Personal finance pros on what you need to know when you’re gift giving and budget setting in a relationship.

By Danielle Halibey, The Knot featuring Julia K. Pham, CFP®, AIF®, CDFA®, Wealth Advisor

Ah, the holiday season—a time of twinkling lights, cozy moments and, of course, the joy of gift giving. But what happens when you’re in a relationship? Suddenly, the gift-giving landscape becomes adorned with questions, starting with how much do couples spend on Christmas gifts? When you’re coupled up, navigating the complex terrain of holiday gift giving can be a delicate dance. Do you give gifts to friends and family members together, or is it strictly a one-on-one affair? Does the duration of your relationship determine the depth of your holiday gift? Setting up a budget and having an open conversation before segueing into your shopping spree is a smart move, but when the tables are turned and the gift exchange is between you and your partner, what’s the game plan there? Should you both spend the same amount or should the dollars ebb and flow according to each of your respective incomes? We’d argue it’s more about the heartfelt meaning behind the gift, rather than its monetary value—but we still spoke with some personal finance gurus and wealth advisors to get the full scoop on holiday gift budgets and overall buying advice for pairs.

So, before you dive into ALL the festive season spending and the search for wife gifts, husband gifts or spouse gifts, take a moment to get aligned on what’s important to the both of you ahead of the holidays and remember that being in a relationship can significantly influence your holiday gifting goals—making them more personal, emotionally charged and collaborative in nature. Setting a budget and getting on the same page is invaluable in ensuring stress levels stay low and expectations remain realistic. By doing so, not only will you minimize the potential for misunderstandings and financial strain, you also open the door to more inspiring and joyous end-of-year celebrations where the true spirit of giving takes center stage.

Shopping for Friends and Family

When you’re in a committed relationship, navigating the art of giving gifts to friends and family members takes on a whole new dimension. The fact that you’re no longer handling Santa responsibilities solo may end up impacting what you choose to give your nearest and dearest. You may opt for joint gifts or experiences, symbolizing the unity and “team effort” your relationship represents. But when you’re troubleshooting where to allocate your resources, both financial and emotional, you might find it challenging (spoiler alert: it is, so don’t feel badly about it). That’s where advice and support from pros “who know” come in clutch. In truth, the cementing of a new “favorite” person in your life doesn’t necessarily mean that your money and attention should be solely directed towards them. Instead, it’s an opportunity to share the love, quite literally, especially if you and your significant other are sharing expenses (and splitting holidays with both of your families). The beauty of being in a relationship during the holiday season is finding that harmonious balance between celebrating your love and cherishing the meaningful connections with your friends and family. Everyone should feel valued and cherished.

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