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Sugar cookies or chocolate chip?
Clear or colorful lights?
Turkey or ham?
The festive Christmas season is full of questions. Of course, there are more important things than determining the family’s favorite cookie or meat, but hey, those questions cause approximately 852,497 heated conversations a year. And that’s before money enters the picture!
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So before you hop in the car, hop online, or hang the first light, make sure you’ve had these important conversations with your family or yourself. That way, when the time comes to make a decision, you’ll know exactly what you need to do.
Home or the Highway?
This is more than just a conversation about travel costs. Let’s be honest—this also has a lot to do with who you want to spend time with during the holidays. If you decide to travel and you know what to expect financially, then answer this one question: Which side of the family would you rather hang out with?
To Loan or Not to Loan?
Where two or more family members are gathered over turkey and ham, there’s bound to be a loan request at some point. Prepare for it. After three bankruptcies and a foreclosure on his pet shop, Uncle Billy’s got his eye on you. How will you respond when he asks you for money? Remember, loaning money to family and friends is always a bad idea. Either give it to him if you have the money and feel led to give it, or help him in some other way (like telling him about Dave). But no matter what, go to these family gatherings with a conversational plan of attack!
Fake Tree or Real Tree?
It’s the age-old question, almost as important as whether or not Christmas music is permissible before Thanksgiving. But whether this is your first or 30th Christmas buying a tree, the real tree versus artificial tree debate is always a possibility. On the money side of things, a fake tree will save you dollars because you can use it for several years. But the real tree has that smell … oh, that smell. If that smell is worth it, and you can afford buying a new one every year, then go for it. Santa would approve.
Party In or Party Out?
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You know they’re coming. Within a few weeks, you’ll have 14 party invitations—each of which requires a $12 gift or some type of mystery casserole. That will add up quickly. Go ahead and prioritize now. If you’re going to Christmas parties, which ones are the most important? Or would you rather stay at home and hang out with the family this year? These are important questions that will definitely affect your Christmas budget.
Budget or Bust?
Make a budget. Stick to it. You know the Dave Ramsey mantra. And it’s even more important during Christmas because spending can easily get out of hand. If this Christmas is going to be slim pickings around your house, then talk with your kids now. Let them know ahead of time so they aren’t disappointed when Batman doesn’t have a Batmobile and Barbie only has one dress and no Ken. And if that’s the case … don’t beat yourself up over it. Remember that this is only temporary. You have many more Christmases ahead, and Batman can manage without a car until next year.
So now that you have some talking points, sit down with the spouse, the kids, the dog—whoever—and make sure you are all clear on what you can expect this Christmas.
Remember, these are Christmas conversations—not Christmas arguments! Don’t let the most wonderful time of the year turn into the most stressful time of the year.
What questions does your family encounter around the holidays every year? How do you come to a decision that everyone is happy with?