Manners Matter: Holiday Budget

Dear Mary Pat,

My husband is a grinch. He wants me to limit my spending for Christmas. I know what you’re thinking since this is probably a common complaint among couples around the holidays, but this is an extreme case. He is suddenly obsessively focused on numbers that aren’t realistic such as $200 for the groceries per week and a $20 gift for his secretary. I do spend more around the holidays but I’m not over the top and I do work within a budget; I’m just not cheap. A $20 gift for a woman who works 40-50 hours a week is insulting. We can afford to do way more which is why I’ve already ignored his budget and purchased her a $300 item. He wasn’t happy but I’m not returning it. Also, when you have five children, $200 is a tight budget for groceries. Just the baking supplies and basics such as milk, eggs and butter really add up. Unless he wants hamburgers instead of rack of lamb, he’d better up the budget. How do I explain this to him?


Mrs. Grinch

Algoma, Wis.


Dear Mrs. Grinch,

If your husband thinks the grocery bill is high, he probably hasn’t shopped since 1996. It’s time to make a grocery list of everything you need for this week and take him to the store with you. This little exercise will hopefully open his eyes to the cost of things. (After you check everything off your list throw in another $50-$100 worth of groceries to donate to our local food pantries. We can all be looking for ways to help our neighbors during the holidays and throughout the year.)

After you get home and put the groceries away, sit down with more paper and a pen and see if you can calmly work this out and adjust the budget to where you are both comfortable. Ask him why he is so focused on holiday spending this year. Maybe he is really anxious about something else and this is just a diversion. You’ll hopefully get to the bottom of things and lessen the tension between you.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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