Financial infidelity for the holidays.

thGray Thursday is tomorrow and Black Friday is the day after that. Anyone without a specific plan runs the risk of blowing the budget and/or lying about it.

Ho, ho, no.

According to a survey from VitalSmarts, eight out of 10 people overdo it on Black Friday and 56 percent have a hard time talking about holiday spending with their spouses/partners.

Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, who founded the corporate training company, cite these common tactics for avoiding the discussion:


Hiding price tags or misrepresenting what you’ve spent (55 percent)

Using separate accounts to shop (33 percent)

Changing/avoiding the subject (60 percent)

Walking away from the conversation if it does get started (26 percent)

Hiding purchases (43 percent)

Asserting that it’s your money (19 percent)

Sure, it can be hard to talk about money – especially during such an emotionally fraught time. “Criticism of spending habits can come off as a personal attack,” Grenny notes. “People get defensive when their intentions feel noble but another’s criticism suggests they’re out of control.”

The authors suggest the following tips to deal with holiday money discussions:

Don’t put it off. It’s a little late now to say “start early,” but better late than really late. Talk about spending plans, keeping in mind that even if you have his-and-hers accounts you also have shared financial goals. Besides, having one or both partners in debt is no way to begin a new year.

Solve the right problem. It isn’t always just overspending. Suppose you find that your spouse has stored a ton of expensive gifts somewhere else (a friend’s house, a storage unit). “The issue now is trust, not spending,” the authors say.

Keep an open mind. Again, maybe it isn’t about blowing the budget. Maybe gift-giving isn’t as big a deal to you and you just don’t understand why partner/spouse spent all that money. Neither of you is “wrong” as such. But compromise is probably needed.

Be loving and respectful. This helps ward off defensiveness. “I love you and want you to be happy. Can we figure out some ways to have a great holiday without stinting our year-round financial goals?”

Hold each other accountable. Once you’ve figured out how to have that great holiday, keep track of all spending.

So if you and your spouse/partner are circling warily around the subject of holiday spending, use some or all of those tactics to get real. Financial infidelity can not only sandbag your budget, but may also erode trust.


How will you pay for your shopping?

According to a TransUnion survey, shoppers are planning more than one form of payment. Seven out of 10 will use credit cards, but 74 percent are planning to use cash. Definitely some overlap there.

Parents of kids under 18 are a lot more likely to use plastic: 80 percent told TransUnion they’ll break out the cards for shopping. Here’s where it gets nerve-wracking for me: 89 percent of men surveyed plan to pay the balance within one to three months, while only 73 percent of women say they’ll be able to do this.

While I’d love to believe all of them will pay within one month, my guess is that this is not the case. And what’s with the “plan” to pay off? The time to plan is before you go shopping. Specifically, when you make the list and check it twice – and build a holiday budget based on spending only as much as you can afford.

Here’s hoping you guys all do that.


Get ready, get set…Spend!

Meanwhile, the 2016 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker says that more of us will be shopping on Black Friday this year than last.

More than half of us (53 percent) will break out the cash and/or plastic, compared to 45 percent last year. Shoppers expect to lay out an average of $550 (!) on Black Friday alone – and a whole lot of that will be spent between midnight and 3 a.m., when almost three in 10 consumers (29 percent) will be hitting those lightning deals and really-early-bird specials.

Speaking of online shopping: From now through Nov. 28, the Swagbucks rewards site will offer increased cash-back through stores including (but not limited to) Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Sephora and Best Buy. One-day special deals will be offered, so keep an eye on the Black Friday Deals Week page.

If you’re not already a member, I hope you’ll join using my referral link. An extra 300 SB points can be yours if you earn 300 SBs of your own from now through Dec. 1. Spend at least $25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time and you’ll get another bonus, of 200 SBs.

Note: I’m doing a bunch of my holiday shopping by cashing in my SBs for gift cards. Some are outright gifts and others will help me buy presents. I also cash in for restaurant gift cards so that when I visit my daughter we can go out to eat. Swagbucks is hands-down my favorite rewards program. If you don’t join through my link, join some other way.


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  1. spiffikins

    I have a credit card hooked to my amazon.com account – by the end of the year, I generally have a couple hundred bucks in points that I can spend at amazon for my Christmas gift.

    Black Friday is starting earlier and earlier – this year I completed my shopping Wednesday night by 9:15pm!

  2. I don’t ‘do’ Christmas anymore. I enjoy it instead.
    Saves me a lot of money, time and hassles.
    More people should try it.
    They might like it.

  3. Thanks Donna. Your advice is excellent as usual and I have been following it for years. I am less frugal these days. Now that I am older with an empty nest my expenses are less. Christmas is one time that I like to splash out a little without worrying unduly about the cost. I have though, the savings to pay for it all. We now have Black Friday(an American import) in Ireland and I couldn’t believe the traffic jams yesterday. I contented myself with buying a couple of books for a friend’s toddler using my swagbucks points(also an American import and joined through your site).
    On a separate note and referring to one of your earlier posts, we have welcomed all of your presidents to Ireland with enthusiasm. We love America here and Americans. However I don’t know a single person who would want to welcome your new man. Last year we passed a referendum in favour of gay marriage.I have also had a hard time recently explaining to my class of twelve year olds why he doesn’t like Muslims or Mexicans. Please God all will turn out well for you over there and that his good policies come to the fore.

    • Just spent 2 weeks in your wonderful country. I found everyone friendly! We were having a drink at a local pub (there were 4 of us) I was asked by the owner what I thought of our election and I told her not to ask us our opinion because we were all Trump supports and disliked Clinton very much. We explained to her that we will all be fine because our government isn’t just run by one person

  4. Lake Livin'

    I’m cashing in all my points earned from various sources all year to help defray costs. We put everything on cards to earn rewards, but never carry a balance. I also use E-bates and Mr. Rebates whenever shopping online and buy used when possible. Our biggest Christmas gift this year is going to be a paid off house!!!!!

  5. Well, so far, other than a minor grocery shop last Tuesday, I have spent nothing in stores or online. Just a nice, relaxing weekend. Commenting to say I didn’t think I could be more thankful for my life. However, reading that list reminded me of even more. Like you, Donna, my true love came late in life. We never argue about money. We are both frugal and generous by nature. I don’t think my younger self understood what a rare and wonderful combination that is. My 50+ year-old self is stunningly grateful. For example, he pays all the bills and never questions anything I spend. (Don’t worry, I have full access to all of our accounts.) We have all we need and then some. Life is full and rich and good. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Donna Freedman

      So glad to hear that. Life can be very, very good without busting out the plastic.

      I didn’t buy a single thing all weekend, either. Well, I did spend $2 at The Hideaway Club in Anchorage, while Linda B. and I watched “The Walking Dead” there: $1 for a soft drink and $1 for the lovely bartender who checks back in to see if we want refills. (And I do!) But that came out of the “entertainment” portion of the budget.

  6. My Black Friday tradition is to do something other than shopping. This year I went to the Natural History Museum with a friend. We did spend money, obviously – parking, admission, lunch – and I also spent a little in the gift shops because my year-round tradition is to spend money at museums. Got a $24 book for my sister (marked down to $8) and a $20 handbag for my friend (whose $3 thrift-shop purse broke just as we arrived).

    So thankful for the city officials and private philanthropists who make facilities like that possible.

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