Whether you’re in a long-term relationship, just started dating someone special or would like to get into the practice of talking about money with family members and friends, there are certain habits you can start implementing now that can ease you into talking about money.
These habits not only benefit you, but they also have a lasting impact on your relationships with the loved ones in your lives. Set and follow these habits to improve the financial health of everyone you are connected to and care about.
Make It Fun
It is not uncommon to see many people approach the discussion of money from a serious or slightly judgmental place. Rather than only talking about money when something bad happens or as a means to shame the other person, Ramit Sethi — bestselling author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” podcast host and personal finance expert — recommends making the conversation fun.
“So many people only talk about money when something bad happens. They start off by saying ‘I can’t believe you bought that!’ We don’t want that,” said Sethi.
The better approach is to start with a structured agenda. Sethi said start by sharing something you appreciate about the other person. For example, maybe your spouse is great at finding deals when booking flights for your family. Start by telling them how much you appreciate that and take turns doing this together.
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It’s tricky to talk about money from an honest place. Some people may feel inclined to dial down what their existing financial situation really looks like, offer up vague responses to questions about how much they earn or may try to change topics altogether to avoid touching on any taboos.
Jordan Lee, CEO and founder of Backer, said transparent communication is key. Transparency will help break more barriers and stigma surrounding talking about money. If you care for and trust the person you’re talking to, you should feel comfortable opening up about a big purchase or investment you made or a financial situation you’re struggling with, like debt. And vice versa –they should feel comfortable talking about money with you so everyone is on the same page.
“Talking to friends about money leads to better financial decisions and gives people the necessary encouragement and support to achieve important financial milestones,” said Lee.
Be Mindful of Your Words
Here’s a shortlist of words Sethi recommends not using during the first month as you establish financial habits that can improve your relationships: budget, overspend, compound interest and tax advantaged.
Swap out those words for the following words: rich life, love, exciting and together.
Feels like a thoughtful and kind conversation you wouldn’t mind having already, doesn’t it?
Created a Shared Vision
Now that you’re starting to get into the habit of money talks that are fun, transparent and use better words, Sethi recommends taking the next step of creating a shared vision. For individuals that are in romantic relationships, Sethi said a lack of a shared vision is the number one problem couples have with their finances.
Rather than argue over Target purchases, Sethi said talk about what makes up your Rich Life. Ask some of the following questions:
- What do we want to spend our money on?
- What do we want to do more of?
- What do we want to do less of?
Set Aside Time To Discuss Money
Sethi calls this the “Rich Life Review.” Set aside a time and place to proactively talk about money. Do it at least once a month, at a place where you both feel relaxed and just between two people if possible.
“What you want to avoid is one partner getting caught off guard and you end up in a fight,” said Sethi. “Creating a proactive, calm place to have this conversation is the first step.”
Talk About Money Proactively
Money shouldn’t be a negative topic. It’s not a topic we need to react to, walk on eggshells around or fight about.
Sethi said to change that, money should be something you talk about proactively instead of reactively. Using the aforementioned time set aside each month can contribute to making a proactive shift in discussion. The more conversations we have, the less taboo money as a topic becomes and the more we are able to move from a position of negativity, scarcity and tension to a place of joy, possibility and togetherness.
Use a Tool To Facilitate Conversation
Not sure where to start in a money conversation? Lee recommends using a tool that helps facilitate the conversation. There are spreadsheets available through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that can help anyone begin starting the money conversation and ensure these conversations are productive together.
“Your village — friends, family and extended networks — wants to support your dreams and goals, whether it’s saving for your child’s college education or just making ends meet,” said Lee. “Leaning on each other for support and having transparent financial conversations gives your loved ones the chance to show up for you, and you for them.”
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