they could be able to do (myself included). Your husband is using his gifts that God has given him to spread the gospel to people that need to hear God’s word. Look at EVERYTHING you are given whether it is gift you need or don’t need as a BLESSING! Don’t rob someone of their love for you and your family because it wasn’t something you needed. I did that to someone once at church because I didn’t feel I needed what they had to offer and I was reminded by God it may not be what I need but what that person needs and the blessing this person receives every Sunday from this small token of love he gives to every person that walks thru those church doors. God will use you and your family in a mighty way ~ Merry Christmas!

    • Mama of 3--Anonymous Author says:

      I agree that we need to be gracious and cheerful recipients. At the same time, my intended audience was for those wishing to “be a blessing” to those “less fortunate” (and I was going for the synonym “affluent” or “wealthy,” just because nothing else worked well for the title). I consider myself quite fortunate in many, many other respects!

      I could certainly write a post (or 12!) about humbly and graciously receiving gifts. While I’m far from the “Pollyanna” ideal (If you’re not familiar, she wished for a doll but received a set of crutches and was thankful because she didn’t have to use them!), my aim was to inform those who may want to understand a perspective they wouldn’t otherwise understand. Or for those who shared it to be able to possibly share on FB or something to at least get the discussion going.

      I wrote in a way that was purposely a tad exaggerated and over-the-top in order to try to make a point and get people’s attention. I’m pretty sure I succeeded there!

      • Abbie says:

        I think you are displaying a great attitude toward all of the negative comments. Your post was intended to give an inside perspective on the workings of a family of lower income in order to be more effective in blessing them. I’m sorry that the comment section has turned into a mess of negativity criticizing you personally. Take heart and know that those who honestly are looking for a way to bless people in a situation like yours have been given the tools they need to do so! And that’s why you wrote it! Keep your chin up!

      • Georgia says:

        “Like”, +1, *Hugs*…I understand where you’re coming from and I agree!

    • maggie says:

      “Like.” There’s no like button here. 🙂
      Well said.

      • Lindsey says:

        I completely agree. I found nothing wrong with your post and don’t understand where all the backlash is coming from. I also don’t agree that living a biblical life is a “choice” but a call to obedience. God expects His body of believers to bless those “less fortunate” than themselves and this is a great reminder that we need to really think and pray (and ask) how we may bless others.

  • Nancy says:

    I really can’t understand why a parent would offer to pay for gasoline, in order for a grown child and family to visit, and then not offer the money.

    As for not having the money to buy expensive gifts, family usually doesn’t care about the amount that is spent. My kids are grown, and when my younger daughter really couldn’t afford gifts, she made wonderful gifts that are memorable. She is now in a much better financial situation, and can give very nice gifts, but I honestly loved the things she made, while simple, they were made with love.

    When I was unemployed, and didn’t have much money to spend on gifts, I found wonderful new, or like new items at Goodwill, and bought great baskets, there, for a couple dollars. Using creativity, I made theme baskets, built around one or two nice items. Add some homemade cookies, hot chocolate mix a couple inexpensive mugs, and an ornament or two, and you have a nice gift. You can get cellophane at the dollar store, and inexpensive ribbon and make the basket beautiful.

    I love your attitude, and you shouldn’t feel badly if your relatives spend more. They are probably very happy to give nice gifts, and their gift is your show of appreciation.

    • Marg says:

      I think a change of perspective would make a world of difference. I am saying this with love, truly in hopes that my words may help.

      You grew up in a situation where money was not an issue. Now, you are living a “normal” life (paycheck to paycheck like most people) that millions of people live, yet you feel “less fortunate.” This is where I think your perspective is skewed— you grew up where money was not a problem and now you are “normal” but see yourself as less than compared to your family. No one is ever “less than.”

      We are paycheck to paycheck and I am blessed and full of fortune — not unfortunate. I don’t know *anyone* that could foot the bill for 8 adults then children eating out. No one. All of my friends are “everyday” people with “normal” jobs, mostly stay at home moms with kids. We certainly couldn’t. As a one income family, we scrimp and save to get buy and don’t eat out either. I cut coupons, I buy clothing/anything you name it from the thrift shop, etc. If I need clothes, where do I go first? The thrift shop. It is rare that I buy something to wear not a thrift shop. We have one car — I plan outings to use less gas. I watch sales. I use a coupon on anything I can. I do surveys, test products, anything for a few dollars to help out. Yet, I consider myself blessed though because 1) My Savior loves me, 2) My husband loves me, 3) my child loves me and 4) if you put God and family first you will make it. With God first in your life, all will go well. The Bible instructs us to be content.

      I think if you focus on what you have, you will see how fortunate you are.

      A gift is a gift. When gift giving is a competition, you don’t have to participate. Say you are not swapping this year. Done! You are free from the chains that produces! We only buy gifts for my parents, my husband’s mom , my son and a couple of ladies I give a very small token to… I mean small. We don’t swap gifts with any of our siblings/nephews, etc. It is too much. Very freeing!! You know what? No one cares, either! It’s freeing for them not to swap with us either! Christmas is not about the gifts, nor are birthdays, etc.

      We have a gift by living in this wonderful county and not in a situation without running water or in a slum. We have so much by living in America. We are among the richest people in the world just by having a roof and running water. If you have a roof and a meal on the table, you are richer than 93% of the world, right now.

      I think if you will change your perspective, you will see how much you have. I know a couple who buried their still born baby (their first child) 2 months ago. I know a lady who went through something like six pregnancies over 10 years only to lose each child and not have one. I know a lady whose grandson had surgery today (young boy). If we all “stop and smell the roses” we can see just how blessed we are. Who cares if someone gives you a gift you can’t use? Donate it to shelter, donate it to a nursing home, give it to someone who will enjoy it. Life is what we make of it.

      Truly this was said with no malice. I just want you to see a different perspective.

  • Jennifer says:

    I honestly think this is full of practical tips on helping your friends and family and the author only meant it as such. Though I would do a few things different I think this reminded me to have added understanding of the thought process of a decent individual in real need when gifting. When you are in a comfortable space it can be hard to think of a simple Christmas gift as filling a huge need. It is welcome advice. Thank you for this post!

  • SandyH says:

    I’m wondering if there may gave been a miscommunication with the gas thing. When her dad offered, did she SAY at the time, “thanks, it’s the only way we can come” or did they just GO and assume her dad knew she took him up on his offer? I know it’s awkward and hard to talk about, but if you said right up front that there was no other way to make the trip, then that would have been the time to discuss how the payment would be handled. If all of this WAS said, then wow, that’s a pretty dirty trick played by dad!

    • Lisa says:

      This exact scenario has happened to me…offered gas money if I come visit, and the follow-through was “forgotten”. I have also been offered for our meal to be paid if we ordered take out, along with the rest of the family….again, “forgotten”. I have made plans with family members, traveled a long distance, and then discovered they changed the plans upon my arrival. I put an end to holiday gift exchanges years ago. My family members did not appreciate my homemade cookies, stationary, and gift jars, when compared to their mounds of other material things they received. I know they threw my gifts in the trash. One year, we drew names, and I had to buy my aunt a coffee maker. As soon as she opened it, she immediately gave it to my stepmother, and asked her to help her “exchange up” for a better one. Truly, I am over the whole gift giving/receiving/exchange scene with other people, except for my husband and son. Instead of feeling obligated, I give when I want to, and to whom I feel led, without ever expecting anything in return. Same thing goes with hosting dinner….if I invite people over, no matter their salaries, I pay for the food, and thank G-d for providing it, and allowing me the opportunity to share it. Besides, I don’t want people to bring food into my house, due to my son’s food allergies. When I prepare a meal, I know my son can safely eat it, while we enjoy the company of guests. Like many others have posted, I CHOSE to become a teacher, which means a low salary. I now CHOOSE to be a SAHM, and we CHOOSE to live a simple life. We are content relying upon the L-RD to provide, and never expect anything from anyone else. As my father once told me, “You are not owed anything”. Last Christmas, when a gal gave me a gift that she told me came from cleaning out her basement, I listed it for sale on eBay. To my surprise…it actually netted me several dollars! Same thing with the gift card my dad sent for a restaurant we don’t like…I sold it, and used to $ towards eating out somewhere else. I did make sure to sincerely thank the givers for thinking of me, because for that, I am very grateful!

  • Terri says:

    Thank you for these posts!!! It is nice to know I am not alone!!! Friends and family take it for granted when they are doing well financially…we are going through some financial rebuilding and it’s hard. Merry Christmas!

  • Vzambrano says:

    I do not know why people are so complicated. If you want to give gift , just asks: What would you like for Christmas?… the person receiving the gift, just be clear and don’t ask for something expensive (it is just rude) or give choices. That’s what my husband, daughter and I do, that makes it easier. We all receive what we want, inexpensive , useful gifts.
    Now, I do not want to be rude, but I think feeling bad for receiving expensive gifts is a matter of pride. Just be grateful they think about you and your family, and want your kids to have nice stuff for Christmas. It doesn’t matter who buys them.
    I think all this complication happens because people are being sold the idea that Christmas is about gifts. It is about our Savior, his Sacrifice for us, being grateful for what we have, and loving people.

  • April says:

    I agree with others who said this rubbed them the wrong way. While I completely understand that there can be real needs (like food, gas, bill $, etc.) I think this idea that people should gift things that are “more appropriate” sounds very ungrateful. We have struggled financially and I have so appreciated gifts that seemed frivolous (like a pedicure, jewelry, etc.) because those are things I couldn’t buy for myself. The recipient wanted me to feel pampered and special and you know what? I did!

    A gift is a gift. They aren’t required to give it and the fact that someone thought of me and spent their hard-earned money on it, is something to be appreciated, regardless. There have been gifts I can’t use (I can think right now of a couple of kitchen gadgets that are still in the boxes) but I can re-gift them and someone else will get delight out of it.

  • Leigh says:

    I’ve felt like the author has. I used to complain to my mom how my in-laws out gave us and “out shined Santa”. My mom told me to stop being ungrateful, prideful and that I needed an attitude adjustment… and she was right.

    My husband and I made the choice to live on one meager income and I can choose to feel sorry for myself, or I can be grateful for everything God gives me, no matter how it is given. If my MIL wants to buy me a pocketbook that I didn’t need (one gift I was ungrateful for one Christmas- I had asked for money that year— I told you I had been there) then I will be grateful for it and use it as my “date bag” and be thankful that she thought to get me anything. God has really had to work on my heart and I am glad that He has.

    P.S. I have several necklaces people have given me that I have nothing to wear with and I have them put away for a day when I am blessed to have something to match. It gives me something to look forward to, not something to feel sorry about.

  • Ashley says:

    I feel as though many here are missing the point.

    How many of us truly want to give a gift that the recipient won’t be blessed by? Yes, they may feel blessed that we “thought” of them, but- do we really want to give a gift that isn’t useful or helpful to the recipient? A gift is a blessing, regardless of it’s usefulness, but a useful gift is a bigger blessing.

    Obviously, if she felt it was good manners to write of these things, she would have her name all over this post. These posts are to help sharpen our giving skills, not our receiving skills.

    Remember, this author came from a “more fortunate” family. In this context, she is saying “fortunate” means dollars earned, not quality of life – I think that’s pretty obvious. She is now “less fortunate,” and has a perspective that is new and different for her. If someone has never been financially strapped, how will they know how to give in a way that is useful. No one really wants to throw good money down the drain. Right?

    I’m enjoying the series. It’s helping me be a more thoughtful giver this Christmas season. Thanks so much!

  • I am nodding my head in so many of these examples! We are doing better now because I am bringing in an income via blogging, but my husband is a high school teacher in a very low-paying state, and we spent 4 years of barely making it on his income.

    My husband and I both have the gift of hospitality, and we hated not being able to invite people over! I think it made us depressed! But…we just simply couldn’t afford the food. I recently hosted a women’s dinner for the first time, and it felt so good. But I still asked people to bring stuff…so I only had to provide the main dish! I gave each lady a specific item to bring so it wasn’t just “please bring something.” It worked!

    My husband’s family lives 10 hours from us, and the only ways we were able to visit was for them to help pay for our gas. We even drove my parents’ van because at one point we didn’t have a car and at another point (and still) we just had an older van that gets us from point A to point B but we cannot travel long distances with it.

    I just want to encourage you. You aren’t the only family in this situation, but I am so glad you are educating others. There were so many times I just wanted to tell people: “You don’t get it! We don’t have food at the end of the month!”

    Thanks for the great post!!! 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    Yep. I have to agree with the other commenters that this isn’t a money problem as much as it is a communication/assertiveness problem! Girl, it’s okay to accept nice gifts and help from your own FAMILY, for goodness’ sake! I’ll give you the benefit of assuming your folks might not be as open about such things as others, but pioneer and forge ahead and endure some awkward! It could change your family tree!

    I realize that’s not the point of this post, and your fellow broke mamas weren’t your target audience, but on the other hand, I doubt people like your family are frequenting sites like Money Saving Mom. I also think including happy stories of ways you actually WERE blessed by others would have helped offset the Debbie Downer moments about your friends and dad leaving you in the lurch. (And seriously, you hoped someone would remind everyone about chipping in at your party?! It’s your party! YOU are the someone that’s supposed to do the reminding! I don’t want to be mean, but seriously?! Seriously?!!)

    I’d be much more interested in a follow up on how to navigate the waters when the rest of us are navigating the treacherous territory you describe.

    • Amanda says:

      But, in fairness, part 1 offered a great solution with the story of the out-giving sister. I think the post would have had a better tone were it not split in two.

  • Karla says:

    There was a time when my husband had been ill, we took a risk and moved but things didn’t work out at first. when a former neighbor heard about it she sent us a check for $25. do you know what I did with it? bought toothpaste and laundry soap.
    thanks for printing this article, it was a good reminder.

  • Sara says:

    I didn’t mind part 1 but this is a little whiny. If you can’t afford to feed everyone, say it’s a potluck dinner and then remind people. I would never have the nerve to ask for an extravagant anonymous gift. Maybe the people who gave you tarts and a scarf were on a tighter budget than this author realized and she should be GRATEFUL for gifts and not whine that it wasn’t what she NEEDED.

    This is a very sad post and I’m considering not visiting this site anymore. I’m shocked that Crystal posted something so whiny and pathetic.

  • Lacey says:

    This kind of makes me want to skip gifting altogether. Some of it is common sense, but not necessarily for everybody. Ok I get that, but you aren’t any better or worse off in the end and our situation is not the responsibility of everyone around us. Accept and be gracious. Do what you can, don’t do what you can’t, and definitely don’t put the blame on everyone else even in your own mind. It won’t make you a happy person,

  • Staying anonymous as well says:

    I find myself in agreement with much of the content in both these posts – and like other ladies have commented, I think we need to read these in the spirit of “helping the giver give useful gifts.”

    My example . . . My husband and I have chosen to live as one-income family. We consider ourselves extremely blessed and have a joy-filled life. However, we are not in the same position as other family members.

    I have been (perfunctorily) asked what my young children “want” for Christmas and birthdays. I always quietly and gratefully respond with practical things like washable crayons, coloring books, small gift cards to a local restaurants that the little ones love, or even unscented wipes for the baby, which she would have a great time tearing the wrapping off of!

    I am ALWAYS scoffed at and told, “Those things aren’t big enough. That’s not what I want to buy for them.” We are then given impractical toys that we have no use for, no room for, and – in the case of this year’s birthday gifts – went straight into our local parish’s donation collection. Meanwhile, the thank-you notes are mailed even as we wonder why they bothered to ask what the kids wanted at all.

    When the focus is ENTIRELY on what YOU want to give, with no consideration for what is useful or needed, you can be almost fully assured that the money spent on your gift will be going to waste. Like everything else in life, there must be a balance – and in this case, it is between what makes you happy to give and what you KNOW will be gratefully received.

    God’s blessings to you all!

  • I agree with the “just do it” philosophy. When my husband was out of work for years it was devastating. I couldnt’ see beyond the big picture of we barely have enough to pay mortgage, let alone food. I was – and am – still grateful for those people who quietly made a difference. Buying diapers or slipping some gift cards my way.

  • D'Ann Martin says:

    I truly loved both articles. You so eloquently wrote what many of us feel, but couldn’t put to words. Thank you for blessing my heart today. My water pump went out on my van last week, found out it also needs a new rack and pinion and my battery died last night leaving me and my kiddos stranded. Christmas is giving me anxiety and stress, even when I know in my heart it shouldn’t. I just really needed this today…

  • Michelle Wilkins says:

    I too found the tone and language of these posts disturbing. I have been on both sides of this coin. I am a Critical Care Nurse and left my very well paid full-time job to Homeschool our Son. God gave us very clear direction every step of the way and He provided in ways we could never even imagined. Those times were lean…very lean….We sold our paid off car and became a one family vehicle.. My husband worked 50 miles away, so we stayed home a lot. We canceled cable, ate a lot of stews and such, and I became an expert couponer. The beauty in it all is we gained so much more than we ever gave up!!! I didn’t complain, feel sorry for our circumstances, or feel like Life happened to us..Both my Husband and I realized we were living out the reality of our choices and we were Thankful for that!!!! The same would have rang true if I had stayed at my job, that also would have been a choice. I realize that Life does happen, but our reaction to our circumstances is always , always a choice!
    Fast forward 10 years..Our Son is now in College and is on the Dean’s List. I am back to work, doing a Job as a Cardiac Critical Care Nurse, in a role I could have only dreamed of. We have been blessed beyond measure…and we seek out opportunities to bless others. The morale of our story is…I would not have changed a thing. We gained so much that money can not buy. I said all that to say, this was our decision, it was a choice.. It helps to remember Life is a series of choices.

    • Kristin says:

      And sometimes, life is really does just happen. Like when multiple surgeries and illnesses cause you to rack up $70K in hospital bills in five short months. No, we really did not have any “choices” in the situation and now we’re struggling.

  • Sarah says:

    We like to give money with an attached printed page, declaring it an “All-Purpose Gift Certificate.” We do not have a lot of money ourselves, so we appreciate the fact that even if our monetary gift is very small, it can be used to go “toward” something that’s needed.

    • Libby says:

      I’m honestly shocked and disappointed at how critical and sour the comments posted here have become! The author was sharing her unique perspective on where she is in her life right now with a hope that her vulnerability about a sensitive subject might bless another reader. She doesn’t need a lecture about her point of view or how grateful she should be. If her words don’t speak to you, then feel free to move on to another post!

      • Libby says:

        Ooops, sorry Sarah. That was not directed to you. I didn’t mean to reply to your comment but to post a general one!

        • Sarah says:

          That’s okay, Libby. I agree with what you said, anyway!

          A lot of readers here claim to be Christ-followers. I am one myself. Someone else mentioned lots of grace being required on both sides of this issue. I agree with that, and would like to take it one step further. How about, rather than being offended (which I do not believe the author was, but many of these responders were offended by her post), we put ourselves in another’s shoes? How about putting aside the offending feelings and honestly considering if this post has anything in it for you? Anything you can learn? Anything you can implement? Anything you disagree with, but it can cause you to think more intentionally and deliberately, about your gift-giving habits? Having a teachable spirit is important to Christian growth, and while we don’t all have to agree with each other, we should take every opportunity we have to try to learn something and to even appreciate another’s perspective.

          Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

  • Sarah says:

    I just have to say as a mother of 3 myself who struggles to make ends meet…I did not like this series. I think a little sense of humor could go a long way. The whole thing is framed in a victim-mentality. From deeming herself the “less fortunate” to not speaking up for herself to keeping track of who gives what to telling people to consider their gifts to constantly comparing her money and what she has to her family… I just don’t like it and I think it’s the wrong way to go about life.

    Instead of preoccupying herself with this, why not be grateful for the intention behind the gifts? Why not teach her children that it’s the thought that counts behind gifts and not what they cost? Why not invest her time and energy into the meaning and beauty of family time instead of tallying up and keeping track of who has what. Instead of being resentful about promises not kept and people who don’t understand her financial position, why not communicate?

    The idea behind this post is to inform everyone on how to handle the “less fortunate.” I think the first thing she needs to do is figure out how to better handle herself and her own situation. Maybe it’s not about how everyone else is wrong. Self reflection goes a long way.

  • Kelly says:

    It sounds to me like you need to own sone responsibility and be more assertive in these situations. There is nothing wrong with speaking up especially with the gas or food situation. Be clear and specific but don’t be passive and whiney.

  • Emily says:

    I feel like I am walking in the author’s shoes right now and I completely understand where she’s coming from! The only “wrong” thing about this post is that she could have recognized that some graciousness has to be learned in situations like this: I also tend to focus on the “waste” of a particular gift when pennies are especially tight but I have to remind myself that the person had good intentions and the spirit of giving is what’s most important. What I really struggle with right now is living in a very small house and simply not having space for gifts…..even if it’s something I might could use, unless it’s absolutely necessary I simply cannot find a place for it and the gift ends up causing more stress than joy. However, maybe that’s MY fault for not having the right attitude. Still, I wish all my friends and family could read this post and remember to consider our circumstances when giving this Christmas. A little thought and contemplation goes a long way.

  • Slides 'n Sandboxes says:

    I hadn’t planned on commenting but once the author started responding, I felt that I had to.

    The article came through as whiny and unappreciative. But most likely had great intentions that a lot of people saw and offered solutions for. If it was the way it really had happened.

    But once the author started responding and said hat she had on purpose written an EXAGGERATED letter to rile people up… well, that was simply wrong. Most stories here on MSM are real life experiences as they happen (I’m guessing there aren’t too many made up stories) but for someone to write something to get people talking and irritated is not quite right. Most people here rely on coupons and are not exercising an “affluent” lifestyle. Now I’m wondering if all those stories mentioned in the article are true. Maybe her father said he’ll treat them for dinner and not pay for gas. And maybe “barely scraping by” means, you simply ate out just once a week and not three times.

    There are “less fortunate” which depends on how one defines it. It’s beautiful to bless others and just because someone has a pride issue, they shouldn’t necessarily be anonymous gifts. Usually those who love to bless others with gifts are not hoping for overwhelming thank you. It’s just a way of communicating since that’s what their love language is.

  • Barb says:

    I loved this series. I can relate to much of this and also loved the tips!!

  • Krissy says:

    Oh how I see myself in this post. My boyfriend and I just purchase a nice ‘forever’ house. This comes with sacrifices. He has a great job, while I am hoping to start one after the New Year. Money is so tight and oh how hard it is to tell my friend, yet again, I cannot go to the outlet stores ‘just because’. How, yes I have Christmas shopping left, but I was planning to attend a coupon night a local close out store to make my dollar stretch. I cannot out for a Girl’s Night, and oh how I wish a movie was an opition. She says she understands. After all, she turned in her leased 2013 Mustange to purchase a 2013 Explorer , a camper, and to save for her annual spring trip South. I try not to judge…I really do…..I am happy she has a great job and can afford all that stuff. I just wish I knew how to tell her that her broke , no cash on hand, is not the same as my broke ( $3 cash, $50 in a joint checking, credit debit, and a stack of bills waiting for next weeks pay to be deposited.

    The thing that hurts me the most……she asks me to drive or help pay for gas after SHE in items me somewhere. She really just does not get it.

  • JennyLeigh says:

    Give and receive with a cheerful heart. I cannot control the actions of the giver or the receiver, but I can control my own. The end.

  • Krissy says:

    I think, when you’ve been in a situation like the author, the last thing you want to do is announce you need help. It is very stressful wondering if the person is going to follow through with a promise to contribute. Whether it is gas to a family gathering or paying you back $1.0o for coffee, it can make or break you. When you don’t have it, no matter the reason, it is always on your mind

  • Tracy says:

    I only read the first few comments so forgive me if this has already been said, but the author wasn’t expecting co-ordinationing jewellry or clothing. She is hoping that if someone loves her enough to give her a gift, they’ll give something practical that will bless her. A gift card, something they know she uses and is a luxury for her etc. I understand her sentiment completely and it has nothing to do with gratitude. Instead of focussing on your own opinions, perhaps allow yourself to be informed about something you clearly don’t understand. If you did understand, you’d feel differently, I promise.

    • Brandy says:

      So true. When you’ve been there, you hope the one giving the gift sees your need and can meet it in some way, however small.

      A gallon of milk to a family in need would be a great gift. So great, in fact, that after you leave, they may cry in gratefulness.

  • Karen says:

    I love to give to people, but after reading this it made me want to stop. Who wants to make someone feel like a heel?

    Some wise words someone told me one time when I was struggling to accept help offered by others during a time when I needed it. “Sometimes you just have to allow others to be blessed by giving to you.” Even if I feel awkward, and I do. I can swallow my pride and let others help me. Often they are thrilled to do it.

    I am a pastor’s wife. Both my husband and I are well-educated and our income was slashed in half when he began full-time ministry. We CHOSE this because we believe God has called us to it. And you know what, we love it. But God is teaching us a lot through it, like how to graciously receive from others.

  • Brandy says:

    Families in need are sometimes offered toys and treats, but what that family really may want (including the children) is cheese, oranges, apples, socks, and gloves.

    Fresh food is especially important. Sometimes a family is down to the last of what is in their pantry. What they are craving and needing isn’t a boxed or canned item, but something luxurious, like a gallon of milk, oranges, lettuce, and carrots.

    Sometimes what is needed is socks and underwear. No one will believe you when you say that your child would like some new underwear. They can ask what you need, and you can tell them, but they’ll say, “Oh, no, they don’t want that” and then buy the child a toy. Meanwhile, there are many children who do not have socks and underwear, and they really would like those things for Christmas. If a parent tells you such a need, believe them. Don’t tell them your child doesn’t want that for Christmas. I think this is more the situation of which the author speaks.

    There is an elementary school not far from here where a large number of children come to school without socks or underwear, because they cannot afford them. To me, this is the real need. These are families who need food–real, nourishing food (not just cookies and candy). Yes, they will be grateful for whatever. However, when giving to a family in need, consider the real needs. This might be a member of your own family.

    Also, more affluent family members don’t always appreciate homemade gifts. When a person is making homemade gifts for her own children from what she has on hand, and then gives a food gift to a family member because it’s all she can give, and her own family could use that food–and then is mocked for her homemade gift, it’s difficult. To be a gracious receiver, also be gracious about receiving the gift that isn’t storebought.

    Setting a spending minimum can be difficult for a family. It may not matter that you set the minimum to $2 per person. That family may not have that $2 times the number of people for whom they have to buy gifts. They may not even have the $2.

    I have noticed several comments on MSM and MSM’s facebook page lately from families who cannot afford to do extended family gift exchanges, but are continuously pressured to do so by different family members. Some have disagreed and said, “It’s only $x amount of money”–and those amount have been quite high to me! Too many families are dealing with cut incomes. It’s not just because they’re one-income families. It’s because that one income has been cut significantly. Many families are dealing with drastic income cuts. That’s not something they chose–it’s something that has come as a result of the economy. They might work 60 hours a week to keep their salaried job, but they’ve been asked to take a 70% cut to stay employed so that the company doesn’t have to let everyone go. Family members may assume because that person has a job at the same place that everything is fine, because people don’t always like to talk about money. Even when family members do bring up that they can’t do things, they can be mocked for it.

    There have been a number of readers commenting lately on MSM that they cannot afford gifts for their own children this Christmas. If that’s your family or friends, listen to the real needs when you are giving them a gift. If you ask what they want and they say a gift card to the grocery store, don’t say they don’t want it–realize they need food.

    • CarrieM says:

      This was soo helpful also! Thanks! I never could understand underwear and socks for presents. And I have had my homemade food/gifts looked down on. I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose, but when they are so use to so much more, I guess it’s only natural. And I hated giving gift cards, so impersonal, but depending on the circumstance, I see how it can be much better.

    • elizabeth says:

      Brandy, I could not agree with you more. Your comment was spot-on. My husband has always been employed, and we always try to stay positive. People don’t always realize how bad of situation others are in. Thankfully, I have some relatives who are great about giving socks and underwear, sheets, and sweatshirts for my kids. And, YES, my children are happy for those kinds of gifts. We often yearn for fresh fruit or cheese. A gift of food, even simple bread and pb and j, would be very welcome. We eat many, many, many meals of rice and beans or spaghetti. Tonight we only had enough beans for the kids. My husband and I only had rice. This is not to complain or have a pity party. At least we have food and a place to sleep, running water and clothes to wear. I am content.

      However, the holidays are stressful. I am able to gift my large extended family only by a very careful combination of couponing, regifting, and doing things online like surveys and such. Last year, I spent a lot of time and energy, as well as food staples, to make HUGE baskets of baked goods (not only sweets) for my family members. It was exhausting. I did have several recipients make comments that were mean -spirited. It made me sad because I did put a lot of effort into those gifts and I could have really used that food for myself. Others were gracious. I truly appreciate the gifts from everyone, regardless of what they are. I somehow find a use for anything, even it becomes a regift down the road, or sold at a yard sale. But I cannot “compete” monetarily with others, I will lose every time.

      I think the original author had a good point and maybe in some parts it came across ungrateful, but I don’t think every commenter necessarily has been in a truly tight place. Not just, “I cannot spend extra,” but “How will we eat today? How will I get my power turned back on?”

      As to those who keep talking about CHOICES, some things happen beyond our control. The Lord is in charge, not us. I am college educated, married another college educated person, we were hard working. At the age of 22, my first child was born extremely prematurely. Our hospital was in a “better” neighborhood and there were no social workers around. We were never informed that babies under a certain birth weight automatically should receive Medicaid. We had insurance but still ended up with approx. 100K of bills. Our child ended up with brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy. Things have been financially tight ever since. I’m not quite sure what CHOICES I could have made differently.

  • Sarah says:

    My observations from reading the comments are that we (especially professing Christians) all need to be extending more charitable attitudes, tolerance, and graciousness t to the writer. While I do not agree with everything she has written or her thought process, it is nice to see a different viewpoint. I was disappointed to see other lash out at her. I believe we can all learn from this. Her replies to comments have been extremely gracious.

  • Autumn says:

    Two things I haven’t seen mentioned:

    1. Could it be the giver of the frivolous gifts are in a different financial situation than you realize? Maybe they found a good deal on an item, and, while not ideal for your current situation, wanted to be able to give something?

    2. Am I the only one who doesn’t feel bad about taking things back to the store? While not everything can be, a lot of things can be taken back and exchanged for gift cards that can then be used on necessities. I’ve done this more than once, and have no qualms whatsoever about it. Also, when giving gifts I try to include the receipt and make it known my feelings will not be hurt if an item is returned.

  • Katie says:

    I usually love this site.. but I have to disagree with a lot about this article. Sorry. I think a lot of Gratefulness can go a long way to changing your perception. I understand it may cost money to see your folks. It costs me $60 in tolls and $100 in gas to go visit my grandparents. And I think that is CRAZY expensive. but I would pay a million to visit them everyday if I could. If it means I need to go without or make some adjustments, it’s just what needs to be done. My mom always offers to pay for gas when she comes to visit (since I pick her up/drop her off at the airport, drive her to and from my sisters) and I never accept. Yes, it’s a big expensive that isn’t in my budget, but it’s the least I could do just to have to visiting me. To say you’re upset that someone gave you a gift and be mad that you don’t have a matching outfit is a little absurd. Or a tart warmer without tarts (I get a pack of 6 tarts for 50 cents when they are clearance).
    I would be happy that someone was thinking about me enough to go to the store and buy something for me. You don’t know their financial situation either, they may tight on money without you realizing it. If you don’t like the gift, sell it, return it to the store. Sorry if I’m rude but a little gratefulness goes a long way.

  • I think everyone is over analyzing what everyone meant ! I know that I have been in a position that all I really wanted for a gift is a gift certificate and they are very kind and useful gift .Sometimes I forget that the receiver might just enjoy getting them as much as I do!! I stress over what to buy with a limited amount of money when I should just get a gift certificate for the amount I can and still be able to give a gift ,would save me a lot of worry and in January I wouldn’t have to juggle so much .Merry Christmas everyone and sometimes when something is read and we don’t know the person writing we take it wrong ,and sometimes it is hard to be jolly when you are having a bad time.

    • LS says:

      I understand how some readers took these things the way they did, but I completely understand where th author is coming from and I don’t think she was trying to be ungrateful. Like she said, these are just some things to consider when you want to bless someone who is currently in a less fortunate position. Things you may not have thought of. We experience some of the same things, living on one salary. My in-laws give tons for Christmas, whereas we generally can only spend $15-25 on each person. And they always ask our kids “what did Santa bring them?” Well, when my children only list off a few small things, they act like”Oh, okay….nothing exciting.” It does make it awkward for us. So I completely understand where the author is coming from.

  • Another Mom says:

    I’m reading this, and wish the author could walk a mile in my shoes. Because then she’d realize that more money wouldn’t make her happier, and the family drama of “who gave what who” is so petty.

    I have a husband who suffers from chronic pain and has endured surgeries just to be able to walk–and even so he works 14 hours a day, and is gone volunteering at church on the weekends. I have a handicapped child who requires one-on-one care every minute of every day. I have other kids who are jealous of the attention their sibling gets, so I’m trying to spend time with them when sibling is asleep. When I can, I help my elderly, handicapped father around the house, or take him to appointments. My husband and I have lost parents and grandparents over the last few years, and I would do anything to have them with us. I would give my last penny to make my disabled child well, or to cure the cancer that one of my closest family members is currently fighting. I would give all the money I had to take away the pain that keeps my husband awake at night. I’m exhausted and rely only on the grace of God to keep me going.

    Complaining about Christmas gifts and awkward situations just seems so trivial. I’m sorry that the author doesn’t like when others talk about recent purchases. Do you know how much I die inside every time someone talks about their normal, healthy, children like it’s no big deal? When they tell me the excitement of milestones their child accomplished that my child will never, ever pass? Do I rant and complain and tell them we can’t be friends? No. I pray for contentment and peace. I pray the same for the author.

    • Crystal says:

      {Hugs!} I prayed for you and your family tonight. I am so very sorry. Thank you for sharing your perspective — it was really convicting and challenging to me.

  • Kelly says:

    The author expects people to be mind-readers. I have been online shopping for years, but just this wk I became familiar w/ the Amazon wishlist. She sounds like she is frustrated w/ her circumstances and is directing her emotion at the people in her life. Maybe she doesn’t “look poor” and the gift-givers are simply giving items as gifts, not donations. This entitled attitude is what turns some away from certain charities at this time of year…”Angel Trees”…the type that list the anonymous recipient’s desires. I just read an article about a family that lost their home due to a fire. The kids’ lists includes Northface jackets and iPods, specific colors for Converse shoes….really? I realize when finances are very limited, everyone else seems richer than you. When I was infertile, everyone seemed to be popping out babies. I didn’t realize that by being silent and resentful, there were women in my small town experiencing the same sorrow as me. Many of these babies were the result of the same fertility procedures I used to eventually have my twins. I wouldn’t be as critical, but the part about her living in an apartment and being disappointed that her friends didn’t contribute tells me she is the one that needs some advice. Has the issue been resolved w/ her dad? I see she replied to some comments. I hope there are no hard feelings. Maybe after they made the trip, Dad thought they had finances since they reached the destination. Or maybe he forgot b/c he is human. “Thanks so much for your offer to help, Dad. Because of that we decided we could travel.” I see she is a pastor’s wife. A church bulletin could read “We have been grateful for the many generous gifts we have received. If you plan on blessing our family, we do have some specific needs.” List them. Even then, people have their own way of gift-giving and donating. I do not tolerate ungracious receiving from my children at Christmas/birthdays. That is life. Wrong color?- Too bad, someone else will appreciate it. Already have it?- Well now you have another if the first one breaks. Wrong size?- Grow into it or exchange it. Don’t like it?- The giver is more important than the gift, be thankful for the giver. My oldest received a necklace that didn’t match many things. She held onto the necklace until she could buy a shirt that matched.

  • Katherine says:

    Momma of 3, thank you so much for putting yourself out there and sharing this post with us. I guess now you are really glad you are “anonymous” 🙂 I am so sorry you are having to endure such criticism for your post.

    I very much appreciated this post, as we have been in the “less fortunate” financial position for some time now and no one really ever talks about things from this perspective. You speak truth 🙂 But just because there may be these better ways to bless someone in this situation, it DOES NOT automatically mean that we are not grateful for what we do have already (health included) or what gifts we do receive. I’m annoyed that people are assuming that. I don’t want to go on and on in relentless detail as others have done, so I’ll stop here. I hope that these critics have not discouraged you from sharing again in the future. There are many of us who are thankful for your perspective. God Bless! PS-The exaggeration to make a point you were talking about is called hyperbole and real writers, like you, use it all the time 🙂

    • Whitney says:

      It is wonderful to finally read a post from the perspective of someone who is receiving with an open heart and open arms, but is having to literally pinch pennies to buy milk.

      If you have never been in the position of giving up meat for a month in order to afford gas to see relatives for the holidays, then please keep your judgments on gratefulness to yourself. The author was not stating that she was ungrateful for any of the gifts received; simply, that it is difficult to enjoy something pretty, shiny or new when you are scraping by with less than what most would consider “the bare essentials”.

      It is so refreshing to hear someone offer advice to the person that genuinely wants to help both the “less fortunate” and the “giver” feel less-awkward about a potentially uncomfortable situation. I don’t appreciate a pretty piece of jewelry or a candle any less than the rest of you – but did you ever consider that if the person receiving it is truly in a tough spot, that they might feel unworthy of something that isn’t necessary for survival?

  • Beth says:

    I think this author did a great job expressing one side of this situation. I am also a pastor’s wife, and I think there are more complexities here than others sometimes realize (at least I didn’t know about them until I married a pastor). I do think that the author should have her husband ask the church council for a fund to host events in their home. My husband gets reimbursed for these types of expenses. Anytime we host anything that church members come to, he submits receipts for reimbursement that I collect—and it’s everything, from napkins to coffee to food. When the church is keeping you on such a minimal salary and you are expected to host (at least occasionally) I think this is a realistic expectation.

    • partgypsy says:

      I understand people’s perspective that complaining about gifts or about preferences in gifts is considered ungrateful. But I appreciate that she was honest in explaining her situation. I’m in the opposite situation of being more financially stable than some of my immediate family members. A number of them keep saying, please do not give me gifts, or just small ones of a practical nature, but I want to give them something really nice or something they wouldn’t necessarily give themselves. I’m a practical person, and can now understand that something to me which seems like a fun splurge pains them because of the waste of money. Many of the things that they say they would like (grocery store cards or cards to restaurants) are things the writer herself has mentioned as useful gifts. So it is important to know as a giver what is an appropriate gift, and if the giver doesn’t care to know that, maybe that is the person who is being selfish.

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