3 Tips to Avoid Arguments About Holiday Spending, Before They Start
Ah, the holidays – sparkling lights, get togethers with family, and lots and lots of spending! The holidays are like life on steroids: a pressure cooker of money issues and old family dysfunction, with less time, more things to do, and extra sugar thrown in. No wonder it is so stressful!
So how can you save your sanity, enjoy the holidays, and avoid arguing about money, too?
Three things, my friend – communication, respect, and creativity.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But many people have money amnesia around the holidays. They completely forget – or ignore – how much they have or how much they spend, and they don’t communicate with their partners. A recent study by McGraw Hill Federal Credit Union showed that 40% of couples don’t talk about their holiday spending.
First, do a little soul-searching. Who do you really want to spend money on, and why? How much? Conversations are faster and easier when you can clearly say what you want and why.
Then tell your partner that you want to agree on your spending so you are both on the same page, and create a simple plan.
You decided on a plan, so respect yourself, your partner, and your bank account by sticking to it. Too often I see couples stressed because one person broke the agreement. They usually have an excuse (that big sale, the unexpected gift they had to reciprocate, the kids asking for a newer, more expensive gizmos), but the end result is the same – damage to the trust in the relationship. That same McGraw Hill FCU study found that three out of five couples that made a plan didn’t trust their partners to stick to it. Ouch.
Holidays aren’t actually about gifts – they are about connections. What do the people you care about really want?
I’m not a “stuff” person. Give me a hand-made gift certificate to help me organize that closet I can’t seem to keep straight (please?), or a plan to spend time with you, and I’m thrilled. Time and people are important to me, not things.
If your people aren’t “stuff” people, save some money and get creative. Give them what they want – you. The truth is that none of us know when our time is up, and the holidays are a time to appreciate and be grateful for each other. When you feel yourself getting caught up in the madness, take a breath and remember what is really important – people, not gifts.
So take the time to make a plan together, stick to it, and think outside the box. When January comes your heart will be full, your stress levels will be lower, and you may be getting along even better than before.
As the world’s first Money Interpreter, Emily Zillig helps couples get on the same page about their money, so they can leave the stress behind and move on to the fun stuff. Her favorite moment? That sparkling instant when someone has life-changing clarity about themselves, their partner, or their money.