The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and togetherness. For some couples, the holidays become a time of secret spending that results in a lot of unnecessary debt. With all of the pressure to buy gifts and decorate for the picture perfect holiday, there is a lot of stress on couples to buy more than they can afford. Sometimes, both partners in the relationship go crazy in their spending, which can present a momentary high. But on December 26th, the harsh reality slaps them in the face. Suddenly, they do not have enough money to pay their bills. Suddenly they are deeper in debt. Other times, one partner may be very frugal minded while the other is not. This can also present a lot of conflict in the relationship during the holidays.
I remember well as a young bride the pressures the holiday presented to me. I had come from a family who always did Christmas in a very large way. We had lots of lights and decorations. We always had so many gifts under the tree. We baked lots of goodies and gave gifts to family, friends and neighbors. My husband, on the other hand, came from a very frugal family. The immediate family exchanged gifts and it was always something that was needed…not something that was fun or just wanted. There was little decorating. Sometimes they didn’t even have a tree. He thought my family’s way of celebrating was just as crazy as I thought his family’s way of celebrating was. Just as he was determined we would not spend a lot of money at Christmas, I was just as determined to spend what I needed to spend in order to have the kind of holiday I was accustomed to.
I did things that I would later regret. He was the only one working at the time and I bought lots of things without telling him, but would not indicate it in our joint checkbook. I would hide the gifts away until Christmas morning and then explain them away with another lie. Of course the truth always came out after the holidays were over, and it caused a lot of problems between us. It also caused a lot of financial difficulties for us. Over the years we have learned to compromise about the holidays. He has learned to embrace the giving and I have learned to be more conservative and spend only what we can afford.
This Christmas, remember what is truly important about the holidays. It is not about spending money. It is about the simple joy of spending time together in a peaceful atmosphere. Keeping your holiday simple and meaningful will help you build lovely memories with your spouse, and will allow you to begin the new year without a lot of unnecessary debt.