"Without asking, my grandfather just bought me a car."

Reader Mail - Help!So I got an email from a friend of mine this weekend, and she’s faced with an interesting quandary.

Usually I can come up with some sort of advice (especially when it comes to money) but this one’s got me stumped, and I’m hoping you guys can chime in and offer her up some of your own words of wisdom :)

Here’s what she wrote, followed by my own helpful-but-not-really thoughts on the matter myself:

Hey J,

It’s Brandi from – Brandi’s Healthy Journey.

I have a dilemma… kind of. If you haven’t read up on the blog recently my car exploded on the highway. I’ve had tons of people helping me out by lending me a car, taking me to work etc etc. This includes a few people looking for car options for me. These people have been great in sending me links to cars. Taking what I know I can afford and listening to what I want.

However, without asking me, my grandfather just today went out and bought me a car. He BOUGHT me a CAR. And he won’t tell me how much it was (prolly at LEAST 2000 more than I told him I would pay) and he will only let me pay him the original $2500 I was budgeting for.

Now this has graciousness and awesomeness written all over it. However, to me it doesn’t feel like a gift. I feel as if I’m going to owe him. I can’t afford to owe him more than the $2500 I budgeted for. I also can’t live with myself knowing that I do owe him. I didn’t WANT this. I was working through it on my own. I was proud of how well I was handling it and I was going to be really proud when I found myself a deal I could handle and do it without having to owe anyone money. Well at least serious money.

So I’m asking u for advice. I don’t know what to do. I tried talking to him about WHY I didn’t want to buy a more expensive car before he went and did this and he did it anyway. Am I just being proud? Am I being stupid and ungrateful? I just feel as if he’s cut the legs out from under me. I told him what i was looking for and what I wanted and that I would pay for it. And now, I feel as if he disregarded everything I asked and just did what he thought was best because ‘I didn’t know any better’.

What should I do? What CAN I do?

Thanks Dude,

Tough one, right? My instinct was to tell her to accept it now that it’s already happened, but to make sure her grandfather truly knows how she feels about the whole thing (that she’s thankful, but also very upset). Unfortunately though it wouldn’t solve her problem with the budgeting aspect, nor the feelings on paying him back (or not).

I then wondered if there was a way she could just return the car? If that were a possibility, she could remain thankful but politely decline the car, show she’s a strong person, and then find the car she really wants without any more “paying back” worries! She thinks the only way she could return it at this point, though, is if she were to sell it her herself and then pay him back with the proceeds. Plus, she still doesn’t know how much her grandfather even paid for it, nor how insulted he would be.

So, my dear readers, what do YOU think? She’s given me permission to post this up, and is really looking for some honest to goodness feedback here :) Thanks guys!

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  1. Leslie August 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    I advise to accept it and pay him the $2,500 you had budgeted. Your grandfather wants to help you and probably feels very good that 1) he is able to help you out of a dire situation, 2) you now have a nicer car that you (and he) will feel safer in. Accepting this gift does not make you weak. If you flat out do not like the car or think it will be too expensive to repair down the road, trade it in and downgrade in a year.

    On a more personal note, this situation has given me excellent perspective since I was actually considering buying my dad a newer car. The car he drives now is old, breaks down often and is just a money pit. Also, I feel that it is unsafe and get very nervous if he drives long distances in it. Giving him a newer car would put my mind at ease. However, I hadn’t quite thought through how he would feel about accepting such a gift. Thanks, Brandi, for showing me the other side. Good luck!

  2. J. Money August 19, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Oh man, I wish all the comments from before were still here! (lost ’em when went from blogger to wordpress). She ended up accepting the car and everything worked out great in the end :) Can’t remember what she did w/ the budgeted money, but there was def. a happy ending… glad you got something out of it too Leslie!