This Thanksgiving weekend, post-election rifts may keep the red and blue sides of your family from enjoying the turkey. Millions of Americans expect politics to come up during Thanksgiving dinner, and more than two in five find the idea of such talk stressful, according to a survey conducted by ABC News.
So instead of delving into an election rehash, redirect the conversation to a more pleasant topic: money. Under normal circumstances, families often try to steer clear of awkward financial conversations — but this year’s divisive presidential race may make money talks far less painful than other controversial subjects.
The holidays actually create an ideal setting for such tricky topics as family finances, college savings, and retirement planning decisions, says Los Angeles financial planner Roger S. Stinnett. “Family gatherings like Thanksgiving can be a good time to bring up family money conversations because, hopefully, all of the interested parties are at the table,” Stinnett says. “Different family members can share and get valuable feedback.” And creating a habit of honest, open communication can be helpful for future generations, he adds.
No matter what financial topic your family needs to tackle, MONEY has laid down some ground rules and talking points for you. Use the following guides for tips on opening the conversation, key questions to ask, and even ways to win over a reluctant family member.
- ‘Can We Afford to Start a Family Now?’ — Walk through the financial calculations in advance, then create a game plan.
- ‘Who’s Going to Pay for College?’ — Talk to teens about the options available, the prices you’ll pay and the smartest ways to make a school choice.
- ‘Can We Afford a Career Change?’ — Understand the tradeoffs and opportunities when one spouse wants to shift to a different career ladder.
- ‘How Can We Tell Our Adult Children That They’re Cut Off?’ — Figure out a plan to wean 20-something kids off financial support, and shore up your own future in the process.
- Help! Our Aging Parents Are Going Broke‘ — If elder family members are running out of cash, determine whether you and your siblings will be able to help out.
- ‘When Are We Going to Retire — and What Will We Do Then?’ — Make sure you both share a vision for retirement timing, lifestyle, and finances.
- ‘Is It Time for You to Move Out of Your Big, Beautiful House?’ — Beware: Your older parents may not want to hear that the family home is too much for them to handle.