Tips for Talking Money with Family

A man with his father and daughter. Three generations talking about money.

Talking about finances with your family positively and productively can be difficult and uncomfortable. Whether you want to discuss financial goals with your spouse, help your parents retire comfortably, or teach your kids about financial responsibility, here are some tips to help make financial discussions with your loved ones a little easier.

Talking Money with Your Partner

You and your partner are close. It is okay to be afraid of talking money with them, but know that it is an important step in most relationships.

The key to financial success in any relationship is being able to discuss matters with your significant other. If you are afraid to talk money or that conversation hasn’t gone well in the past, you may need to find the right approach in order to get on the same page. Here are some tips for discussing money with your partner.

Make a Money Date

Talking about money can be delicate, especially with your partner, so it’s a good idea to set a time for discussing finances. Make it more comfortable by making a date to go out to a diner, café, or other low key places that have Wi-Fi. That way you can bring your laptop and go over key issues such as spending, savings, budgeting, and retirement.

Talk About Your Goals

A financial talk is all about achieving goals. So, start by asking your partner what he or she wants to achieve in the present and the future. You should also let your partner know what specific goals you want to accomplish, like paying off debt, buying a house or making a savings plan for retirement.

Discuss How to Achieve Your Goals

After you’ve discussed your goals, find the ones you have in common and spend some time figuring out how you can achieve them. You and your partner may have different visions for how to do that, so be willing to make some sort of sacrifice to reach the goals together. 

Listen to Each Other

When you discuss finances for the first time, chances are good that you’ll have different experiences with money and different approaches on how to manage it. Make sure you listen to what he or she says. If your partner mentions something you don’t like, don’t get angry. Instead, discuss how to make things better. It’s okay to disagree on something, but remember that you care for the person in front of you. Talk out your differences calmly and find a reasonable compromise. For your budget to work, you must be on the same page with your partner. 

Talk About Finances Regularly

To stay on the same page and keep on top of your goals, have financial discussions with your partner routinely. Make a date every month to review the budget and make sure everything is on track. Having that initial conversation can be hard, but once you break the ice, the follow-ups should be easier. You and your partner will know what to expect and will feel more comfortable having a conversation about money.

Talking Money with Your Children

A mom and dad teaching their son financial literacy. It is never too early to start talking and teaching kids about money.

You should start talking to your kids about money when they are young. Teaching them the value of money early on will help them learn how to save wisely, understand how to make better spending choices in life and allow them to learn about the consequences of wasting money. Here are some tips for discussing money with your children:

Talk Honestly

Don’t hide your financial failures or lie about the family’s financial situation when money gets tight. Kids can handle the truth and will learn to appreciate openness. 

Don’t Get Too Technical

When you discuss finances with kids, talk about values, instead of giving the figures. You want them to understand the concepts of saving, budgeting and paying down debt without bogging them down with dollar amounts.

Let Them Participate

A good way to discuss money with your children is to let them sit in on family budget meetings. Show your kids the bills you have to pay each month and talk about how you could work together for a month to cut back on the costs. Allow them to make suggestions, but make it clear that as the parent, you make the final decisions. When you pay off a debt, celebrate it with your kids.

Play Money Games

Board games like “Monopoly” can help your kids learn money terms and financial jargon. You can also help them better grasp the concepts of saving and budgeting by letting them download. Your kids will also learn about risks associated with impulse purchases and the concepts of charitable giving and investing. The app lets kids play to earn or lose imaginary money based on their financial decisions.

Praise Them

Remember to always offer praise and encouragement to your kids when they do save money!

Talking Money with Your Parents

A young woman meeting with her parents. Sometimes you have to step up and take the lead when it comes to talking about money and finances.

Talking to your aging parents about money can be very awkward. For most of your life, they are the ones you turned to for advice about life. But as they get older, they may not have the ability to manage their money as well as they did when they were younger. It’s important to make sure there’s a plan in place to keep them comfortable in their golden years. Here are some tips for discussing money with your parents:

Approach the Conversation with Care

Your parents’ financial future may not be something they’ve considered discussing with you, so you need to approach it gently and allow them some time to digest it. Show your parents you care by starting the talk with something like, “I know this might be difficult for you to talk about, but I care about you and I want to make sure you’re taken care of when you retire. Later this week, can we discuss the financial plans you’ve made and how I can help?”

Be Organized and Direct

When you sit down with your parents, be caring, but specific about your concerns. For example, if you don’t think they have enough money saved to retire, express your concern and ask permission to help. For example, say, “I’m worried that you haven’t built up a big enough of a nest egg for your retirement. I would like to help you make sure you have the funds you need. What do you think?” It’s also a good idea to be organized and prepared. Gather the financial information needed to support your words. If you show you’ve put some real thought into your concern, your parents will be much more likely to understand why you want to talk about their finances.

Keep the Conversations Brief

Keep the conversation short. You will have many questions for your parents about their finances, but you don’t need to ask them all at once. Give them time to process your concerns and request. If they want your help, it will be easier to discuss details later.  

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