During November we celebrate Money Talk Week. The Week was created to help increase people’s sense of financial wellbeing by encouraging them to be open about personal finance. Many have struggled financially in recent times, but in the same way that you can take steps to improve your health, you can take steps to improve your wealth.
Avoidant behaviour is a well-explored area, and often the behaviour that is witnessed when it comes to managing one's finances. When we avoid we are attempting to reduce a threat, anxiety, or danger. Matthew McKay, PhD, details five types including the following two that are relevant to finance:
Cognitive avoidance - actively turning your mind away from distressing thoughts. Here you consciously tell yourself not to think about money. You may be telling yourself stories that support your decision to not deal with your finances.
Somatic avoidance - staying away from situations that evoke a physical reaction, such as stress and anxiety. This may be done when avoiding looking at a bank statement or account balance.
The subject of money can be scary and uncomfortable. Many families experience financial struggle - partners lose their jobs and become dependent on the other, increased cost of living makes household expenses hard to maintain, an expensive divorce can make maintaining previous expenses difficult - along with many other difficult situations.
Often, financial struggle is experienced in isolation, making the experience that much more difficult. Talking about money is the answer. It is important to encourage conversations as it reduces isolation, reduces shame and provides support. Speaking about money creates a platform for people to connect on shared challenges and for each other to learn. Research finds that talking about money in the family home "has significant positive impacts on financial literacy, financial behaviour and financial well-being".
Money & Pension Service state that research show that people who talk about money:
make better financial decisions
have stronger personal relationships
help their children form good money habits for life
feel less stressed or anxious about money.
Below are guidelines to help begin conversations about money. These can be shared with colleagues, friends and family.
Starting the Conversation
Before you start the conversation, take a moment to ensure it is the right time to have the conversation. Consider whether you are in the right place? Do you have privacy? If you are not, do not force the issue, wait, and find a time that is better suited.
If you are nervous about the pending conversation, practice saying what you would like to say aloud and think through some of the possible answers that may come back. Preparing for the talk will help you feel less nervous as you would have thought through potential outcomes and be ready to deal with the possibilities.
Make the Topic Relatable
You may have an idea that the conversation will be difficult to get started, this may be the case if you have never had such a talk with this person before or in the past, they put up resistance. If you need to ease them into the conversation, try using relatable things such as a TV program or recent film. Try to create a comfortable environment and ensure you are feeling as comfortable and relaxed yourself beforehand. If you do feel you need to be more direct, make sure to ask their permission to have the conversation first. You do not want to assume they are ready just because you are.
Give Them Time and Control their Emotions
Finally, when approaching about a difficult money matter that involves them, ensure to allow time and space for them to speak. You may be feeling frustration or resentment at what has been happening, but remember you are bringing them on a journey. They may have no idea about the struggles you are facing, so allow them the freedom to get there delicately.
Talking to a Partner
You may be like many other couples who also find talking about money to be challenging. This is very normal as you both come to have completely different attitudes to money, different backgrounds, and different psychological and cognitive needs. One of you may be very strict about saving, whereas the other may feel that money is to be spent. This can create major clashes in the home if not identified and dealt with.
It is important to discuss finances with your partner as soon as possible if their finances are becoming entwined with yours. It may also be good to start light conversations before this even happens.
Spend time talking with your partner to see whether they hold the same views and feelings about money as you do. Take note of each other’s personal goals and how they see themselves using their money. Committing to regularly having conversations about money and working towards building joint goals will see you have more harmony around financial decision making.
If you enjoyed this article, please do let us know in the comments. We are open to suggestions and welcome ideas about other topics to discuss.
If you would like to stay in touch with us and the work we do on financial inclusion, neurodiversity and financial education, please do get in touch and join our community. We share information about upcoming events and initiatives. We would love to have you.
This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Mind Over Money assists you in making better economic choices, improving your wealth and building financial confidence. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.