Money and household finances are among the most important topics that families and couples should be discussing, especially during periods of economic stress. Yet many of us would prefer to talk about just about anything other than money. Indeed, in a survey of 1,200 Americans, the Capital Group, an investment manager, found that people are more comfortable talking about marital problems, mental illness, drug addiction, race, sex, politics and religion than they are about money.
“In fact,” the Capital Group said, “out of a dozen topics, men and women across all generations ranked household earnings, retirement savings and debt as the most taboo.”
“Money is a highly emotional subject for a lot of people, especially families,” says Financial Planning Association member and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional Linda P. Erickson, who heads Erickson Advisors in Greensboro, NC. “It can make life a lot easier when families and couples stop treating it as a taboo subject and learn how talk about this stuff.”
Open, honest conversations about money can produce a range of benefits for the people involved, among them reducing stress and anxiety (because issues are out in the open), and aligning couples and families around common goals, which in turn better positions them to actually fulfill those goals.
Here are some suggestions for starting and sustaining a healthy dialogue about financial issues: