How (and Why) to Make Money a Hot Topic this Holiday Season

December 7, 2018

With all the wonderful traditions associated with December holidays, one has become much more uncomfortable over the past few years: the almost inevitable occurrence of political debates and disputes. A survey conducted by Reuters last year illustrates the discomfort associated with the topic in a holiday setting: 31 percent of adults said they would deliberately avoid political conversations with family and friends over the holidays, while another 48 percent said they typically decline to participate in these discussions altogether.

Let’s take political talk off the table and discuss something else: money. Families often try to steer clear of awkward financial conversations. For example, Americans are twice as likely to share marital issues than credit card debt with others.

Money: The Last Taboo

Although it feels taboo to discuss, it’s an important conversation to have considering 60% of Americans have revolving credit card debt and two-thirds of Americans have no consistent savings plan or have abandoned savings altogether. That’s a big problem as we enter the highest spending months of the year!

While most Americans believe money discussions are important, few actually have them. As our recent financial health survey shows, the majority of Americans declared they prefer to keep issues about their financial decisions and debt to themselves. Wage stagnation, rising costs, and the changing nature of work have contributed to 138 million people in this country—more than half of Americans—being considered financially unhealthy

What this majority doesn’t realize is that sharing and talking about money is actually better for you and everyone around you. Our survey found:

  • Those who discuss money and debt with others are more likely to feel like they have better relationships with others and are not isolated.
  • They prioritize other aspects of their health and well-being.
  • The majority of Americans would gladly change their social plans and find less expensive options if they knew someone was struggling financially.

It is important to talk about money openly in your household. It is also a good way for your kids or other children at the table to learn about financial literacy. No matter what financial topic your family needs to tackle, here are some tips on how to open up the dialogue.

How to Open Up about Money this Holiday Season

Answer “How You’ve Been” with a money twist. A great way to launch a money conversation is by giving a life update to your relatives with a financial spin. For example, maybe you are saving towards something, working side jobs for extra cash or paying down debt. It may prompt some great money conversations and get your family members to open up about their recent money moments.

Spend time with your loved one without breaking the bank. In a recent study from CFSI, 30 percent of Americans said they have more debt than is manageable. Instead of shopping for those holiday deals, consider prioritizing experiences over gifts. Avoid high-interest credit card debt and talk about how to set a realistic budget for the holiday season.

(PS: If your family is part of the 65% that still has credit card debt from last holiday season, consider taking out a personal loan. It’s an easy and affordable way to refinance high-interest credit card debt into one low fixed-monthly payment.)

Stay goal oriented. 42 percent of respondents in the CFSI study said they have no retirement savings at all. Setting realistic money goals with a support system to hold you accountable, such as setting aside a small amount of money every month, could help you achieve your 2019 financial goals. Encourage each other to save for unexpected emergencies and consolidate debt to pay it off responsibly.

Whoever you’re spending the holidays with, take the opportunity to listen to and support each other’s financial goals. It will bring you one step closer to kicking off 2019 with a healthy and happy financial mindset.

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