EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 22, 2013

Don't forget about Christmas

My wife and I have $15,000 in debt left to pay off. We bring home around $32,000 a year, and we usually spend $250 to $300 on Christmas. I started talking to her about your plan earlier this year, and she finally agreed and got on board a couple of months ago. How should we handle Christmas budgeting in the middle of working our debt snowball?

The first thing I’d suggest is to not mention my name for a while. If she’s agreed to start working the plan and help you guys get control of your money, that’s enough for now. We don’t want to cause a rift during the holidays.

Just sit down together and ask her what she thinks is a reasonable amount to spend for Christmas while you’re trying to get out of debt. If it’s a reasonable figure, smile and tell her you agree. You might even ask if she’s okay with your old Christmas budget. If she is, then pencil it in and move on to other things.

The big thing is to make sure you listen to her opinion and work on this together. On the off chance that she gives some crazy dollar amount, just nod and ask how she came to that figure. Then, talk things out. Don’t bring up my name or go crazy about things. It sounds like you two are on the right track!

Do you think I should consider switching from my traditional TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) to a Roth TSP?

If I’ve got a choice, I’m going with the Roth TSP. Now, if you’re starting out really late with your saving and investing, the math might work out either way. But in most cases, when you’ve got several years ahead of you, a Roth TSP, or even a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) where your money grows tax free, is a much better choice.

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