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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Financial Problems During the Holiday Season

As a psychotherapist in NYC, during the holiday season, I hear from many clients that they don't know how to tell their children, friends and relatives that they're too broke financially this year to spend money on holiday gifts.

In some cases, either one or both spouses may be out of work, they're worried about losing a job, or experiencing other financial challenges. Whereas they might have been very generous in the past, this year they don't have the financial wherewithal to spend money on gifts and they feel too ashamed to tell their loved ones.

Financial Problems During the Holiday Season

Financial Problems Often Make People Feel Ashamed
Objectively, many of these same people know that their financial challenges should not be a cause for shame. But they feel ashamed nonetheless. And their shame prevents them from addressing this issue directly with loved ones.

Rather than opening up the lines of communication for an honest dialogue, some people try to avoid the issue. Other people end up spending money that they don't have by racking up debt on their credit cards.

Having a discussion with a young child about financial hardships in the family during the holiday season can be especially challenging. But rather than avoiding it, parents can address the issue with their children in an age-appropriate way, depending on the child's maturity level.

Of course, most parents would like to give their child whatever new and exciting toy or computer game that is the latest craze. But for many people, especially in these financial tough times, this just isn't possible. There are other financial priorities that need to come first--like meeting the family's basic needs.

When faced with this situation, one way to address this issue is to get back to basics with your family by remembering what the holiday season is all about.

Rather Than Focusing on Gift Giving, Find Other Meaningful Ways to Celebrate the Holidays
Rather than focusing on gift giving, you can find other ways to celebrate the holidays in a meaningful way. If you and your family are spiritual, you can talk to them about the spiritual rituals for this time of year, which usually don't cost money.

Rather Than Focusing on Gift Giving, Find Other Meaningful Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

Rather than focusing on what they're going to get, it can be so much more meaningful to teach children what they can give to others who might be less fortunate than themselves. Spending time serving food to homeless people, singing Carols at a nursing home or hospital where people might be without family is so much more about the holiday spirit than focusing on material gifts.

For adults, rather than giving a material gift, your "gift" could be your time and effort on their behalf.

Giving a "gift" of babysitting for a single mother who might be overwhelmed and might need a respite can mean a lot more to that mother than a material gift. Going grocery shopping or cooking a meal for an elderly or home bound person means more to that person than getting a wrapped gift.

It's a matter of getting letting to of the shame about financial problems, getting creative and looking beyond the holiday hype. You might discover a whole new way of celebrating the holidays that brings you and your loved ones together in a more uplifting and meaningful way.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me:

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