Money can be the cause of friction, fights, and relationship bust-ups.
Relationships Australia surveyed people about why they thought financial problems were likely to push couples apart. Almost one third thought it was because of people’s different priorities and expectations. Our ability to discuss money with our other-half, new love, siblings, parents, and business partners is all important.
Here are six ways to get better at talking about money.
Make regular appointments
Too often we wait until there’s a crisis to talk about money. Or we might discuss it when we’ve just come home from work. Then we wonder why it turns into a screaming match. Stop the drama before it begins by scheduling a time to talk. Think about where and when you’ll talk. The environment, your mindset, and your expectations all impact the productivity of the conversation.
Decide beforehand what is up for discussion. Trying to tackle every single financial decision, aspiration, and expense can lead to overwhelm and checking out. To keep the conversation humming along pick a single topic. It might be how to manage the mounting electricity bill. Or the interest rate you’re paying on your mortgage. Having the facts in front of you will help you stay on topic.
Share the time equally
Let each person involved in the conversation share their point of view without being interrupted. As with any conversation active listening helps people to feel they are being heard and understood. Ban personal attacks and playing the blame game. Having listened to each other’s point of view you can then share why you don’t agree with something they have said. People who remain curious and try not to make assumptions are going to achieve better results from tricky conversations.
Focus on the common ground
Focussing on solutions and compromises can prevent the conversation from getting bogged down. For instance, you may agree you would like to buy a house and the compromise lies in the timing of achieving your dream. Perhaps it is a seven-year goal instead of a three-year one. Recognise how your strengths can support each other. Someone may be spontaneous and take risks while someone else may be cautious and love tracking day-to-day spending. Instead of making your different approaches a point of conflict, use them to your advantage.
Improving our conversational skills takes practise. Making progress could include managing to have a conversation about money that doesn’t degenerate into sulks or silent treatment. It could also include agreeing to do further research on mortgage rates in the market or ways to make some additional income. You might make a commitment to set aside time regularly to discuss money or to create more transparency on how money is being spent and any ongoing debts or obligations.
It can help to involve a third-party who is skilled at discussing financial topics. If you need more understanding and clarity on your money values and goals, scheduling an appointment with your financial adviser could be the best way to open a conversation about money.
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