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Midlife Bachelor

December 8, 2008
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The recession of 2008 is hitting us all hard this holiday season, making it especially difficult to balance the need for finding just the right gift at an affordable price for the person you are involved with.   Job losses … home foreclosures … drastically shrinking portfolios and 401K accounts … lower income overall – how do you find just the right gift during times like these? 

The first question you have to ask yourself is – do you love or hate your significant other?  This might seem like an odd question, but remember that financial stress historically causes relationships to sink faster than any other macro-level problem … so as the recession continues and possibly grows worse, there is an increasing probability that more relationships will sour.  It is also a lot easier to decide on a gifting strategy if you purposely categorize your relationship as either “love” or “hate”.  Is your relationship good (love), or bad (hate)?

Feel free to jump to the appropriate section of this article:

     Gift Ideas for the Wife or Girlfriend You Love
     Gift Ideas for the Wife or Girlfriend You Hate
     Recessionary Gifts to Avoid in either case

Gift Ideas for The Wife or Girlfriend You Love
If you really do love your wife or girlfriend, that is fantastic.  Your recessionary gifting chore is to balance what you think you can spend on her with getting her something she really wants, and will really appreciate.  You do not necessarily have to spend a lot of money on a gift if you think it through correctly:

  1. Look around – see what things she likes
    Often the most appreciated gift is one that tells a woman that you really know her.  These are the type of gifts that she will really love you for.  To have this reaction from her, you cannot ask her what she wants or likes – you have to observe for yourself.  Look carefully around – and if you see more of three of some type of thing – that is your clue. If you decide on jewelry, be very careful – as that is very personal, and it is easy to purchase the wrong thing.  If you have doubts, you may be able to run the item past her sister or her mother or a close cousin or friend beforehand for input.  Whatever type of item you decide on, you can typically adjust either the brand or where you purchase it to fit your recessionary budget.  If it is a name-brand item, you can try looking on or … or you can shop the sales or the swap meets.  If you are really strapped for cash, you might be able to make the gift yourself – which adds a really personal dimension to it.
  1. Listen to her
    Men are most often accused of not listening – or maybe that’s just me.  Regardless – if you take special care to pay attention to her, you will likely get a clue about what she might like for a gift.  Maybe she mentions a certain spa several times … or maybe while out shopping with her for her family, she mentions she likes something you are both looking at.  If you keep your eyes and ears open, I guarantee she will give you some kind of clue about what she might want for a holiday gift.  And as mentioned previously, once you know what you are looking for – you can participate in the recession by only shopping when the big sales are happening (Macy’s, JCPenney, Sears), or by sticking with the discount store chains (Marshalls, Wal-Mart, Kmart), or by looking online (,
  1. Ask her (last resort)
    As an absolute last resort, you can always ask her what she wants for a gift.  The reason this is a “last resort” is because she is likely to tell you something she needs versus something she really wants.   She might need a new toaster … or a new vacuum … but what she would really want or appreciate would be something much more personal (as discussed above).  You will get a lot more emotional mileage from that very personal gift.  If you cannot do that, then at least get her something she needs … and shop for that item carefully (as previously discussed … shop the sales, use coupons, try the discount chains, look online).

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You also might enjoy this video about a man getting stuck in the DOGHOUSE for giving the wrong gift to his wife ...

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