Question: I just started dating this wonderful guy, but I learned something very strange last month. He and his family celebrate the holidays on Dec. 29 every year! Seriously, they open gifts and eat a big family dinner four days after Christmas!
Why? Because they’re not very religious and they want to save money, so they do all their gift-shopping in the three days after Christmas. I’m not religious, either, but I love the idea of Christmas dinner. I can’t see marrying this man and having children who grow up celebrating Christmas on Dec. 29! My parents are equally horrified.
How do I convince my boyfriend that this is crazy!?
— Sonja in California
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
I’m a financial counselor, not a family therapist. So I’m not qualified to mediate the date of Christmas dinner for your two families.
However, as a CPA and personal finance author, I must say: I admire the creative frugality here. In more than 20 years of suggesting novel ways to make ends meet, I thought I’d heard them all. I must admit this is a new one.
Let me make two points, and you can decide for yourself if they’re valid…
First, the upside
If you do indeed marry this man — and as you said, you just starting dating — this could actually work out perfectly for both families.
As a husband myself, I can tell you there’s a certain stress to trying to balance your holiday dinners with both sides of the family. Many couples split the difference: Your family at Thanksgiving, mine at Christmas, and then we’ll switch off next year.
But you could easily hold Christmas dinner with your family and then take your children to your eccentric grandparents for a second holiday dinner.
Second, the savings
It’s no secret many couples fight about money. There are may reasons for that, but the biggest is simply that one partner is a saver and one is spender. While your boyfriend’s family saves money in a way that appalls you, it’s a good sign that they’re not spendthrifts. That would likely doom your relationship more than a belated holiday dinner.
The silver lining here is that, should your relationship progress, your husband will be wise with his money. That’s something worth celebrating any time of the year.
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Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.