We have all had an awkward, wish-I-could-sink-into-the-floor-right-now, money conversation. It may have been with a parent, a close friend, or your spouse. But as awkward as it can be, talking about money is crucial – it’s the only way to get your family working towards the same financial goals, which is the only way to achieve your family’s financial goals.
So here are some ideas I’ve come up with to the ease the money conversation, and in some cases even make it fun!
- Write down questions on little papers with your spouse and put them in a jar or box – be sure to include some fun and light topics in with the heavier, more serious ones – and pick a few to discuss with your spouse one night a week or month. Examples include: “What are the 5 top things we want to save for?”, “How much money would we need if one of us had a medical emergency and couldn’t work?”, and “Where should we go on our next trip!”, etc.
- To avoid ruining a perfectly good night with a brutally honest financial conversation, make it more natural by bringing up different financial topics whenever an expense comes up in conversation. For example, “Are you excited for our big trip next month without the kids?” can lead to a conversation about making sure your will’s in order so your extended family is prepared if something were to happen to you on vacation and they needed to take care of your children. This can also be less dramatic like a conversation about groceries leading to a comment on how much you’ve been saving lately, maybe you could increase your monthly savings contribution or talk to your advisor about looking at a new investment.
- If you tend to fight over different spending habits with your spouse, and about 1 in 4 couples do, consider creating separate “mad money” accounts – my grandmother used to call it that because it’s an insignificant amount of money you can go mad, or crazy, with. This money in each of your separate accounts doesn’t need to be explained to or run by your spouse, and it should be used on the little things that will make you happy.
- Money can be a stressful topic when you have no real plan and feel like your finances are taking over your life. Take the emotion out of the conversation by setting up a meeting for your family to meet with a financial advisor – they can take you through the numbers in a matter-of-fact way and help your family set attainable goals you can all feel good about.
Hopefully these are helpful ideas, but please share the ways you’ve found to make your money conversation more interesting – I’d love to hear your tips.