Unwrapping the Secret to Talking About Holiday Finances

Provo, Utah, November 15, 2006 – Each holiday season, it’s the same old story: you endure a year-long battle of meticulously balancing and budgeting your funds, only to have your budget blown at the first sign of a holiday sale on the day after Thanksgiving. If this form of holiday gluttony sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

According to a recent Crucial Conversations Online Survey, 60% of people either overspend or have a spouse or partner who overspends during the holiday season, and 78% say it is difficult to discuss holiday spending with their spouse or partner—the majority either put it off for months or avoid bringing up their concerns altogether.

Joseph Grenny, coauthor of the national bestseller Crucial Conversations (McGraw-Hill), says people fear budget conversations because they feel ill-equipped to hold these sensitive discussions.

“If not approached skillfully, criticism of spending habits can come off as a personal attack,” says Grenny. “People will become particularly defensive when their intentions are to please others with gifts and someone tells them they’re out of control. The problem is that most don’t know how to hold these conversations with the offender without damaging the relationship or acting like a Scrooge.”

The survey revealed that people fear budget discussions so much that they will employ just about any tactic to avoid an unpleasant conversation on holiday spending.

The Top Six Tactics Used to Avoid Discussions on Holiday Overspending:

  • Change or avoid the subject – 24%
  • Hide price tags or what’s been spent – 23%
  • Hide recent purchases – 17%
  • Walk away from the conversation – 10%
  • Tell your spouse/partner it’s your money – 9%
  • Change the subject to areas where the other person is “less than perfect.” – 8%

Grenny says if people apply a few simple skills for holding these crucial conversations, the discussion will be more pleasant and will result in a better outcome.

Tips for Discussing Holiday Spending without Being a Scrooge

  • Talk early. Don’t wait until your spouse springs for a Harley to talk about limits. Find a time to talk early about how you’ll deal with this year’s holiday spending.
  • Solve the right problem. Many couples don’t reach resolution because they discuss the wrong problem. For example, if you discover your loved one has rented storage units in neighboring states stuffed with hidden binge gifts, the issue now is trust, not spending.
  • Communicate with love and respect. The most important key to solving problems with loved ones is to ensure they know that you respect and love them. When they know you support and respect them, their defenses drop and they begin to listen.
  • Be willing to be wrong. Approach the conversation with an open mind. For example, it could be that the source of your conflict is not a real budget limitation, but that you don’t value holiday gift giving to the same degree as your partner.
  • Hold each other accountable. Once you reach an agreement, find a way to routinely keep track of spending.


About VitalSmarts:

An innovator in corporate training and organizational performance, VitalSmarts is home to multiple training offerings, including the award-winning Crucial Conversations®, Crucial Confrontations®, Influencer Training™, and Change Anything Training™. Each course improves key organizational outcomes by focusing on high-leverage skills and strategies. The Company also has four New York Times best-selling books. VitalSmarts has helped 300 of the Fortune 500 and trained more than 800,000 people worldwide. www.vitalsmarts.com

CONTACT: Brittney Maxfield of VitalSmarts, L.C. +1-801-724-6272

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