Q. My husband just lost his job and I work part time. I've negotiated a deal with my bosses so we can buy our family insurance here and they will pay a portion of the policy though they say they can't put me on full time. We are changing our lifestyle and budgets and feel we can muddle through this, but we're having trouble with our extended family. We've always had a holiday grab bag and each person gave a $100 gift to one other person. There are four of us in our family and we simply cannot give $400 in gifts, nor do we want or need $400 in gifts given to us. Everyone in the family is having the same money problems now yet they won't listen to our sensible arguments. What do we do?
Ans. You use assertiveness strategy. Keep repeating the same sentences calmly, quietly and persistently whenever the subject comes up: "We've always enjoyed giving gifts when we could. We can't now, so we are giving holiday cards with a small cash token we can afford. We ask you do the same to us." Even if the rest of the group continues to give $100 per person when they can't afford to, there is no reason for you to participate in such irresponsible behavior. You are acting like adults, so don't waste time worrying about the group's reaction.