Sunday, February 19, 2023

Presents for Spouses

As a married couple, all your assets are jointly held - or should be.  Spending money should be a joint decision.

Mr. See's birthday and St. Valentines Day nearly coincide.  And every year, I make him a birthday card.  I started doing this years ago on a dot-matrix printer.  I never realized he was saving them all!  But we are long past the stage of buying "presents" for each other, as we both realize that when we spend money on things, half that money belongs to the other person.  So if I buy something as a "present" for Mr. See, I am merely spending his money to do so.  Hope he likes the present!

I guess for some people it is different.  Husband buys the wife some sort of jewelry bauble and spends thousands of dollars in the process.   Thoughtful?  Perhaps.  But half that money was hers - and maybe if asked, she would have wanted a different bauble - or her 401(k) fully funded.   Because we've seen firsthand what happens when a husband dies (and they usually predecease the wife) and leaves her destitute, because he blew it all on bling and toys and had a good time - and left her to pay the bills.

Carol Channing told us "diamonds are a girl's best friend!" - which sort of implied a prostitution-like arrangement where women would trade favors for baubles from admiring men.  It was OnlyFans before the Internet.  Problem is, gold and diamonds and "precious stones and metals" are an inefficient way to transfer and hoard wealth.   You spend $1000 at a jewelry store, and end up with $500 of jewelry - if you are lucky.  The jeweler has to make money on both ends of the deal - and has to hope that there is a buyer for his inventory.  That's why you see those "we buy gold!" places in poor neighborhoods - poor people buy gold coins - paying top dollar for them - and then sell them for less than half, when they need money.  Well, that, and they cater to people who break into houses and steal jewelry - someone has to melt it down!

Hmmm.....  Spending a lot of money on jewelry is really pointless, isn't it?  It is just stuff to get stolen, and the transaction costs mean it will be expensive to buy and sell.  So what's the point?  Oh, right - status.

But I digress.

I mentioned before the utter insanity of people buying their spouse a car as a present.  The wife (and it is usually the wife who is recipient) doesn't get to choose the options, make, model, or even the color of their car.  Which brings us to another point - his and hers cars.  People ask us, "which car is yours?" and we say, "neither and both" as we don't consider our possessions to be separate (other than perhaps, clothes, but even then, we share socks).   We only use the truck to tow the trailer (indeed, it doesn't fit in the garage and spends the rest of its time in a storage locker).   If not for the RV, we would sell it and have only one car.   You'd be surprised how many retirees have two cars and only drive one of them regularly - it is only when Dad loses his license that they break down and sell his S-10 pickup, which has three flat tires and a dead battery.   You only really need one car in retirement - unless you are not really retired.

But I digress, yet again.

When you are a kid and have no assets and income of your own, sure, it is nice to get presents at Christmas and Birthdays.   You have no idea about your parents' wealth or income, so when they buy something for you, it truly is a surprise.   If I was to buy something for Mr. See (or vice-versa) our cell phones would beep and vibrate the moment the credit card charge went through.   So much for the surprise!

But we're not children anymore, and quite frankly, our house is already full of "stuff" as it is - we don't need more things in our life, unless we got rid of something we already had.  After a certain point in life, possessions become a burden, not a joy.  You want to do things, rather than own things.  So for Mr. See's birthday, we will hook up the camper and go on a trip.  And I bought him some of that sexy underwear he likes - and a box of candy.

And when my birthday rolls around, well, I expect nothing in return from him, except perhaps a card.  We aren't kids anymore, and birthdays are just days.  After the first 60 or so, you don't look forward to them anymore.

And that's OK, too.  In fact, it is better.  It is like getting off the Christmas consumerism bandwagon - removing all that stress of finding "the perfect gift!" and decorating the house and whatnot, is far better than all the gift-wrapped packages in the world.  Nothing beats ignoring the holidays altogether.