Whenever possible, I avoid small talk on politics, religion, weather, and death. Facetiously, talking about money doesn’t scare me as much as half of Americans that would much rather steer clear of the topic all together. That doesn’t surprise me since discussing personal finance with loved ones ranks highest in unpleasantness.
Money talk should not be silenced at family gatherings. It needs to be embraced if families are to change their relationship with money. It is the leading challenge of marital conflicts and is a cause of why families don’t pass down wealth to the next generation. Money silence is a real hardship among Americans. Most would rather suffer in silence than endure the shame of having financial problems. No one wants to be seen as irresponsible or unsuccessful with money in front of family and close friends, especially.
Resolve to be financially fit. By discussing financial matters, even bad financial decisions can open the door to financial literacy. I don’t hide our family finances from our children. It is important that they know how much we spend, give, save and invest. Financial literacy is defined as having the knowledge necessary to make informed financial decisions. People who are financially literate are more likely to be financially well.
Be on the same financial page as your spouse. I am fortunate that my husband and I are both savvy with our money. Money was one of the big topics we discussed prior to being married, in addition to religious beliefs and how we wanted to raise children. At a marriage retreat, it was suggested that we learn each other’s spending habits, talk about how our parents handled money while we were growing up and confer about how we were currently managing our finances as young adults. This exercise helped us to identify potential financial issues. Eighteen years later, my husband and I still have open communication about big ticket monetary decisions before making a purchase.
Discuss elder law and estate planning with aging parents. My mom and in-laws are at the stages in their lives where they need to have earnest discussions to prepare themselves for financial freedom and autonomy through proper financial planning and long-term care options as they grow older. During my research, I have learned the primary difference between elder law and estate planning is that elder law focuses on what happens while they are living and estate planning is what happens after they die. It is most important that they feel they have a choice in the matter and for adult children to keep an open mind, particularly since opinions can differ.
Breaking the walls of money silence within families will help open the lines of communication and create overall financial freedom between children, parents and elders. Don’t let money vulnerabilities intimidate you, let it be a guidepost to changing your relationship with how you manage your family’s wealth.