Gifts That Cost More Than The Sticker Price

bad Christmas gifts

On Monday, we mentioned practical holiday gifts. It’s nice to find the perfect gift that will be appreciated and used frequently, but there are many gifts that cost more than the sticker price. Advertisers love to tell people that huge, sparking, expensive gifts are what it takes to show that special someone how much we love them, although I’m not sure saddling someone with a gift that continues to cost money or hours of work is the best way to say you care.

New Cars

It absolutely amazes me that a person would go out and finance something that costs thousands of dollars without telling their significant other, yet every year, one of my Facebook friends seems to do just that. We’ve all seen the post with the picture of a new car with a big bow that says something to the effect of “Look What Hubby/Wife Surprised Me With!

Then, all the comments seem to support this concept. I would love to be the person who has the guts to reply, “Wow, you gave 60 months of debt.

People need cars, and buying new or financing might make the most sense for your situation. However, if you feel it’s OK to go out and make a huge financial decision without household input, that speaks volumes for the state of your finances. Either one person is so clueless they would be in dire straits if you weren’t around, or you are comfortable keeping money secrets from your partner. Either way is a recipe for disaster.

Financing Any Gift

Along with cars, there are tons of offers this time of year for financing jewelry, furniture, appliances, and just about any consumer good you can think of. Zero down and no interest for six months might seem like a good idea, but when all the holiday bills start rolling in next month, you might have to put off making a payment on your zero interest purchases. That leaves a short window to pay everything off to avoid heavy finance charges.

If you do need or want to buy something you can’t afford right now, the very best way to do that is to start putting payments aside before you actually make the purchase. That way, if you get into a bind, you will have extra money stashed to help out. If there are no emergencies, you’ll be able to buy your item outright in a few months. Maybe it won’t be in time for Christmas, but who really wants extra monthly payments as their gift?


I am a big believer in pet ownership and have had multiple foster and permanent dogs over the years. Giving someone a puppy, kitten, or even a goldfish might be OK for the right person, but I don’t think surprising someone with a pet is ever a good idea.

Pets take lots of work and can be very expensive. Thinking someone will grow to love their pet because you love yours is a mistake, and if you believe children will step up and take care of a new four legged friend, you might as well go ahead and send your own list to Santa.

Animal shelters see a surge in pet surrenders in December and January. Some of those are due to families not being able to afford Christmas gifts and their pets. Many are because people who receive pets as gifts are not ready for pet hair, soiled carpets, and being awoken at the crack of dawn by a new, playful puppy.

Pet ownership can be a rewarding experience, but wrapping Fido up under the tree is not a good gift idea.

Don’t Give Gifts That Cost More Than The Sticker Price

While we all would like to give the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season, it’s important to choose things that bring joy and don’t end up as an added expense. Before giving a gift you know will take money or time, think several months down the road. If your idea doesn’t seem as exciting then as it does now, it’s probably not the right gift.

Have you even been surprised with a gift that included added costs? If in a relationship, do you think it’s OK to finance a purchase without telling the other person?

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  1. My mother-in-law bought my son a cat, which was something he wanted and we love the cat, but all she did was bring the cat over by himself and we had to buy about $200 worth of pet supplies and of course have all of the on-going costs for taking car of him. I will say that I’m glad it was a cat and not a dog because I think we would have had more costs with a dog over time.

    1. I would be so upset if someone brought us a pet. I would probably keep it and love it, but when it’s not your choice, that’s tough.

  2. I can think of a lot of gifts that fall into this category. Even Keirug coffee makers require you to overpay for those little coffee things. I like gifts that don’t require me to spend more money.

    1. Agreed. My office gave me a satellite radio system one Christmas, which was awesome, but I had to pay to have it installed and for the monthly fee. I loved it, but finally decided it was too expensive to keep.

  3. The section of this post about pets makes me sad. We contribute to the Animal Humane Society here in Minnesota and there is always so many pets that need adopting. It’s one reason why I’ve regularly had pet-related posts on our site. It’s so important for people to consider ALL the costs of having a pet, including the “worst case” scenarios where you are doling out up to $5k for an emergency situation.

    1. It does kill me when I see ads or posts on Facebook about puppies for sale that will be ready by Christmas. It seems like a cute gift, but most people don’t consider all the associated costs. It’s so sad for the pet and the pets waiting to be adopted when someone has to surrender an animal for financial reasons.

  4. Yeah I’ve seen some of those posts with new cars, it is sad that they think a car is a status of success. LOL. The only thing I’ve given and I paid for most of it with cash was an engagement ring. IT was a while ago, and something more special than a car.

  5. That’s so sad shelters see a big surge during this time of year. Unfortunately, I think so many people only look at how cute the pet may be and don’t consider any of the added costs or responsibility. With regards to financing a gift and not telling my wife, but surprising her…she loves surprises but not ones that bring on debt!

    1. I can’t imagine who would love to get 60 monthly payments for Christmas, but I don’t think most people look at it that way.

  6. you shouldn’t use such an adorable photo for the top! makes me wish I could get a Boston Terrier. 🙁 But yes, I agree, giving a pet as a gift is a TERRIBLE idea, unless in the rare chance the person has been prepping for a pet for a long while and you find a great pet that fits their needs (like finding a pet with the right temperament through a breed-specific rescue organization–which can take time). However, like you said, it’s often better to wait for pets, especially for periods after Christmas as there are tons of animals that will be abandoned at that time. i’m a big believer in fostering first though, if you can, as a pet can act different at home than at a shelter or rescue organization. That way, if the pet does not work out as a foster, you can work with the organization to re-home the pet without much issue.

    We have three cats and are not home enough for a dog, so no more pets for us for a long while. I wish we could get a dog, but we are definitely not ready for the commitment a dog needs, plus we already have cats that need special prescription cat food (urinary problems, quite common in male cats) and pets often need treatment and food much more expensive than you anticipate so it’s best for us at least to wait it out for many years.

    1. Yes, I should have found a photo that shows a dog chewing up something! Photos like that make me want to get another dog too, but I know we are traveling too much right now for it to be fair to the pet.

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