In these tough economic times, many of us are worried about how we’re going to make ends meet over the Christmas period.
Expenses often seem to spiral out of control at this time of year; on top of the usual bills, we have to buy gifts, food, decorations and spend money traveling around the country to visit our loved ones.
The strain that Christmas spending can put on our bank accounts can also transfer to extra strain on our relationships. Money issues are more than likely to cause arguments between partners, so it’s not surprising that things can get tense in the lead up to the big day.
Don’t worry, there are ways you and your partner can work through your financial troubles and enjoy Christmas. In a recent Live Discussion on the CoupleConnection, Simonne Gnessen, founder of Wise Monkey Financial Coaching offered some of her top tips for saving money and avoiding money arguments:
Spread the cost
‘Starting to shop early is a great way to manage your finances,’ says Gnessen. Spreading the cost of Christmas over a period of time means that your bank account won’t be so badly hit in December.
Create a spending plan
Draw up a spending plan with your partner and identify what you can afford to spend on different areas such as present buying, food shopping and entertainment.
‘It’s always a good idea to have a strategy with shared spending,’ continues Gnessen. ‘Don’t forget that you can always revisit decisions at any time. Keeping good communication channels open is the key to success in this area, as it is in all parts of a relationship.’
Agree on who you’re buying for
Buying presents for the in-laws can be a tricky subject, especially if the size of your partner’s family is much bigger, or smaller than yours. To manage the cost of buying for relatives, Gnessen advises that you write a list of people you buy for and split the planned spend between the two of you. If the list gets too long, pick out the family members that you want to share the spending on, and purchase the rest separately.
Put thought into your gifts
‘Research shows that time and experiences are always the best presents you can give,’ says Gnessen. ‘The more a gift shows understanding of the other person, the more successful it will be. But it does have to be within budget. Too often, people feel pressured to spend money they don’t have at this time of the year.’
For more useful tips on how to manage the cost of Christmas, read the transcript from our live discussion with Simonne Gnessen.