HomeHelp MeBlessing or a curse?

Blessing or a curse?

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I got another little predicament to run by you peeps and would appreciate any and all advice. I’ll be on the road to Seattle in 12 days. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. As you already know, I’ll be living with my parents…awkward. Girl Ninja, however, is staying in San Diego and moving in to her friends’ parents house for the three and a half months we will be apart.

Girl Ninja has actually lived with them for a summer a few years back. They didn’t charge her rent then, and after meeting with the man of the house yesterday (let’s call him Mr. Landlord), it doesn’t appear they are interested in collecting rent from her/us this go around either.

Enter Male Ego:

I feel like this is a recurring thing for me, but yet again, I suck at accepting generosity. Part of me thinks “Heck yea, more money in the bank for us!” and the other part of me thinks “They are helping us out a ton by giving her a place to stay that’s safe, the least we could do is pay our fair share.” Girl Ninja and I have been paying $1,500/month for a one bedroom condo, so paying $200/month for a room in their home would still be a HUGE savings for us.

Enter predicament:

Here are a few circumstances in which I would have no issue accepting their free rent offer;

If… Girl Ninja was only staying for a few weeks or a month

If…we were struggling financially and didn’t have the ability to pay rent

If… I was already going to be paying rent on a place in Seattle

If… I was a tool and only looked out for my best interest

Girl Ninja is staying with them for almost four months, we are financially stable, I’ll be living rent free in Seattle, and last time I checked I’m not a tool…well okay, maybe I’m a quasi-tool, but that’s up for debate.

I was pretty clear with Mr. Landlord that we wanted to contribute in some way, shape, or form. He did throw me a bone and offered up a few suggestions; A) shut up and accept their generosity, B) pay $100/month so we don’t feel bad, C) make a charitable donation instead.

Enter solution?:

We have about 10 days to figure out what we are gonna do. I like the idea of donating to charity, but I would rather give them the money so they could choose where it goes. The only thing I’m sure of is we will be compensating them in some way shape or form. The question is how? Do we send a kid to Young Life camp in their name? Do we give them a check indicating we just didn’t feel comfortable not paying rent? Do we buy them a nice fruit basket/bottle of wine? If you were in our situation, what would you do?



  1. Write them a thank you card and inside the card, include a check with an amount that you are comfortable with. Leave the name blank and have Mr & Mrs Landlord fill it out and send to a charity of their choice. This nice couple is being very generous and maybe don’t need the money, you will now feel better that you gave them something and a charity will benefit.

  2. Do both (b) and (c). Give them the 100.00 per month that your wife will be staying with them (put their name on the cheque or not – your choice) and take an amount of the 6000.00 of the rent that you will be saving for 4 months and donate the required amount to send a kid to Youth Life to camp in their name. Looks like even when doing both you will be able to save about 4K; which will be handy for first and last months when girl Ninja arrives in Seattle in June/July.

  3. I don’t think I’d do the $100 per month. Instead, I’d try to find something that interests them and treat them along those lines. Would they enjoy dinner at a nice restaurant and a night at a hotel? Set it up for them. Are there bed and breakfasts that they might enjoy? Make it happen. Do they play golf? Spring for a round at a nice course they may not play. By doing something like that, it’s showing your appreciation in a way that goes above and beyond writing a check, whether it be to them or to charity. You could still donate some to charity as well if you felt that was appropriate. If there’s any left over, just keep it, count your good fortunes, and remember the situation when, maybe thirty years down the road, you’re able to offer someone the same type of generosity.

  4. I’m liking Money Beagle’s idea (a dinner and a hotel stay would be a lovely thank you gift), and perhaps a small donation to a charity in their name (or send a kid to Young Life camp). If Hubby and I were in a situation where we could offer the kind temporary living arrangement GN will be doing for 4 months, we’d be thrilled to receive the dinner/hotel stay; the charitable donation would be icing on the cake.

  5. NInja
    I was going to suggest offering them some money a few times and if they kept telling you no, then you should just forget about it and make sure to say thanks. However, after reading comments, I think I’d agree with beagle – find something that you know they’ll enjoy and make sure they get some of that.

  6. A thoughtful give that is something they like (let girl ninja pick it out… us women are just better at that lol) and a donation to a charity close to their heart is appropriate. Doing nothing is not! 🙂

  7. I’m going to go with the common theme on the first few posts – and that is, to get them a gift by purchasing something that they can go and do, an experience, that suits their particular tastes. Spend a few hundred dollars on that and then ask if they would accept spending the rest to send a kid to Young Life camp on their behalf.

  8. I assume GN will also be helping to buy groceries, clean the house, prepare meals, etc? In addition to that, I agree with the other comments about donating to a charity they love and treating them to something they like.

  9. I’d give them a card expressing your gratitude for their generosity and let them know you’re going to be sponsoring a child to go to Young Life camp in their honor. GN will of course want to do her best to show how thankful you guys are by doing all she can to help with the home – cleaning, cooking, etc but I’m sure she’s already going to do that.

    They are wanting to bless you guys so just be accepting of their gift. Paying for it directly (against their leaving them $1,000) will probably take away the effect on their end and might rob them of the joy of giving.

  10. I have been in your situation before – and will be again. I have friends that I have stayed with in another city whilst completing courses towards my degree. When I’m on a course that requires me to be on campus and attending regular classes they offer a room and food to me. I do a major chore they haven’t the time for each week (for example cleaning a home is always on the back burner so once I week I sweep the house out, dust and where appropriate vacuum what I can). Other times I take a look at the grocery situation and purchase the household groceries for the week so neither of them have to do it. At the end of my stay – they won’t accept money from me until I’m on a full semester work load and then it’s the $200 a month to cover things to help them out – I leave a handwritten note and a gift certificate to a nice restaurant in town, and a bottle of their favourite wine for them. It gives them a thank you for their hospitality, and lets them have a date night on me together.

    Since they tossed you a bone at the end, I would write a check for $500 now and hand it to them, explaining you would like to cover at least part costs for the amenities girl ninja will be using while staying with them. At the end of her stay I would write a heart-felt handwritten thank you note and leave them one “gift” you know they will absolutely love with your thank you. Whether that’s a charity donation, or a date night, a bottle of wine and a meal picnic basket for the two of them to share at a later time, or simply a second check for another amount for them to decide what to do with the money is really up to you. Though I’ve found that the unexpected handwritten note and a ready-made date night is often the best gift of all because it can be extremely personalized and is often absolutely unexpected. And gives you something to ask them about in future communications.

  11. Good morning Ninja,

    I agree with Money Beagle and Finding My Way. Giving cash/rent to a family friend who doesn’t want it can be somewhat awkward because it goes a bit against their intention of having your wife stay with them for free, and given that they are Mr. and Mrs. Landlords it feels like you should respect their wish in this regard. That said, giving them a thank you gift seems entirely appropriate, and if you’re mentally budgeting $300+ for rent then you can get them something quite significant.

    The idea of a date night is always a good one, as is a gift certificate to an expensive restaurant that they wouldn’t normally go to themselves is equally good.

  12. Much agreed with many of your commenters (Jared, Beagle and FMY) that perhaps cash isn’t the best route here. Getting them a great thank you gift can go a long way – perhaps at the end of your stay, get them a hotel and night out in the city, or even a wine-of-the-month-club if they’re into that sort of thing.

    If they’re real friends (or family), they know at the end of the day if they need help then you’re there for them too. Just take this as a sign to help save you more money in your own pocket.

  13. You could always say thank you. Save up the cash money (say $200 bucks a month) then give it to them in the end with a check. They can tear it up if they want or cash it. If they tear it up. Send a real fancy gift basket (spend a few hundred bucks on it).

  14. He gave you the option to donate. Make a donation, feel good about yourself, and write it off on your taxes next year

    • Not necesarily, Kevin. The donation is deductible only if Ninja is donating directly to a qualified charity himself. And he can’t deduct unless he’s able to itemize, which means he + GN filing jointly must exceed the standard deduction threshold of $11,600. If he gives the money for Landlord to use as a donation, then it’s a gift and not a donation, and therefore not a taxable event.

  15. Ninja, where is the pf substance? It’s been lacking lately. Your tie-ins are getting thinner as time goes on!

    Just a concerned reader..

  16. I can’t add much to what’s been said above, but would like to put in my two cents about the impetus for your post. I think it’s very sweet that your self-described “male ego” is nagging at you. That’s kind of what I was trying to capture in my post today, that the good guys out there want to take care of the women they love – and their family and friends. I kind of worry people will think I’m sexist, or backwards, but oh well. Glad to see there are good guys out there, and that chivalry isn’t dead.

  17. Make a donation to something you know they care about. If it is Younglife then heck ya send a kid to camp. If it’s cancer donate to a person walking the 3 day cancer walk. I think if they did not want to charge you rent and you gave them a check to donate they would feel odd since they asked you to donate to charity. Also, you may be called upon to do the same for someone in the future and they would have shown you a great sample of generosity to base your situation on.

    12 days oh my!

  18. There several things she can do. She can buy groceries, or take them out for dinner a couple time per month. She can provide them services such cleaning the house, babysitting or cooking. Last, when she moves out buy them something they want for the value of the rent she would have paid.

  19. In addition to the obvious helping out around the house and with the house expenses that you can, I think you should go with a substantial charity donation along with a nice gift for an experience they may not normally treat themselves to. When “family” helps each other sometimes compensation can be offensive, but I think appreciation is always welcome.

  20. My country is different than yours, but: 100$ a month would be ridiculous and even insulting, even though they suggested that themselves. I would definitely buy them something (a basket filled with nice foods, for example) when Girl Ninja moves in with them, and then again a thank you gift of a similar manner when she moves out. Generosity is a disappearing resource in the world so I wouldn’t undermine it but show my appreciation. Giving money to charity is of course an option, but I don’t see how it would show your appreciation to Mr Landlord. Don’t forget Mrs. Landlord when choosing the gifts!

  21. Donation to charity, hands down! Also if this it the family with kids, it’d be nice to have the kids help choose the charity.

  22. There are several good suggestions here. Certainly GN can contribute around the household in various ways as Krantcents suggested, you could do the donation to charity, you can buy them something you know they need/want. You can even be creative and ignore all of the above. They’re doing something nice for you and GN, so you could find something nice you’d like to do for them that they’d like.

  23. I think you had the right idea to give them the money and allow them to donate it if they choose.

    I often make sure to pay someone for their services, even when they offer them for free, so that I feel comfortable asking again in the future. When I was in college I often had TA’s offer to sit down with me for free for an hour, but if I took them up on it, I knew it would only be for that hour. But if I paid them, and they thought it was worth their time, I could ask them as often as I’d like, giving them the option to refuse.

    Since your wife has stayed with this couple in the past, and you may want to come back to visit friends in the area, I would chip in to give you the freedom to ask again in the future.

  24. Wow, I donno man. Living at home with mom and dad as a grown adult and married doesn’t seem right. I guess I’ll have to read your other post as to why.

    Freedom is priceless! Best to get your own place imo.


    • OK, first mom and dad Ninja are way cool! He won’t be living with us that long and that is what family is for.

      • mom and pop ninja rock….I’m freaking 35 and my parents offered to let us move in to get back on our feet. I’d do the same for them and may do so when they get to the point they can’t take care of themselves without some help. Mind you, not all family dynamics would allow it. In this case, it works 🙂 It’s totally different living with parents once you’re an adult…I think everyone has a lot more respect for one another then they do when it’s teens.

  25. I think these comments are right on target – write them a thank you note with a check for an amount you’d like to donate, that way they can pick a charity.

    Then, pay them the $100 a month for utilities, rent, overhead, etc. Especially since you’re not financially strapped and it will be for a few months. I think throwing in a nice gift basket or a gift they’d appreciate would be nice, too.

  26. What does girl ninja think? I realize that you are a united front, but actually she is the one staying there and it is her parents. What does she feel comfortable with? I guess my family/marriage functions entirely differently than yours. Because, if that was me and my parents, I would definitely be leading the decision by myself and taking care of the compensation since I stayed there. And then my husband would do the same with his parents and we would prob each send a card and a small gift to the other’s parents as a personal thank you. Just a different view I guess! I’m pretty independent though.

  27. My thought would be:

    ~ a nice gift certificates (or several) to things they like to do..or have always wanted to do..maybe girl ninja can be stealthy and find out while she’s there.

    ~ do a nice donation in their honor to charities or places they’d like to help (again, girl ninja can be stealthy)

    ~ girl ninja helps with food, cleaning, etc which I assume was already part of the plan

    ~ at parting, take them out to a nice dinner, etc with you guys if possible

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