Financial concerns should always be a major priority in your relationships
Anyone who has ever been in a close relationship—and that means just about all of us—has had to deal with financial concerns. Whether that relationship was with a spouse, partner, parent, roommate or friend. However, talking about money can bring up uncomfortable feelings, especially when we have assumptions about who "should" pay for what.
The number one key to discussing money concerns with loved ones is to create an ongoing, open and honest communication about it. However, many people choose not to talk about money at all, or they assume it’s already being taken care of, or they’ll talk about it only under dire circumstances, when it's already too late.
The uncertain economy has taken a toll on people’s emotions, as well as their bank accounts. And it is more important than ever to break through any barriers that are in the way of having these important conversations about money.
So how do we approach the subject without getting into confrontations or creating hard feelings? Here are some pointers that can help:
Make a date.—Trying to have any important conversation during breakfast, while in the car or with the TV on is not the best idea, especially if any tension exists. Create space for your money talks by setting a day and time.
Be clear.—From the beginning, determine who has financial responsibility for what. If you haven’t had a discussion about this yet, it’s time to broach the subject. You can start the process by trying to uncover any assumptions that each of you has made. That way you can truly understand what the other person feels and thinks.
Be sensitive.—Not everyone is comfortable discussing money concerns, so be open, as clear and honest as you can, and most of all, patient. At the outset, a conversation about the difficult process of talking about money may be in order!
Listen and be heard.—This in itself is an art, so take the time to formulate your ideas in advance. Be honest about your needs, and really listen to your loved one’s concerns.
Be prepared to negotiate.—Don’t assume you’ll get everything your way. Stand up for what you really need and negotiate the rest.
Be flexible.—There is no right or wrong; however, if one person remains rigid and won’t consider the other’s thoughts or opinions, nothing will get accomplished.
Set goals.—Each person should have a say in what those goals are, and then, as a team, you can work to achieve them. Set up a vision board or tape your combined goals on the refrigerator. Check in with each other regularly to see if you are on track. As the saying goes: "You have to have a dream in order to make a dream come true."
Be creative.—Come up with interesting, out-of-the box solutions for achieving financial goals, and strive to make your conversations about money productive and, even, enjoyable.
Know when to get help.—When all else fails, call in a professional, such as an accountant, financial advisor or counselor.
Finally, don’t expect everything to be worked out in one session. The good news is that once you’ve had one successful conversation about financial responsibilities, your next discussion will be much easier. Build on that and then keep talking! Let discussing money become part of your ongoing communication with your loved one.