Home > Personal Finance > How Couples Can Plan a Frugal Holiday Without Breaking Up

Comments 0 Comments

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, but you may also need to travel to visit each other’s families, buy new outfits for these family functions, buy 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 that 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 receives 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.

Follow Through

Now that you are on the same page, stay there. Now is not the time to spend more than you agreed on just because you found the perfect gift and it happens to be over budget. Believe it or not, your partner could be sensitive about his or her finances and embarrassed by not being able to reciprocate. You should also keep the lines of communication open throughout the whole holiday season. Did you have a sudden setback on your finances? Let your partner know. The more you talk about these things, the more you both will understand each other’s point of view and can affirm that you’re in this together.

I can’t stress this next point enough — not only should you stick to what you agreed to, but you need to have a good attitude about it. Maybe you bought a plane ticket to visit your partner’s grandparents in another state, but are really wishing you could have used that money for something else. That’s a tough feeling to deal with but stay positive about it so your partner doesn’t feel guilty. Ideally, you’ll both have made compromises for each other so remember that when the feeling of stress settles in. You can always use these budgeting tips for families to help you out.

Get Creative

One of the best things about the holidays is that — no matter what holiday you’re celebrating — the main point is to spend time with your loved ones. It’s not about the money you spend on a gift — it’s about finding a gift that makes your loved ones feel special. Thanks to websites like Etsy, you may even be able to customize a gift for your partner or their family without spending a ton of money. By spending the time to find a gift that really speaks to your loved ones, you’ll go a lot farther than you will by running to the mall and dropping your credit card on a shiny object. So get creative with your gifts to each other so you can save money and make it special.

As stressful as this time of year may be, you and your significant other have the power to make it special on a budget — as long as you keep the lines of communication open and honest. If you do this and are willing to compromise to meet each other’s needs, you’ll soon be celebrating not only this holiday together, but hopefully many more to come.

Image: Ed Yourdon, via Flickr

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team