Consumer Reports: How to keep the peace in difficult family money talks
MADISON, Wis. — Attitudes about money and spending habits run deep. We learn early in life to be spenders or savers, so when there’s a tricky financial decision to be made by family members with conflicting money perspectives, worlds can collide.
In a recent survey, Consumer Reports asked Americans to rate how comfortable they were when having various money conversations with their family members. Of those who’ve had these conversations, 29 percent were uncomfortable telling their parents it’s time for someone to take over the managing of their finances. And 40 percent were uncomfortable telling their teenagers or adult children it’s time to leave the nest. But the toughest conversation was when 49 percent were uncomfortable telling their spouse they aren’t bringing in enough income.
There are strategies to making awkward conversations slightly less awkward.
Focus on only one topic: Too often, people try to tackle everything at once. So start with identifying one element of the problem. You can work out the details of the resolution once everyone’s on the same page.”
You may have to agree to disagree: No amount of talking is going to guarantee that you’re going to get another person to see everything your way. When you reach an impasse, you may have to say sometimes, “OK, let’s move on.”
To make real progress, you may want to bring in a professional: A financial planner, CPA or a mediator can help keep the conversations on track. That person can also take responsibility for assigning tasks and holding people accountable.
And Consumer Reports recommends holding a family conversation about money in a neutral place, or even taking a walk in an outdoor setting, like a park. Studies show people are better able to process information and come up with creative ideas while engaged in physical activity in nature.
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