Chapter One: Money, Communication, & Happiness

Communications within the Family

Communicating with others about money can be an emotional experience. Talking about money can lead to arguments. Hidden agendas and relationship pitfalls can keep money talks from being successful. Attorneys and therapists have identified unresolved money problems or differences as the primary causes of divorce.

The conversations that occur within the family will depend on who is part of your financial life at the moment. Think to the future, too, about changes that may occur in your life or in the lives of people who are closest to you.

Consider the nature of money talks that critical documents are kept. You can probably think of many other is‐ sues that range in severity from financial problems associated with substance abuse to which brand of a certain product to buy.

Everyone has a “money personality”. Good communication will help your family be financially successful. It will help you determine joint goals, develop a shared vision, and reach an agreement on how to spend, save, invest, or donate your family’s money. Try to create a stress‐free environment for discussing money if there are other people in your life with whom you must discuss financial matters. Money issues that can arise include who pays the bills, what to buy, how much to spend, how children’s allowances are set, or how to ask a parent where you have had or will have with thepeople in your life. Remember that there is less room for argument and conflict when financial matters are wellorganized and under control. Try to focus on the facts, not the emotions.

Conflicts over money or difficult conversations about money can be eased if a few recommendations from conflict resolution counselors are heeded. Choosing a good time and place for discussion, perhaps away from home, can help. Remaining calm and practicing self‐awareness, acknowledging emotions, listening carefully to the other person, and focusing on the problem and not the person, are all helpful strategies. Avoid blaming and raising your voice. Each person should be encouraged to suggest potential solutions, without judgment or criticism. With a list of solutions in hand, ideas can be reviewed and evaluated together, in a less emotional or confrontational manner.

Personal and family financial decisions are influenced by attitudes, personality types, past experiences, and family dynamics. When you understand yourself and others, you can make financial decisions more effectively. You may also reduce conflict. As you change, so do your needs and abilities for flexible money practices. Awareness and self‐analysis can. With clarity and balance come a sense of control and well-being.