Holidays With the Financial Half-Wits

By Maggie Ellis, guest writer

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when my spouse and I are punished for our thrifty ways. How are we punished you ask? By being forced to spend the holidays with our families who are, at best, financial half-wits. (Half-wit is probably generous in some cases. No-wit might be more appropriate.)

We both come from large families that sport an assortment of siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts, and even more distant relatives that we barely know. Big holiday gatherings are the norm on both sides and skipping out simply isn’t an option unless we want to hear about it for the entire coming year, which we do not. We prefe


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11 Responses to Holidays With the Financial Half-Wits

  1. Julie says:

    How true!!

  2. Annie Jones says:

    You’re far more accommodating than I would be. I would skip out, regardless of the guilt trip they tried to lay on me. Or at the very least I tell them straight out that they wouldn’t be in their situation(s) if they’d learn to manage their money better. Then I’d ask for the turkey.

  3. Analise says:

    Great tips! Are you related to my DH? You described his family to a tee.

  4. Molly's mum says:

    I’m with Annie, personally. Of course, I’d be skipping out on almost everyone I know, not just family :)

    You’re too right about offering education being a waste of time… I’ve had this experience recently, and really, unless or until someone gets out of that mindset that their financial problems are something that’s being done TO them, there’s no point in doing anything other than nodding and shoveling turkey into your face… unless its skipping out and d*mn the consequences :)

  5. Max says:

    Awesome. One of ya’ll’s best posts. Dead on. I also can relate to the struggle of explaining to both spouse and family: what is wrong with NOT mailing lotions, sweatshirts, and electronics to relatives this year as presents, and instead sending them some post cards with local scenery and some holiday wishes? I swear, my wife loves going shopping for “girl stuff” and then package it up and FedEx it to her relatives up north. Insanity.

    I, for one, am looking forward to the recession. It will clean out the consumeristic garbage and is sure to change people’s opinions about spending.

  6. Debbie M says:

    As I was reading this, I couldn’t help imagining y’all jumping the gun this year and outdoing your relatives with the whining. I suppose that would be evil, though.

    “I hear you’re going to the Grand Canyon this year.”

    “We wanted to go to Paris, but all we can afford is that big ditch out in the middle of nowhere. I hear the mosquitos are really bad out there during the time of year when we go, but that’s the only time we can get away from our soul-stealing jobs. I’ll probably be scratching myself for a month because I just can’t resist scratching mosquito bites. I hope I don’t get any bites on my face, because my customers might not like that. Oh, did you want the turkey now?”

    Or maybe some seeming non sequiturs that will make them squirm.

    “Did you hear Ed lost his job this year?”

    “No that’s terrible. At least he didn’t lose his legs. He didn’t, right? Please tell me he didn’t!”

    “I guess you heard we got foreclosed on.”

    “No, that’s horrible. I guess you’re living in the street now. That’s really got to be tough.”

    Or maybe: “No, that’s horrible. Thank goodness we don’t have debtor’s prison anymore. Or did they change the laws during this credit crunch. You didn’t end up in debtor’s prison, did you?”

    Your Switzerland strategy is much wiser. I can rarely resist the helpful suggestion approach, but of course their situation is always completely hopeless and there’s always absolutely nothing they can do. So then I start thinking, “Well, you might as well kill yourself then.”

    Fortunately I don’t actually say any of these things. But thinking of this sort of retort sometimes helps me stay sane when things are getting totally out of control.

  7. Alex says:

    A really good article and advice — worth re-reading. You must be very young to permit the guilt trip for skpping out and/or not gifting and/or not offering “loans.” Also, do take your good advice (#4) about your upcoming trip. Having been blessed with a very toxic close family member (mother), I can tell you that the less they know about you and your life, even if you must lie,the better off you all are.

    As for assistance, I’d offer only the link for Dave Ramsey’s website. That’s really all they need to get their financial house in order (if it worked for me, it can work for anyone).
    Good luck this year.

  8. I call my family “The Moneytards”, though my immediate family is well on the way to recovery. Thank god the others are so pretentious that they’re too busy showing off things they can’t afford to even think about asking for help. Ah, the advantages of being related to a big ol’ batch of phonies!

  9. baselle says:

    Great advice and it made me LOL.

    Timing is everything – if a hour visit is enough to satisfy your family, your visits are 61 minutes.

    I saw a good article on help resistance that was similar – it also made me laugh out loud too.

    The other thought is to plant some bad economic news, say in September. Lose some bucks in the 401K, maybe get furloughed at your job for a few weeks. Think deep cover.

  10. Heidi says:


    For the christmas holiday how do you handle the gift exchange? I would think that this would be a difficult situation with your relatives.

  11. Pingback: Monroe on a Budget » Holidays with the financial half-wits

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