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Why Setting Gift Spending Limits With Your Partner Can Make You Both Happier

With the holidays at hand, you’re probably feeling a lot of pressure around purchasing the perfect gifts. You want all of your friends and family to be totally thrilled with the items you choose for them (and, ideally, with your gift wrapping job too). Perhaps most stress-inducing is the process of choosing the best-ever gift for your partner. Yes, you want them to be excited about the present itself, but you also want to be sure that your gift isn’t significantly more or less big or expensive than the one your S.O. gives you. If there’s a big gap between the presents you’ve bought each other, things can get awkward.


The awkwardness isn’t all in your head, either. According to a recent survey from Quicken, heading into the holiday season with clear spending limits for gifts within a romantic relationship can go a long way toward making spirits brighter. Of the 1,000 married adults who participated in the survey, nearly 70 percent said they agree on spending limits ahead of time — and those people demonstrate higher levels of relationship satisfaction as well. Of those participants who reported setting spending limits, 78 percent said they are happy with how much their spouse spends, compared to 63 percent of people who don’t set those limits. Couples without spending limits are also twice as likely to wish that their spouse had spent more. And we all know that weird money vibes can create a general sense of discomfort around the holiday season as a whole. It’s best to avoid those.

If this data has you feeling inspired to set a holiday spending limit in your own relationship and you’re not sure how to handle the conversation, we’ve got you! Quicken’s chief marketing officer Aimee Young offers these three tips for managing spending limits.

1. Don’t avoid the discussion. While talking about money with your S.O. tends to be uncomfortable (and even more so when the money in question is meant to be spent on that S.O.), the results of Quicken’s survey should give you the motivation you need to dive into the conversation. If you have a sneaking suspicion that holiday gift spending limits would make a big difference in your own relationship satisfaction over the holiday season, don’t be afraid to bring it up. Chances are that it’s going to pay off!

2. Choose the right time to talk. “Try to find time when you and your partner are more likely to be at your best, rather than when you’re running out the door to work or have just gotten home and may need time to decompress,” Young suggests. Consider setting a date to have this particular conversation so that both you and your partner will come to the table with a good attitude and with the understanding that there’s an important discussion to be had.

3. Find a comfortable way to track your goal. If you and your partner tend to come at things in a quantitative way and like to be able to track and prove things, you’re probably wondering how you can follow along with the progress of your spending goals without awkwardly handing each other gift receipts. How unromantic is that? Instead, use a budgeting app or online platform to input your individual spending. Yes, you and your S.O. will both still have access to the costs of the gifts you’ve bought, but you can handle it independently without breaking down all of the prices for each other IRL.

Happy holidays — and happy spending (limits)!

Do you set spending limits for gifts with your significant other? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)

Alli Hoff Kosik
Alli Hoff Kosik is a freelance writer who is passionate about reading, running, rainbow sprinkles, her lipstick collection, watching embarrassing reality TV, and drinking pink wine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and (in her dreams, at least) three golden retriever puppies. Listen to her talk books on The SSR Podcast.

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