The M-word: families, financial worries, and the festive season
If you are worried about talking money with your family, or any potential spending stresses over the holidays, we’ve got a few simple tips and reminders to help you feel more grounded, confident, and in charge. Ditch the shame - no matter what you earn, there’s never a reason to feel ashamed. Our salaries aren’t a sign of success or worth. No-one would argue how hard a teacher or nurse works, yet it’s clearly not reflected in their earnings. That isn’t to say a high-paying job is easy or less fulfilling. It can be tough but remember: you can’t directly judge the time, effort, stress, or worth of one job against another. Avoid getting stuck in a comparison trap. Presence, not presents - spending time with family and loves ones doesn’t need to be all about going out, spending money, and having an extravagant get-together. If travel is a bit too expensive for some of the family, see if you can carpool to have a get-together, or take the gathering closer to them. Family meals at home can be more engaging and meaningful than expensive meals out, as you can spend time cooking together in a relaxed atmosphere without time-pressures to leave (or spend more than you are comfortable with on just one more drink, a round for the table, or a dessert you didn’t really want). Spending time together, not money on each other, is what really matters. Focus on being present with your family - not on buying expensive presents that will be forgotten on boxing day. Challenge yourself - whether overspending is your downfall or money is a little tight, setting a limit (and sticking to it) can be a fun challenge. Have a candid conversation together in-person, or suggest over the family group chat that you try something a little different this year. Set a smaller budget per person’s gift, try couple-gifting, or do a family secret Santa to keep costs down. If you’ve got a lot of nieces, nephews, cousins, kids, or grandchildren, suggest only buying for the younger generation. This can help keep spending in check whilst upsetting fewer relatives. Money doesn’t solve everything - when you know things are tight for someone you love, it can be so tempting to just offer to pay for everything. Try to remember that money can’t fix everything. Try putting yourself in their shoes: would you feel comfortable if they offered to pay for something, or assumed you couldn’t afford it? Or would it be a relief that they offered a helping hand? It differs from person to person. Try talking things over if you can. Even if feelings are a little hurt or things don’t go quite as smoothly as you had hoped, as long as they know you have good intentions, that’s what really matters.
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