There are many topics of conversation among family, friends, and partners that can be uncomfortable. Talking money lives on the top of that list — in fact, a survey of 2,000 Americans found they are more likely to talk about politics, relationships, and health than they are money.
Why is this the case? Based on the social context, talking about money can be considered taboo or “out-of-bounds” and can be emotionally charged for some. If you feel like you’re lacking financially or have a smaller budget than those around you, you may feel shame or embarrassment to discuss it. On the other hand, if you have significantly more than your peers, family, or partner, you may harbor some guilt. However, when you ignore your financial situation, it can cause stress, anxiety, and possible disdain in your relationships.
Here are five important things to consider when talking money with your family, friends, or partner.
1. Smart small.
Whether you’re having a conversation about family budget or discussing money management with your partner, ease into it. You don’t have to discuss everything all at once, but it’s important to introduce the idea of openness and transparency when talking money. As you develop a relationship with a partner, you might ask, “how do you feel about opening up about money?” and gauge their comfortability alongside your own. From there, you can slowly start to ask more intimate questions as time goes on. With your family and friends, starting small also sets a precedent that talking money is okay and opens the door for more comfortable conversation that can allow you to learn from each other.
2. Dedicate time and space to discuss money.
Especially when it comes to family and spouses or partners, dedicating a comfortable space and a relaxed time to talk about money helps avoid adding any unnecessary stress to the conversation. It may be convenient to talk about spending less on going out to eat while you’re sitting at the restaurant, but this can add an element of stress to the situation and make it difficult to enjoy your time there. A healthier approach would be to sit down when every party has the time and make a list of things to discuss. Again, start small. These conversations should be ongoing and consistent — you don’t need to cover everything in one day. Money and how you manage it is a continuous and changing variable throughout life, so things will change as you continue to talk about them.
3. Be honest.
Say you’d like to dedicate a little more to your savings account or student loans this month, which may mean cutting back on going out for food or drinks. If a friend invites you out to lunch somewhere that’s outside your budget, it can be easy to just say no or make excuses. Instead, be honest and try offering alternatives. Perhaps a cheaper option, or a plan to meet them before or after for a drink. Offering an alternative as opposed to making excuses can help avoid tension or rifts in your relationship, and the same goes for family and partner relationships — dishonesty and lack of communication about your financial situation can lead to distrust and compounding financial burden.
4. Set goals.
Once you’ve opened the door for conversation about talking money with peers, family, and partners, setting goals helps you maintain a basis for where you stand and what you are comfortable with. Set three to four financial goals at a time, and as you continue to achieve these goals, the more comfortable you will feel with your financial situation and less burdensome it will be to talk about it. Much of not wanting to talk about money stems from lack of confidence or adequacy in how we manage it. The more goals you achieve, the more you will learn about your finances as well.
5. Find an advisor.
Setting goals and figuring out how to talk to your loved ones about money can feel overwhelming sometimes, but a good financial advisor can help you navigate those waters and make recommendations that are right for you and your life. At Republic Bank of Chicago, we’re here to help you navigate the often-confusing world of talking about, learning about, and managing money. To get in touch with one of our bankers, call us at 800-526-9127, or check out more of our tips online.