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Dave Says-Don’t let money fights steal your joy

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Dear Dave,

My husband and I usually have a few disagreements around the holidays when it comes to Christmas spending. Do you have any advice for eliminating this kind of thing, and making the financial side of Christmas a little less stressful?

Kellie {{more}}

Dear Kellie,

I imagine every couple has a few disagreements over Christmas spending. The trick is in how you handle them, and come to a compromise you each feel is fair, smart, and affordable.

One of the keys is to start talking before you start shopping. Being on the same page—and creating a plan and sticking to it—are great ways to bring peace and togetherness into the picture. Honestly, Christmas spending can be part of your monthly cash flow plan the whole year. Get the picture? I’m talking about living on a written, monthly budget. You know Christmas is December 25thevery, single, year, so why not set aside a little each month leading up to the holidays?

If you haven’t planned ahead, now is a great time to become a unified team. Huddle up, not only to talk about Christmas priorities but devise a game plan moving forward so that this doesn’t happen again next year. Together, figure all your regular monthly income and expenses into a budget. If you’ve saved anything at all for Christmas, include that, as well. We’ve all got necessities, so take of those first. Then, make a general list of everything you’d like to spend money on for Christmas—I’m talking about the things we often overlook like food, cards, party expenses, and decorations. Now, make a gift list. Write a dollar amount beside each name or

expense on your lists, and if the grand total is the same as—or less than—your Christmas budget total, you’re ready to roll!

If you can’t agree, or the numbers don’t work, run through things again. This doesn’t mean to repeat your positions until you get what you want. It means both of you acting like mature, responsible adults, finding some middle ground, and making sacrifices. If you really want to show your commitment, you and your spouse can sign your new budget. Signing your name is a simple, psychological signal that means you’re committed to your agreement. Then, post it somewhere you’ll both see it regularly.

Give it a try, Kellie. It just might help reinforce your commitment to the budget—and each other—when the shopping frenzy sets in!

—Dave

*Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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