If you’re like most people, talking about money isn’t easy. Just the thought of it brings heart palpitations, cold sweats and procrastination. Why? Because most people talk about money only when there’s a problem. And, when you talk about problems—well—you just don’t want to go there. You’d rather avoid the talk and hope the solution will miraculously drop into your lap so you’ll never have to talk about it at all. So by the time you realize that’s not going to happen—there’s really good reason to run from the conversation!
Talking about money is tough— even if you’re not talking about problems. What’s that about? Why is it so tough to ask questions or discuss money in general? Why? Because you think you have to be an expert to even open the door. You think you need all the answers before you start. Anything less than that means you’re irresponsible, ineffective and just plain stupid. Who wants to be that?
But the reason you’re not talking about money isn’t because you’re not bright enough or clever enough or responsible enough. The real reason is nobody ever taught you how, at least not in any real, meaningful or helpful way. Everyone has different experiences with money talk and most of those weren’t very functional. Maybe you heard your parents fight about it, whisper about it or shake their heads in confusion. Maybe you’ve heard the experts tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it. Or, maybe you’re convinced that everything about money is over your head, impossible to understand—and you’re the only one who feels this way. If you believe any of that, who in their right mind would want to talk?
But when you run from the conversation you’ll never figure it out—or your problems. You’ll be living in your own personal hell with no chance to get out. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some easy tricks to starting the conversation.
Make your first real money conversation about what’s good—save the problems for later. Only talking about money when there are problems means you’re trying to talk about money when you’re already stressed and anxious. No conversations work in that frame of mind no matter the topic. Start when you’re feeling good and make it short and sweet. Something like, “I made my lunch today and saved $8. Feels pretty good.” Short and sweet because it’s a trial run; you’re practicing for future conversations.
Be curious about what others think—ask questions. Again, short, sweet and simple. Something like, “how do you save a little money?” You might get a great idea or you just might hear “I can’t seem to figure it out!” Either way, it gives you an opportunity to start talking about money and gain some perspective. There’s a reason why “two heads are better than one”. When you stay isolated in your own money thoughts (and problems) you only see what you’ve always seen. A new perspective opens up endless possibilities.
Be honest—tell it like it is. No one likes to feel they’re all alone. The financial world is expert at making you feel like you’re the only one with this problem. Being honest and truthful about money lets others know they can do the same—and that no one has to be the expert. Saying you’re worried, lets others be worried. Saying you’re confused, lets others be confused. And, feeling good lets others feel the same. No matter what you are, being honest lets others be on the same page instead of alone with their thoughts.
Talk now—not later. Waiting until you have the perfect words, the perfect facts and the perfect weather—only increases your anxiety. And stress and anxiety is a recipe for disaster. Bring it up—whatever it is—the first time you think about it. Even if it’s nothing more than, “I’m still sorting this out, but what do you think?” For all you know, they may have faced it before and can save you a lot of time and worry. And, if they haven’t? Remember two heads are better than one!
You’ve arrived. Don’t look now but you’ve just had your first real conversation. And, by following these easy steps, you didn’t run from it, you didn’t hide from it and you didn’t get crucified for bringing it up. Money talk is no different than any other conversation—stay light, interested, honest and current. Nothing more, nothing less.