So if you haven’t noticed, it’s the holiday season. I know, it’s kind of a surprise. But it’s actually here. If you ask the advertisers, it’s been here since about August, but that’s a different story for a different day.
As it’s the holiday season, you may have noticed some holiday events going on in your office. In a way, I’m lucky. I’m a federal employee, so while we do have a small holiday party, we have some pretty strict rules on gift giving and how much we can give. There’s a financial limit on gifts (I think it’s under $10, but I could be wrong). Of course, there are exceptions, such as if a baby shower is being thrown and that sort of thing. But I’m not expected to give gifts or pitch in for gifts for coworkers or supervisors, and I have to say, I really like that.
I was chatting with a friend yesterday who was venting about the fact that a coworker came around with a collection envelope, politely insisting that she give $25 for a gift for her supervisor. In addition, she was asked to contribute money to a party and to gifts for the administrative staff. While she didn’t mind contributing to the party and truly believed that the administrative staff deserved every gift they received and then some, she was a little miffed at having to contribute so much for a gift for her supervisor, someone she doesn’t even particularly like. Of course, she had the option to not contribute, but then her name wouldn’t go on the card, and the last thing my friend wanted was for her supervisor to know she hadn’t bothered to contribute to a gift for her.
It was definitely an uncomfortable situation for her. In the end, she did contribute, but she wasn’t happy about it. She much would have preferred putting in $25 for a donation to a local charity in her boss’s name. I believe they ended up getting the supervisor some sort of framed decoration for her office.
I’m not a fan of the forced gifting either. Gifts should be given because you want to give, not because you feel like you have to give. Has anyone else gotten trapped in a forced gifting situation?
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
I sure have. Two years ago, I was asked to pony up $40.00 for the boss’s gift (an iPod). I do like my boss, but $40.00! I was annoyed because this is more $$ than I spend on many of my family memebers. Furthermore, the funds were requsted last minute and I had already given the boss a basket of homemade cookies. They wanted everyone to contribute more, until I complained that there needs to be a *reasonable* cap. I was the sole complainer too. I think a few others just didn’t want to look bad.
Two years ago, I was forced into a Secret Santa gift exchange. I was in a very tough financial situation at the time, and the extra expense was going to be a burden. I’d cut expenses at home drastically, just so I could pay my rent. It was *supposed* to be optional. I told a few of my coworkers that I wasn’t going to participate, which they were fine with. Then, I happened to be away from the office on the day (in mid November) that the names were drawn. When a coworker told boss that I didn’t want to do it, she told everyone there that I could “get over it.”
When I returned to the office the next day, guess who’s name I pulled? That’s right. Boss. I put it back, and got a different name. Later that day, I ended up in a meeting with boss, where she tried to shame me for my decision not to participate. Then I reminded her than not everyone celebrates Christmas for religious reasons. Now, I do happen to celebrate it, but that’s not the point. She realized her error, and backed off, but the damage was done.
Rather than make a huge deal about tracking down who pulled my name, I opted to take part – reluctantly. As expected, it was a financial burden, but I tried to make the best of it, and gave a gift equal to the budget we were told. The gift I received? Less than 1/3 of the budget.
That was the last Secret Santa I took part in.
Yes! Anytime an employee within our company has a baby, graduates, gets married, has a birthday we’re expected to give something. Most recently, a woman who works at another location WHOM I’VE NEVER EVEN MET had a baby. My boss asked everyone to contribute for a basket of goodies. I felt like such a grinch, but I didn’t give anything. If it had been a person in our corporate office, someone I actually know, I would have felt differently. But that money has a more important purpose to me than being given away.