Unwrapping the Secret to Talking About Holiday Finances

Provo, Utah, November 22, 2016 – Each holiday season, it’s the same old story: you endure a year-long battle of meticulously balancing and budgeting your funds, only to blow your budget come Black Friday. If this form of holiday gluttony sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

New research by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, cofounders of VitalSmarts and the authors of the bestseller Crucial Conversations, found that 8 out of 10 people either overspend or have a spouse or partner who overspends during the holiday season, and nearly 56% say it is difficult to discuss holiday spending with their spouse or partner or avoid bringing up their concerns altogether.

Study authors Grenny and Maxfield say 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 get defensive when their intentions feel noble but another’s criticism suggests they’re out of control. The problem is that most don’t know how to hold these conversations with a squandering spouse without damaging the relationship or acting like a Scrooge.”

The study also 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 Talking About Holiday Spending:

Change or avoid the subject 60%
Hide price tags or what’s been spent 55%
Hide recent purchases 43%
Use separate accounts to make the purchase

Walk away from the conversation



Tell your spouse/partner it’s your money 19%

Grenny and Maxfield say if people apply a few simple skills for holding these crucial conversations, the discussion will be more pleasant and you might even stay on budget come next year.

Tips for Discussing Holiday Spending without Being a Scrooge:

  • Talk early. Don’t wait until your spouse springs for a Tesla 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.


Note to Editor: David and Joseph are available for interviews. Copies of the book and full research results are also available.

About VitalSmarts
Named one of the Top 20 Leadership Training Companies, VitalSmarts, a TwentyEighty, Inc. company, is home to the award-winning Crucial Conversations®, Crucial Accountability®, Change Anything®, and Influencer Training® and New York Times bestselling books of the same titles. VitalSmarts has consulted with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies and trained more than 1.5 million people worldwide. www.vitalsmarts.com

Contact: Clay Blackham: clay@methodcommunications.com or 801-461-9755.



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