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5 tips for talking to your family about money

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Talking to family members about money may not always be an easy conversation, but it’s an important one. Whether you’re discussing finances with young kids, grown children or your parents, creating a safe space for open conversations can help relieve the stress that’s sometimes associated with financial discussions and support healthy money habits within the household. If you have younger children or teenagers, these discussions can also help boost their money knowledge and help them learn how to build a solid foundation as they grow into adults. To get started, here are five tips to help have meaningful conversations about money. 

1. Prepare talking points

Whether you’re talking to your children or your parents about money, preparation is key. Having a plan of things to discuss can help keep everyone focused and allow you to make the most of your time together. Decide if you wish to discuss budgeting, paying down debt, building savings or estate planning, for example. You can also choose a specific financial goal to discuss and the steps needed to achieve this objective. “As the conversation gets rolling, you will be able to answer questions and offer clarification,” says Amanda Carstens Steward, SVP, Head of Marketing. “If you’re hoping to accomplish something specific during the conversation, like encouraging an adult child living at home to assist with household bills, write down the goal of the discussion and how you can work together to meet the target and timeline.”

2. Use visual aids

No matter your audience, using visual aids can be helpful when discussing financial topics, especially more complicated ones. You can use a credit card or bank statement to talk about overspending or show how technology like a budgeting app can help break down income and expenses. Many of these apps can also show a visual representation of expenses or progress toward achieving a savings goal. If you’re trying to free up money in the budget, decide as a family what expenses could be cut. On next month’s statement, look at the cost savings together and how these decisions can have a positive financial impact. 

3.  Avoid a lecture

Nothing can shut down a money conversation faster than participants feeling like it’s a lecture. Even if you have a serious financial matter to discuss, try to avoid a negative tone and keep your emotions in check. “Be a good listener and create an environment where everyone can share their concerns,” says Steward. “When family talks are free from judgement and all members feel comfortable discussing topics openly, you create a safe place for future conversations, especially when financial emergencies or tough topics arise.” If you have parents who are hesitant to discuss finances with you, keep the first conversation high level and casual and let them know you’re coming from a place of good intentions. 

4. Break down topics

“With busy schedules, you may have the urge to fit as much as you possibly can into one conversation,” says Steward. “However, this can quickly become overwhelming for everyone involved. Pick a general focus for each conversation, especially since you likely want to make these touch base opportunities an ongoing habit.” Using your set discussion topics, kick off the discussion with an open-ended question, for example, what is a short-term financial goal you have for the next year? Or what is a current financial worry that we could solve together?  

5. Set action items

If there are certain goals you are looking to accomplish from your conversation or want to tee up your next meeting, each person can agree to doing “homework” before you reconvene. For instance, if you are discussing retirement plans with your parents, they can return with decisions regarding where they’d like to live or their wishes for their estate. If you’re helping grown children tighten up their budget, they can join the next conversation with ideas for cutting back two expenses or opportunities to earn extra income. 

Approaching money conversations as a team effort can help make these sit downs go smoothly and encourage everyone to feel empowered to make financial decisions that have a positive impact on their own lives and support the overall financial wellbeing of the group. 

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