Holiday dinner. The annual gathering of nosey relatives from near and far – or two doors down –who don’t quite understand what you do for a living or how you choose to live your life.
It’s always an extremely joyful time, until the interrogation begins. Whether the questions are about your love life, your work life, or something in between, it seems that these holiday dinners are more of a litmus test on life success than a yearly celebration.
I’m an amateur personal finance geek.
Your tools have helped me become a smarter investor.
Personal Capital Dashboard User, February 2021
No matter your age or current life status, here are a few tips to answer the most common questions we all get asked around the holiday table with a light-hearted, data-backed response, free for you to prove that you do, indeed, have life under control.
If You’re in Your 20’s – 30’s
Question: When are you going to settle down?
Answer: Well, getting hitched can be expensive. On top of student loans and what I can put toward retirement, it might be a little while until I can save up enough money. CNN and TheKnot.com say the average cost of a wedding is over $32,000 these days. When the time is right, I’ll work with my fiancé to decide who pays for what at our wedding.
Question: When are you going to have kids?
Answer: Actually, it’s getting more and more common for people my age to wait a little longer before having kids. The average cost of raising a child is now $250,000, according to the Wall Street Journal. I want to make sure I’m really ready and committed to take on that financial and emotional responsibility. Ideally, I’d like to pay off my student loans and credit card debt, and then make sure I’m on track with my retirement savings before having children.
Question: When are you going to buy a house?
Answer: I’m not sure yet, but it seems like the American Dream of owning a home is changing – I know a lot of people my age who are waiting to realize significant life milestones like buying a home. In fact, across all ages, homeownership rates in the U.S. are down to their lowest point in 50 years (62.9% to be precise). Plus, right now I like having my investments in more liquid assets.
If You’re in Your 40’s – 50’s
Question: How are the kids?
Answer: They are learning something new every day. I read in a recent study that the United States only ranks 14th in the world for financial literacy, and young people are even less educated about personal finances than folks our age. We’re working with our children to teach them good financial habits and help them learn about banking and credit.
Question: How’s business?
Answer: Did you know that recently more businesses have closed than new businesses have opened? I’d say the fact that we’re keeping the doors open has me feeling pretty good. As long as I have a proper cash management system in place, both for my business and personal life, I know I’m doing pretty well.
If You’re 60+
Question: What’s keeping you busy now that you’re recently retired?
Answer: I’m among 10,000 other Baby Boomers retiring every day, so I’m in great company to meet new people and nurture my hobbies. With my home paid off and the kids out of the house, I spend less money in retirement than I did when I was working so I can use my extra time and money to pursue new hobbies and passion projects. I’m lucky that I started saving early and avoided some major retirement planning mistakes throughout my working years.
Question: Are you taking any big trips?
Answer: We’ve been considering taking one really big trip by retiring abroad, dumping all of our possessions and becoming senior gypsies, or we could always stay closer to home and travel domestically. I read that RV sale shipments have increased 116% since 2009. We have a lot of options, but nothing is set in stone yet.
Family time during the holidays shouldn’t leave you sweating or hoping that your answers meet your family’s standards of success. Know how to respond to these financial questions with grace, and use these prompts at your next holiday meal to blow your nosey relatives right out of their socks.