Five conversations you should avoid having at the Thanksgiving table
Chew with your mouth closed. Keep your elbows off the table. Don’t talk about politics, religion or money at family get-togethers. Even though we all know these unspoken rules, they’re hard to follow — especially the one about money.
But Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful, not to stir the pot. This year, have a more peaceful celebration by banning these five money conversations from the dinner table.
If you’re doing well, that’s great. Just be careful not to go on and on about your new pre-owned car or your discount cruise to Alaska. No one likes a showoff.
That doesn’t mean you have to apologize for your success. But don’t throw your purchases in the faces of family members who aren’t there yet. If they want to know how you saved up for that luxury car, or how you scored such a great deal on vacation, tell them after dessert.
Who knows? It may just be the motivation they need to begin their own journey toward financial peace.
Without fail, your little brother always finds a way to complain about his low-paying job, his overdue credit card bills and his expensive divorce. This is not a pity party! This is a G-rated Thanksgiving family meal.
So before his whining session begins, head him off with an act of kindness. Why not offer to send his resume to a few friends or to pay his way through financial counseling?
Hopefully, your pre-meal gesture will leave him feeling blessed and much less likely to complain during dinner.
Your crazy Aunt Beth shamelessly asks you for a loan. Every. Single. Year. Forget that she already owes you for her cat’s emergency surgery last summer.
Family loans are a bad idea. If Auntie B is going through a legitimate rough patch (and you have the cash to help her out), give her the money as a gift but don’t expect anything in return. If you’ve already messed up and loaned her money in the past, consider writing it off and then politely telling her your banking days are over.
Just do this in private. There’s no need to embarrass her in front of the whole family — even if she brings it up.
Everyone has a shady Cousin Phil. You know the one; he knows a guy who knows an investor who knows about a hot, new startup looking for some seed money. And it’ll only cost you $5,000 — what a deal!
There’s usually not a lot of reasoning with the Cousin Phils of the world. There’s just avoidance and changing the subject. What else does he like? Cars? Football? Bass fishing? Have a go-to subject ready to distract him until everyone is stuffed and headed to the den for the big game.
Then, get far away from Phil … until Christmas anyway.
We know you’re excited about getting out of debt. But the quickest way to turn someone off to financial advice is to beat them over the head with it. If you’ve been living and spending differently, your family will notice.
When they’re sick and tired of being broke, they’ll ask for suggestions. Until then, don’t nitpick every financial mistake they make. Even though you may genuinely want to help, criticism will make them resent you even more.
Find a way to be positive about your situation, without being negative about theirs. Be gentle and empathetic. Chances are, you were in the same spot a short time ago.
Above all, remember Thanksgiving should be a time of love and gratefulness. Family members have worked hard to prepare an amazing meal for you and yours, so don’t spoil it with uncomfortable money conversations!
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