The holidays can be expensive—like, really expensive. And to complicate things, if you’ve merged your finances pre- or post-marriage, there’s new challenges and conversations to be had before hitting up the malls and online sales. We spoke with Ethan Bloch, CEO of Digit, for his expert insight in navigating joint finances during the holiday season.
As with most things in life, preparation and planning can go a long way to ensure smooth sailing. Bloch advises, “Talk in depth as a couple about what’s most important to you. Is it spending quality time with family, doing outdoor activities, pursuing new experiences, buying nice things for your home and the people you love?” In your conversations, he suggests to see where you are on the same page, and where you’re not, “that way, you can optimize spending on what you value together rather than what you think others’ expectations may be.”
Consider Skipping the Gift Exchange
How can you conquer holiday shopping? Bloch suggests that skipping it altogether might be in your best interest financially. He explains, “There are a lot of thoughtful gifts couples can make for each other, or for family members, that are better than anything you can buy—anything you make yourself is a gift with real heart. Making things for friends, parents, or relatives can also be a great way to spend time together. Sites like Pinterest have a ton of amazing DIY holiday gift ideas.”
Use Your Gifts Wisely
Since you’re now more of a pair than individuals (in regard to gift giving, that is) you might receive some cash this season. If you do, try to show restraint in splurging and instead, use it wisely.
Bloch suggests, “It’s not as fun as splurging on a new TV or doing something nice to your place, but if you have any high-interest credit card debt, paying it down with that money is a smart thing to do. Your future self will thank you for saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars by this time next year.” He adds, “If you’re essentially debt-free or the interest is nominal, think about putting cash gifts toward an emergency 'rainy day' fund (which can get dipped into during the holidays).”
Another option? “Put your money where your resolutions are.” Bloch says you can’t go wrong investing gifts or bonuses in yourself and your future. He suggests, “Ramp up your retirement account join a professional association, enroll in a course to hone skills or develop new ones.”
Tools to Help
Luckily, if navigating your finances this time of year is a bit dizzying, there are lots of tools and apps to help. First? Digit. “Lots of our customers use Digit to save up for holiday travel and gifts,” Bloch explains. "Bill-splitting apps like Splitwise keep track of shared costs, and apps like Mint can help set a clear budget for holiday expenses. For online shopping, Honey scans for discount codes during checkout, and Earny helps you get your money back when there are price drops.”