The (Very Affordable) Gift of Presence

YNAB shuts down for two weeks every Christmas. It’s our Christmas tradition. We still man the support queue—no need for alarm—but for the most part, we are shut down.

Of course, they still make me do these Whiteboard Wednesday videos. So here I am, weeks before Christmas, thinking about gifts, specifically the gifts that have meant the most to me over the years.

When I think back I remember a fancy new bike and a Heads Up Turbo Hopper,…. but what makes a gift really memorable?

A few months ago, I was given all my old G.I. Joe’s. Just a box full of broken G.I. Joe’s and I thought, “What am I even going to do with this?” But then I found out you can repair them. And I gave them to my son for his six-year-old birthday and we repaired them together.

The response has been amazing. We didn’t go to the store and buy the fanciest new thing and you have this little six-year-old, who should get excited about any new thing. But he has this massive attachment to these G.I. Joe’s. Because they used to be Dad’s and Dad is showing interest and attaching torsos to pelvic bones to legs.

Julie and I were talking about why—or how, rather—this had gone over so well, and we decided it was because I was interested and engaged.

What I gave him was worthless—except it wasn’t.

I believe there is a linear relationship between the thought you put into a gift and the value that is perceived by the one who receives it.

And of course, the more joy from the recipient, the more joy you feel as the giver.

Could it be the same in your budget? Sorry guys, I had to bring it back. What if you looked at your priorities in a little bit of a different way. Think about what you really want to achieve—is it money holding you back or do you just need to pour in a little more thought?

The easiest example is a vacation. Are you trying to see some amazing thing in some exotic location or are you really wanting to truly shut off for a week and engage with each other? If the real value is in turning off the computer and phone and being present, maybe you could accomplish that without spending a lot of money?

You can derive a lot of value by just putting a little more thought into our priorities and the jobs we give our dollars. Oh, and the gifts we give because this is going to run right before Christmas.

Merry Christmas!


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