The research is clear, one of the top five things that couples fight about is finances. Unfortunately, the holidays can highlight and add to financial stress for many. The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend roughly $721 billion dollars on gifts, travel, and food during the holidays. That is roughly $1,007 per person. Even for a family of 2 or 3, the spending can add up quickly. Discussing and creating a plan for holiday spending can help you avoid financial conflict during the most wonderful time of the year.
Here Are Some Tips For Setting a Holiday Spending Budget With Your Partner
Make Sure You Start Early
The holidays are upon us. It is important to create a plan of action sooner rather than later. First things first, set a time for you and your partner to sit down and talk through your holiday spending plan. During this conversation, you want to make sure you come to a mutual agreement before moving forward. Write down the plan to ensure both of you are clear.
Decide on Your Priorities
Some things are more important to you and your family, therefore your resources should be allocated as such. Decide which things stay and which things need to go. Is visiting grandma at the top of the list? Or, hosting your first Christmas party with friends? Maybe only paying cash and not going into any debt is a priority.
As you discuss what is most important, start from a values perspective. What is most important for us as a couple? How do we want our family to feel this holiday season? What are we celebrating? These types of questions will help guide your spending and your decisions through the holidays
List All Anticipated Expenses
You don’t know what you need until you write it all down. Include every “small” detail as they add up. Make a list of all the expenses. Consider gifts, decorations, any parties that you will be hosting or attending, and travel and lodging expenses. This is the time to have all events for the holidays planned as well. Anything that gets planned later can be navigated with an “extra” column. However, make sure you have a conversation about how much the two of you are willing to change the original plan.
Make a Budget
Decide on the amount you can reasonably spend this holiday season. Make sure you are both in agreement. Based on the priorities that you’ve set with one another, make sure that your spending aligns. If seeing grandma is more important than the holiday party, be ready and willing to cross some things off the list. When you can’t be at every event or buy every gift you’d like, it’s important to permit yourself to not feel guilty. Enjoy the holidays and remember it’s the thought that counts and the quality of time spent with loved ones.
Make Wise Decisions about Holiday Spending
Once you decide on your budget, commit to sticking to it, no matter what. In the New Year, you’ll be grateful you did. If there are things that are important to you but not enough money to cover those expenses, then think of different ways to experience the holidays. Here are some suggestions for decreasing spending while still enjoying the season:
- Enjoy and experience moments together rather than gifts (drive around the neighborhood to see Christmas lights, sit on the porch with a mug of hot cocoa and chat, or play a board game as a family).
- Draw names rather than buy for every single family member.
- DIY – decorations, gifts, food, baked goods, etc.
- Snuggle up and watch holiday movies together.
- Avoid Pottery Barn at all costs (I think Derek highjacked my computer for this one!) 🤣
At the end of the day, you and your partner have the power to decide how to spend your money and time this holiday season. It’s important to avoid overcommitting and be selective to avoid stress. You can read more about How to Care for Yourself During the Holidays in my recent blog.
Here’s to a wonderful (and stress-free) holiday season!