Practical ways to talk about and plan for your financial future

Posted by Century Support Services on Nov 09, 2020

3 Practical Ways to Talk About Money And Plan for Your Financial Future

How you perceive the world has an oversized impact on how you approach it, and the same is true with specific regard to finances. How you think and talk about your finances has an enormous impact on how they go.

It’s not always easy to have a clear-headed view of your finances when you’re in the midst of a difficult situation, but remember that how you perceive them can have a tremendous impact on how they go. That’s an empowering statement, for simply changing how you talk about your money could help you take steps toward a better financial future. Here are some practical ways to talk about money so that you can make progress.

1. Be Sensitive to Everyone’s Emotions

Many people initially learn about money in mathematical terms, learning that cents add up to dollars and spending is subtracted from income. This can lead to a belief that money is primarily approached in a logical manner — but logic only addresses one-half of how people view money.

Money is also a deeply emotional issue for many people. Most people don’t experience the extreme highs and lows of a high-stakes poker game when they review their budgets, but it’s common to feel good when budgets go well and bad when they don’t. When creditors send letters and make calls about past due-debts, people often feel really, really bad.

As you talk about money, make room for these emotions. Whether you need an honest discussion with yourself or have to review a family budget with a partner, recognize that both you and everyone else involved will likely have emotional — and perhaps even visceral — reactions. Find ways to allow everyone involved in the discussion to safely and respectfully cope with these emotions.

At the very least, let everyone involved in a money discussion express their feelings as they feel the need to. Allow time for some rants, and don’t shoot down emotional statements with practical questions. As long as everyone is respectful, they should be able to express themselves.

2. Remain Respectful to Everyone Involved

The importance of remaining respectful during these conversations can’t be understated, for this is the only way to ensure that the conversation is a safe place for people to express their feelings. Statements along the lines of “I feel like” and specific actions that people did are fine to mention, but there’s never a reason to name-call, berate or otherwise demean someone based on their financial decisions. We’ve all made mistakes before, and getting better requires looking toward the future rather than the past.

If you’re discussing a particularly stressful situation that has everyone tense, it may be wise to discuss cooldown tactics that can be used throughout the discussion. Pre-arranged timeouts or allowing people to call a timeout during the discussion is an effective way to let people vent on their own without disrespecting others. You can all reconvene when emotions have subsided a little.

Remember, this idea of remaining respectful applies even if you’re the only one who’s involved in a financial talk. Even if you’re reviewing your budget or financial plan alone, don’t beat yourself up over what’s already been done. Acknowledge mistakes and recognize that you can move forward. You may even give yourself a timeout or two if you become too upset.

3. Schedule Regular Money Talks

One of the most effective ways to make money talks more manageable on both the emotional and the mathematical side is to have them regularly. Rather than having only an occasional major budget, debt and savings discussion, have frequent check-ins that address minor items or look at only one aspect of your financial situation.

When climbing up Mt. Everest, mountaineers break the mountain into different stages and complete one at a time. If your financial feels like Mt. Everest, breaking it into smaller stages may have the same effect of making the journey more manageable.

As you plan regular money talks, consider having a full discussion at the start of each month and a smaller weekly discussion throughout the month. The weekly discussions will ensure everyone’s on the same page, and the monthly discussion will be quicker as a result.

Approach Money Talks with an Understanding View

In short, be understanding as you approach money talks. Emotions are normal, especially if you’re in a difficult situation. By making space for them and treating everyone involved with respect, however, you can make your way through the situation and toward a better financial future. Track each step, and discuss every bit of progress that you make along the way.