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Avoid Marriage Counseling by Skipping This Holiday Problem

Ms. Vicki

Ms. Vicki,

The holidays are here and I’m lonely for my family and for my friends. I’m stuck at Fort Hood and I’m wishing I was on the Big Island of Hawaii with my parents and my siblings.

Since I can’t be there for Christmas I want to send gifts to everyone. I already ordered a lot of things from Amazon and I’m thinking of ordering more.

My husband doesn’t understand because he isn’t close to his family, but I am. He is already complaining about my spending. I don’t know what else to do. Can you give me some advice because I’m lonely for family this Christmas?

-- Homesick

A note from Ms. Vicki:

Each year I receive letters like the one above from writers who want to spend lavishly for family and friends during the holidays. They want to make everyone happy on Christmas day with gifts, gifts and more gifts. Not only do they purchase items for their spouse and children, but their Christmas gift list includes immediate and extended family, friends, neighbors, teachers, church members and coworkers.

The writer above is spending money to feel better because she is lonely and she wants to be with her family and friends. She believes that spending money will make her feel better.

But without fail every year in late January or early February my therapy office is flooded with servicemembers and their spouses who are hurting because they have created insurmountable debt they cannot pay. Not only does the debt cause depression and anxiety, but it also causes relationship and marital discord. Financial stress is one of the major factors cited for relationship breakups.

Remember these 4 quick tips to avoid the New Year Debt Blues:

Make a commitment to create memories not debt.

Think about it: memories will be what you think about when you reflect on the holiday season. The fun things you did with family and friends, the laughter, the food and the celebration are the reasons everyone came together in the first place. Your presence should be enough to bring a smile on your loved ones face and not an expensive gift that you cannot afford.

Give of your time and creativity not your finances:

A gift that someone made or created just for you is always more special than something purchased. For example, the $5 flower pot that your friend painted and put your name on probably has special meaning, just like the frame that your child made at school and placed a picture in Remember: save money and be creative.

Set realistic expectations by creating a budget and sticking to it:

Don’t make the mistake of overspending. If your budget is $400 stick to it. The most important thing is that you have a budget. If you don’t make a budget your propensity to overspend increases tremendously.

Don’t use your credit cards:

Using plastic will cause you more stress and anxiety in the New Year when you realize how much interest you are paying each month. It’s not worth it. Using your credit cards is one sure way to rack up a large amount of debt to start off your new year.

I hope these holiday spending tips help you avoid extra stress in the new year.

-- Ms. Vicki

Related Topics

Ask Ms. Vicki Family and Spouse Credit Card Debt Personal Finances

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki, a native of Dallas, has been the ‘Dear Abby’ for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her column has appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Ms. Vicki has retired from writing new columns for Military.com. Although Ms. Vicki is no longer offering new advice on Military.com, you can still email military benefits questions to our Questions and Benefits team. Need military spouse career help? Email our Dear Career writers.