Money can be a sensitive and often taboo subject. Many people find it uncomfortable to talk about money, but it’s important to have open and honest money conversations with the people we care about, and to start early and often. Here, you’ll learn how to approach creating a family budget, address financial issues, save for the future, and build a legacy. Most of all, you’ll learn how to start the conversation, plan regular family meetings, and improve your family’s communication about money. By having clear and direct conversations about money with your entire family, you can improve your financial well-being and strengthen your relationships.
How to Prepare for a Conversation About Money
Preparing for a conversation about money can feel intimidating to a family, but it’s an important step to ensure the discussion goes smoothly and tackles estate plans, legacy plans, and any current financial issues — while accomplishing their goals. Here are a few things you can do to prepare:
- Schedule the meeting in advance
- Have an actual, pre-planned agenda that covers all topics so you don’t forget anything
- Decide who needs to be in attendance
- Share the agenda ahead of time so that there are no surprises
By preparing ahead of time, you can set the stage for a productive and positive conversation about money with your family.
Schedule a Meeting for This Talk
Scheduling a time and place to have your family meeting in advance helps you create a safe zone where all family members feel included. Pre-planning is helpful for everyone — it sets the tone for a comfortable and focused family and money conversation. Your pre-planning should include:
Creating an agenda. Start listing the topics you want to discuss and why each one is important. This meeting agenda can help ensure you cover every topic on your mind, such as:
- Current finances
- Planning for the future
- Building family wealth
- Leaving behind a legacy
Some of the things you can share during the meeting to help family members understand and buy into your desired outcome include:
- Your investment approach
- Your estate plan
- Your estate plan’s structure
All of these are topics may seem boring or too far in the future to be relevant right now, but they have to become a part of the conversation at some point. There’s no better time than at this meeting.
Gathering documents. Bank statements, financial records, budgets — these are all documents that, depending on their ages, some family members may not understand. Children don’t receive this type of education in school. Learning about money — how to make it and how to manage it — are important lessons that, when learned young, your children will apply for the rest of their lives (which leans into that legacy and wealth-building mentioned above).
Figuring out how to open the conversation. You know your family best: should you begin with listing your financial goals, offering explanations for any current concerns you have, and then invite candid discussion? Or should you open the floor from the first moment and ask your family members their thoughts or feelings?
If you open up the floor from the very beginning, you might find that your family broaches many of the subjects you were going to. They’ll feel like real contributors to the discussion and may even bring up subjects you didn’t think of. The best part of letting your family speak first is that any topics that weren’t covered you can now bring up — and your family may be more than happy to “open the floor” to you now.
Tips for When You’re Having the Conversation
To keep your chat about money and your family’s financial future going in a positive direction with everyone continuing to participate, remember to:
- Respect the opinions of your family members
- Listen to all suggestions
- Delegate responsibilities fairly
- Choose words carefully
When it’s time to open the dialogue, make sure to honor everyone’s core values for this to be a productive discussion.
Financial Issues, Strengths & Weaknesses
Some common financial issues that families may face include:
This can include credit card debt, student loans, or mortgage payments. Debt can be a burden for families and can affect their ability to save for the future. It may affect credit scores negatively, making the family member appear not trustworthy in the eyes of future lenders. Learning how to manage debt effectively is an important lesson for all family members.
Performing a financial assessment, creating and sticking to a budget can be challenging for many families, especially if they have variable income or unexpected expenses.
Saving for the future
It can be difficult for families to save for long-term goals, such as retirement or saving for a child’s education.
Unexpected financial events
Families may face unexpected financial events, such as job loss, medical emergencies, and shrinking potential estate values which can be difficult to manage.
As far as strengths and weaknesses go, every family is unique and will have different financial strengths and weaknesses. Some families may be good at saving and budgeting, while others may have money problems and struggle with financial gains and net worth deficits.
It can be helpful for families to identify their strengths and weaknesses and work together to address any challenges while working toward building on their strengths.
Set Goals for Each Family Member
Goal-setting with your family gives each family member an important role to play in your family’s finances. The younger your children are when you begin imparting financial knowledge, the better.
Talk About Long-Term Goals
If your children have goals of attending college, starting to save money as early as possible should be a part of your overall family budgeting and estate planning goals.
Another future goal, if you’re a business owner, may be to pass the reins of the family business to one of your children when you enter retirement. This requires some astute financial understanding.
Identify Who Will Play Each Role
For your family financial plan to work, each family member must have a dedicated role and corresponding responsibilities that flex as they mature. By the end of your family money meeting, everyone should know what is expected of them.
Teach Younger Family Members Financial Responsibility
It’s important that kids learn that spending money matters. When your adult children become parents, imparting sound money management tips is worth its weight in gold that they will be able to use during retirement.
Strengthen Trust and Communication
As your family members settle into their new roles, it’s important to maintain family harmony and unity with solid communication — if something is causing a breakdown in communication, address it immediately and work together to find solutions.
Establish Family Legacy
Poor impulse control, lack of intellectual preparedness, or psychological immaturity could ruin your family legacy. Establishing a family legacy requires all the above while bolstering self-confidence so maturing children can support themselves upon adulthood and don’t plan on relying completely on their inheritance for income.
For more money management tips, visit Churchill Management Group.
Financial Planning Services Disclosure; Churchill provides financial planning services to Clients that specifically engage Churchill for that service. The planning can include defining goals, designing a plan, assisting with implementing the plan, and evaluating and adjusting the plan over time, at the request of the client. The financial planning includes advice regarding securities investing and may include discussions of a client’s tax, insurance, employee benefits, estate planning, and other issues. Churchill, however, does not provide legal, insurance, employee benefit, estate planning, tax, or accounting advice, and the client must rely on legal, insurance, and accounting professionals for that advice and documentation.