3 Steps for Couples Facing the Stress of a Frugal Holiday

By Shannon McNay

NEW YORK (Credit.com) — This time of year can be festive, magical and … stressful. If you’re in a relationship, this stress can almost completely overshadow the fun of the holidays. Not only are you expected to buy gifts for each other, you may also need to travel to visit each other’s families, buy outfits for these family functions and gifts for them … the list goes on and on.

Maybe you and your significant other have already had the “frugal holiday” talk. You know, the one where you promise not to go overboard on gifts and have a low-key holiday. And if you haven’t already had that talk, it’s about time to have it now. But actually acting on this talk can be scary. You can’t help but wonder if you are truly on the same page. What does frugal mean to your significant other? Will he or she be disappointed by the gift you give? The fact is, planning a frugal holiday as a couple is easy to say and hard to do. So how can you plan a frugal holiday together without it ending in a breakup by the new year?

Manage expectations

Start off by managing each other’s expectations. Why do you need to be frugal? If you haven’t already, now is a great time to tell your partner about the financial situation you are in – no matter what that may look like. What does frugal mean to you? You might think spending $100 on a gift is extravagant, while your partner could think that’s a gift on a budget. Talk about a dollar amount you’re comfortable with and agree not to go over that amount on your gifts.

You should also manage the expectations you have on travel. If one or both of you lives away from your hometown, do you expect to travel together to visit family for the holidays? Talk about it. Find out what kind of schedule and budget works for the two of you. If you’re in a better financial situation than your partner and want to visit your family together, you could offer to foot the bill so your partner can make the trip without fearing the financial effect of it. And finally, talk about what your families expect from you two. Do either of you have siblings? Will they be buying presents for you both? If your partner gets a present from your family unexpectedly, not having a gift to give in return can be deeply embarrassing to him or her. Talk about it so you both know what to expect.