Why giving a gift is not as economically efficient as giving cold, hard cash

Personally, I’ve said before that I prefer gifts I can eat, or money.

I don’t really enjoy it when people gift me clothing, shoes, or anything that is a personal purchase.

External hard drives, or an e-book reader by all means! My address is…..

Err. Ahem.

As I was saying, I always tend to gift cash to any wedding I attend or party.

It’s not that I don’t know what to buy, or I am lazy, or I just ran out of time.

It’s that I feel it isn’t the best way to give a gift.

Note: Some people disagree with this, because they feel that a gift that took hours to think about, and purchase is worth much more than some gift card or cash.

There are always exceptions and for me, they’d be if the gifts were homemade baked goodies (mmmm) or a very personal CD, video, scrapbook or picture frame of the two of you.

However, if you are just going to go out and buy a candle with some body lotion.. please just keep your cash. I’d rather have a hug.

To put it into perspective, imagine that you have to buy a gift for a friend.

You two aren’t the same size at all, but you think she would love to try to wear a sheath dress instead of sticking to pantsuits all the time.

You find the perfect beige, linen sheath dress for $100 and think:

THIS IS IT! This is SO her.

She receives it, and while she appreciates the thought, she thinks:

Actually, I prefer wearing pantsuits because I am more comfortable in a structured 3-piece rather than a sheath and I enjoy wearing a jacket.

I wouldn’t have paid more than $50 for this, and the colour is beige not black!

I hope she didn’t go over $50.

There. Right there.

$50 down the drain.

Her perceived value of the dress was not the same as yours.

She would’ve rather spent the $100 on something else, perhaps a new pair of heels to go with her suits.

So while you thought that $100 for a great, slightly stretchy, well-made dress was a STEAL, she felt otherwise.

Right there, is an example of inefficiency in the usage of cold hard cash.

The other exception I can think of, is when someone gives you an actual list of the specific item they want, but in my opinion that ruins the whole idea of gift giving.

This of course, comes  from my perspective where I think:

If I want something, I’ll just buy it.

Dress, hard drive, purse, you name it.

No one can know what I want, more than me.

If I give a list of what I want to someone, it defeats the intent and purpose of gifting.

…and that’s why I prefer cash. (Or food.)

I do concede that giving a GIFT is more personal than giving a gift card or cash, but did you know that gift cards made a huge comeback in 2010?

What do you think?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.