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Financial Topics Safe to Discuss at Thanksgiving Dinner

Sara Krause, J.D., CFP®

Director of Financial Education

Last Updated
November 09, 2022
Multigenerational family sitting at Thanksgiving table, celebrating.

How to Initiate Positive Conversations With Your Family

When the extended family gets together for Thanksgiving dinner, there are bound to be uncomfortable moments. We’re all familiar with the awkward situation of staring into our mashed potatoes after Uncle Charlie makes a controversial political declaration. Talk of finances is often high on the list of prohibited topics for many family conversations, but it doesn’t have to be.

Productive conversations about money can be a great way for a family to share financial values and support each other in building positive financial habits. Consider bringing up the following financial topics at this year’s Thanksgiving table.

Gratitude

While expressing your gratitude for each other, your health and all your other blessings, don’t forget about your financial blessings as well. A focus on family financial gratitude can help your loved ones feel more content with what they have and not stress as much about what they’re lacking. It can also help everyone reflect on the goals they’ve accomplished and have a more positive outlook on their ability to achieve their future goals.

Financial accomplishments

Your cousin recently bought his first home. Your niece has made progress in paying off her student loans. Your parents took a long-awaited trip to Europe. Your sister and brother-in-law set up a 529 college savings account for their infant daughter. These are all financial wins that should be celebrated!

At times, we all get caught up in the day-to-day burden of paying bills, prioritizing our spending and saving for the future. Why not take a moment to celebrate each other’s financial wins? Not only can recognizing these accomplishments lift your family members’ spirits but it can also serve as a positive example for the younger generation.

Estate plans

It’s not always easy to bring up the topic of what will happen to your assets following your death, but it’s important to communicate your wishes to your loved ones to help ensure there are no surprises or hurt feelings. If you have older relatives, you may also ask about their wishes and how you can help ensure those wishes are fulfilled. 

In addition to helping everyone get on the same page regarding each other’s estate planning goals, this conversation can also be a great way to discuss the legacy and values you want your loved ones to carry on after you’re gone.

Charitable donations

Many individuals wish to leave a legacy of charitable giving to future generations. One way to lead by example is to share how you financially support charitable causes that are important to you. You may offer tips for maximizing donations to charity or discuss opportunities to volunteer as a family.

If you’re younger and hoping to learn from the older generation, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance and suggestions to help maximize your charitable impact.

Long-term savings

When you’re young, it can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task to save for the future. Young people often wonder, “How will I ever be able to save enough for a down payment on a house when I can barely pay my bills?”

This is where the older generation can provide hope and wisdom by offering strategies and sharing stories about how they had success saving over time. Have a laugh over the mistakes you made along the way and stress the importance of consistency. Your success may be exactly the inspiration your younger relatives need to remain committed to their long-term saving strategy.

It’s not uncommon for extended families to navigate conversational minefields when they get together for Thanksgiving dinner, but the topic of finances doesn’t have to be one of them. If you’d like help getting the conversation started with your family, Creative Planning is here for you. Our professionals help multiple generations of family members to achieve their financial goals. Schedule a call to get started.

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This commentary is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.

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