Christmas. A festive and joyous time of the year where we get together with families and friends, exchange gifts and enjoy lovingly prepared food. For some it marks an important calendar event in their faith and for most of us (in the Southern hemisphere) it marks the start of summer holidays. Relaxing and enjoying time with the ones you love.
For many families this is idyllic. But for some couples, the festive season, adds more stress to what maybe an already strained relationship.
Money is often the trigger for arguments at this time of the year.
Not having enough of it. Or, spending too much on the kids, on each other, on other people and at the supermarket. The rest of the arguments tend to be more about family; who’s not helping with the chores, who should sit next to who or why didn’t ‘Aunty Jo’ get invited or over-indulging at the multitude of social events.
As a couple, you quite likely have different Money Personalities. We’ll just mention three of them here – the Spender, the Hoarder and the Avoider. I think their titles are a give-away as to each of their personality traits.
If you don’t know your Money Personality, take our free Money Personality quiz here.
At this time of year when stress levels are easily elevated, those money personality differences are likely to clash. For instance, a Spender will enjoy the gift shopping and splashing out on food and parties. While your Hoarder partner will be busy trying to rein you in while nervously keeping an eye on the cost.
If you are a couple who already argues about money, brace yourself. You will have more than a few by the time you get to the New Year.
If, however, you are a couple that avoids having a money conversation because you don’t want to upset each other or spoil the fun of the festive season, then you could be in for a rude awakening when the credit card statement arrives.
Going back to our example, if you are a Spender and your partner is a Hoarder, your stress levels will be on the increase. Your Hoarder partner can see what is being spent and will be worrying about the credit card bills. But they don’t want to say no to you, so their stress levels continue to rise, while you continue in your happy place and “shop will ‘till you drop!”
The festive season stress may also manifest itself in other ways: a few too many drinks at Christmas parties, being a bit moody and generally feeling a bit like Scrooge from A Christmas Carol and just wanting it all to be over!
Here are a few tips to help you survive the festive season as a couple – and still be talking to each other.
- In all the hectic planning that surrounds Christmas, make sure you have some ‘couple time’. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Take some time out and go for a walk together (not around the local shopping mall) or spend some time at the end of the day to watch a bit of TV together. If you have house guests, ask them to look after kids for an hour so you can get away for a coffee together.
- It isn’t just the ‘pressie’ buying that causes stress. We also tend to spend up large in the supermarket as well. If you haven’t planned what you want to spend this Christmas, it isn’t too late to do it now. Take a reality check. Total what you have already spent, add to that what you have left to buy. You might be able to cut back on what is left. This will help lessen the shock in January.
- Instead of supermarket shopping for your Christmas lunch or dinner, why not use one of the food delivery companies, like My Food Bag or Woop or any of the others. They have great Christmas meal options – you were going to spend the dollars anyway and this can save you time and stress.
- Focus on the positives in your relationship. I know this is not easy when there is a constant stream of visitors, food to prepare, kids constantly wanting to know if Santa has left the North Pole yet and will he really eat all those biscuits? And on top of all this – you are tired!
- Make time in January to recover, both financially and emotionally. Fit in some more ‘couple time’. Think about your Money Plan for the coming year, set some goals (and no, not New Year’s resolutions) and if you have overspent in December, deal with it straight away so it doesn’t get further out of control.
- If your relationship hasn’t got back on an even keel and you are still arguing and feel stressed about money, then get some help. Try a financial coach who can help you put a money plan (not a budget!) in place. You may well find that money issues are a symptom of further underlying problems.
Don’t let the Christmas season turn your relationship into an emotional battlefield. Keep talking to each other (nope, yelling is not talking). If you do need help and support, ask for it, either from each other or someone outside your circle of friends.
To ensure you both survive Christmas and don’t get to the same point next year, take some time over the break to have the money conversation. Understand each other’s money personalities and how you can work together for a peaceful, relaxed Christmas next year.
Often money differences can be complementary, once you understand this, you need to embrace them. In a trusting relationship these differences work well together, particularly when there’s a plan and common financial goals in place.
One more thing.
You don’t need get yourself into debt trying to prove to others that you love them and how much you care. You don’t have to do it. They should already know.
If you have any questions around this or you would like to discover new ways to mange your money, then drop us an email or click on this link to find a day and time that suits you to have a chat with us. Best of all – it’s free!