Having the Tough Conversations

February 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

The kids and I

I like life to be easy. I don’t like conflict or problems. I just want everyone to like me and for the road to always be smooth. But life is full of difficulty, some of which we bring on ourselves because we don’t like doing the hard things that make plans – and our future- smooth. That’s why I want to talk about the tough conversations. Conversations once had, make life smoother on the other side, God willing.

With yourself- Have a talk with yourself. You’ve got to get things straight in your own mind about your money. Whether it’s because you wrestle with emotions and spend money out of guilt or entitlement, or you allow fear to be your money guide, you have to be clear and, hopefully, balanced in your practices with money before you have any tough conversation with anyone else. So take yourself out for dinner and adult beverages and have a long chat about you and your money and get things straightened out.

With your partner- Have a talk with your partner. Now that we have you all squared away on what you are doing with money, it’s time to talk to the person you loved next most in the world. Talk about your financial ‘personality’, what your money tendencies are, and what makes you feel safe. Share your goals and dreams – and remember you love each other. Meet out at a restaurant if the presence of others will help keep the mood less intense. And remember, if too many emotional buttons are pushed when we speak alone, just the two of you, you can always have a chat your financial advisor’s office. She can talk to you both about basic budgets, general percentages used for various expense categories, how much savings are needed to help you reach your goals and make sure there is some kind of agreement on your joint financial future.

With your children – Now, what about the kids? If the kids are little, regular conversations about money can be part of learning arithmetic, consumer math or important life lessons such as budgeting. The conversations with adult children are a different kettle of fish. You may want to help them understand your willingness or ability to help them with certain financial goals, or to help them transition from a time of parental support to being financially independent. You might want to speak to grown children as you age and begin to really cement detailed estate planning.

With your parents- In all the aforementioned conversations, emotions may be very prevalent. But when speaking with aging parents, balancing your concern with great respect and honor is critical. It isn’t your place to butt in the normal scheme of things. But a conversation may need to be had with moms or grandmothers. The statistics reveal that women often face their older years on their own thru widowhood or divorce. These loved ones may, or may not be, financially savvy.
In these conversation again, it may be helpful to speak with a third-party to help the conversation be respectfully directed. Remember that life is full of surprises, and some them stink. So your parents lives and finances may have been sidetracked- as may yours also be – by life’s unexpected trials. Their present situation may be rolled up with emotions as they sort through the future. Be loving, not patronizing, as you help with all of your well-meaning heart and remember to err on the side of kindness, kids.

Tough conversations are worth having. Never forget that. It is better to have a well-thought out and communicated plan that avoid this possible conflict. Just saying. (CR 9015)

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