Monday, April 5, 2010

Handling a surprise expense

Plate of tomatoes and lettuce and hamburger

This year, my father's birthday happened to arrive the same weekend as Easter. I had planned on giving him a humorous card with two bars of dark chocolate with almonds, a favorite of his. However, my brother called five days before our dad's birthday and asked me to contribute toward giving Dad a gas grill for his 60th birthday. As one of five children, my share would come to $40. I was taken aback at the expense to which my brother informed me earlier he was looking at $60 per person. After querying if Dad wanted a gas grill (yes, he's admired my brothers' setups), would the propane tank be filled and ready to go (not sure, will check into it), I checked my gift giving allocation.

The reason I was uncertain about the gift was twofold. One, I prefer to be warned more than a few days beforehand of an expense so I could save for the item than raid my savings account. Two, I wanted to keep my hard-earned money in my savings account. Luckily, after checking my budget, I had more than enough to cover the $40 in my gift spending category. This was a relief and demonstrated the necessity of having a gift-giving allocation and for spending less than I needed to. Because many previous gifts had been handmade or purchased secondhand, I had not spent the full amount allotted for gifts every month. The leftover money accumulated over time and allowed me to easily afford a share of a gift I had no idea I would be giving my dad.

My dad liked his new propane grill and my brother took care of all the hard work of purchasing, assembling the grill and transporting it to our parent's home. It all worked out (my brother did not have to resort to guilt trips to "encourage" me to contribute) and I was able to keep my savings account intact; a winning situation all around.

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