Christmas is quickly approaching. In the midst of all the fun that’s to be had with putting up the lights, trimming the tree, and baking Christmas cookies, one thing is for sure – Christmas can be a very stressful time financially for some families.
In addition to the presents that need to be purchased for the children, there’s also the chore of finding money in the budget for gifts for relatives and Christmas parties. By the end of the month, a lot of couples find themselves in debt. Not to mention, many couples don’t even buy gifts for each other so that the others in their families can be taken care of.
Communication Is Key
Many of the couples we work with find that they struggle with money during the holidays because they do not discuss how much they will be spending. If you share a checking account, it might not be uncommon for you to check your account, only to find that most of your money has already been spent for the week or the month. That can cause stress during any time of the year, but during Christmas, it can be a real problem.
As you go into the Christmas season, and as you begin to plan your holiday shopping trips, sit down and talk to each other about how much money you’re going to spend on gifts. Discuss your other bills as well, and put together a strategy as to how you’re going to cover your expenses and still buy gifts for everyone on your list. The important thing is to get on the same page.
Use Cash Instead of Credit
During this time of year, those credit cards in your wallet can look pretty tempting. However, remember how much stress those bills will cause you after the holiday season is over. Whenever possible, start saving early in the year for your holiday purchases; this will make is easier to resist the urge to use credit cards as much as you can. You might even consider saving cash in a separate “Christmas Fund” envelope to pay for holiday gifts so that there is never any confusion over how much money you have available to spend.
plan ahead for Next Year – together
If you communicate with each other this year, you’ll find that your stress levels will decrease substantially. However, going forward, it’s a good idea to make a plan for next Christmas right now. When you know that you’re going to have financial concerns about Christmas every year, why not plan ahead to make things easier? Many banks offer Christmas savings clubs that deposit money from your paychecks every week automatically. That twenty dollars a week probably won’t even be missed, and when Christmas comes, you’ll have a good start on the money you’ll need to buy gifts.
Above all, remember that Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time of year. By taking the time to communicate with each other, and come up with a plan of attack together for your purchases, you can experience more of that joy as a couple. That alone can make this Christmas the best one you’ve ever had.