Topics related to money and finances can be extremely uncomfortable to talk about.
While uncomfortable, some conversations need to be had, like talking to your significant other about finances before having a child. But other times, the conversation isn’t beneficial and can be avoided.
Money topics don’t have to create a divide between you and a friend or family member if the conversation could have been avoided. But how do you know when a money conversation is necessary? What conversations can be avoided?
Check out these examples of which money conversations you should try to avoid.
Avoid conversations that assume.
If you’re engaged in a conversation that involves assuming something about another person’s financial status, spending habits or income, chances are you may want to leave the conversation.
No one is required to make all their financial information known to everyone, so if you are making assumptions without knowing the facts, the topic should be avoided. Making incorrect assumptions about another person’s financial situation can be hurtful and cause an unnecessary argument.
If you hear another person making assumptions during a conversation, it is best to change the topic before you get too involved. And while it may be uncomfortable, you can also respectfully explain why you would like to talk about something else. For example, “I know NAME is making decisions that are best for him/her/their family and it’s really not my place to judge why they are making certain decisions.” Or “I know I wouldn’t like others making assumptions about my financial choices without them asking me directly, so I think it would be most respectful of NAME if we talked about something else.”
Avoid conversations that stem from resentment.
You may have friends or family who seem to have hit the jackpot. Even if you’re currently struggling with financial difficulties, don’t start conversations that stem from resenting what others have.
You don’t always know what someone else has gone through to get where they are. Maybe they were in a similar situation to what you’re currently in just a short time ago. Rather than having money conversations that show resentment toward the other person, celebrate them and what they’ve accomplished.
In addition, take a step back and examine what is causing you to feel this way. If there are other factors (someone said something hurtful, you’re going through a stressful season in life, etc.) leading to resentment, address those before the issues get bigger.
Avoid having money conversations too early in a new relationship.
While having money conversations with your significant other is very important, you may want to avoid having these conversations too early in a new relationship. There is no specific amount of time that should pass before you should start talking about money, but experts suggest that you should start having some discussions as things start to get more serious.
This means something different everyone. It could mean after dating for six months. It could mean after you get engaged. The bottom line is, talking about your credit score or how much you have in savings on a second date may be something to avoid. It is an important conversation to have, though, as financial issues are the second-leading reason cited for divorce.
Avoid having conversations at inconvenient times.
In most cases, having open conversations about money is a good thing. You need to talk to your significant other, roommates, kids, aging parents and others about money in many different situations and seasons of life.
However, in order to make these conversations go smoothly and be the least stressful as possible, you need to have them at the appropriate time. Having an important money conversation when you or your significant other are tired or stressed is not going to be the most beneficial. Instead, wait until you’re both in a better mental state to have these important conversations.
At times, money conversations can also become intense. If during the conversation the mood starts shifting to frustration, take a break and restart the conversation when your head is cleared. The conversation will be both more productive and more enjoyable. Be sure you also give your loved one a heads up that you would like to talk about finances so they can be prepared and not caught off guard. Planning adequate time to talk is also helpful.
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to have money conversations. In fact, you should have these open conversations about money. Just remember to avoid certain kinds of conversations and to keep the conversation to convenient times when they can be the most productive.
All this talk about money etiquette got you thinking about other difficult situations surrounding money? Check out our blogs on how to say no when people ask for money for a charity and what to do if you loan someone money and they don’t pay it back for more information.