Ways To Ease Money Conversations With Family During the Holidays

    3 minutes
    Learn about some ways to be open about financial realities with your family without dampening the holiday mood.

    The holidays are one of the happiest times of the year, a time where loved ones get together to celebrate. Amongst all the merriment and twinkly lights of the holidays are the financial realities of gift giving when nearly 25% of Americans are still paying off debt from last year’s holiday season. Here we share some ways to discuss money during the holidays without making you feel like you are dampening the holiday spirit.

    Decide what’s important
    An important part of discussing money during the holidays is finding out what’s important to us and then communicating expectations or guidelines with our family and others. With holiday traditions most of us end up doing the same things over and over each year because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” It’s understandable our family wants and expects to see us during the holidays, but for those who live across the country an expensive airplane ride may not be financially viable. Or maybe we just can’t spend the same amount on gifts as we have in the past.
    Prepare for discussion
    Money realities may not be a comfortable conversation but they’re crucial in communicating expectations up-front. No matter what you decide it’s helpful to have a conversation with your family about your holiday plans.

    Here are some things you might consider:
    • What’s important to you this holiday season?
    • Is joining the family festivities this year even possible?
    • How much can you realistically spend on gifts?
    • Are there ways to celebrate the holidays with people you love that don’t involve spending money?

    Some potential approaches:

    • Be honest about financial limitations.
    • Mention you're not able to spend the same amount on gifts as in the past.
    • Point out how travel would be difficult to navigate financially.
    Make a pact
    At its best, gift giving is a way to spread love and kindness to the people in our lives. Take some time working out a pact with family and friends on an agreed upon spending limit for holiday gifts. Financial stress may lead some of us to feel comfortable adhering to a “no-gift” stance, while others are more willing to swipe their credit card to ensure everyone has a gift. Look for a balanced approach where possible with friends, family and co-workers with some things to consider:
    •  How much are we spending on each other?
    •  Are frugal gifts, handmade, and the like acceptable?
    •  Are we getting a gift for each person in our family, or is Secret Santa style an option?
    •  Are we buying presents for our partner’s family as well?
    •  Are we buying holiday gifts for co-workers?
    • If you are not able to travel, suggest alternatives such as FaceTime and Skype calls to help offset a tough situation by giving family something to look forward to.
    There is no shame in sharing our financial realities with the people we care about. An American Psychological Survey found 44% of women and 31% of men experience greater stress amidst the holidays, citing financial concerns and lack of time to really relax. You are not alone.
    Happy Holidays
    As you wrap up this year, we want you to enjoy the holidays, but most of all we want you to be safe and secure knowing that you can count on us for the advice and resources you need whenever or wherever you need. Our Financial Health Center experts are ready to meet with you to discuss your unique situation and help you feel more hopeful about going into the holidays.

    Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy and hopeful holiday season.