With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, and since romance has a way of fogging our financial sensibilities, MSN is out with a helpful story about gift giving. According to researchers at Stanford University, gift recipients tend to appreciate inexpensive gifts as much as expensive gifts. Researchers explain that gift givers usually have a number of items they are choosing among. When debating between buying a cashmere sweater from a boutique and a wool sweater at a department store, for example, they assume that the cashmere sweater will make the recipient happier. However, recipients don’t know all the options that were considered. So, a wool sweater goes over just fine. In fact, gift recipients tend to believe the gifts they receive cost less than they actually did.
The article’s author summed up the research this way: “Knowing that friends, neighbors and loved ones don’t peg their appreciation of a gift to its price tag is like having a Get Out of Nordstrom Free card.”
I have to believe there are exceptions to this rule – that a bow-topped car in the driveway will be received a bit differently than a box of chocolates. However, if you find yourself stuck debating whether to buy your sweetheart the reasonably priced sedan or the high-priced sports car – or, for that matter, Fannie Mae vs. Godiva – you’re probably going to be just fine either way.