Money Talk

How to talk about money with family & friends: financial therapist-approved advice

Money Talk

Talking about money with family and friends can be daunting. I certainly don’t feel comfortable discussing my salary with friends, or asking to borrow money from family when I’m in a pinch financially. But this is important for our financial wellbeing.

Because we fear judgment or causing discomfort, we tend to avoid the topic completely. Vicky Reynal is a psychotherapist and the author of Money on Your Mind: the Psychology Behind Your Financial Habits. “Money remains a taboo in the UK and it’s usually the fear of what goes on in people’s minds – rather than what is in their bank accounts – that stops us from sharing: will they find us impolite raising the topic? Will they judge us or feel judged?,” she explains.

“So instead of taking what feels like a risk in bringing it up, we keep our money worries, questions, doubts to ourselves which only adds to insecurities, loneliness and shame.”

Despite these fears, opening up about money can result in a greater understanding of personal finance and help you get much-needed support. Here are some tips to help you navigate these conversations.

Be the first to bring it up

Initiating the conversation can be a relief for others, says Vicky. “Others might feel relief that you are bringing up the subject – research shows that most people feel alone with their money anxieties so having someone make the first step to talking about it is great.” 

Starting the conversation can break the ice and help others feel less isolated in their financial worries.

Start with a personal story or a general statement about financial stress to make others feel more comfortable. Something like, “I’ve been really stressed about my budget lately, have you ever felt the same?” or “I find it hard to get to sleep when I’m worrying about money”.

Choose your words carefully

Money-talk can evoke anxiety so be somewhat cautious when talking about it, Vicky advises. “Most people are not used to money-talk, so be sensitive in your choice of language – avoid accusations, make it more about sharing what you feel.”

Focus on your own experiences and feelings rather than making it about the other person’s financial situation. Use “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, “I’ve been trying to save more each month and it’s been challenging.”

Respect people’s boundaries

It’s important to respect others’ boundaries if they are not ready to discuss their finances. Vicky notes, “If they tell you they don’t want to talk about money and shut down the conversation you can be curious about why that is, but ultimately if they don’t want to discuss it you need to respect their boundary.”

If someone is reluctant, you could say, “I understand if this is uncomfortable. I’m here to talk whenever you feel ready.”

Highlight the benefits of open dialogue about money

Explain how discussing money openly can be beneficial. Sharing tips and experiences can lead to better financial habits and reduce stress. For example, sharing how you manage your budget can help others learn new strategies.

Mention practical tools that can help manage finances better. For instance, “I use RiseUp’s cash flow feature to keep track of my spending and it’s really helped me stay on top of my budget.”

Talk about financial wellbeing

When discussing money, it’s useful to understand the difference between financial health vs financial wellbeing. Financial health often refers to the state of your finances at a specific time – your savings, debt levels and expenses. Financial wellbeing, on the other hand, takes a broader, more holistic view. It includes not just the state of your finances but also how you feel about your money. It’s about having confidence in your financial future and feeling secure in your financial decisions.

Everyone’s definition of financial wellbeing can vary. What does financial wellness mean to you? For some, it might mean having enough savings for emergencies. For others, it could mean being debt-free. Understanding your own financial wellness goals is crucial for improving your overall financial wellbeing.

Why bother talking about financial wellbeing with friends and family? Well, there are countless financial wellbeing benefits, including reduced stress, better mental health and improved relationships. When you feel confident about your finances, it positively impacts your overall financial wellbeing and mental health.

Looking for financial wellbeing tips? Start off by creating a budget, setting financial goals and using an app like RiseUp, which simplifies managing your money with features like cash flow tracking and personalised insights.

Be a supportive listener

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen. Providing a non-judgmental space for others to share their financial concerns can be incredibly supportive.

Show empathy and understanding. Respond with statements like, “That sounds really tough, I’m glad you shared this with me.”

The take home? Talking about money doesn’t have to be stressful. By following the tips above, you can foster more open and productive conversations about finances. Remember, you’re not alone in your financial journey, and sharing your experiences can help build a stronger, more financially confident community.

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