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How to have good money conversations

5 September 2023
Reading time: 4 minutes

Posted by Tom Hartmann , 0 Comments

New Zealanders are shy when it comes to money – many of us would rather chat sex, drugs or politics than open up about our finances. 

But recent data shows this is changing, with more of us discussing money matters with family and friends. Only one in seven New Zealanders now don't talk about money with friends or whānau, compared to one in five a year ago. 

Whether it’s reviewing your spending with your partner, explaining to the kids how a budget works, or chatting investment strategies with friends over coffee, opening up about money is so worth it.  

It helps us to seek advice, feel less alone and work together to optimise and grow our money for the future. It can even help make our relationships stronger

Here are our top tips when you're having a "money talk" with someone you're close to.   

Be mindful of your emotions, as well as the emotions of the person you are talking to. 

What you feel about money is completely valid, but getting really angry or upset will unfortunately interfere with the outcome you’re after. 

Tell yourself that you can express these emotions at another time, but this conversation requires your mind to be clear and logical. If you are feeling particularly emotional, you might even want to give yourself a time and place to directly address these emotions. 

That way, you can stay focused on this important conversation, knowing that your feelings will be addressed later. 

Stay about the same eye level. 

In other words, it’s best if everyone involved is seated or standing. You don’t want anyone to be physically above or below another. It doesn’t work out as well. 

Skip the judgment. 

Being judgmental makes the other person shut down. Avoid starting sentences with accusations, such as "you", and keep it all about yourself, such as "I think" or "I feel". The faces you pull and the words you use (no insults!) matter too.  

Try not to interrupt.  

If you start talking over each other, it will probably turn into an argument. You might find this difficult since you probably have so much to say, but the best way to work through this will be as a team. 

If you find one of you is interrupting the other, you might want to gently raise this as an issue and suggest some allocated time for both of you to speak completely uninterrupted. 

Don’t blame anyone for interrupting; simply acknowledge this is an emotional topic and therefore it might be a good idea to devise some rules of conversation to ensure everyone gets to speak. 

Stay on topic. 

Bringing up other issues isn’t going to help this situation move forward. If you feel this might be a problem, write yourself a list of things you can and can’t talk about during this conversation. 

For example, this conversation isn’t the time to tell your partner they need to spend more time with you and less time on the computer. This conversation needs to stay focused on your finances. 

By sticking to this topic and only this topic, the conversation will be that much easier for you. 

De-jargon your money talk. 

The world of money can be confusing, there’s no doubt about it.  

It’s important for money conversations to be on a level playing field. That means avoiding words or acronyms that could confuse the other person or make them feel intimidated.   

Across the finance sector, we are working to de-jargon our conversations as well, with a financial glossary of simpler terms launched this year to help make products and services more accessible.  

The key here is that good communication creates good relationships. And to have a good relationship with money, we need to talk about it. 

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