Holidays are a time for family, food, and to reflect on the year. It’s also a time when money plays a key role in our lives, and yet so few of us are talking about it. We’re using money to buy gifts, to travel to see family, and to decorate our homes, and yet it’s still considered the elephant in the room.
This holiday season, I propose that people talk to their families about money. Opening the door to the conversation is a little difficult for some families, but ultimately it’s a healthy move. Money is a constant in our lives, and the more we can talk about it with the people in our lives, the better off we’ll all be. Here’s a short guide on how to talk to your family about money this holiday season.
Pick One Money Topic to Talk About
When I say people should talk about money more, I do mean it. But I don’t think people need to jump into the deep end of talking all money, all the time.
Money is still very taboo in our society, and talking about it can easily be seen as rude or crossing a social line. So to stay in polite territory, pick one topic that you want to bring up with your family. It can be budgeting, investing, or how much people earn. Start with one topic and try and get a real discussion going around that. Ease into the conversation and you’ll establish a precedent for talking to your family about money.
Be Transparent Yourself
You can’t ask people to talk about money unless you’re willing to be transparent yourself. Otherwise it’ll come across more as an interrogation than a conversation.
Start by picking a topic you’re excited to talk about; maybe you got a raise and you want to share how much with family. This opens the door for others to talk about how much the standard raise is in their industry, or raises they themselves have or haven’t gotten.
Then share at least one hard number. Whether it’s the amount of money in the raise or your overall salary, you need to be the one who leads this transparency. Take ownership of the topic that you brought up.
Talk to Specific People
Maybe your mean uncle isn’t the best person to bring up money with. Or the aunt who never shares any persona details of her life. Pick the person you feel comfortable talking about other things with, and start the conversation there.
Maybe you can have a great money conversation with your cousins who are in the same age group, or you can get into a really interesting discussion about retirement plans with your newly retired godmother. Perhaps you and your partner can discuss budgeting with your married aunt and uncle. You don’t have to be all things to all people, and you don’t need to hold financial court with your family either.
Using the holidays as a chance to talk to your family about money is a chance to normalize finances with your family. It can be a good way to wrap up your year. It can also pave the way for healthier family dynamics in the future- if you do it respectfully.