3 helpful tips for having difficult money conversations with your family

If you feel uncomfortable talking to your family about financial matters, such as writing a will and managing debt, you’re not alone. In fact,  research published by Standard Life has revealed that 42% of people don’t feel comfortable talking to friends and family about money.

However, learning how to have difficult money conversations with your family could help you plan for your financial future and ensure that your wishes are fulfilled.

According to bestselling author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, you can turn a nerve-wracking situation into a positive outcome by tackling the issue head on, with the right amount of tact.

Sinek has sold millions of business and self-help books and is a leading expert on how people think, act, and communicate. His talk ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’ remains the third most-watched TED Talk of all time.

According to Sinek, you can tackle difficult conversations by applying three key strategies. Read on to learn how these tips could help you talk to your family about money.

1. Embrace the opportunity for growth

Accepting that difficult conversations are inevitable may be an important first step towards learning how to tackle them effectively.

According to Sinek, having uncomfortable conversations is a skill we need to practise just like any other. Over time, you could master the art of talking to your family about potentially awkward topics such as money by:

  • Facing your discomfort
  • Tackling it head on
  • Realising that your discomfort will pass more quickly by adopting this approach.

So, rather than avoiding conversations about money – which may cause stress and only serve to delay the inevitable – it might be helpful to “lean in” and embrace the opportunity for personal growth.

By directly addressing the topic, you could strengthen family relationships, manage expectations, and reduce the risk of misunderstandings both now and in the future.

You might also help to improve younger family members’ financial confidence and literacy.

According to research by the Money and Pensions Service, children who have been taught about money are more likely to save, and feel more confident about their personal finances. Yet, less than half of children in the UK have received a meaningful financial education at home or school.

2. Prepare for the conversation

Allowing yourself time to prepare for a difficult money conversation could help put you at ease and increase the chances of achieving a positive outcome.

Try to find a quiet space and choose a time when you’re unlikely to be interrupted.

Then, ask permission to have the conversation. This might sound odd, but it could prevent the other person or people from feeling blindsided and becoming defensive.

Sinek suggests opening the conversation with frank, yet non-confrontational statements, such as:

  • “I need to have an uncomfortable conversation with you”
  • “It’s important to me that I have this conversation with you”
  • “I’m worried I may say the wrong thing, so please bear with me”.

Acknowledging your concerns about the discussion may help to build empathy and trust with your family. These openers also set the conversation up as a collaborative exercise. You’re not springing something on the other person, you’re trying to reach a goal together.

You might also stress how important your family relationships are to you, which is why you feel that it’s so important to resolve the issue at hand.

Asking permission also allows you to agree on a time that suits everyone when you’re all in the right mindset to talk calmly and rationally.

3. Adopt the “FBI” method

Sinek has proposed a practical framework for having uncomfortable conversations.

His “FBI” method provides a structure based on addressing:

  • Feelings
  • Behaviour
  • Impact

This approach encourages you to focus on a specific issue, rather than trying to tackle too much at once or bringing in irrelevant topics that may trigger an emotional response.

For example, you might express a feeling of anxiety about how to pass on your wealth tax-efficiently and move on to explain how your partner’s unwillingness to address the topic of estate planning is causing you undue stress.

Having a clear structure for your difficult money conversations could be reassuring and give you the confidence necessary to address uncomfortable topics, such as planning for later-life care or writing your will.

You might benefit from including a financial planner in your family conversations about money. They can act as an objective mediator and facilitate discussion based on facts and figures, rather than emotion.

Get in touch

If you’d like to learn more about how to include your family in your financial planning, we can help.

Please email us at mail@delaunaywealth.com or call 0345 505 3500.

Please note

This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.