Reining in Holiday Expenses

Reconciling a tight budget with a big heart at this time of year can lead to couple conflict and a lot less “holiday cheer,” notes longtime marriage and family therapist Vondie Lozano, Ph.D. She offers these suggestions for sane holiday finances:


Accept the reality. With a struggling economy comes less discretionary income. Compare your finances now with a year ago and accept that you may need to change holiday spending to reflect your current “financial reality.”


Prepare for it. Set aside funds monthly, earlier in the year, toward a holiday budget. Shop earlier to lessen the burden of a big bill in December, and look into retailers’ lay-away programs allowing for monthly payments in advance. All this may not be possible this year, but consider it going forward.


Keep spending in the light. Agree together in advance who you’re buying for and how much you can spend. And if you want to deviate, ask permission from your partner first.


Consider alternatives. Many extended families draw names out of a hat, rather than buy gifts for everyone. Consider also requesting a spending limit on gifts.


Create new traditions. Put your holiday budget toward a memory-building activity or outing for the whole family. Document it through photos or video. “It may end up being the highlight of your holiday!” Lozano says. 

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