By Jake Holmes, Financial Literacy Outreach Coordinator at the Maine Credit Union League. Reposted with permission from the Financial Literacy Blog.
According to the New York Times, almost half of Americans say the most difficult topic to discuss with others is personal finance and they would rather discuss death, politics, or religion. Unfortunately, talking about money is a taboo topic in too many homes. It’s important to overcome the reluctance to have conversations about money, as it’s an essential part of any wealth management strategy. Here are some tips that will make talking about money with your family easier:
Try Not to Lecture
Whether you’re having the discussion with your partner, children, or parents, making an effort to be conversational and supportive can make all the difference. Because the topic is already so taboo, approaching the topic in an uninviting manner can make discussing money even more daunting. Instead of scheduling a lengthy lecture on account balances and retirement contributions, start with simple questions that may spark further discussion. Ask about wants, needs, and answer any questions they may have. You may be surprised about what they already know and what they need to know more about. After a successful conversation, they may be more comfortable discussing finances going forward.
Have the Conversation Early
Personal finance plays a huge role in one’s well-being, so it’s extremely important that there is transparency between you and your family. It’s better to start the conversation early, as discussing finances in a timely manner can set a positive, goal-oriented tone. This can make it easier to work on paying off debt together, saving for a shared goal, or simply having a plan in place for when the unexpected happens. Early conversations can help your children develop good money habits, and ensure that you and your partner are on the same page. If you have adult children, this gives you ample time to plan for the future.
Set Family Goals
Sit down as a family and discuss your goals. Whether it’s saving enough money away to pay for your child’s college tuition or going on vacation, let the goals be known to the entire family. Remind your family that goals require sacrifices. That might mean skipping out on seeing the latest blockbuster in the theater or cooking a meal at home instead of eating out at your favorite restaurant. You can all keep each other motivated and committed to your goals, while celebrating milestones along the way.
Make the Discussion a Routine
Set aside a regular time to talk about money. The world of finance is constantly changing, so checking in regularly to discuss budgeting, address problems, and evaluate progress on family goals is important. Setting a consistent monthly or quarterly family meeting can also give family members enough time to figure out and prepare what they want to talk about.
If you and your family have questions you’d like answered, reach out to your local credit union to see how they can help.
The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of the Maine Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.