About Veronica Hill

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The Best of Pelican on Money 2012

Money – it controls our lives, determines our happiness in some ways more than others, and makes us live out our dreams or huddle in depression.

In the short existence of this blog, I have been trying to explore this powerful force of human creation to figure out how to best manage it.

How do we use money to work for us? How do we make more of it, spend less, save more and invest? Perhaps making more money is not the answer? These are all the difficult questions I’ve been trying to find answers to.

With a new year on the horizon, my curiosity about money and its powerful influence on our lives has only grown. Thanks to all of you who have subscribed, shared posts on Twitter or Facebook and fueled meaningful discussion in comments, Pelican on Money lives.

Thank you!

Before moving on to a new year that is likely to be full of blogging adventures, I would like to highlight some of the most popular and most read posts of 2012. Here’s what sparked the most conversation and attracted the most curiosity in 2012:

1) 34 Money Tips from Top Personal Finance Bloggers

Who better to give personal finance tips than yourself? I wanted to hear what you had to say and you were kind enough to give us your best advice on how to manage money.

2) 10 Habits of Successful People

As humans, we learn by imitating others. We did it as babies and continue doing it as adults. Successful people set good examples for us to follow. We can only hope that imitating them will lead to better money management and wealth creation.

3) Making Money from Home – Is it Possible?

One of my goals is to figure out how to make extra money from home. I shared my personal experiences from the past and discussed some of the challenges that keep us from achieving our goal of earning money while working at home.

4) 10 Cheapest Cars of 2013

The most popular post on Pelican on Money shows what type of vehicles are out there that keep our spending to a minimum. Most of us rely on driving to get us to work, and many choose the cheapest cars available to get the task done.

5) 10 Cheap and Practical Gift Card Ideas that Don’t Suck

We all want to show our loved ones how much we care about them. This holiday many chose to opt in for practical gift cards that save money yet make our loved ones feel appreciated.

I hope you enjoyed reading these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them. Blue Pelican (offering online payday loans) would never be the way that it is today without you.

Happy Holidays!

Happy New Year!


Sometimes It’s Better to Pay Up

You’re being charged a late fee and your outstanding bill is going into collections.

Do you spend several days arguing the mistake someone in charge of your bill has made, or pay up the late fee and entire balance due?

This is the situation I found myself in a couple of weeks back.

The Situation

The Situation

Upon moving to a new town, I sent in a written request to terminate my utilities and send my last bill to my new address (policy promoted by the city).

I have sent many such mail correspondences in the past to pay my utilities, but somehow they failed to receive my request this time. I wonder how many other people have no problems sending money without being lost but receive late fees when their move-out request doesn’t “come through”.

Three months later I receive a notice that my bill has been transferred to collections department with a new fee attached.

Somehow in the process of moving I had forgotten to keep an eye out on the last bill. Despite my carelessness (the lack of which would likely prevent this situation), the last bill was never sent to my new address. I know this because the collection notice I received was forwarded to me by USPS. It was clear my address was never updated in the city’s records.

Who Is At Fault?


I’m part to blame for this, but the city should have been much nicer when I kindly asked them to remove the fee from my account. However, even after explaining nicely what happened, they rudely refused to do anything about it.

The lady on the phone was a total (pardon my language) bitch.

I explained to her that I have every intention of paying the last bill in full right now, but would have nothing to do with an unfairly assessed fee because somehow my mail didn’t make it there.

In all honesty I realize that there may have been mishandling of my letter and that the city might have had nothing to do with lost correspondence. I was even prepared to pay the late fee just to get the ordeal over with. Who can blame me for trying to talk some sense into an account representative and try to negotiate a deal?

I guess she has never heard of that word: negotiation.

Instead, she proceeded to give me an attitude when no hostility has been expressed on my part.

Normally, this sort of behavior from someone who wants my money would result in complete retaliation. I could have insulted the agent, ruin her day, refuse to pay and fight it to the end.

Lucky For Them… Or For Me?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I let the whole thing go.

In one outcome I could raise hell, not pay anything and wait for the matter to go into collections. The city threatened court appearance fees which I could stubbornly put up with. I could fight it to the very end, and stand a pretty good chance at winning.

Or… I could forfeit my stubbornness, accept the fact that it might not be anyone’s fault and let them have it their way. I could pay the bill with the fee and avoid days or weeks of stress that would certainly follow by having this stress on my mind.

I chose the second outcome. The next day everything was paid up. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with the same soul-less wraith this time.

Did I Make the Right Decision?

In retrospect, would the $30 fee be worth the stress of making things right?

Heck no.

The matter could escalate over time with growing fees. My credit score could have been harmed if an outside collections agency got involved. Who knows, there is even a possibility that I’d be forced to take out a payday loan from lenders I work with. Overall it was a clear loss-loss for me. What made it a lesser loss is my action of taking care of the matter quickly.

Sometimes it’s just better to swallow your pride no matter who is at fault, then make right by your obligations.

Have you had anything like this happen to you?


Powerful Lessons Learned in Starting an Online Store (Part 2)

This is the 2nd part of the two-part interview with Grayson Bell of Debt Roundup. If you you missed part 1, please see below:

The first part of the interview discusses important issues you should know about before starting an online store. Without making this a huge intro to an already lengthy (but very interesting) post, here’s part two:

 7. When you talk about the extra effort you put into customer service to keep your customers happy, can you give any examples?

Shipping Hassles

The one thing that I learned is that if you use a third party service to help you with your website, may it be shipping (UPS/Fedex), site search, email marketing, etc., you are responsible for how they perform.  Customers do not care that UPS lost a package.  Hey purchased from you and you shipped via UPS.  They still want their package.  There were many cases where I would have to ship out another product to a customer while I was still battling the shipping carrier to find the lost package.  That was money out of my pocket, but as long as the customer got their order, then it all worked out in the end.

Customers do not care that UPS lost a package.

There was one instance that I will always remember.  I had a customer who was handicapped and required the shipping company to bring the package indoors.  This customer had been ordering from my website for quite some time, so I knew the circumstances of the orders.

There was one instance when this customer purchased something from another website that ended up not shipping the product.  The customer battled with them for quite some time, so then decided to just order it from me.  My price was a little more, like $1, but I had it shipped and delivered the next day due to the customers proximity to my shipping warehouse.  The other order also arrived the same day out of no where.

Not all customers will cause you headaches, but the ones that do will really put you through the ringer.

The customer called me and wanted to return the product, but would require that I setup a pickup.  My shipper wouldn’t do it because of the cost of the item ($15), so I told the customer that I would take care of it and I refunded their order, while leaving them the product.  While I took a hit for $15, I had won a customer that ended up purchasing a lot more from me.

8. What was the most difficult part of running an eCommerce store, that most people don’t realize?

Jack of All Trades

The most difficult part is that you are running the whole show.  You are the owner, operator, CEO, CFO, COO, marketing, customer service, lost prevention, orders and delivery.  Everything.  There are so many more facets to running an e-commerce store than just setting up a website and then adding products.  You are competing with some of the best online stores and they are there to take your customers away from you.  You have to constantly fight and make sure you win or you will not survive.  It is a cut-throat business.

Another very difficult thing is dealing with customers.  While customers are the one that pay you, they are also a very difficult aspect.  Not all customers will cause you headaches, but the ones that do will really put you through the ringer.  Running a business is the best way to learn about people.  You will find out that some are not very bright, some know how to get what they want, and others just go with the flow.  Since your reputation is on the line, you have to please each and every customer.

There will be times where you cannot please a customer, but you have to do what you think it right.  We are all trying to make money, but make sure you treat the customers with respect and deal with their situation in the same way as you would want a store to deal with you.

You will always make mistakes, just try not to make costly ones.

Running a store is not easy and I would never tell anyone that it is.  There are many websites out there that sell the “dream” of being your own boss and making money running an e-commerce store, but those don’t even tell you half the picture about how hard it is. Now that I work full time in e-commerce marketing, I know how much these retailers pay to get customers.  I would never have been able to keep up with them.

9. Were there any mistakes you made, or did things that you now know should have been done different?

Contractor HeadachesYes, Yes, Yes!  I made so many mistakes that it was not even funny. There is no way that you can run an e-commerce store and not make a mistake. You just have to make sure that you don’t make the costly ones.

Mistake #1: Not Researching an Advertising Opportunity

The most costly mistakes I made were when I wouldn’t fully vet or research an advertising opportunity. I rarely made my money back when I went all in on a “great” advertising opportunity. I learned a lot about those and realized that they didn’t fit my website. I should have always remembered that “if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is”. You can get caught up in the thought of making a lot of money by advertising here and there, but sometimes the customers just don’t convert. You have to be smart with your money.

Just remember that if it’s not in your marketing budget, then don’t do it.

Mistake #2: Dealing with Contractors

The other mistakes I made were dealing with contractors for my website. There were many times when I needed to change or add something to my website and the coding change was beyond my skill level. I would contract the work out. Instead of getting all of my projects together in one, I would usually do them one at a time.  This was costly, not only with paying for each contractor, but also dealing with down times to deploy the code.

Your passion is what drives your business.

You have to go into this thinking that you will make mistakes. Just learn from them and don’t make them again. Once you start getting larger, people will come at you from all angles with sponsorship advertising opportunities, and many other things that will make your head spin. Just remember that if it’s not in your marketing budget, then don’t do it!

10.  If you could give three tips to help others establish their own store, what would they be?

Tip #1: Take the time to properly setup a business before you start selling online.

It is important to protect yourself from any issues that may come about from your company. I learned that if you sell a product and that product hurts someone, then the manufacturer along with anyone part of the supply chain can be sued. This means you, since you were the last part of the supply chain. Protect yourself and your business by setting up the proper business type.

Tip #2:  Get into a niche that you enjoy and are passionate about.

Do not try to sell products just because they have a high-profit margin. Your passion is what drives your business. If you sell products that you know nothing about and don’t really care about, then how can you properly sell them to your customers? Many people go into business with the dream of making money. I say go into business to fuel your passion and the money will come later.

I also really enjoyed making customers happy.

Tip #3: Research and start out small.

When I first started, I pushed a few products online via eBay. I wanted to know how well my products would sell at the price point I needed. After testing and researching which products sold, I expanded to a larger product set and put them all on my website.  I sold on my website, on eBay, on Amazon, and on Buy.com. There were other places that I sold too, but I started out small and wanted to make sure that I could succeed. No matter what product you want to sell, you are going to face competition. Test yourself against your competition.

11. Was there anything you really enjoyed at the time of selling products online?

Your Business is Your Baby

Yes, every sale! When you build an e-commerce store from scratch, you have a lot of pride in it. You get excited with every order that comes in. You love the milestones of the first order, first $100, first $1000, first $100,000, and so on. This is your baby and you cherish it.  As your sales pickup, so will your passion to continue.  I also really enjoyed making customers happy.  There are many online stores that don’t really care about customer service. This is not my philosophy and I worked very hard to make my customers happy. When I could put their mind at ease and help them out, it was all worth it to me. I lost money helping some customers, but their positive reviews made it all better in the end.

12. Why did you close up shop?

This was a tough decision for me. I had gotten to a point where I was making good money, but the time commitment was increasing. I had also hit the point where I no longer enjoyed what I was doing. The customers were slowly destroying my excitement level and the work load was getting extreme. I also was making enough money to support myself and my family, but in order to grow more, I needed help. This help would have cost me money, which I didn’t have at the moment. I would have had to take a pay cut in order to hire someone and that wasn’t in the cards for me.

You will not make money overnight, you have to stick with it.

The final straw was when my work began to consume my life. I was newly married and the online store was taking a toll on that. My health had started to deteriorate because I wasn’t eating properly and not exercising.

These factors pushed me to take back control of my life and shut down the business. As I stated before, I still own the website and it runs today. It just runs on auto-pilot while making affiliate commissions. I figured I would let it run on the 4 years of work that I put into it.

13. Would you recommend others try starting their own e-commerce business? Why or why not?

I am an entrepreneur at heart. I think everyone should try to run a business if they are passionate about running one. E-commerce might sound easy, but it is not. You work just as hard with an online store as you would starting a brick-and-mortar store. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you have the passion and think you can succeed, then I say go for it.

Differentiate yourself from your competition.

Please just make sure you understand that time commitment involved. Also, understand that it will cost a pretty penny to setup and get it to a point where it is bringing in income.  You will not make money overnight and you might not make much in the first few months.  If you have a problem sticking with something for the long haul, then an e-commerce business might not be for you.

14.   Any last thoughts?

It's Hard Work

Don’t believe the hype out there that shows you how easy running an e-commerce store is. I have never met any retailer that was able to get their shop up and running and start making sales as easily as advertised by some. It is very hard work that takes a lot of time, money, and resources. If you don’t know how to code websites, deal with databases, and many other things, then you should take the time to learn the basics. It will save you time and money in the long run.

 It is very hard work that takes a lot of time, money, and resources.

If you have a dream of running an online store, then pursue it. Just make sure that you research all the appropriate avenues and test your theory before deploying it. I wish I had someone to talk to before I started my online store. It would have saved me hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.

Never get too excited that you forget to research every aspect of your decision. Starting a business is not a decision that should be taken lightly. You can succeed in business if you have passion and motivation.

You also need a good product or service. The next step is to differentiate yourself from your competition. You will not be successful if you cannot show your customers how you will be different than your competitors.  It is a fact of business.

I hope this interview was helpful to you in some way or another. If you have any questions for Grayson, please leave them in the comments. Brought to you by Blue Pelican via Veronica.

Powerful Lessons Learned in Starting an Online Store (Part 1)

For those of you who enjoyed last week’s post on Pros and Cons of Making Money With an Online Store, Blue Pelican Loans brings to you a very special post today.

Over the weekend I had a chance to interview Grayson Bell of Debt Roundup. Grayson started his own electronics online store (one of the most competitive niches out there) and turned it into a full-time job that supported his family. He answered some tough questions few people bother sharing their experiences about when trying to sell you the dream of running your own e-commerce store.

Debt Roundup

The interview is a bit lengthy so I split it up into two parts. The first part consists of 6 questions and covers these topics:

  1. What kind of income can you expect with an online store?
  2. Benefits of licensed vs. hosted e-commerce platforms.
  3. Types of e-commerce platforms.
  4. How much work online store entail.
  5. Inventory challenges.
  6. Drop shipping vs. shipping on your own.
  7. Drop shipping rip-offs to avoid.
  8. Challenges of dealing with fraud.
  9. Type of investment necessary to get things up and running.

It is worth every second of your time if you have thought of or planned selling products online. Grayson gives the kind of honest responses that will save you a lot of time and money! None of the links here contain any affiliate id’s. You’re getting real, unbiased in formation. If you want to start an online store, you don’t want to miss this information!

1. Tell me about your store a little bit. When did you start it? What kind of products were you selling and how long did you have the store running?

I started Overdrive Electronics (www.overdriveelectronics.com) in December of 2005.  It was started when I was a senior in college.  I went to college in a small town that only had one retailer for our electronics purchases.  I never found this retailer to have an adequate selection, so I decided to get into e-commerce and sell consumer electronics.  I was a business major with a concentration in marketing, and I knew technology quite well, so I figured I would do well.  My store was up and running from December of 2005 to December of 2009.

Electronics Overdrive

Please note that the website is still live.  I actually receive affiliate commissions from the links that are randomly on the site.  I don’t keep the site up anymore, but it is a nice little bit of extra income on the side.

2. Did you manage to make a full time wage with this venture?

It took 3 years before I made a full time wage with Overdrive Electronics.  I was selling over 1 million dollars’ worth of merchandise for the 3rd and 4th years of the website. Electronics has a very low profit margin due to the competition and the manufacturer restrictions.  I won’t discuss how much I brought home, but it was in the 5 figures.

3. Which e-commerce platform did you use and why?

This question is quite tricky because I went through many different platforms before I finally decided on one in the 3rd year.  I started out with AscenderCart which was a hosted shopping cart that you could plugin to your pages.  It was just like a PayPal buy now button.  They provided you with the html code to insert into your website.  Their software has changed quite a bit since I used it.

While licensed software is more expensive upfront, it gives you much more flexibility than a hosted solution will provide you.

When I first started, I didn’t have the knowledge of building websites.  I built each individual product page by hand.  It was time consuming, but I learned a lot.  It helped me learn html coding very quickly.

After Ascender cart, I looked around between hosted and licensed platforms.  There is a large debate between the two and I decided to go with a licensed platform from SumEffect Software called digiSHOP.  The main reason I went with a licensed platform was due to the ability to customize the website and shopping cart experience at any time.  With most hosted solutions, you can only edit and change certain parts of the website and its functions.  You can only add certain types of code and many other restrictions.  I felt like I wanted to be able to grow my store and not have to worry about upgrading my hosted store every time I hit their milestone.

digiSHOP E-commerce Software

While licensed software is more expensive upfront, it gives you much more flexibility than a hosted solution will provide you.  I purchased a license for SumEffect for $800 to be installed on my PHP and MySQL server.

After about a year and a half, I decided that I needed to change to a different licensed shopping cart.  While I was able to do a lot of things with SumEffect’s code, I found out that it was poorly coded.  There were many things that would case my site to slow down and not handle a lot of traffic.  It had outgrown its original purpose.

After some searching, I found the shopping cart that the website used for its last 2 years of existence and that was from Interspire, which now also runs BigCommerce.  It appears that you cannot even get their licensed version anymore, it is only hosted.

I would recommend that anyone interested in starting a store to do as much research as you can.

The Interspire shopping cart had better features, easier to code templates and much more order flexibility along with an easier to design website.  I liked all the features.  It cost me $1,200 to upgrade to this shopping cart.  I made that money back in less than two weeks after I launched the new site.

4. What was your experience with on / offline retail prior to getting into e-commerce for yourself?

My experience was pretty limited before starting my store.  I had worked in a retail store when I was a teenager and I took one e-commerce marketing class in college.  I jumped into it because I knew the trends of e-commerce were growing and wanted to try my hand at being a business owner.  This lack of knowledge hurt me in the beginning because I had no idea of all the ins and outs of e-commerce and marketing to prospective customers.  I would recommend that anyone interested in starting a store to do as much research as you can.

Marketing is very expensive and many forget about it or don’t realize it.

Check out books from the library, ask other e-commerce shop owners, and just take your time before jumping in.

5. What kind of investment do you need to start your own online store?

This topic can vary widely for many.  I have seen articles online where people were able to start their store for as low at $300.  I was not in that boat.  The biggest investment you will make is with your time.  I worked on my website day in and day out.  I worked after my full-time job and on the weekends.  I would work until 3 a.m., get up for work, come home, and get back to work until 3 a.m.  It was a viscous cycle.  After all was said and done, I ended up investing about $5000 in my store.  It cost me money for hosting my website, then I had to find a shopping cart platform.  After that, I needed to find inventory.  After inventory, I had to market my website.  I performed the SEO myself, which saved money, but it still costs money to put yourself where your competitors are.

Marketing is very expensive and many forget about it or don’t realize it.  If you want to sell your goods on eBay or Amazon, it costs money.  It is not free.

You should never have to pay a membership fee to get drop shipping inventory.

I paid a lot of money for great tools to help convert more customers. I upgraded my site search to a third party platform.  I added conversion tools and many other 3rd party tools to get my website to a point where it would compete with the larger electronics e-commerce stores.  I even invested in a third-part email marketing software.  All of these things cost money, and they are not cheap.

6. What were some of the challenges of starting an online store?

Where do I begin with this one.  The main challenge is sticking to your plan.  It is very discouraging to work very hard each day and not really see results.  With selling electronics, there was so much competition that it was hard to break through.  I had to differentiate myself by providing awesome customer service day and night.  This was the only thing that kept customers coming back.  It wasn’t the price or the selection, it was the service they received.  That was what I build my store reputation on.

Another challenge is finding inventory.  You have to decide if you want to dropship or take on inventory.  If you want to carry inventory, then your start-up costs will shoot through the roof.  It is not cheap to house inventory.  For this reason, I chose drop shipping.  There is one thing that I will warn you about drop shipping and it is important.

Fighting fraud is expensive and it will cost you, no matter how careful you are.

Most places you find around the internet that offer drop-shipping are not legitimate or trust-worthy.  It took me almost a full year to find the two distributors that would provide my drop shipping service.  I only found them through a lot of investigative work and many hours of research.  They were actually real wholesale distributors that provided product to some of the biggest electronics retailers in the US.  It was a big win to get on board with them.

You should never have to pay a membership fee to get drop shipping inventory. I repeat, never!  These sites actually use the same distributor as I had and just marked up the products and charged you a membership fee. It was a rip-off and a scam.  The reason why they are successful is that it is very difficult to find a legitimate drop ship company.  They are out there and you just have to find them.  Most just charge you a fee per shipment, so like $3 per shipment, so you just have to make sure to tack that on top of your price or include it in your profit margin calculation.

Drop shipping can be great and it worked wonders for me and my website, but it may not be for everyone.  Just make sure you get a legitimate company.  Look to wholesalers and see if they provide drop shipping service.  Most will not advertise it on their website, so you would need to get in touch with a sales rep.

Another challenge that many people won’t tell you about is dealing with fraud.  Fraud is a multi-billion dollar industry that will hit every e-commerce site out there.  No matter what you sell, fraudsters will try to use someone else’s credit card and identity on your site.  If you get big enough, they will even try to hack your site for credit card numbers.  It is a fact of doing business online.  You need to make sure you get some very specific protocols on place to deal with orders that look suspicious. You will see them quickly in the beginning of your store because fraudsters know that a new store doesn’t have these protocols in place and the owners are just excited about getting a sale and getting a customer.  Fighting fraud is expensive and it will cost you, no matter how careful you are.

Tune in Tomorrow for More Lessons and Tips

Tomorrow you will find Part 2 of the interview with Grayson, in which he discusses the following:

  • The most difficult part of running an e-commerce store.
  • Biggest mistakes made and the best lessons learned.
  • Three awesome tips on how to avoid making common mistakes when you want to start an online store.
  • Insights on whether starting your own store is right for you.
  • Bonus tips on how to save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration!
Stay Tuned
Do you have any questions or comments for Grayson? Leave them in the comments below and hopefully he’ll address them for you!

LinkLuv Friday Missing Persons Edition

In case you haven’t noticed, comments and posts from Veronica went rogue the past couple of days.

Hmm, why am I using third person?

EggnogAnyway… I wish there was an interesting story to why I haven’t written anything but the truth is fairly simple – I took a break.

And it was GREAT!

In the spirit of Christmas (and eggnog) I took the liberty of giving myself a break. We always talk about how blogging can be very time consuming and not very financially rewarding, but never do anything about it. So… I took the time to work on some ideas I’ve been eagerly discussing here earlier. Well, there may have been some other activities going on, such as watching the entire “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series (original version) and a lot of sitting around on my butt.

Based on the lack of emails I typically receive about new posts, it seems many of you took a break today as well. Did we all have the same idea at the same time?

I did have a chance to read some blogs this week, many of which were fantastic! As always, it gives me great pleasure to highlight some of your masterpieces every week.

Your Awesome Posts this Week

Alright now. You have got to STOP WRITING AWESOME STUFF, because this is way too much linking going on here. But I can’t help it! Seriously, can you maybe take more breaks? Draining Blue Pelican website page rank, ugh. Hehe, pshhh who cares…!


I entered a bunch of carnivals this week. Most of them I can’t find now because they didn’t say who’s hosting, and others didn’t include my post. This is happening fairly often now and I’m not quite sure why? Maybe it’s the payday loan home page that spooks everyone. *sigh*

If I’m in your carnival and haven’t linked back to you, please let me know! I apologize for not making sure to know exactly which carnival I’m entering :(

Thanks for making this week an interesting one and not complaining about having to leave a comment here the last couple of days.

Did you watch any good movies lately? Any I should really see? Can you guess where this image below is from? :)


Has Your Boss Been Naughty or Nice?

With holidays around the corner, it’s natural to spend money on gifts for your family and friends.

What about work though? Should you get gifts for your co-workers and your boss? How much should you spend? What is an “appropriate” amount of money for work-related holiday expenses?

First Time Around

World's Greatest BossThis year will be my first holiday at my fairly new job. My boss is not a super awesome person but he is a decent person nevertheless. I’m friends with one co-worker and have fairly casual conversations with others. I’d like to keep my job for now and at the same time show appreciation via a holiday gift for my boss. A little appreciation can go a long way, especially in this economy where jobs are scarce.

The task at hand then is to figure out what is an appropriate gift and how much should it cost? Perhaps I don’t need to bother with one?

Ideal Price Range

To help me with this challenge, an old friend by the name of Google has come to the rescue. According to a poll at Job Central community, most people decide not to buy anything for their boss, while the vast majority of others polled say $20-50 is the ideal range for a gift to your superior. Those who refuse to buy gifts for their boss often note inappropriate or unfair behavior towards co-workers as the main reason for not gifting.

Modest Gifts are the Best

As someone who has been learning to appreciate living within my means, my gut feeling says spending shouldn’t exceed financial comfort level no matter how new or old the job is. Also, if I were to give a lavish gift to my boss, I may come off as a suck up. The last thing I would want to do is raise curiosity over whether I’m trying to overcompensate for something (like inadequate job performance).

There is also the question of how co-workers will receive me if they find out I gave my boss an expensive gift and they didn’t.

Like Family Like Friends

Typically I try not to exceed a $20 spending limit on holiday gifts unless I know a friend or a family member wants a specific gift that is outside of that limit. On those occasions I make exceptions.

It seems logical to apply the same limit on a gift for my boss as I would on a gift for a family member or a friend, assuming there are no special requests. As for co-workers – a holiday card should suffice. Avoiding lavish gifts will not only save me money, but also keep me from looking like an ass in front of people at work.

Being a huge fan of edible gifts, I figure a nice set of fancy chocolates or cookies might make a good gift. There is something biting into a nice, tasty treat that makes people feel appreciated.


What is the most you spent or willing to spend on a work-related holiday gift? Would you take out a payday loan just to afford a gift for someone you know?