How To Talk About Money
Let’s talk about money.
Does a conversation about money make you excited? Nervous? Anxious? Apparently money can be a stressful thing for some people to talk about. Conversations about finances can put strains on relationships. What I would like you to think about, is if simply talking about money is causing problems, what underlying issues are at play and are they really being solved by avoiding the conversation?
Perhaps tension, disagreement or confusion around financial matters provides an opportunity for meaningful discussion. To that end, I’ve put together a list of do's and don'ts in effort to make this topic easier to approach and any ensuing conversations more productive.
1. Put it in the calendar.
Take the time to think through any areas that you may want to address (more on this in point 2) and select the least confrontational one and invite your loved ones to a conversation. When you give someone a heads up that there's an issue that needs addressing or an area that needs some clarification you provide them the opportunity to prepare. They can come to the conversation with any questions or thoughts they have which might lead to a less emotional and more constructive outcome.
2. Tackle one issue at a time.
We don't want to overwhelm the other person with an onslaught of financial woes and money problems. Try to keep it focused by starting with bigger items. Diving into the details of every small matter can quickly derail a meaningful conversation. If the most pressing matter is a delicate one, think of ways to simplify it. Keep reading for more tips on how to do this.
3. Try to understand each person’s value system, especially as it pertains to money.
Everybody has a different view on money and its level of significance. For some people money has a negative connotation, they feel tied down by it. For others, the opposite is true, it represents freedom. Trying to understand the varying perspectives around the table might give you some insight as to the best way to approach conversations about money. If you know what matters most to each person you can start to hone in on ways to achieve a win/win outcome.
4. Take a break if you get emotional.
If you find that this conversation is starting to get heated, step back. Nothing productive happens when emotions are running on high. Take the opportunity to encourage everyone to write down their thoughts and feelings. Prior to meeting again, review your notes with a clear head and readdress any issues that are still of concern. Be sure to schedule the next meeting fairly soon, the last thing you want to do is to avoid the topic.
5. Do NOT focus on things that you can't control.
When there are things that you can't change such as past investments or what’s happening in financial markets, you don't want to waste your time and energy focusing on those things. Focus on what you can control.
6. Stop making assumptions.
It is important for us to really understand what stakeholders are doing and how they're feeling. The best way to do this is to ask them. Once you have their opinions, idea and concerns you will have some insight as to why they do what they do. When you all understand what happening with one another it’s easier to make a plan moving forward.
7. Don't play the blame and shame game.
When it comes to talking about money with others, if you attack or belittle them you’re not going to get off on the right foot. Passive-aggressive behavior around money can be a learned behavior that is hard to shake, but it's important that we accept mistakes as part of the process in becoming more financially literate.
It's really important for us to have open and honest conversations with money, and trying to get people understand exactly where we're at. Money isn't an evil thing, it's simply a tool. We need it to live, we need it to be able to do all the things that we want to do, but it doesn't have to rule us. Focus on the big picture and make your money work for you.
If you're looking for more support in regards to talking about money with your family, please reach out to us to arrange a call. Jamie is always happy to help and can meet with you and your family to help keep financial conversations on track!
This is a general source of information only. It is not intended to provide personalized tax, legal or investment advice, and is not intended as a solicitation to purchase securities. Jamie Powell is solely responsible for its content. For more information on this topic or any other financial matter, please contact an IG Wealth Management Consultant.