Many UK adults don’t know how to talk about money. A recent YouGov survey commissioned by Paymentshield found 41% of people rarely ask for financial advice when they need it, and 32% of respondents said money worries them more than work, family, friends, fitness, housework or hobbies. This figure has probably increased because of the financial uncertainty during the coronavirus outbreak.
Some common reasons we avoid talking about money are:
Most of these are fear-based reasons. The underlying fear is that society judges our worth in relation to our financial value. Admitting financial problems challenges our identity. But one of the main reasons we don’t know how to discuss money is that we don’t get enough practice.
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, explained the reasons well. He said, “We know there is a strong link between issues like debt, unemployment, poor housing and poor mental health. That’s why it’s important that financial support and support with wider social issues are there for people when they need it. Speaking about these issues and asking for help may seem daunting but sharing your worries can be a real relief and is often the first step in getting the help you need.”
Talking is the first step towards getting the help we need, but many people face similar problems. Talking about money doesn’t just help us, it could give others the courage to seek help as well.
Talking about money is taboo. Breaking the taboo may not be easy, but it is an important first step in taking control of your finances. Prior proper preparation can be the difference between success and failure.
‘Money’ is a huge topic, so narrow it down.
Do you want to find out what your colleagues are earning? Agree on a shared budget with your housemates? Ask your friends how to manage debt? Talk to your children about how to manage money? Discuss wills and inheritance with your family?
These are all useful, even critical, conversations, but they can all be fraught in different ways. When you have a clear idea of what you need to discuss, it’s easier to prepare and direct the conversation.
If you’re nervous about your main topic, pick a smaller one for the first conversation. Build up to the big one. You might be surprised by how open people are to discussing money once you get started.
The information you need depends on your topic. If you’re discussing your budget or debts, you’ll need bank statements and receipts, while if you’re discussing salary with your colleagues, you’ll need to know what you’re being paid. For discussions of wills and inheritance, you’ll need bank and investment details.
Make sure you can answer the most likely questions, and write a list of your questions.
Starting the conversation can be hard. Choose a time when everyone involved has nothing else planned and is likely to be rested and well fed. It makes it easier to focus.
To start, explain why the conversation’s important. When you convince the other person, they’ll be more willing to participate.
We all know how to converse. The basic social conventions of civil discourse apply even more in difficult conversations, so there are a few things to bear in mind:
Remember, the final goal isn’t money, it’s either agreement or information.
Try to end on a high note. Even if you can’t agree, acknowledge the conversation was difficult and thank the other person.
If you agreed on actions, write them down and confirm the details. It’s easier than having the conversation again next week because you forgot the fine-print!
Talking about money is important, regardless of the circumstances.
Jennifer Ripley, Head of Marketing at Paymentshield, said, “We might not be able to see each other face-to-face, but that doesn’t mean that conversations have to stop… It’s more important than ever before that we stay in touch, especially when it comes to financial conversations… We’re calling on the nation to keep the conversation going – from video calls with a financial expert, to a chat with grandparents – and support each other.”