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Let's consider the following situation: a family member has offered to buy me a given object as a gift, for example a table, with a given budget, for example 500€ (random object and amount of money).

I am to pick the precise kind of table I'd like. Let's now imagine that I have found a table that I love but that it costs 750€.

How can I add the missing 250€ myself without seeming ungrateful and/or hurting the person's feelings?

Of course if the person gives me money and lets me buy the table myself there is no problem as I could just pay for the difference directly, but I would like to know how to handle this situation if the person wishes to go shop for the gift herself or together with me.

What I would like to achieve is that

  • The person contributes to whatever extent is comfortable for her, even lower than the initial amount offered (and I'm very grateful for that)
  • I add the missing money without hurting the person
  • I get the table I like
  • 4
    What makes you think that the family member would be offended by adding your own money to fill the gap? – Baksteen Oct 25 '18 at 14:02
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    @Baksteen My assumption was that this person could feel like I'm implying that they're being cheap and/or that I'm not happy with their gift. – Ellcyy Oct 25 '18 at 16:36
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Pretend like everything is totally normal.

Because frankly, it kind of is. Why would it bother them for you to add extra money on top to get your preferred table? Maybe they'd feel inadequate?

The obvious solution then is to make a best-effort, casual attempt to make sure they don't feel inadequate.

Thank them profusely for their assistance with purchasing this table that you have just absolutely fallen in love with and that you can't express enough gratitude for them taking on a whopping two-thirds of the price!

If you're excited about it, show them! If you aren't, then get excited! It's worth being excited over! Share that enthusiasm with them. Show them the table you like, explain why you like it, show your appreciation by brightening their day.

This kind of tactic has always worked well for me because it is genuine and refocuses the attention of the conversation away from "I'll just add a bit on top because that wasn't enough" towards "Wow!! Thanks so much for your help!" which is entirely true. Could you imagine feeling bad when the person you offered to help is so genuinely thankful? :)

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