Home for the Holidays? How to Handle 5 Awkward Money Questions

Advice from etiquette experts on fielding uncomfortable questions from friends and family.

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Can't afford to buy gifts for all 12 of your cousins? Ingram suggests doing a Secret Santa gift exchange, especially if you have a large family. Sometimes these have a dollar amount attached, but "it's important when you set the amount to be really sensitive to everybody's financial situation," says Ingram. "A $50 gift might not be much to you, but if there's somebody in your family who's in graduate school, $50 could be a week's groceries. Set a range instead."

5. Question: How are your investments doing?

Answer: This question could be a minefield, especially this year, so Grosz suggests this simple answer: "Oh, you know how the market is, it goes up and down." Even if you're among the lucky few whose investments performed well this year, you may not want to broadcast that in case other family members are struggling. "You want to keep it light," she adds.


Clarified on 11/23/2011: A previous version of this article was not clear that it is borrowers who can take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction.