Talking about money isn't always easy. In fact, for many people, it's the toughest subject to discuss. However, having that money conversation doesn't have to be impossible. Here are my three secrets to how to have a tough money conversation with your loved ones without all the stress.
#1 - Get clear. Before you have the conversation you need to know what you hope to accomplish in that conversation. Make sure you do some deep soul searching and get clarity of mind. Do you want to discuss your debt? Are you overwhelmed with bill paying? You must get to the heart of the matter during your talk so stay focused. No one wants to continue talking about the same subject over and over again with no resolution. Take the time to do the background preparation and you will be less nervous, more confident, and at peace.
#2 - Set the stage. No matter what conversation you're having (money or otherwise), if you try to have it when you or the other party is tired, stressed, or not feeling well, you probably won't get a great outcome. Be sure to aim for the right timing. If you know you and your partner are at your best in the morning, make the time to talk in the a.m. If you are free from distractions on a Saturday afternoon, set aside your time to chat then. You want to make sure that you both are in the best frame of mind. No matter what… talking money before bed is probably never a good idea. Who wants to dream about mortgages, car payments, or checking accounts? Not me!
#3 - Establish ground rules. Yes, money can be a sensitive subject so when you start the conversation make sure you set some ground rules. Make an agreement that this is a safe place for each of you to share whatever needs to come to light. Agree that no matter how difficult it is to say or hear, you will both leave judgment at the door. It takes vulnerability to share very personal information. Make sure that this is a time to gain information and make improvements. It's not a time to cast harsh words. If this is the first time or if you'll be talking about super sensitive information, you may even want to butter them up so they come in with a more positive frame of mind. Music, chocolate, candles, and a good babysitter are not bad ideas either.
These are 3 simple techniques you can use to ensure that your money conversation goes as well as it can. For more information on money conversations, be sure to pick up my new book, Naked and Unashamed: 10 Money Conversations Every Couple Must Have.