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Money Habitudes Encourages Constructive Discussions About Money for the Holiday Season

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 — LifeWise, on the eve of the winter holidays, releases conversation starters for constructive money discussions. Given money’s central role, proactive talks benefit, as waiting can lead to disagreements. A Capital One study reveals one in four people disagree with their partner about money monthly. Each season presents challenges in money management and communication. Thanksgiving to December’s end intensifies spending, often straining relationships. Holiday spending may touch on social debts or a desire for love and acceptance. Syble Solomon, LifeWise’s president, suggests that while spending more won’t satisfy emotional needs, people often believe it will. Released days before Black Friday, a Capital One study found 55% of couples hadn’t discussed a holiday shopping budget, and 51% hadn’t set aside money for 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 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 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 gifts 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 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 sparks constructive conversations about money in a fun, nonjudgmental way. Suited for individuals, couples, and groups, this card game-like tool is available for various age groups and Spanish speakers. Used globally by thousands and endorsed by professionals like therapists and financial planners, it finds applications in diverse settings. Created by Syble Solomon, a renowned speaker on the psychology of money, Money Habitudes earned her the 2009 Smart Marriages Impact Award and the 2006 Educator of the Year award from the Association of Financial Planning and Counseling Education.