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How To Jump Start A Great Money Talk

October 8, 2015

Let’s face it; money talks with our families are never fun but always necessary.

kangaroos jumping

Unless, of course, your supply of cash is endless (in which case, I’d love to know your secret).

Talking about money DOES get easier with practice. And, there are tricks to make these conversations run even smoother and be more productive.

One simple strategy is to kick-off the conversation with your goals and dreams. Hard not to get excited when talking about the things we love and want for the future! Then (building on this excitement), segway into what needs to happen to achieve your goals. Money is just 1 tool (of many) to create the life we really want.

Below, are a few more tips that I’m sharing from a previous post on how to start a money conversation. Because, I’m a great believer in recycling timeless content (and reminders too)!

1) Tell Stories

Many of our attitudes and behaviours around money were learned as a child. Often, people aren’t aware of how different their experiences were growing up. Tell stories- they are enlightening and entertaining. Sharing your own story first is a great way to get your spouse to open up too. You might have a good laugh when you discover the impact today!

When I was growing up, my own parents were incredibly thrifty. Today, I still struggle with spending money on “fun stuff”. I remember being totally embarassed at Christmas each year when my mother would unwrap her gifts carefully and diligently fold/save the paper for next year! This was many years before environmental awareness became popular and my friends thought she was crazy! To this day, I catch myself being reluctant to throw things away (i.e. old clothes, university textbooks) that someday might be useful!

Have some fun replaying your background, family behaviour and what you learned about money as a kid. It’s a lot easier to appreciate your differences when you understand where they came from.

2) Introduce the need/desire

It may feel uncomfortable or awkward the first few times you initiate a money talk but DO IT ANYWAYS! Be calm, positive, non-judgemental and choose your language carefully. Below are two examples of tough subjects that married couples might procrastinate on and possible conversation starters.

Scenario #1- How much should we save for retirement if we’re not sure when to retire or how we’ll keep busy?

Conversation Starter- “After reading an article about retirement planning, it got me thinking about our own dreams for the future. We’ve never really talked about them before. What are your thoughts?”

Result- Working through options with your spouse will clarify what is doable and where you need to adjust today to make your dreams happen.

Scenario #2- Our debts are making me anxious and keeping me awake at night

Conversation Starter- “I really need to stop worrying about our debt. What can we do to accelerate the payments and still have some fun today?”

Result- Confiding in your spouse might feel good and help you both create a more aggressive repayment plan.

3) Create the right environment for success

If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep and your kids are screaming in the background, its not the right time to talk about money. But, don’t give up on it being a priority. Put it in your schedule for another time (soon). Better yet, make it a regular event (like date night) to help you stay on track.

4) Seize opportunties when they arise

You’ve just finished watching a funny episode of Modern Family where Gloria and Jay have been disagreeing about money. Use this opportunity to lighten the mood and start a talk about your own money challenges.

When my daughter was a pre-teen, we watched many episodes of “The Shopping Bags” together. I remember having great debates on whether higher priced products outperform their lower priced equivalents. Now, as a young adult, I see this positive influence on her own shopping behaviour.

Do you like Dragon’s Den or Shark’s Tank? These shows can inspire a family chat about money and investing. My husband, kids and I love challenging each other’s ideas about what makes a great investment.

5) Ask a great question and keep it positive


i) “I’ve been thinking about some new ways to save money so that we can afford our trip to Florida next year. What are your thoughts?”

ii) “Before we decide to put Jamie in private school, let’s talk about how we can adjust our other priorities.”

iii) “I know you’ve got your heart set on the new flat screen TV. What can we do differently to be able to afford it sooner?”

6) Understand Each Other’s Expectations

Are your life/money goals similar to or different from your spouse’s? How can you create a plan to satisfy both of you? What compromises must you make?


What are your own tips for broaching the subject of money? Would love to hear them!


Proud founder of this blog Let’s Talk About Money, Patricia Gass, CPA, CA, provides personal finance coaching and education to improve your money skills. Follow her on linkedin, twitter or pinterest.

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