How to have a conversation about money

Throughout your life you’ll have lots of money conversations with different people. Some of these will be difficult, which can be stressful. Working out what you want to say will make it a lot easier.

How to prepare for a conversation

While there’s no need to go overboard with preparation, thinking about these things before could help:

  • When to talk. There’s never going to be a perfect time. Perhaps tell them that you’d like to chat about something later – to allows them to make space in their day.
  • Where to talk. It’s best to find somewhere you won’t be disturbed. It might be helpful to stay at home where you have useful paperwork. However, you might find it easier to go for a walk.
  • Who should be there. It much depends on the situation – but everyone who has a stake in the discussion.
  • Practise the conversation. It’s useful to think about the things you want to say and have a go saying them out loud. Maybe think about what the other person might say, then come up with answers to that.

When you’ve prepared, you’re in a great position to work out how to start the conversation.

How to start a conversation

Sometimes it helps to start the conversation in a less direct way rather than asking them to sit down and bringing up the subject.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • If another friend of yours is experiencing something similar, maybe discuss what’s happening to them to get a conversation started.
  • Your situation, or something similar, might have come up in a TV programme, book or is in the news. Mention how this is similar to what you’re experiencing.
  • Use whatever is around you to start the conversation – such as bills, a new item of furniture you’re still paying off, or something you’re watching on TV.

But there are times when you’ll need to discuss the topic more directly, especially if it’s urgent and you can’t wait for the perfect opportunity to bring up the conversation.

Sometimes, knowing what your first sentence is going to be can make you feel more confident. Potential openers could be:

  • ‘I have something I’d like to talk to you about that I think would help us reach our goals more effectively.’
  • ‘I’d like to talk to you about [blank], but first I’d like to get your point of view.’
  • ‘I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?’
  • ‘I think we have different ideas about [blank], and I’d like to hear your thinking on this.’

A conversation is two-way – so make sure the other person is involved and not simply a listener.

Tips for when you’re having the conversation

Be mindful of your emotions, as well as the emotions of the person you are talking to

It’s natural to get emotional, but getting angry or upset might not help.

Tell yourself that you can express these emotions another time, but this conversation needs your mind to be clear and logical.

If you’re feeling particularly emotional, you might even want to give yourself a time and place to address these emotions. That way, you can stay focused on this important conversation, knowing that your feelings will be addressed later.

Try not to interrupt the other person/people

If you start talking over each other, it might turn into an argument. This can be difficult if there’s a lot you want to say, but the best way to work through this will be as a team.

If one of you is interrupting the other, you might want to gently raise this as an issue and suggest some allocated time for both of you to speak completely uninterrupted.

It’s important not to blame anyone for interrupting. Acknowledge that’ it’s an emotional topic and so it might be a good idea to draw up some rules to make sure everyone gets to speak.

Being judgemental is only going to make the other person shut down

Avoid starting sentences with accusations, such as ‘you’. Try to keep it about you, such as ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’. The faces you pull and the words you use also matter too.

Keep to the topic at hand

Bringing up other issues and complaints isn’t going to help this situation move forward. If you feel this might be a problem, write yourself a list of things you can and can’t talk about during this conversation.

For example, this conversation isn’t the time to tell your partner they need to spend more time with you and less time on the computer. It needs to stay focused on your finances.

By sticking to this topic, the conversation will be easier for you.

Try and stay about the same eye level

In other words, it’s best if everyone involved is seated or standing. You don’t want one person to be physically above or below the other.

Think about who might also be able to help

Charities or organisations might come in useful, so have the numbers or websites ready to hand over.

How to deal with negative reactions

Not everything is going to go to plan, so if you find you’re getting a negative reaction back, try these responses:

If....
Try...

The person doesn’t agree with the facts you’re suggesting.

Ask what their reasons are and listen with an open mind. If you feel they have a point, say so. If you disagree with them, suggest how you can move forward.

The person blames you.

Listen with an open mind, figure out what’s making frustrating without getting defensive and blaming them back. Are their comments justifiable? If so, how will you address these comments? Are their comments simply shifting blame? If so, ask them what they feel you can both do to resolve the problems.

The person is impatient or tries to change the topic.

Explain the aim of the conversation and let them know what choices they have. Listen to what they’rere saying, to address later. Express your understanding that it’s a difficult conversation, while also highlighting that it will be easier to have it now than later.

The person talks a lot.

Make sure you leave plenty of time for the chat, yet keep them on topic by referring to what they’ve said and ask relevant questions.

Are there any other possible scenarios you think might happen? If so, write them down, along with a solution.

How to end the conversation well

After a difficult conversation, it’s often a relief that’s it’s over and natural not to want to go through it again. But it’s important to follow up after a tough chat.

So here are some tips on how you can do that:

Acknowledge the conversation happened

Recognise that it was a tough conversation and highlight the positive things that have come out of it. Appreciate that you were able to come together, discuss a difficult topic and even have the conversation in the first place.

Find ways to move the conversation forward

Be proactive in showing that you’ve taken the solutions on board. Clear communication around next steps helps move the conversation forward.

Write it down

It be useful to write it down – maybe in an email or on paper that you can both refer to later.

It’s common for two people to take on information in totally different ways. And this can result in one of you thinking the outcome was one thing, while the other thinks something completely different.

Writing it down can help you clarify the points you discussed.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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