All is not well in the big box store.
Arms are folded. Eyebrows furrowed. There is snapping and sniping in the toy aisles. Grumbling in the home decor section. And outright yelling in the electronics department.
Financial arguments are breaking out everywhere. What’s going on?
You guessed it. Here come the holidays.
Do you and your significant other find yourselves playing tug-of-war with the credit cards? Do you fight over the virtues of deeply discounted cashmere scarves and the expense of ridiculously sized television screens throughout the holiday season?
Our relationships are often taxed over the material things at the end of the year. And festivities tend to be less fun with January’s financial consequences looming over our resolutions to “spend less and save more.”
What if it doesn’t have to be this way?
Why not plan for the holidays now?
How to Have Fewer Financial Arguments This Holiday Season
Keep financial arguments to a minimum by maximizing healthy, compassionate communication.
Start with the basics. Holidays or no holidays, you love your partner. He or she doesn’t really deserve to be emotionally drained, blackmailed, guilt-tripped, or manipulated for the sake of Pinterest-perfect celebrations.
Keep your relationship first. Make it clear that decisions are mutual and your combined money is safe. Keep communication respectful and loving, with or without agreeing to a carload of store-bought gifts and feast items from the grocers.
Plan for the holidays with defined priorities, reachable goals, and a set budget.
Grown-ups often get very wrapped up in financial fantasy during the holidays. And, too often, this wrecks the financial agreements we make with our partners. It isn’t worth it.
Instead, plan for the holidays with an actual financial plan:
- Prioritize. Decide what matters. Gifts? Parties? Tips?
- Figure out the costs. Then, figure out how to make it even more affordable.
- Save. Put aside a percentage of your funds monthly toward those costs.
- Be all about the budget. Financial arguments don’t happen when you decide to honor the goals you set together. A holiday budget is a gift that keeps giving.
Keep financial arguments at bay with a clear focus on people and what they really need.
Generosity is a good thing. In fact, research indicates that our happiness is heavily connected to our ability make a contribution and share ourselves with others. However, too easily we mistake that need and desire with a sort of “buyer’s benevolence.” That is, we often allow consumerism to creep into our generosity and direct our giving.
Think about it, what really makes you tear up when watching those holiday commercials? Not the car with the big red bow or the Barbie playhouse. It’s the depicted relationships and thoughtfulness.
Squash the need to fight for funds. Be mindful, thoughtful, and aware of the needs of those around you now, so that you use your money carefully and kindly. Actually plan to bring your loved ones or community closer together meaningfully. That type of goodwill is kind of the point.
Plan for the holidays by thinking of past the holidays.
There’s no celebration in suffering through payments, buyer’s remorse, and gift amnesia following the holidays. Why go through all that shopping and spending only to have a bitter taste left in our financial mouths? That bitter taste turns into a bitter tongue and too many couples undo their relationships spewing out their financial stress all over each other.
Instead, talk to each other today about what you see yourselves doing and feeling, let’s say, January 17th. Where’s your paycheck headed? How will you want to feel?
Plan now to feel better later, in January. Remind each other to think ahead when all those Black Friday deals, last minute sales, and clearance discounts beg you to let your financial plan slide.
Keep financial arguments productive if you find one or two creep in.
Okay, you and your partner aren’t perfect. Arguments happen. Following the aforementioned steps can help you avoid many of them. But, in case you falter and those holiday commercials come between you, remind yourselves that you’re both in charge of your money and your relationship.
Practice good conflict resolution skills. Breathe, step away to gain perspective. Ask more questions and reflect what you hear. Sometimes all it takes is a willingness to listen to put frustration and finances in the right place so that relationships can resume their proper place as the priority.
So. Someone, somewhere, is cuing 12 muzak versions of the time-honored holiday favorite, “Santa Baby,” just to drive you crazy as you search for another “perfect“ gift in a big box store.
Prep your mind to fight back. Secure your funds. Defend your relationship.
Start today protecting your holiday joy.