Company behind popular Money Habitudes cards encourages people to think about money with a list of reasons specific to the upcoming holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Good conversations about money and finances happen when they are proactive and constructive. Assessing one’s habits and attitudes related to money in a non-threatening manner can be an effective first step in handling larger issues.

 

Wilmington, NC, November 27, 2009 — On the eve of the winter holidays, LifeWise releases its latest list of conversation starters to think about money in a constructive way. Because money plays such a central role in our lives, people benefit by talking proactively about it instead of waiting until there is a critical need to discuss and deal with finances. A recent study from Capital One Financial Corporation reported that one of four people surveyed say they disagree with their partner about money at least once a month. To this end, every season has specific challenges and opportunities related to money management and communicating about how money will be used. The weeks from Thanksgiving through the end of December–including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa–represent one of the most intensive spending periods of the year, and can be the most contentious for relationships.”For many people, holiday spending touches on other issues. They may be paying off social debts, compensating for something or competing for love and acceptance. Although spending more doesn’t change relationships or satisfy emotional needs, people frequently think paying more will make a difference,” says Syble Solomon, president of LifeWise and creator of Money Habitudes™, the innovative deck of cards that makes it easy and non-threatening to talk about money.Released four days before Black Friday, the Capital One study found that most couples (55 percent) had not yet discussed a holiday shopping budget with their partner or spouse. Additionally, just over half (51 percent) of respondents had not set aside money to spend on holiday gifts.

“Before you go shopping for presents, decorations, new clothes or to entertain, take 15 minutes to think about past holidays: what made them special and which gifts were memorable? Did spending more make your past holidays better? Share these thoughts with your family, especially with your partner. Then, within the context of your overall financial situation and goals, have an honest discussion about what is really important to you and your family. Consider what you are doing just out of habit that no longer is meaningful,” says Solomon.

Taking the time to understand how your habits and attitudes related to money–and being able to talk about them–helps people avoid unnecessary spending and unhealthy debt. In so doing, it also helps reduce the arguments, stress and financial anxieties that come from holiday spending. In short, getting a handle on how, why and when you spend over the next few weeks makes for happier holidays.

Use the following questions as you consider what will influence your buying decisions when you do your holiday shopping:

  1. Planning vs. Last-Minute Shopping. If you value saving and planning, you may shop early or order gifts online ahead of time and save a lot. However, if you enjoy the rush of last-minute shopping, you may still find yourself in stores spending money just to enjoy yourself. Know your own style. If last-minute shopping is a tradition you want to keep, go with a list to avoid impulse spending or cap your spending at a certain, predetermined amount. Or shop with a friend who will influence you to buy carefully.
  2. Spending to Impress. Many people spend too much over the holidays because they believe they will be judged by the cost of the gift they give and the food and drinks they serve. Giving a meaningful gift that fits your budget and reconsidering how you entertain can pay off in the long run.
  3. Situational Spending. How do different people and situations influence your spending? Do you think twice before spending with one friend but buy lots of unnecessary extras when shopping with another? Do you buy more impulsively if the store creates a festive holiday mood? Will you spend more at craft shows when the items are handmade and you’re buying directly from an artisan?
  4. Involve Your Children. Put the focus on giving, not shopping, by encouraging them to think of things they can do or make. Instead of asking for a list of everything they want and setting up unrealistic expectations, give them some parameters or choices. Plan when and where you will go shopping with children to minimize stress by scheduling it after everyone has eaten and is rested. Your children will see you modeling a balanced approach to planning-and-saving with spending-and-enjoying.
  5. Gifts That Keep Giving. Giving a favorite aunt a small bouquet of flowers every month may be appreciated more than one big, expensive flower arrangement. Consider limiting gifts and using the money to buy something for shared enjoyment, or plan an experience the whole family will appreciate. Take the savings from buying things on sale, making gifts or giving of your time and use it to pay down your credit card bill or put it toward paying off your car loan or mortgage.

Money Habitudes is the leading constructive conversation-starter to get people thinking and talking about money and the issues related to it in a fun, nonjudgmental way. Appropriate for individuals, couples and groups, Money Habitudes is a training and learning tool that works like a card game and is available for adults, young adults, teens and Spanish speakers. It is used by thousands of people across the U.S. and Canada and in more than 40 other countries. In addition, professionals such as therapists, counselors, educators and financial planners use Money Habitudes. The cards are employed in educational, military, faith-based, and community settings as a stand-alone activity or in conjunction with comprehensive financial planning, career development, relationship-building, conflict resolution, financial literacy, marriage education and life-skills programs. Solomon, the creator of Money Habitudes, is a popular speaker on the psychology of money. She is the recipient of the 2009 Smart Marriages Impact Award for the cards’ role in promoting healthy relationships. She was also named Educator of the Year (2006) by the Association of Financial Planning and Counseling Education.

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