Color of Money: Don't be embarrassed if you can't afford a holiday visit
You certainly don't want to board an airplane today on edge. Snap at a flight attendant and you may find yourself being dragged off the plane. (OK, I'm kidding. Airline folks are dealing with a lot these days. Those tiny seats alone are enough to make anyone upset.) The point is you want to leave home without your anger.
-- Don't let family spend your money. If I had a dollar for every time my relatives said, "Oh, stop being cheap, you can afford it," I'd have more than enough money for whatever it is they think I am financially able to spend.
It's no big deal for them to change plans because it's not their cash or credit on the line. But spend your money the way you want.
If plans were altered and you can't afford the extra expense, don't go. If there is a change in plans for the holiday and you weren't consulted, you have my permission to say, "Oh, I'm so sorry but this change, which will add to my travel expenses, isn't in my budget." No need to explain any further or defend your decision. It's your money!
Don't be embarrassed to say you can't afford a visit. You might say, "I really wanted to come. It's just not in my budget. But hopefully, I'll get to see you guys next year!"
If you're the relative inclined to say something like, "You know you have the money," I'm going to need you to stop. Don't even go there, because unless you have access to someone's bank account information, you haven't a clue what he or she can afford. Even if it were the case that your relative has the money, don't go there. As my grandmother Big Mama used to say to her financial meddlers, "Stay out of my pocket."
-- Focus on the good parts of being present. I hate wasting money, too. Still, I have to remember to be thankful that I have family I like spending time around. I love being with them, so I focus on the fun I have when we get together. If you can afford it, being financially flexible builds relationships.
So, go ahead and be irked. I think it's healthy to exhale some funky feelings. But once you vent, let it go. Don't even joke about it, because you know family. Somebody is likely to get offended. Then you've got to deal with the issue at Christmas -- when it's even tougher to exchange your ticket.
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