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Color of Money: Don't be embarrassed if you can't afford a holiday visit

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- Like it or not, this is the season of a higher level of expectation and pressure to visit family.

But what if the trip is too much financially? Or even though you adore your family, you just don't want to spend the money. How do you tell your relatives this without all the guilt or even condemnation?

During my regular online discussion, a reader wrote in about a dilemma caused by a change in the Thanksgiving dinner location.

"I am the only person in the family who can't reasonably drive to either of our locations (uncle's house and cousin's house), so I am the only one who has to buy an airline ticket," the reader wrote.

Here's the thing: The family had agreed where they were going to gather for Thanksgiving. The reader purchased an airline ticket.

But you know family.

 

"I got a call from my uncle that they were switching to my cousin's house," wrote the chat participant. "I managed to find a flight to my cousin's location on the same airline," but it cost the reader an extra $212, including the change fee.

In this case, the reader had plans for the extra money that was used to rebook. "I really do like my family. Thanksgiving is a great time. I have only missed it once in my entire life. But I am saving to replace my TV. I want to let it go. I know it isn't that big of a deal. Any suggestions about how to just let it go? In the end, it is just money. I know I fall into the fortunate end of things, and I'm not losing sleep over the money. And yet, I'm still irked."

Here's advice if you find yourself in a similar situation during the holidays.

-- Give yourself permission to be irked. You have the right to be vexed. And it's important to vent so that if you do decide to go, you won't carry your irritation like an extra piece of baggage.

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