Opening up about money is so worth it. Here are our top tips when you're having a "money talk" with someone you're close to. 

Stay about the same eye level.

In other words, it’s best if everyone involved is seated or standing. You don’t want one person to be physically above or below the other. 

Skip the judgment.

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

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

Getting emotional is completely valid, but getting really angry or upset might 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.

Try not to interrupt. 

If you start talking over each other, it might 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 and complaints 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 is focused on your finances.

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

 

How to deal with negative reactions

Not everything is going to go to plan, so if you find you’re getting a negative reaction, try these responses.

If this happens…
Try this.

The person doesn’t agree with the facts you’re suggesting

Ask what their reasons are and listen with an open mind. If you feel they have a point, say so. If you disagree with them, suggest how you can move forward.

The person blames you

Listen with an open mind; figure out what is making them frustrated without getting defensive and blaming them back. Are their comments justifiable? If so, how will you address these comments? Are their comments simply shifting blame? If so, ask them what they feel you can BOTH do to resolve the problems.

The person is impatient or tries to change the topic

Clarify the aim of the conversation and let them know what choices they have. Listen and note what they are saying to address later. Express your understanding that it is a difficult conversation, while also highlighting that it will be easier to have it now than further down the line.

The person talks a lot

Make sure you leave plenty of time for the chat, yet keep them on topic by referring to what they have said and asking relevant questions.

The person passively agrees to everything you say or decide

Allow some time to develop a relaxed atmosphere. Try hard to ask their opinion and when you get it, say it back to them. Don’t be afraid of silence and give them plenty of time to think.

 

Are there other possible scenarios you think might happen? Write them down, along with a solution.

 

How to end the conversation well

After a difficult conversation, you generally feel like, "Phew! Glad that’s over. Hope I never have to have that conversation again!"

Actually, it’s really important to follow up after a tough chat. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

  • Acknowledge the conversation happened. Recognise it was a tough conversation and highlight the positive things that have come out of it. There is a huge amount of value in appreciating that you were able to come together, discuss a difficult topic and even have the conversation in the first place.
  • Find ways to move the conversation forward. Be proactive in showing that you’ve taken the solutions on board. Clear communication around next steps helps move the conversation forward.
  • Try writing it down. This can be useful, perhaps in an email or on paper that you can both refer to later. It’s common for two people to take on information in totally different ways, and this can result in one of you thinking the outcome was one thing, while the other thinks something completely different. Writing it down can help you clarify the points discussed.

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