Money conflicts are a regular occurrence in many relationships. It doesn’t have to become a problem, especially at holiday time.

When it comes to money, we should be free to manage our own finances without interference.  Not everyone will agree with that statement

We come into a relationship with some prior history and beliefs about how money should be managed. One partner often expects the other to think exactly as they do and if they don’t then there is something wrong with them. Not so.

I have seen different ways that couples manage money.

  • One partner sends their paycheque to their partner who pays the bills and manages the money for the family.
  • Both partners put their paycheques into a joint account while one pays the bills and they decide how much each will take out for spending.
  • Both partners have separate bank accounts, and each has assigned expenses that they are responsible for paying on time.
  • One partner works, bringing home a paycheque and the other does not. The money required to pay bills is transferred into an account where one person will access it and pay the bills.
  • Both partners retain their own accounts, and they also have a joint account where they both put in their share for the monthly bills, and one person ensures the bills are paid.

There is no right or wrong system as each couple is different. It’s important to take into consideration a couple’s financial goals – regular expenses, savings, major purchases or vacations.  Then they work together on those goals.

Holiday spending is the same. One person may feel the need to spend more while one sees it as unnecessary. The secret is to ensure that there is a plan in place for achieving financial goals, and as long as each partner contributes their share – saving and spending – then anything extra is up to an individual’s discretion.

Communication is the key. Some people feel loved when they receive gifts, as identified in Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages.   It’s important to determine what your partner wants versus what you want for them. I’ve seen couples who set a budget on how much they plan to spend for holiday gift giving. Setting a budget is easy, sticking to it can be difficult.



Some people are afraid of what others will think of them if they set too low a budget.  It’s your money; you spend whatever you choose on gifts. It shouldn’t be a burden and a heavy obligation.

Have financial goals and a plan so that you have a guideline to work on together and ensure that you are not compromising that. Know that outside of that plan, you are free to spend your money as you see fit. If you have difficulty managing your money, ask for assistance.

My partner and I set a budget that we both feel good about. We each contribute to our joint financial obligations. We set a Christmas budget, buy according to the budget and it works. Don’t let black clouds and negativity impact your holidays, let them be a time to show your gratitude and love for the people who are most important to you!