Spending pressures mount during the holidays, and knowing how to manage your budget alongside your partner can bring on some extra stress. Adrienne C. Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Engagement Coach, discusses five tips for managing your money as a couple this holiday season.
1. Start with a good attitude and the right approach
With everyone you have to buy for, it's important to start this conversation with your partner from a calm and proactive approach. Discussing money, family, budget and expectations is difficult for most couples, but it's a necessary step to ensure you're both on the same page. Calmly discuss your family traditions, and how much you'd like to spend on your respective families. Discuss your financial situation, how much money you actually have to spend, and what your feelings are around spending this time of year. (i.e. does it produce anxiety, fear, added stress, etc.)
2. Set and Agree on holiday spending and saving goals
After discussing how much money you have available, it's important to set a budget for each person on your list. It's also a great idea to discuss what type of payment you will use for gift purchases, and when you'd like to have the spending wrapped up. Also discuss if you're able to save money during the holidays and how you'll both contribute to this plan.
3. Make a plan so you're both involved in the holiday spending
Any time couples discuss money, it's really important to ensure both partners are equally involved in the execution of the anticipated goals. Decide which partner is going to buy for each person on your list, so that the responsibility doesn't fall on just one person. Your partner's not in to gift buying? No worries… just make sure they take on the responsibility for something else that contributes to the holiday process. It's important that both partners are involved in the holiday spending plan so there is no resentment long-term.
4. Encourage those you buy for to write a wish list
Kids are more than willing to write a gift wish list but since they likely can't have everything, have them prioritize what gifts are most important. The same goes for friends and family members. To ensure you're spending your money wisely, have those on your list designate which gifts they'd like to receive from you. Then you'll be better able to track and budget your spending.
5. Set expectations with others for spending boundaries
For most couples and families, there is a lot of pressure that comes with the holidays and gift giving. Don't let that pressure ruin your holiday budget. Although it can be hard, set expectations with your friends and families for what your limit allows. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed if you have to set a lower limit than others. In the long run, you'll be glad you stuck to your original plan and you won't spend 2013 trying to catch up on debt!
For more information on Adrienne's counseling services and relationship tips, please visit her website at www.TheEngagementCoach.com.