How to talk about money productively

Makala Green 15 October 2021

Founder of Green Wealth Planning, Makala Green, offers her practical tips on talking about money

For some, talking about money can present a stressful, shameful situation. But working out what to say, when to say it, and who to talk to about money can make the topic more manageable and meaningful.

The more you openly talk about money, the easier it is to deal with money difficulties or financial fears you may be facing. Here is a three-step process you can consider, helping kickstart the important conversation:

 What to say when talking money

For many, it’s not starting the conversation about money that can be difficult, but rather the uncertainty of what to say. It's best to get right to the point; it doesn't matter how it comes out or what you sound like; the important thing is that you feel comfortable, and the only way to do that is to talk about your finances more openly and often. 

Sadly, some of the most damaging conversations we have about money are internal. The things we tell ourselves, such as "I'm not good with money" or "I'll never be rich, is often not hard to do." These negative conversations suppress the ability to build financial confidence and advances anxiety.

Although not as easy, it's better to think about the benefits money has provided, the money habits that have brought you closer to your goals and how money has impacted positive life choices. The burden of money can weigh you down, so getting things off your chest can be a huge relief. So, go ahead and have that long overdue conversation.

 When to talk about money

As a nation, we are comfortable talking about many things, but we shy away when it comes to money. Even if your finances are in good shape, it's worth checking in with someone to ensure you are still on track. It’s often our priorities change regularly, incomes shift, or debt sneaks in unnoticed. If your money is not where it needs to be, it's time to talk about changes. Why keep the current broken system when you can easily have healthy conversations about your concerns?

You may have been putting off talking to someone about money, waiting for the perfect time. Well, now is the time to have that conversation. It may help if you do some research before speaking so you can ask the right questions.

"As a nation, we are comfortable talking about many things, but we shy away when it comes to money"

Suggest holding a regular money meeting with yourself or someone trustworthy. When you talk about your finances regularly at an appointed time, it will help reduce anxiety and seem less daunting. Try focusing on your feelings rather than your figures. Then see what's working well, exploring ways to stay on budget, cut back spending, or save more. Also, making time to plan long-term goals may well be an investment that proves fruitful in future.

 Who to talk to about money

The first person to have a money conversation with is you; how you feel about money, where it goes, how you can make money work for you is all information you need to know when trying to improve your relationship with money. You will also benefit from talking about your financial situation with the following people:

 Your partner: If you have a partner, having money conversations is just as important as intimacy. After all, financial issues are the number one reason couples divorce or separate. A source states 33 per cent of married or partnered adults say they have difficulty discussing money with their spouse or partner.

Merging money in relationships is a big step and goes beyond the sneak peek of each other's bank balance. You want to be open about your money worries, problems and work together in achieving financial harmony. Try doing a spending journal together or set up a joint budget to track household expenses. 

Your employer: Talking about money with your employer can be intimidating as there are so many aspects to consider. Discussing pensions with your employer should be a priority. Funding a pension is long term and requires lots of money to ensure you are financially comfortable when you stop working.

If you have not started a pension, explore your options and the benefits. If you are already contributing, explore ways to contribute more and see if your employers will match. If you are not eligible or self-employed, seek options to start a personal pension.

"Discussing pensions with your employer should be a priority"

Your parents: The conversation you have with your parents around money could be more meaningful than any other. So even if it's an uncomfortable topic, you want to understand their plans in retirement, old age, and potential long-term care.  You need to understand if they have enough to live comfortably and how that might affect you in the future.

Conversely, if your parents plan on leaving any inheritance, it's worth ironing out the finances without too much delay. Simple things such as making sure their insurances and plans are in order can prevent financial pain.

 Your children: It's never too early to have a conversation about money with your children. Teaching your children the concept of money, how to use it for things they need and spending wisely are great ways to get them started. The older they get, the more you may want to discuss in-depth topics such as inflation, ownership, and retirement. By taking the time to teach your children about money, they'll likely have a smoother transition into society with fewer money mistakes.

 Overall, with the right approach, attitude, and effort, having meaningful money conversations will minimise any internal conflicts so you can confront your financial decisions confidently. And if you're still hesitant, rest assured that you're not alone! Engaging with someone you trust or a financial professional who can overlook your options may help alleviate any stress and provide peace of mind.

Makala Green is the Founder of Green Wealth Planning, an associate Partner Practice of revered St James's Place Wealth Management. Makala is Britain’s first black female chartered financial planner and is focused on breaking down the barriers people face to financial freedom and demystifying the world of finance

Follow Makala Green on her Instagram and check out her website here

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