How Much Should I Give For A Bar Mitzvah Gift?

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How Much Should I Give For A Bar Mitzvah Gift?

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September 14, 2012

When a Jewish boy turns 13-years-old he has a "bar mitzvah", whether or not the event is marked with a ceremony or celebration. According to Jewish custom this means that he is considered old enough to have certain rights and responsibilities or suit for the upcoming wedding this summer. (source: about.com). I actually know quite a bit about bar mitzvahs. When I turned the age of 13, my friends, family, and distant relatives I saw once upon a family reunion showed up to hear me belt out a poorly sung haftorah. I can remember the long hours of practice and study it took to be able to read my portion of the Torah on that special day. I also have vivid memories of the food, the dancing, and the gumball filled Pepsi bottles we gave to each of the kids. With today's Bar Mitzvahs reaching prices of epic proportions, people often wonder how much they should give when attending a bar mitzvah.

First things first . . . A bar mitzvah isn't a wedding and shouldn't be treated at all with the same light as a wedding. Although some parents choose to spend the same amount or more on their children's bar mitzvah, it simply isn't the wedding. The kid is only turning the age of 13! We also need to separate whether just your child is being invited to the event or you are being invited as an entire family. Unlike weddings, I do think it also matters how close you are to the actual child and family having the bar mitzvah.

Let's talk about this whole Jewish history around the number 18. Times have changed, but I can distinctly recall my cousin Melvin giving me a gift of "chai" which was $18 bucks. Even in 1982 $18 doesn't take you very far if you want to buy anything. The word for "life" in Hebrew is "chai". The two Hebrew letters that make up the word "chai" are chet and yud. Chai is equivalent to 8 and yud is equivalent to 10. So "chai", chet and yud together, equals 18. Giving money in multiples of $18 is symbolic of giving "chai" or life. There are many people who give money in multiples of $18 as presents to someone celebrating a birth, a bar or bat mitzvah or a wedding.

If just your child is going to the bar mitzvah, don't spend money on gift cards or savings bonds. I simply think that isn't a good idea. You'll be encouraging another teenager to go out and buy more stuff when they can be saving that money for their future. A gift in the order of something like triple 'chai' or $54 would be a neat idea to give from teenager to teenager at the bar mitzvah.

If your whole family is going, you should be giving in the nature of about $75 to $100 a person (half for your kids). So for a family of four with two adults and two kids about $300 would be an appropriate gift. Although this is a celebration within the religion, skip the ideal Kiddush cups, candle sticks, or Tzedakah boxes. Although the thought might be in the right place, cash is simply the best way to go when you get invited to a bar mitzvah. I often hear that since this is a spiritual celebration that items like prayer books or other religious items would be acceptable. Trust me that this will not be a good idea as much like wedding conversations are had back at the house that night about who was naughty and who was nice!

No matter what your faith, gift giving is always one of the toughest challenges we have in making day to day smart money moves. It's often a struggle that you'll continue to discuss when the envelope is closed and you are on the way to the bar mitzvah. Once you get there the damage is done one way or another, so make sure to at least get into a little Hava Nagila action and carry a leg of the chair during the joyous festivities. And please no gold coins . . . unless they are real!

Additional Reading: How Much Do I Give For A Wedding Gift? , How Much Should I Leave For A Tip?

Visit www.oXYGenFinancial.net to request a consultation on how to make smart money moves for your future.

Written by:

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®

Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc - The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Advisor Services, LLC (NFPAS), Member FINRA/SIPC. Oxygen Financial is not affiliated with NFPAS. NFPAS does not provide tax or legal advice. This site is published for residents of the United States only. Registered Representatives and Investment Advisor Representatives of NFP Advisor Services, LLC (NFPAS) may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed. For additional information, please contact NFPAS Compliance Department at 512-697-6000. PLEASE NOTE: The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of the web sites provided here, you are leaving this web site. NFP Advisor Services, LLC makes no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these web sites. Nor is NFP Advisor Services, LLC liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, web sites, information and programs made available through this web site. When you access one of these web sites, you are leaving our web site and assume total responsibility and risk for your use of the web sites you are linking to.

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Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

This site is published for residents of the United States only. Registered Representatives of Kestra IS and Investment Advisor Representatives of Kestra AS may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed. For additional information, please contact Kestra IS Compliance Department at 844-553-7872.

PLEASE NOTE: The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of the web sites provided here, you are leaving this web site. Kestra IS and Kestra AS makes no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these web sites. Nor is Kestra IS and Kestra AS liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, web sites, information and programs made available through this web site. When you access one of these web sites, you are leaving our web site and assume total responsibility and risk for your use of the web sites you are linking to.