How To Avoid Post-Christmas Money Shock Waves
This is a guest post written by Jenifer Giles, a relationship coach specializing in couples coaching, pre-marital and marriage consulting. Visit her website at jenifergiles.com. Have a relationship question for Jenifer? Use our contact form to send it in and she will answer it in a future post.
Money - where does it go? Did you know that more than 80% of couples argue frequently over money, particularly how it is spent? Compound that at Christmas, where “just a little something” becomes one big money pit.
It is incredible how tiny purchases add up to make a huge dent in your budget. I have always given anyone staying in our house at Christmas a stocking (or in the case of my daughter, a pillowcase!) stuffed with little goodies because that’s what my mum did.
I regularly spend as much or more on these than on the actual present. The contents are so often just little joke or token gifts, but at $3 – $10 an item it’s not such a joke.
This idea sounds a bit boring, but creating budgets for presents seems like such a no-brainer. Yet, do we actually do it? Spending time before the frenzy gets underway to have this discussion with your partner is imperative.
It’s easy to keep buying because you’re not sure about what you’re giving. Instead, try asking for specific ideas. With children especially, it’s easy to go overboard and attempt to get everything on the list.
Have kids prioritize their wish list. My daughter writes her list as things occur to her so a particular favorite might be at the bottom. I now ask her to number her list in order of importance. Buying the first 2 items then means she’ll get what she really wants and not just the first two random ideas that came to her head.
It’s not just how much to spend on each person but also how to keep track of the overall amount.
Some friends of mine have a great system. They make a card for themselves that contains small squares next to a certain amount of money, like $10, $25, or $100 and so on (you would put in amounts that makes sense for your household). The total on each card was what they each had to spend.
When shopping they would put a cross through the denomination closest to what they had spent. For example a gift of $74 would account for a cross mark through a $50 and a $25. They could then easily see how much was left for the remaining presents.
When the card was used up the money was over. Full stop. No rationalizing, no “just one more,” nope - just stop.
photo credit: ginnerobot