We all have conversations that we need to have, but, for numerous reasons, haven’t. As we avoid the issues, they snowball, expanding to the size of the room until there is no air left to breath. It can be that suffocating. We talk to everyone who will listen (and some who pretend to) except for the person we actually need to have the conversation with.
Discussing finances with your spouse, partner, friend, or family member can be uncomfortable. Think about the time you’ve spent splitting a bill amongst friends at a restaurant. Remember the time you had to mention to your spouse that you used the credit card for that one trip to Lowes? Having the conversation about your budget doesn’t have to be paralyzing or a blame game. Before you have a courageous conversation about your finances, consider:
- Timing & Location. You may feel as though there is never an appropriate or best time to initiate the conversation. The longer you wait, the more time you have to conduct the conversation in your head. You should wait until your emotions are in check so that you bring a clear, conscientious mind to the conversation. Observe whether the other person would be in the right mindset to engage in the “money talk.” In line at the grocery store check-out is probably not the best time to be creating your budget.
- Intentions. Determine why you want to have the conversation. Be specific. Be mindful. Take time to write down and organize your thoughts ahead of time. Focus on the future and disclose what you’d like to see more of – a consistent budget, more collaboration in making financial decisions or more accountability.
- Trust. Being open, honest and calm will create an environment where everyone feels supported and empowered. Be vulnerable, staying mindful when you feel yourself becoming defensive. You will achieve the best outcome when the other participants in the conversation feel as though you are coming together to create a shared solution.
- Facts. Stick to the facts. Math does not lie. Download your bank statements, credit card bills, mortgage statements, retirement statements and any other information relevant to the conversation. With a clear picture of your financial situation, it will be easier to get on the same page and partner for a path forward. With clarity comes focus. With focus comes ease. With ease comes grace.
- Humility. Set aside your ego. This is not about being right. Actively engage with the other person to create a solution to a shared problem. Ask questions to better understand the other person’s perspective and concerns.
With these tools, you are now empowered to initiate that courageous conversation regarding your budget, debt, or need to file a bankruptcy. It will not make the conversation easy, but it will make it easier. Many situations can be resolved or mitigated if you simply start the conversation.