Why it’s so important to talk about your finances
According to this research1, one in two Australians don’t sit down regularly to look at their finances and one in three say that money is a source of conflict in their relationship.
To put conversations about money back on the table, Australians should sit down for at least 45 minutes one Monday each month, either individually, with their partner or other family members, to get familiar with their financial situation.
Having regular discussions about money can help you manage your finances, reduce financial stress and improve your financial wellbeing.
To help, leading Australian psychotherapist Lissy Abrahams created a conversation guide to get people started.
Tips for starting a conversation about money
Follow these simple steps to help you start a conversation about money.
Make a date to discuss financial matters
Talking about finances doesn’t have to be boring. Find one Monday a month and pop it in your diary. When the day arrives cook a nice meal then turn off your devices for 45 minutes. Make sure you jot things down so you can go back to them later.
Set some boundaries around the conversation about money
At the start of the conversation set some boundaries. These include being:
open and honest
curious about each other’s views on money
respectful – by being non-judgemental, not interrupting, and remembering no-one is right or wrong – just different.
Take a trip down memory lane to your childhood
Often our financial beliefs and behaviours are shaped from a very young age. From witnessing how our parents talked and/or fought about money and their spending habits, we’ve absorbed many messages about money.
Typically, we either adopt their behaviours or go the opposite way. Understanding this about yourself, your partner, or other family members, helps you understand your similarities and differences around money matters so you can create healthy financial plans together.
To understand how your attitudes are shaped by your childhood, ask questions like:
How did your parents talk about money?
What, if anything, did you see them fight or stress about with money?
What did you save or spend your money on growing up?
Were you more of a saver or a spender? Why do you think you were?
Are you similar or different to anyone in your family when it comes to money?
What’s the one thing you wish your parents told you or didn’t tell you about money when you were a kid?
Talk about your current attitudes towards money
Financial knowledge and skills are learned and continually need to evolve depending on your life stage. It’s important to find ways to navigate this.
To understand more about how you feel about money matters, ask questions like:
What money concerns do you have? Saving? Spending? Debt? The future?
How do you feel when you make a big purchase?
What’s your initial reaction when thinking about having a loan or going into debt?
What are three non-essential things you’d buy if money was no issue?
How important are financial goals and do you have any you’re working towards?
Assess your current situation
Even though it may feel awkward or initially confronting, it’s important to know your numbers. Remember, there’s no right or wrong. If you are doing this with a partner or family member, expect to have different financial ideas and spending habits. Be curious about these differences as it’s about finding your way forward.
To understand more about your current situation, ask questions like:
How much do you earn?
What are your incoming and outgoing expenses?
What debts or loans do you have, if any?
How do you feel about joint finances? Should some bills or expenses be shared, and others separate?
What’s your approach to managing money? Do you have a budget? Set savings goals? Bucket money? Are you secretive about any bank accounts?
What opportunities are there to reduce spending?
Plan for the future
Whether it’s a holiday, saving for a home deposit, buying a new car, or paying off debt, create exciting goals to work towards. This’ll keep you motivated and in alignment with your goals.
If you need help getting this conversation started, give us a call.
1 Our research was conducted by NAB Economics and based on responses from 2,050 Australians weighted to the population, conducted from August to September 2022.
Reproduced with permission of National Australia Bank (‘NAB’). This article was originally published at https://www.nab.com.au/personal/life-moments/manage-money/money-basics/start-a-conversation-about-money
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