Should a gift keep costing? Am I a gift horse?

2010-01-24T00:21:11+00:00Squawk Back|

This past holiday season my brother-in-law and his lovely wife gave me a Sirius Sportster 5 Satellite Radio kit. Since I travel a fair distance into work each day, the gift was a thoughtful way to better enjoy my commute. The Sirius Radio receiver is a generous gift, weighing in at around $120CDN for just the device. My particular package came inclusive with a $50 credit to cover about 4 months of the satellite service.

Since my $50 credit is almost gone I’m starting to wonder, should I continue the service and pay the $12 monthly fee? I’m also kinda at odds with this gift, as now it’s costing me. I’m not trying to be a gift horse by resenting the thoughtfulness. I’m just wondering, should we give gifts that keep costing the recipient?


Here are reasons to Sirius(ly) reconsider giving gifts like satellite radio, and to start looking certain gift horses in the mouth.

Ongoing gift fees:

I suppose my issue with satellite radio is the ongoing monthly fee. At $12 bucks a month, the Sirius satellite service operates at $144 bucks a year. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but compound the cost by 5 years and suddenly my little $120 dollar radio receiver bites me for $720 bucks total – not including inflationary price increases! Ouch!

There are many gifts which fall into this gray area of ungiftfullness. Gifts like cell phones, puppies, or that XBOX 360 thing you play online. Personally, I never give a gift with an ongoing fee unless the recipient truly desires the thing. I just don’t horse around with other people’s money.

Without paying, the gift ain’t playing:

I chomp at the bit when I consider canceling my radio service, since stopping it renders my satellite receiver device a useless piece of crap. Basically, I have ungifted myself by not continually throwing money at the thing. Nay.

Gifts only holding value when tightly coupled with an ongoing service fee are not really gifts, I think. Sticking your gift recipient with a fee-sucking space-occupying useless-thing kinda sucks.

What should I do?

The sentimental soul in me doesn’t want to cancel my radio service. I enjoy listening to the vast variety of music offered though Sirius Satellite Radio. However, the frugal fool in me looks at the big picture and listens to the bottom line. Every little fee in life adds up and continuously erodes my after tax income. Should I just bite it and keep paying? Or should I hoof this gadget and mosey along?

What would you do? Do you give gifts with fees attached?


  1. Chris March 16, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    “What would you do?” This seems like a personal choice. Obviously millions of subcribers have made that choice. Do you really not understand how you feel on the issue? Do you really want to leave YOUR personal choice up to a vote? It seems to me that you have a bigger problem, facing your own feelings and thoughts and communicating them openly and honestly to your in-laws. From what I heard, you would have preferred to have not been placed into this awkward situation by them. However, many others would see it differently. Don’t make this an issue about satellite radio or gifts with fees attached. This is really about you, your personaly preferences, and your reluctance to address your issues.

  2. Emily March 17, 2008 at 4:36 am

    I try not to give gifts with costs to the recipient attached. And I get annoyed when I receive gifts that have a cost for me, unless it’s something I asked for and WANT to pay for once the time is up. It’d be like if someone gave me an iPhone. Oh, okay, thanks. Do you want to pay the additional $30 a month on my cell plan too?

    As for what you should do? Can you resell it? That way you’re not taking a total loss but you aren’t paying for something you don’t really want too. Good luck, either way it’s not a bad decision. You either go the frugal route or you go the life is too short to deny myself route. Both have their positives.

  3. Chickadee March 17, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Um, Chris, she was just asking for feedback, not asking us to make her decision…
    Squawkfox, I think your relatives meant well, knowing that you like good music during your commute. But sticking you with an ongoing bill is unfortunate, since it sounds as though you did NOT ask for satellite radio. One solution is to be cheeky and ask those relatives to renew your subscription to Sirius next holiday season… “Oh, that was the best gift EVER! It’s all I want from now on! (as though you assume the original gift was a long-lasting one, not a 4-month term only.)
    If you work hard for your money, maybe $12/month for car radio is not worth it. If someone gave me a Sirius unit, I’d sell it and go back to listening to CBC radio, instead of having another monthly bill that will never end.

  4. centsprout March 17, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    i wouldn’t give a gift that keeps costing unless i intended to pay for those costs! for example a yearly magazine subscription that i renewed for the person every year or something like that.

    as for what you should do with the gift, i like the idea that was suggested by a previous commenter to see if you can get any money from it by reselling it.

  5. alikat76 March 18, 2008 at 5:40 am

    I just checked eBay and Sirius Sportster 5 Satellite Radio kits are going for $100 or more! You can sell it and then not feel bad about having an expensive box that doesn’t work without paying $14 a month!

    Would I sell it our not? Depends on how much I love it and can I give up something else to offset the cost….one less new book, 3 less Starbucks….and so on.

    Would I give a gift with monthy fees attached….only if the person had said they wanted it!

  6. Susan March 19, 2008 at 8:28 am

    It’s a nice gesture to let you try some new technology and see how you like it. It’s a nice gift if you know the person would appreciate the opportunity to try some thing new. If they like it enough to keep it, then good, if not, they may apprecaite the experience of trying it out. In this case, you got to experience something new, and if you decide it’s not worth the expense to keep it then ebay it for a profit…..that’s a pretty sweet gift, actually!

    Try listening to podcasts. There are tons of FREE ones to download to an inexpensive mp3 player. You can find ones you like such as the MONEY BLOGGER PODCAST (needs to update, but great info!)

  7. fox March 19, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Chris: Um, go read what Chickadee so kindly wrote. I couldn’t have said it better myself. 😉

    Emily: You are so right about both routes having positives. The sentimental side in me feels terrible I even question the gift…while my frugal side shouts out “hey, what gives!”

    Chickadee, alikat76: Can you imagine I never even thought of selling it? The thought failed to cross my gift horsey mind. I love that idea. Snicker. Thank you so much for looking up the prices on eBay too alikat76! You just blew my brain…cause for some silly reason I just thought the device would become a useless piece of crap once disconnected from the service. I am so slapping myself in the forehead. 😉

    Susan: You are indeed right about the kind gesture of my family to allow me to try something new. I am still snickering on the thought of eBaying it too. Ohh, and I am so checking out this podcast site you list. Thank you!

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  9. Investing & Passive Income March 24, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I’d hock it on ebay and get an mp3 receiver instead. but thats just me. alternatively, you could hint that next year you want them to pay for an annual subscription instead of getting you a gift.

  10. Finance Girl March 24, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I think it’s rude to give a gift like that unless you plan on paying the monthly bill. But I’m sure they had good intentions.

  11. Mr. Cheap March 25, 2008 at 8:18 am

    I have an uncle who got his wife one of those “foster children” in a developing country for Christmas. Nice gift, here’s a ongoing charitable donation that you’ll be obligated to pay for the next 18 years.

    The Cheaps were all stunned.

    If the service isn’t worth the $0.50 a day its costing you, I’d sell it on EBay, thank the giver for their thoughtfulness but just tell them the ongoing service wasn’t worth what Sirius is charging.

  12. Seren Dippity December 2, 2008 at 8:02 am

    I know. Comments to an old post, but I’m researching gift ideas and this came up.

    I have given gifts such as the sirius subscription before to “family” especially my parents or older people who I know have the $$ in their budget for the monthly fee. Problem is they are tech hesitant. I KNEW my parents would love TIVO but they didn’t have a clue what it was or why they would like it. I gave them a receiver and a one year subscription. I taught them how to use it and then I explained in detail how I would be available to help as they learned it and if they didn’t like it I would uninstall it with no questions asked.

    I was correct, they love it. I did the same thing with a netflix subscription for a relative who was not as mobil and he once was and depended on others for errands. The concept of movies delivered to his door was amazing to him and he was thankful for the service. But in both cases neither would have tried it even if I had explained it in detail without actually seeing how it worked for them. “Oh, I don’t need that.” Mom would say right after complaining about missing her favorite news show because of unexpected drop in company.

    (This was back at he beginning of both companies when they _were_ new!)

    I remember a story my uncle told about the time him and all the sibs chipped in and bought grandma a clothes dryer. She said that it was a silly piece of expensive machinery and why would you buy that when drying clothes cost nothing hanging them on the line. Within a year, she would have fought you if you tried to take it away. She raved about the time savings. (Yes, this was before environmental issues and high energy costs)

    There are reasons to give this kind of gift, but you are right in that it is something that should be considered carefully. I agree with the poster that says it was a nice gesture to let you try some new technology and see how you like it.

    I like giving gifts of experiences. Tickets to theater. Trips. And, yes, new technology that they wouldn’t have tried without a nudge.

    And four months of enhanced commute time is a pretty good gift, even if you don’t continue or can’t sell the equipment. Heck of a lot better than a doodad that collects dust or doesn’t match your decor.

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