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The 5 Financial Personalities You Have to Deal with During the Holidays

Dec. 18, 2013
Personal Finance
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It’s a week before Christmas – shopping wrapped up yet? If not, you’re not alone.

Recent surveys have shown that a large number of holiday shoppers procrastinate until almost the last minute. About 20 percent of yuletide shopping takes place in the week before Christmas, and nearly half of all holiday shoppers are still buying presents three days before Christmas Eve.

While you’ve likely purchased  – or, at least, thought about – the presents you plan to give those closest to you, how about the extended family you’ll be seeing next week over turkey, ham and eggnog? Like last year’s fruitcake sitting in your pantry, you can’t ignore them forever.

Like it or not, the holidays mean dealing with extended family and in-laws. Fortunately, you can easily find the perfect gift for every crooked branch of the family tree just by understanding their financial personality. Here’s NerdWallet’s guide to recognizing, avoiding, and shopping for the five financial personalities you’ll have to deal with during the holidays:

  1. The obnoxiously generous aunt:

    • Easily recognized by: Giant loads of shopping bags that seem to constantly be hanging off her body; enough wrapping paper to cover the house; fastest credit card draw in a 20-mile radius.
    • Common hangouts: Shopping malls,, deals sites
    • Best evasion tactic: A warm smile. Why would you avoid getting awesome presents?
    • Ideal present: Just buy her a snow globe with a cute teddy bear and call it a day. 
  1. The overly inquisitive mom:

    • Easily recognized by: Compulsion to ask the most personal financial and career questions no matter who you’re hanging out with.  “I’ve nursed you and cleaned your diaper — what have you got to hide from me?”
    • Common hangouts: QVC, Neiman Marcus, Suze Orman on CNBC
    • Best evasion tactics: Patient smile, then shift conversation to the latest episode of “The Good Wife.”
    • Ideal present: Get her a cute photo of the grandkids in a pile of leaves – that’s all she really wants. 
  1. The “Can-I-Just-Borrow-50-Bucks?” brother-in-law

    • Easily recognized by: Money mooching, sob stories and inappropriate anecdotes about how your sibling is a spendthrift.
    • Common hangouts: Lottery websites, race tracks, online gambling sites
    • Best evasion tactics: The buddy system. He will only ask for cash if you two are alone, so have a spouse, partner or sibling (the one not married to him) tag team this one.
    • Ideal present: Give him Nassim Taleb’s “Fooled by Randomness” on probabilities related to chance. He won’t read it, but at least you tried. 
  1. The Stingy Cousin

    • Easily recognized by: Always buys super-cheap, lame gifts for everyone else, despite having a great job and no kids.
    • Common hangouts: The Dollar Store, Groupon,
    • Best evasion tactics: Begin all sentences with “When I was volunteering at the soup kitchen…” Conveniently “forget” your wallet and stare at him expectantly when the bill comes. If you need to ditch him in a pinch, just make a beeline to the Salvation Army bell ringer at the front of the mall.
    • Ideal present: Re-gift the present he or she gave last year. 
  1. The Entitled Niece

    • Easily recognized by: Wants a BMW for Christmas; has no appreciation for the value of money
    • Common hangouts: Prada and Gucci boutiques,
    • Best evasion tactics: Talk loudly about your love of your 5-year-old Blackberry, your MySpace profile, and literary classics. The more eyerolls you elicit, the less time you’ll have to spend with her.
    • Ideal present: Get a scented candle set from Henri Bendel, luxe-looking leather handbag from Zara or aromatherapy set from Bath & Body Works. The goal is to maximize glitziness while minimizing cost. Bonus points: don’t tell her you cashed in credit card rewards to make the purchases.