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Research Your Options, and Focus on the Positive This Holiday Season

Over the next two weeks you will be getting together with family and friends.  You may see people you only see once a year.  You will have a lot of catching up to do.

Remember Christmas two years ago?  It was great.  Your cousin was working lots of overtime at the plant, so he had lots of money and seemed happy.  Your brother was in a great mood because his stock portfolio was way up.  Even your father was happy, because the value of his house was at a record high.

You probably won’t be having many conversations like that this year.  Your cousin may only be working four days a week, your brother’s stock portfolio is a lot lower than it was two years ago, and your father is worried that the price of his house will keep dropping. You will probably talk to many people over the next two weeks who have lost their job, or had their hours cut back at work, or have gone through a separation or divorce, or perhaps have had a medical issue that has caused them to miss work.  For many people this has the makings of a less than merry Christmas.

What can you do to help your family and friends through this difficult time?

First, be a friend.  “Lend an ear”.  Listen to their problems.  Start by telling them that they are not alone.  Tell them that there has been a massive increase in personal bankruptcy in Canada this year. Many others are also suffering through this recession.

Then, tell them what you have done to get through the recession.  Perhaps you have made a personal budget to keep close track of your expenses.  Discuss what you have done to cut your expenses.  Talk about how you are looking for a part time job to supplement your income.

You don’t have all of the answers; no-one does.  But by talking with your family and friends you can share ideas, and we can all help each other get through this difficult time.

Finally, after talking about all of your problems, spend some time talking about everything that’s good.  You have a family and friends.  You have a job.  You have your health.  So don’t spend all of your time focusing on the problems. Yes, if you have financial problems you should start researching solutions to money problems. But you should also take time this holiday season to acknowledge the positive things that are happening in your life, and have a Merry Christmas.