Spender or Saver? How to Compromise With Your Spouse This Holiday Season

Holiday season is upon us and gift giving is in full swing. But what happens when you and your spouse disagree on how much is too much? Perhaps you’d like to give your kids or a loved one a gift that your spouse finds is over the top. Or vise-versa, your spouse prefers to spend but you prefer you stick to a strict budget. Everyone expresses love in their own unique way, and for some people gift giving is the best way they know how to give and receive love.

In fact, did you know that most relationships have a spender and a saver? Spenders and savers have an uncanny ability to find each other and get married. It’s a common occurrence for people to be drawn to those who tend to have an opposite strategy. The key is to look at this in a positive way – believe it or not you can learn from each other. Here are some tips on how you can get on the same page.

Show empathy

First and foremost, acknowledge that you have different opinions, and step into each other’s shoes for a moment. Once you validate one another’s feelings, you won’t feel as rigid to have a conversation about money. Hear your partner out, listen to one another and try to genuinely understand your spouse’s feelings. Once you have shown empathy, you’ll be better equipped to have a productive conversation and get on the same page.

Reach a compromise

Once you have validated each other’s feelings, you can work on reaching a healthy compromise. If you have a saver personality and know that your spouse finds great joy in giving gifts, then sit down and discuss ways you can budget this in. Perhaps the budget shifts a bit during the holidays, or you plan a specific gift budget that you save for throughout the year. Some spouses will also decide to forgo giving each other gifts and instead put that money towards giving to others.

If you are a spender and know this time of year stresses out your spouse, try to create a gift-giving plan. Go over this with your spouse (and cut back a bit if you have to) so there are no surprises when it comes time to do the shopping.

You both will likely need to give-and-take a bit, but whatever you decide, make sure it is a mutual decision. And stick to it!

Acknowledge shared ownership

In any relationship, you both have to take responsibility to pay the bills. As partners you share this and are accountable for your actions. If you prefer to save money rather than spend, find a way to pull your spouse into your experience and feelings about finances. Perhaps you have fears over losing money and are focused on the financial stability of your future? Share your thoughts with your spouse, and express how important this is to you.

As a spender, this goes the same way. Share your viewpoints with your spouse. Is gift giving important to you? Let them know. Do you feel that your spouse needs to live a bit more in the present and not stress so much over the future? Then express that every once in a while you’d like to agree to spend money on gifts. Create a shared plan and vision on how you can achieve this without creating any undue stress on your spouse.

Ultimately, you can learn from each other’s viewpoints all while respecting your differences. By acknowledging that you share this ownership of your finances, and also hearing each other out, you can find a way to reach a balance and compromise to keep you both happy.

Communication: putting it all together

What does all of this come down to? Communication is key. By speaking each other’s language, showing empathy, and hearing your partner out you can establish healthy boundaries and still be able to experience the joy of the holidays.

This holiday season shouldn’t be stressful. By sitting down and having a productive conversation you can give-and-take and come up with a plan that will keep you both happy. And when it does come time to spend, don’t forget to have fun!

If you want to dive deeper, check out our Deep Love Assessment here. You’ll learn more about your money methods, your personalities and how you and your partner can learn to communicate better!

Do you and your spouse disagree on how much is too much? Are you a spender or a saver? We’d love to hear how you and your partner handle this in the comments below!


  • Clarice Wilson says:

    I love this! Thank you so much!

  • Stephanie Waller says:

    Such great advice! Showing empathy is the hardest part for me!

  • J says:

    We have found success with budgeting a Christmas fund that we put money into throughout the year. In leaner years, we had come up with homemade gifts that people now request year after year. Our Christmas budget also allows us to be generous with Giving Trees, Adopting a Family, or Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. The spender and saver can both breathe easier knowing those funds were already set aside for that purpose.

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