Talking about money can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. Friends may skirt around the subject and families may avoid talking about money altogether, but talking about finances might make you less vulnerable to mishaps.
Additionally, learning how to talk openly about money may make you feel more connected to your loved ones, lift your spirits, and help you set attainable goals. When you’re ready to start talking openly about your money, here are five tips to help you find the right people, the right time, and the right strategies to take control of your money.
1. Pick your person (or people)
You wouldn’t open up to just anyone about your relationship or family life. Money talk can feel equally as personal. While there may still be an unnecessary taboo around the subject, it can be important to open up to someone you trust — particularly if you are feeling pressured to spend more than you are comfortable or able to spend. This could be a close friend or family member, a colleague, teacher or mentor. Be honest and frank. Don’t judge and don’t get defensive. Remember why you chose to have the conversation – to learn from and share with each other.
2. Decide on when and where
It’s important to consider the time in your life when you choose to open up about money. There are times when money talk might be more pressing, but the fact is, there may never be a wrong time to start thinking (and talking!) about money. Choosing the right place is also important when you want to talk about your personal finances. Pick a place where you are comfortable and relaxed — a noisy bar on a Friday night probably isn’t ideal, but a quiet dinner with friends or a cozy café might allow you to be more forthcoming.
3. Narrow your focus
Money talk is broad and there are several subjects you can focus on. Do you want to confide in someone about your guilty spending habits and figure out how to curb them? Is living paycheck-to-paycheck getting harder? Do you want to set a savings goal? Do you want to learn about investing? Try not to overwhelm yourself by tackling everything at once. Narrow in on one or two smaller money topics before you tackle the big stuff.
4. Make a plan
Okay. So you’ve opened up and shared your money strengths and vulnerabilities with someone you trust. Take a moment and celebrate that! It’s a huge first step to becoming more confident in tackling whatever your money situation is. Of course, it doesn’t end there. Use what you’ve heard and learned to create small, actionable goals for yourself and watch how your money habits evolve for the better.
5. Keep up the momentum
Once you’ve gotten a few money conversations under your belt, use it to build momentum. Challenge yourself to be open to other voices and sources of info. Check out some reputable blogs, listen to a podcast, hear other people’s perspectives and opinions. Often this will help spark new conversations that keep you learning more every day.
The truth is, becoming “money smart” is an ongoing learning experience — nobody knows it all. But by empowering those around you to be open and honest about their situations, the benefits can be huge.
Watch singer/songwriter Jessie Reyez open up about money in real life.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.