I have poor money boundaries that I am working on establishing in 2024. I whined all of 2023 about how terrible I am with gifting and my plan to establish boundaries and stop over gifting. I performed miserably. For now I choose not to share how much I gifted in 2023. Just know it’s more than I can afford and close to 1/3rd of my annual cost of living. Yes, that much!
I spent time reflecting on why I struggle to establish boundaries and I narrow it down to below findings:
Religious leanings – I grew up in a religious background where you are expected to give 10% of your earnings to the religious body. I did this consistently for years but at some point I rationalised and felt the religious body gets access to a lot of funding and my contribution can do good elsewhere. I replaced this with gifting to others as my act of doing good.
Learned behaviour – I grew up observing and learning from my Mum how to overgive. My Mum prioritised everyone over herself by generously giving even when she couldn’t afford it. So this meant she will deny herself some needs to benefit others as she felt they needed it more. She still does this despite my multiple attempts at intervening. I find myself unconsciously doing this as well by assuming it’s a base expectation from me.
Black Tax – There is always someone needing financial support for something and due to my guilt at being financially okay and the unhealthy need to fix everyone’s issue, I find myself unable to say No to financial requests.
Likeability factor – I suspect on some level I want to be liked. I assume by gifting and doing good for others this will make them like me. This is something I need to explore in therapy as it only popped up as I was writing this post.
Proximity – I live far away from most of my family and friends. I can’t be present for key life events and I get a lot of guilt from this so I use over gifting to offset my guilt. I rationalise it by saying to myself “I would have spent so much more if I traveled to be physically present”. While travelling is expensive, who says I will actually be physically present if we lived in the same location.
Let me state now that I have no issue with gifting, the problem with me is I can’t afford to gift as much as I do. In a few months, my affordability will drop drastically so I need to train myself and the people around me to understand that I will no longer be as generous as I was in the past.
This is how I plan to manage my over gifting:
January uber frugal month challenge – I am doing the frugalwoods uber frugal month challenge and this is teaching me to dial it back on what I spend on. I am not spending at all on myself this month and will also not be gifting. So far, I have spent €24 only on groceries. I am tracking to spend below €100 for the month. This excludes my fixed monthly bills.
A fixed gifting sinking fund – I will be putting €150 per month from February onwards into my gifting sinking fund. This does not mean I will be spending this amount every month but I will build up a pot that I can use as needed during the year.
Make personalised gifts – Instead of buying, giving money or gifting expensive experiences I will be dipping into my creative side. I will put the art supplies and creative materials I have to good use by making personalised gifts for people.
Regift/Thrift – In instances where I can’t make the gift myself, I will check if I have something I can regift. If there’s nothing to regift, I will check for thrift options via Vinted and Vestiaire before buying something new.
Black tax management – If I get requests that falls into the black tax category, I will evaluate if this is a need or a want. All wants will be immediately rejected and needs will be evaluated based on if the requester have alternative sources or not. If there are alternative sources, I will chip in between 30 to 50% and if there are no alternatives I will chip in up to 100% as long as it doesn’t exceed my sinking fund contribution for the month.
I have tried to establish money boundaries many times and failed miserably. This is probably because deep down I always thought I can always earn it back. My work situation is shifting soon and I will not be earning it back for awhile so maybe, just maybe this will force me to set the boundaries.