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DearSugar Needs Your Help: Am I Being a Scrooge?

DearSugar and Dumbfounded Debbie need your help. Knowing that times are tough for most, she was shocked when she received an outlandish Christmas list from her sister. They are struggling themselves and had to ask for financial help, yet they're continuing to ask for more. What would you do if you were in her shoes?

Dear Sugar,

The economy is hitting everyone hard, but I don’t know what to make of this situation. My sister and her husband have been struggling for the past few years, and their finances got so bad that they considered filing for bankruptcy. Instead, they sent a humble email to their family asking for help with their bills. That’s kept them afloat, but in the meantime, my work hours have been cut in half, so money’s really tight. You can imagine how I felt when my sister emailed the family a list of expensive presents that she, her husband, and their two kids want for Christmas — a retro Kitchen-Aid blender is just one example. What’s more, she followed up the next week to find out what everyone planned to buy, so that “we don’t get duplicates from other family members”!

I don’t mean to be a Scrooge, but that takes some nerve! I’m not buying anything from the list — the money just isn’t there — but what do I say to my sister? — Dumbfounded Debbie


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tinyspark tinyspark 8 years
Greedy bat! Get her some oven mitts and tell her to get bent!
Squeaks26 Squeaks26 8 years
Tell your sister she's a BITCH and if she can't afford to buy her own presents then she doesn't need them. Apparently your family needs to watch the Grinch and learn there's more to Christmas than expensive presents. You all should have agreed there would be no presents this year and just enjoyed your time with family and friends. It's just show materialistic to have to have expensive things, ask your family to buy them, and then to call people and ask what they got you.
kristyy kristyy 8 years
Your sister is a selfish, greedy bitch who thinks she deserves all these expensive items. With that said, she is still family and still not in a good position. Even though money is tight on your end, ask yourself if you can really afford to help out. If the answer is yes, then get her a grocery gift card. Hey, everyone's gotta eat, but not everyone needs to bake with a fancy mixer. If the answer is no, explain to her that she is not the only one hit by the economy and her requests are way out of your price range and you can't afford to splurge right now. Don't offer to get her anything at all - this is not a negotiation. Simply state that you are in a financially tight situation as well and can't help out right now. Don't feel bad. You aren't being a scrooge. I'd whack my own sister on the head if this were my situation.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
No you're not a Scrooge. I agree with reeeeka though... I think she is asking for the expensive things to return them for the cash. Personally, I wouldn't say anything to her. Buy what you can afford. If she can't appreciate the fact that you thought of her at Christmas, well... maybe you need to sit her down and explain what Christmas is really about. And maybe direct her to a financial counselor or something to help her and her husband learn to deal with their finances.
Sarana Sarana 8 years
I don't know any adults that write lists for Christmas! If I were you I'd just buy what you want to buy and not worry about saying anything. Just give the gift you can afford, if she has any morals she will be happy with it and thank you for it. If she says something like "That wasn't on my list!" I would tell her off for her way of trying to get expensive gifts.
reeeeka reeeeka 8 years
beggers can't be choosers but she's damn choosey
reeeeka reeeeka 8 years
No, you are not being a scrooge. Your sister seems a little selfish in my opinion. It's "what more can I get from these people" Just say something like this to her... "Isn't it enough that our family/friends have been keeping your family a float because you haven't been able too? That's a Present in and of itself. You arn't the only person who's on a fixed income. We've been trying to help but this "list" has just pushed it over the line. Maybe you should think a little less about what more you can get from others and more about what they've already done/given to you & your family" What gets me is she's asking for things that are not even relative to their situation. My guess is the things she's asking for are in the "expensive" range so she'll probably return them for the money.
mix-tape mix-tape 8 years
I think it's tacky to give lists of your personal "wants" in the first place. I have a friend who sounds like your sister. She calls it her "birthday month" when it's October and tells everyone what she wants and intends for everyone to buy her expensive dinner/drinks while we give her presents. We are in college!!! I just couldn't do that relationship any more, thank God, or else Christmas would be pure torment this year. I agree with what others said before me, get her a donation to a charity (Oxfam is great) in her family's name. It's for a good cause and if she complains about it you can make her feel like crap because other people have it much worse than her in this world. Maybe she will realize her list is quite petty.
mhutt mhutt 8 years
I agree you should just tell her your situation and add that you are sure she will understand since she is in the same situation. My family always sends out lists and ask "hey why haven't i seen a list from you yet". It just gives everyone an idea of what you and your family would like. We put a range of prices on there from $10 - $150 so my parents have pricier ideas and others don't feel like they have to spend much to make us happy. I love the lists but i think in this situation your sister is looking at christmas as a time for her to get some free stuff, which isn't really the "reason for the season" as they say.
Lyv Lyv 8 years
What is she, nine years old? I don't know any grown-ups who email Xmas wishlists to their families. "Don't get me duplicates"? Is she fxcking kidding?
apothecary06 apothecary06 8 years
She's the selfish one here - she's making it all about her, and that is not the spirit of this season. I agree with those who say to get something affordable for her kids, since her actions are not their fault, and then if you get her anything, get her something practical, like a grocery store gift card. I'd be very interested to know, though, what she intends to give as gifts. If she sees this as all take with no give, I see no obligation to get her anything.
jenious jenious 8 years
Choosy beggars are usually oblivious to how self consumed their actions are! Annoying! I would tell her MERRY CHRISTMAS and wishing you a healthy, prosperous 2009. The end. Some people need a little visit from scrooge. Those who are going along with the plan are enablers! :)
smileyface smileyface 8 years
I like likety slpit's idea!! LMAO! But like the others have said get her something small that you can afford/she needs given her financial situation like a grocery store/wal-mart gift card. And if she complains that its not what she wanted tell her you didn't have to get her anything at all being that her christmas present came early when you helped her out with her bills and then tell her if she doesn't want it then you'll take it back because you're tight on money. The charity idea is good too...she'd probably be so pissed off that you gave the money to charity instead of too her. I think that would be a good lesson for her and a way for you to stick it to her a little bit!
frieddumpling frieddumpling 8 years
DO NOT feel bad! In fact, I feel sorry for you that your sister would exploit her own family in this way! I find it disheartening that she would give the family A LIST and THEN went further to ensure that no one is getting the SAME thing. That is way over the line. If you're close with your other family members and if they feel the same way about this, get together and confront her with this problem (in a nice way if possible since it is the holidays). You don't want to be the only "bad guy" in this as I'm sure your family would have some common sense to see through her act and it's more powerful if more than one person addresses this problem with your sister. Like others have mentioned, get her something thoughtful and something she'll like, but DOES NOT have to be expensive. You should persuade your other family members to do the same, so she will get a CLEAR message about how the family feels and also she will not have the benefit of receiving any of the expensive gifts on her list since she certainly does not deserve them!
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Ugh. Your sister is milking the family, and I'd be upset too. Tell her exactly what's going on. You, like her and everyone else, have a really tight budget this year, and the presents she and her family wants are just out of your price range. Offer her another type of assistance, like a visit or a lower-priced gift, instead. If she won't take anything less, then leave it - she's just being a mooch, and I wouldn't take part in any of it.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i think that you should stick to how you feel and if you feel like it's out of your means to go by her list - then let her know what your situation is and let her know that if you were in a better place you would most certainly look to stick to her requests and do something like that - but given how things are for you right now, it's just not within your means to be that extravegant. i know that for myself - i can't even offer to give gifts this year. i'm going to some how have to make it up to people, but for right now - it's going to be a very lean season, and people will have to accept that.
cjmara805 cjmara805 8 years
I think this is why she's in this current financial situation. Who cares if she wants a standing mixer, get her a gift card for a grocery store or offer to make a payment on her debts. Don't give her a check for money and don't give into her demands.
Smilesp Smilesp 8 years
I would get her a gift card to the grocery store or a walmart/target type store and just tell her that's something you thought she could really use. That or the charity thing. Who sends out an e-mail list of the things they want for Christmas?? My family does a secret santa thing so we can get a few meaningful, nice gifts instead of a bunch of crap.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I don't know, did she give the list around stating that they wanted everything on it? I keep an Amazon wish list with a TON of items on it - some are very inexpensive (paperback books) and some are pricey (a Wii) but I certainly don't expect to receive everything on it. It's just a guide for my family, who always ask me what I want anyway. It's just easier. Maybe your sister was just handing out a list to give everyone ideas.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
how about a book like "financial planning for idiots".
candace87 candace87 8 years
I would tell her that unless it is for her wedding, she does not get a gift registry. Too bad for her if she cant afford a Kitchen Aid blender, she can go pick up a Walmart brand one. Id reply to her e-mail and tell her you won't be buying anything from that list and depending on how close you two are, maybe let her know that the e-mails are inappropriate when everyone else is in financial trouble as well.
kimsy kimsy 8 years
I'd get her kids a little something (within your means) because this has nothing to do with them. Then, I'd have a talk with her, but not because I think you owe her an explanation as to why you are not getting her anything. I'd let her know that you were a bit taken aback that she would even ask for gifts for herself, let alone expensive ones, when you and the rest of your family chipped in during their time of need. Especially when you are hurting for money too. I think it's best to be honest and not stew over this and aggravate you for too long. I'm guessing your family feels the same way. Have you discussed with them?
jessie jessie 8 years wow! give a gift card for how ever much you are comfortable giving.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Give her a 5 dollar gift card(the idea of a 5 dollar gift card is like kicking someone in the teeth), trust me, that would totally piss me off. What is she going to do, demand money from you? Right.;) Otherwise, donate money in her name.
hope2be hope2be 8 years
Hey, I'd feel the same way, but I'd just say to your sister if I were you, that my hours have been cut, can't afford the gifts on the list, etc, basically the facts. Then get something for her kids, I suppose. Something you can afford and don't break the budget at all. That's why they have the Dollar-Store. ;)
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