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Do you lie to your spouse about holiday spending?

If you are Santa in the stores and Pinocchio at home, you are hardly alone. Here's how to keep the peace and enjoy the season.

By Nov 6, 2013 1:40PM

This post comes from Christine DiGangi at MSN partner on MSN MoneyIf you have been less than forthright with your significant other about what you spend on holiday merriment, you have lots of company. Holiday spending can be a minefield for couples, and some partners who disagree resort to subterfuge. Among couples, a third have lied to their partners about holiday spending, and many say they have tried to conceal purchases, according to a new survey.

The report from McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union outlined findings from a survey of 1,000  Gift © Brian Hagiwara, Brand X, CorbisAmerican adults in three relationship categories: heterosexual married couples, same-sex couples in a committed relationship or married and couples in a relationship or remarried following a divorce. The heterosexual married couples reported the highest rates of lies, disagreements and cover-ups.

Spending soars in the last two months of the year, particularly credit card spending in December, and many consumers acknowledge getting carried away with gift shopping and social expenses. That can strain anyone’s finances, so it’s not surprising to see tension arise when couples tackle the holiday-spending budget.

That’s the first thing -- there should be such a budget, and everyone needs to stick to it in order to avoid overspending and potentially racking up credit card debt or overdrafting bank accounts. Two people may have different ideas about how the budget should come together, which is reflected in the survey, but it’s important to discuss it and come to an agreement.

Nearly half (48%) of heterosexual married couples reported disagreeing over how to approach holiday expenses. That share falls to 43 percent among the divorced group and 37 percent among same-sex couples.

The trend held mostly true throughout the survey. About a third of married consumers had lied about spending behaviors, whereas 25 percent of both divorced and same-sex couples said they had been untruthful. More than half of the married group had used cash to conceal spending, with a third of same-sex couples doing so, though same-sex couples were more likely to intercept and pay a bill before a partner could pay it.

A majority of shoppers have experienced buyer’s remorse: More than half of us (55 percent) have returned items because we felt guilty about the cost.

Spending more during the holidays is entirely reasonable, as long as there’s a plan to manage the costs and it doesn’t interfere with financial obligations, such as loan and bill payments. There are many tools consumers can use to make the most of their holiday spending, as long as they’re used responsibly, like layaway and store credit cards.

But overspending can have serious consequences. Things like late bill payments and credit card debt can result in both anxiety and lower credit scores. Before you break out out the gift wrap, get a clear picture of your financial standing by looking at your credit reports. You can also see how credit card use would impact your credit scores by looking at your profile through’s free Credit Report Card. While gift-giving and party-hosting can be sources of joy, they shouldn’t lead to a financial hangover.

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Nov 9, 2013 4:45PM
If you hide things from your spouse then you are not honest and forthright.....people should not be married if the relationship requires lying to hide things you do! An open adult relationship makes a better marriage, anything less I wouldn't want or be a part of.  
Nov 9, 2013 1:26PM
Do I lie to my spouse about what I spent on Christmas gifts? What a stupid question. My wife knows what I spend. We do most of our shopping together. What ever surprise gifts we buy for one another, are just that, a surprise. How much someone spends doesn't matter, it's the thought that counts.
Nov 9, 2013 12:27PM
Why not just give the gift that lasts all year long. This one gift is one size fits all. This one everyone has it to give, but so few people give it. You can't buy it in a store. Some people sell it, but it should never be sold at any cost. It is the gift of LOVE. I have been getting this gift for years. When you have nothing to give and no money to spend, this one gift will last a lifetime.
Nov 9, 2013 7:29PM
I plan to buy a gift for my wife.  She is the real first lady.   Other than a gift for her, I plan to spend no more than 100 dollars on Christmas this year.  And, it is likely to be more like 50 dollars.  I am sick of the commericailization of the holiday celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And, I'm sick of seeing Christmas decorations from October to January.  So, no, there is no need for me to lie to my wife.  She is the real first lady.  I hear too many lies on the "ask your doctor, tell your doctor" box.
Nov 9, 2013 11:07PM
I don't feel that there was really any tangible advice in this article.
Nov 9, 2013 4:01PM
Only of he help me  ,both most of the time I never tell anyone what I send on all gift, Happy shopping great time of year ( I give more when someone need something during the year )    bYE
Nov 9, 2013 12:58PM

THIS is why we maintain separate bank accounts with a joint savings so that we can funnel money back and forth if needed!!!

We spend very little anymore it seems but yet always have gifts for everyone.  We shop all year 'round just so we can enjoy the holidays, and watch as everyone else runs around like nuts!!!!!

We do not fall into buying big or expensive stuff for people we barely know, a remembrance gift is enough, we never spend more than $50 on a gift, but since we do it all year 'round, it is one gift at a time.

Nov 9, 2013 4:39PM
Hey folks, K-Mart may be where the deals are this year.  A friend of mine did some comparison shopping this week and bought a toy he was looking for at K-Mart for 9.85.  The same toy at Toys aR Us was 17.99.  That is a significant savings.  He saved on another item as well but I forgot what it was.  K-Mart's slogan this year is, You get more Christmas at K-Mart and I think it might be true.  I plan to check it out.
Nov 6, 2013 6:08PM
Of course I do:  I don't want my wife knowing what I spent on my girl friend
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