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How do you explain your financial difficulties to your friends or family?

By October 17, 2008 - 1:54pm
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I'm wondering how anyone has explained worrisome personal financial issues to friends or family - or to their children.

Like how you can't buy kids big Christmas gifts or why you can't go out with friends like you used to?

Financial concerns are very personal and no-one should really have to explain anything but it's kind of a hard position to be in, for many people these days.

How does anyone cope, out there, with how to deal with your life being different to even last year, and how to explain that to people close to you?

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I agree with all of the above, and also want to say that the economic climate now is, indeed, affecting all of us. People are out of jobs, or having trouble finding them, or if they have them, the money isn't going as far as it used to.

If there are people who you feel you would like to talk to about this (especially before the holidays), realize that they may be feeling the same way and the conversation might be a relief to them as well. I think that you can say something as simple as "With the economy as it is today, we're hunkering down and keeping our holidays smaller and simpler this year." It makes you sound smart and it gets the message across.

Inside the family, especially with the children, use their imagination! We didn't have much money when I grew up, but I was a creative nut and wanted to make presents anyway. Watch women's magazine covers like Family Circle or Women's Day when they have their "125 Gifts to Make" issue, or something similar. Make it a challenge for them and see what they come up with for their aunts or uncles or teachers or friends.

I think that kids can understand and rise to the challenge of nearly anything, as long as they aren't surprised. Don't worry them about the finances, but don't keep it secret, either. If you show them that sometimes money is tight and we budget and are careful, and other times money isn't tight and we can spend more of it, you also are teaching them how to manage money when they're grown and on their own. They'll have seen you do it, matter-of-factly, and they'll know how to do it too.

October 20, 2008 - 8:24am
EmpowHER Guest

I think everyone has the financial woes and there is no need to have to worry about talking to your family and friends because, I think everyone has been hit hard by the economy. There is no rocket science to the stock market hitting record lows in the past month or so.

I have a large diverse friendship with people in all walks of life. Even the business owners that I know have financial issues that are consuming their families. I have noticed that many people are staying home more often then not, eating at home more often and even driving less. This is all situational: bad economy, no jobs and the future is bleak.

I think your right when you say that you shouldn't have to talk about it, but it is reality. We have all suffered in certain areas in our lives and certainly the holidays are going to suffer more. I just heard on the news that the Department Stores are expecting record lows in holiday sales this year. I know in my family, all birthdays and holidays have come down to a telephone call and a card (with no money in it).

The Depression of the late 1920's and 30's brought on a sense of survival and many people survived the stock market crash and the loss everything they owned. If you read stories from the Depression, many families had to move in together in order to make a house payment and they all found a way to survive based on their economic struggles. The art of survival is what makes us human.

Honesty is really the best policy. I think telling the truth in this situation would not be disconcerting. I think most people will completely understand although they may not talk about it themselves. I think the best way to explain is that, you as a person, did not create this but we all have to suffer through it. We will survive, it's part of human nature.

October 18, 2008 - 3:33pm

As a capitalist society, we base our self worth upon our material goods. Some women won't buy anything without first mentioning the label, justifying this by saying that the label represents best quality, even if truth be told that it doesn't. We like our material goods.

In many developing nations, self worth is based upon material possessions, like livestock or crops. Even nomads like their material goods.

So, when we suffer a setback or loss, it's emotionally devastating and the sense of failure, and failing our loved ones, can be overwhelming. The embarrassment that financial failure carries is a tough bullet to take.

The reality is that stuff happens, and sometimes beyond our control. Financial woes should not be hung out like dirty laundry, but should definitely be discussed with your family. There are graceful ways to let your friends know that you can't go out to dinner, everyone understands the word "budget" (even if we don't practice it).

You need to be very careful about how you tell your children that things are tough. Be honest, but don't scare them. When things are tough is the time when the family needs to come together and find ways to conserve, preserve, get creative and survive.

Face financial trouble head on so that you can deal with it. I once had to counsel someone through foreclosure that could have been avoided, had he been honest with his family and asked for help at the first sign of trouble.

With the holidays fast upon us, don't focus on the spending. Buying the "big gift" is the least of your worries and shouldn't even factor in the equation. Get spending out of your vocabulary and replace it with saving. Do not go into bigger debt, deal with debt you have. Get the family on board to be creative in celebrating the holidays, and make the holidays a celebration of being together, not a fearful and sad event.

There's something very unique about the human mind: we can be at our best when pushed up against the wall.

October 17, 2008 - 5:29pm
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