Eventually, there always comes a time in which a serious financial talk is required. You need to have a heart-to-heart with your parents about their retirement plans, your significant other is spending too much, or your children are wondering loudly about their college plans. Most of the time, we put off these difficult discussions because it’s easier than facing the music, but eventually matters reach a point where a serious talk is inevitable.
Here’s a gameplan for tackling these financial topics while minimizing the heartache. Approaching “the talk” with the proper preparation and attitude makes all the difference.
Do it sooner rather than later. If the problem is present now, avoiding it will only make it worse, plus the concerns will weigh upon you over time. Rather than letting this happen, plan the conversation for as soon as is reasonably possible.
Schedule plenty of time. Don’t tackle the conversation when one of the participants has a scheduled appointment. Allow yourself more than enough time to cover all of the issues that concern you. I recommend scheduling at least one solid hour for any major financial talk, if not much more.
Prepare the cold, hard numbers. Before you go, prepare as many numbers as you possibly can so that you can refer to the data during the meeting. You should also bring plenty of scratch paper and writing utensils so that all involved parties can present diagrams and take notes.
Listen. Money is a difficult topic and the other person is likely to be defensive. Instead of insisting on going over the top with your point of view, listen to their perspective and try to understand it. Ask questions in a calm and rational fashion, and write down any particular points they are insisting upon.
Never raise your voice. No matter what happens, try to avoid raising your voice. Financial issues can be extremely challenging to people’s emotions; if you’re the one who has thought carefully about the issue, you should be the one that reacts in a more rational fashion with less emotion. If the other person blows up, just sit back and wait until they’re done, then continue onward calmly.
Bookend it with love. The most difficult conversations about money are with the ones that we love. Make sure that you show that love both before and after the conversation so that the others understand that love is the real reason behind the talk. You want the money to be stable so that everyone can live a happy, healthy, loving life.