How Much to Spend on Gifts.
The first time you buy her a gift is tricky, especially if it’s for a holiday like Christmas where you will both be buying a present for each other. You don’t want to look like a cheapskate if she gives you much more than you got for her. And you don’t want to make her feel bad (or weird) by giving her more than she gives you. Early in a relationship, I suggest that a first gift for a birthday or Christmas not exceed $50 and should be only one item. If it’s Christmas where she is also giving you a gift and she spends less than you, it’s not so awkward if all you’ve given her is one item. And if she spends more than you, take her out to a nice restaurant and pay. Or take her to The Nutcracker or other holiday-related show.
Other Money Matters
Unless there is a very large discrepancy in your incomes, which happens only rarely, it should pretty much come out evenly. It may not always be a straight dollar-for-dollar exchange. Maybe you take her out to a nice dinner, and she cooks you a nice dinner at her house. That’s even. If you really want to go on an expensive vacation with her and you know or suspect she can’t afford it, it’s appropriate for you to offer to take more than half of the financial burden if you can afford to. How will you know she can’t afford something? Even if she keeps her money matters private, she’ll say “I can’t afford to do that right now.” And you should do the same: tell her if you can’t afford to fly to Hawaii. Don’t make a big deal out of it. She doesn’t necessarily need to know the ins and outs of your financial status and why you can’t afford to go.
Up on Friday: Sharing Space