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Taking Time to Listen This Holiday Season

It is that most magical time of the year, family gathers from far and wide and many of us get the chance to step away from the burdens and stress of everyday life. It is a time for reconnecting, and making and creating good memories with the people we care about. 

There is food and football and then more food. But sometimes the chance to have great conversations with family gets lost because people just don’t think about taking full advantage of this moment. It’s like those “conversations” I used to have with my kids when I asked them what was new at school or how their day had been. If you are a parent, you likely know the answer, “nothing much.” We changed that dynamic in our family with a version of what many people call the conversation game. Asking real questions that can’t be answered with a throw-away response can stimulate interesting and meaningful responses.  

Every family is different, but there are some subjects that don’t go over so well. For example, looking to shorten your holiday shopping list? Simply make sure to talk politics the whole time you are around family.

Want to keep the tension at bay? Well, the holidays are actually a good time to have serious conversations about financial matters. Take stock of when the timing feels right, ask everyone to put away their phones for a few minutes and explore topics that are important to everyone. Those topics of course depend on your own family dynamics and life stages. Some possibilities include:

  • The next practical family vacation. What great trip can we make that doesn’t mean mortgaging future family needs.
  • Helping the college student, who is home for their first big break, think about setting up their future by starting their first IRA.
  • Listening closely to the recent college grad just a few months into that first job who is wondering about participating in their employer’s 401(k).
  • As children become adults and have children of their own, encourage them to take stock of important legal documents, and make sure beneficiary information is up to date and everyone understands their wishes.
  • Asking Mom and Dad, who are getting ready to retire, if they want help with planning for this new life phase.

No matter what the situation might be, a big key to success is everyone being open to listening closely to what others are saying and placing a high value on their input. 

Then, don’t just talk, make sure you continue to follow through with any decisions that are made or seek out answers to questions left unanswered after everyone heads back to their busy lives. Bring your professional financial advisor into the discussion and figure out the right way to make the memories you create this holiday season turn into important life milestones. Then next year during the holidays you can talk about how that great college career, new job, vacation or successful retirement is going.

Eric Shoenfeld is the managing director, Virginia market at Prime Capital Investment Advisors. 

The preceding commentary is (1) the opinion of Eric Shoenfeld and not necessarily the opinion of PCIA, (2) is for informational purposes only, and (3) should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Seek advice of a tax professional.

Advisory services offered through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC. (“PCIA”), a federally registered investment adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., 7th Floor, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Prime Capital Wealth Management (“PCWM”) and Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”).

Eric Shoenfeld
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