No one likes to talk about it, but preparing for the holiday season can really create financial tension within a marriage. On the one hand, we know that the holiday season is that time of the year where, we, as a nation and global community reflect on what peace, goodwill, and love for our families and our fellow human being means to us.
But if we were honest, we also know that a big part of the holiday season has become about holiday spending, and in some cases, holiday overspending. If you share a bed with your financial opposite, you may find yourself fighting more than making peace or better yet, making love.
If you are the spender in the relationship, the pressure to commit financial infidelity — lying, hiding, and being overall dishonest about what you are doing with your money— may be tempting because you want to show your loved ones a lil’ extra love with the purchases that you make around this time of year…despite your spouse’s disapproval.
And if you are the saver, you may unwittingly become more controlling, judgmental, and suspicious about your partner’s spending habits because gift-giving is not all that important to you. This may only add fuel to the fire and bring more contention to the relationship.
But there are no victims or villains in this financial situation. There are just differing financial philosophies on the role that gift-giving and, by default, spending plays in showing holiday spirit.
Consider the following tips to keep tension low, and your relationship intact.
1. Agree to dollar amount that each partner can spend independently. When it comes to financial opposites and holiday spending, all things are NOT created equal. As a couple, come to the table with an estimate of how much each of you would need to meet your holiday spending needs. Once you negotiate a reasonable budget, be respectful and honor these financial limits.
For the saver, don’t judge the spender for what they spent the money on. You married an adult and you agreed to the budget.
For the spender, don’t use a “It was just so cute” as an excuse to overspend or impulse buy. Since you communicated how much you would need to meet your holiday spending goals, then you can’t make the argument that budget limits were arbitrary and unfair. Be responsible.
2. Strategically “regift “when appropriate. If you have items that you have never used or worn and they are excellent gifts or stocking stuffers, use ‘em. Just be sure that you are not giving them back to the person that has given it to you. It will save you money and time, especially for those that you feel obligated to buy for.
3. Think about the implications of holiday spending on the family’s short-term and long-term goals: Sometimes we can get so caught up in the holiday spirit that we forget that we still have to honor and respect the short-term and long-term financial goals that we have set for our families. In other words, still pay yourself first when it comes to meeting your financial obligations. In other words, your shopping goals should never trump your monthly saving goals, emergency funds, or investing benchmarks. Ever.
BMWK Family: How do you manage your financial goals with the expectations of spending for the holiday? How are you handling holiday spending with your financial opposite?