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7 Money Habits That Discourage the Spirit of Family Get-Togethers
Family Finance

7 Money Habits That Discourage the Spirit of Family Get-Togethers

Tis the season for joy, laughter, and the warmth of family get-togethers. As the holiday season unfolds, it brings with it a sense of togetherness and an opportunity to unwind with loved ones. However, amidst the festive ambiance, an unspoken factor can sometimes cast a subtle shadow over these moments – our money habits.

Money habits have the potential to cast a gloomy cloud over our holiday gatherings. These festivities, intended to strengthen family bonds, can quickly transform into a platform for awkward discussions and strained relationships when money habits and attitudes get in the way. 

The clash of these differing perspectives can create an invisible barrier, dulling the season's sparkle and, more significantly, hindering the potential for future gatherings.

So, how can you ensure your family get-togethers don't turn sour? The key lies in recognizing the money habits that may discourage the spirit of these gatherings and learning how to navigate them. This article is your guide to identifying and addressing these habits. 

Read Also: How to Set Financial Boundaries For The Holidays With Family 

1. Excessive Materialism and Overspending on Gifts

Materialism can shadow family get-togethers, making everything about money rather than the shared joy of being together. When gift-giving becomes a competitive sport, the simple pleasure of spending time with loved ones can be lost. 

For those who can't afford extravagant gifts, emphasizing materialism during family gatherings can create discomfort and feelings of inadequacy. Excessive materialism can cause financial strain, set unrealistic expectations, and inadvertently highlight financial disparities. This can create a divide among family members and erode the sense of unity that family get-togethers are meant to encourage. 

To prevent this, families can consider giving the gift of time by organizing family activities or outings that strengthen bonds without straining budgets. Additionally, implementing a gift exchange with spending limits so everyone can participate without overspending can help.

2. Financial Competition and Show-Offs 

Unhealthy competitions and show-offs happen when family members feel compelled to showcase their financial success as a status symbol or to seek validation from other members. This can be driven by a desire to project a perfect image, a peer pressure culture of keeping up with or outdoing one another, and pre-existing family dynamics or expectations where financial achievements are excessively emphasized. 

Show-offs can lead to extravagant gift-giving, luxurious displays, oversharing of financial success, and wealth-comparing conversations. However, this can create a sense of hierarchy among family members, unhealthy competition can lead to envy and resentment, and the true joy of family togetherness can be overshadowed. 

Ultimately, those unable to participate or keep up feel alienated and eventually stop attending family get-togethers, effectively killing the tradition. 

To prevent show-offs, families can create an environment of mutual support where accomplishments are celebrated collectively. This can be achieved through collaborating on common goals and emphasis on collective success over individual achievements.

Read Also: 6 Big Holiday Money Mistakes that You Might Regret Down the Road  

3. Making Unequal Contributions 

In the heart of family get-togethers, it's not uncommon for families to pool resources or hold fundraisers to create memorable experiences or accomplish a collective goal, such as refurbishing your parent's house. However, when financial power varies among family members, it can lead to unequal contributions, potentially affecting the dynamics of these gatherings.

Disparities in financial capabilities can create a sense of inequality among family members. Those contributing more may feel burdened or unappreciated, while those contributing less might experience guilt or inadequacy. This imbalance has the potential to dampen the festive spirit. 

These disparities can result from varying income levels, unequal financial responsibilities, and even generational distance. Younger family members or those in the early stages of their careers might face financial constraints compared to established earners. 

The key to navigating these disparities is to recognise that not everyone may be financially capable of making an equal contribution. Next, families can overcome this problem through open communication, understanding, and creating room for flexibility that accommodates varying financial capacities without compromising the overall experience. 

When equal contributions are not possible, adjust expectations, implement a tiered contribution system, and emphasize on non-material contribution.

4. Excluding Other Family Members Due to Finances  

The heart of family get-togethers lies in the inclusivity of all. However, when financial constraints lead to the exclusion of certain family members, the very essence of these gatherings is compromised. 

The best memories often arise from shared experiences during family gatherings. Excluding members limits the creation of these cherished moments. Additionally, it contradicts the spirit of giving and sharing, which is synonymous with the holiday season. Therefore, it is no surprise that financial exclusion can lead to feelings of alienation among family members and erode the significance of get-togethers. 

Typically, exclusions happen when well-off family members opt for costly celebrations, making it difficult for some family members to participate. 

To avoid this, it is vital to consider the financial constraints of family members and plan for activities that accommodate various budgets. Next, involve all family members in decision-making processes from the start and always be open to adjusting plans to accommodate everyone's financial capabilities. 

Read Also: 10 Festive Season Hacks for Cash-Strapped Parents

5. Passing Judgment on the Financial Choices of Family Members 

Family end-of-year get-togethers provide an opportunity to catch up and share the year's highlights. However, some family members may have made financial decisions that not everyone agrees with. Creating an inclusive environment where judgment is replaced with understanding and support is crucial for addressing these differences and nurturing the spirit of these gatherings.

Passing judgment on a family member's financial choices can create a non-welcoming atmosphere. These occasions should be a safe space where family members feel seen, valued, and supported, free from judgment and ridicule. 

Passing judgment on financial choices can manifest during holiday family gatherings in various ways, including: 

  • Offering unsolicited advice about financial decisions, implying disapproval. 
  • Making condescending remarks or jokes about someone's financial situation. 
  • Treating family members differently based on their financial choices. 
  • Engaging in gossip or spreading rumors about the financial choices of others. 
  • Creating an uncomfortable atmosphere where family members feel reluctant to share their experiences. 
  • Non-verbal cues like raised eyebrows or disapproving looks during financial discussions.

Passing judgment can erode trust, making it difficult for family members to confide in each other. The tension and avoidance may replace the joyous spirit of family togetherness. In the future, fear of judgment may lead family members to withdraw from get-togethers as they fear rejection and ridicule. 

Instead of passing judgment, families should engage in supportive conversations, practice empathy by being understanding, and use these gatherings to promote financial education and literacy within the family. Finally, it is vital to recognize that everyone has unique financial circumstances, and these differences should be acknowledged, not judged.

Read Also: What to Do With Your Free Time This December

6. Not Respecting Money Boundaries By Asking Personal Questions 

Entering the delicate territory of personal finance during family get-togethers can sometimes feel like stepping on a field of landmines. It's a tricky landscape where well-meaning questions can unintentionally detonate discomfort and privacy concerns. 

Intrusive questions and topics can instantly break boundaries as not everyone is open to discussing their finances, even with family.  

Blunt and direct inquiries about income, debts, or spending habits, even when asked out of curiosity, can be discomforting to some people. Engaging in conversations about financial achievements can quickly turn into a comparison contest. Offering unsolicited financial advice based on assumptions can be misconstrued as judgments.

Intrusive questioning, even when asked out of concern for the well-being of others, can create an uncomfortable atmosphere, deterring family members from freely enjoying the gathering. Continuous boundary violations can fuel discontent and resentment, eventually preventing other gatherings from happening in the future. 

To avoid this and ensure boundaries are respected, families should emphasize the importance of supporting each other without prying into personal financial matters. This can be achieved through having collective financial aspirations to bond over and getting on the same page before starting money discussions. 

7. Faking Your Lifestyle 

The fear of being judged based on financial status can lead individuals to exaggerate or diminish their achievements. 

Picture this: A family member arrives at a gathering sporting designer labels and flaunting an ostentatious lifestyle to project an image of success. Conversely, another family member downplays their achievements, masking their successes to avoid standing out. 

Though seemingly opposite, both scenarios share a common thread – the tendency to fake one's lifestyle. 

People often use their lifestyle to seek approval/validation, maintain expectations, engage in covert competition, or avoid pity and envy. However, this deception not only distances individuals from genuine connections but also creates an environment of pretense, detracting from the authenticity that should define family get-togethers.

Faking lifestyles can have adverse effects on the spirit of family get-togethers. The foundation of trust may be compromised as family members discover the disparity between reality and presentation. This can strain relationships, cause isolation, and hurt family dynamics. 

To prevent this, families should encourage authenticity and be honest about their achievements, challenges, and aspirations, with mindful boundary-setting.

Read Also: 5 Smart Ways to Survive the Tough Holiday Season Ahead


To prevent money habits from getting in the way of your family get-togethers, you will all need to be open-minded and give the benefit of the doubt to family members with different money habits. 

Recognize that everyone has unique perspectives and experiences that shape their financial decisions. This understanding can pave the way for more empathetic and less confrontational conversations. If conversations become too heated or if your boundaries are being ignored, know when to step back and when to stand up for yourself. 

In the spirit of family togetherness, respecting each other's opinions and agreeing to disagree if necessary is essential. Remember, the goal is not to forcefully change someone's financial habits but to create an environment where everyone feels heard and respected. 

Finally, as you prepare for the family get-together, reflect on your money habits and consider how they may impact your family's dynamics.

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Farah Nurow is an experienced Content Writer who enjoys writing creative and educative articles meant to provoke readers' thoughts. He loves sunny weather and thick books. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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