The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and loved ones. It’s a time to relax, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate the season. However, all too often, the holidays become a time of stress, anxiety, and tension. One source of this tension is money. Whether it’s an argument over who pays for what, pressure to give expensive gifts, or falling into an uncomfortable conversation with a relative, financial disagreements can put a damper on the festive mood and leave us feeling downright “Scrooged.” The good news is that there are ways to avoid the holiday money blues. Let’s take a closer look.
Tips for Keeping Money Out of Conversations During the Holidays
For many people, money is a sensitive subject, and it’s best to avoid discussing it if at all possible. Here are a few tips to keep money out of the holiday conversations.
- Be prepared. If you know you’re going to be spending time with family or friends who tend to talk about money, come up with a plan ahead of time. That way, if the conversation does turn to money, you’ll be able to politely excuse yourself or change the subject.
- Try to focus on the positive. The holidays are a time for gratitude and enjoyment, so try to keep your conversations focused on the things that make you happy. This will help to keep the mood light and avoid any potential arguments.
- Try to focus on experiences and quality time with loved ones instead of on material items. Plan activities that everyone can enjoy, whether it’s baking cookies, going for a nature walk, or having a family game night. And if you do want to give gifts, consider making them by hand or hosting a gift exchange with a price limit.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to keep money out of the conversation altogether, it can creep up. If it does, there are a few things you can try. First, you can deflect the conversation by changing the subject. If that doesn’t work, you can absolutely be honest and say that you’re not comfortable discussing finances. You don’t have to give a reason why, and the other person should respect your decision. Finally, if the person persists, you can walk away from the conversation. There’s no obligation to stay and answer questions that make you uncomfortable. It’s okay to set boundaries and stick to them. Remember, you have a right to privacy when it comes to your finances, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to divulge information that you’re not comfortable sharing. After all, it’s your holiday too.
How to Have Productive Financial Conversations
All of that said, at The Humphreys Group we believe that money is an important topic of discussion. Honest and productive conversations can be beneficial for all parties. If, for example, you can tell that a loved one is stressed out about money and you feel that they might benefit from a chat, suggest a one-on-one conversation for a later day. If you are feeling anxious about money, consider reaching out to a trusted friend or family member and asking if they might sit down and talk things through with you.
Regardless of which end of the conversation you are on, it can be helpful to think through a few questions prior to the chat:
- What do you specifically want to achieve with this conversation?
- What causes you to see financial conversations as a challenge?
- What, if anything, about your finances makes you emotional?
It’s also important to remain calm and respectful. Remember that everyone has different financial circumstances — what may be easy for you may be difficult for someone else, and vice versa. By being understanding and mindful of others’ feelings, you can help make the holiday season a little brighter for everyone.
Check out our previous blog for additional tips and tricks for having productive financial conversations or get in touch with The Humphreys Group for a second opinion on your financial picture.