Talking to Loved Ones About Money: How to Offer Useful Guidance
Let’s face it: conversations about personal finances are usually uncomfortable. Especially with family members. Especially when your advice is past due. Although your parents, children, siblings, and significant other may trust your opinion on everything from fashion to food, schooling them on their spending habits can poke at their pride and force pushback.
They must be willing to listen to you
If they’re suppressing embarrassment, guilt, and shame while you’re talking, any financial brilliance you can offer is irrelevant. The key is to find a balance between being understanding and dishing out the tough love that’ll give them the help they need. You should be direct and logical; it’s not by chance that you’re the one in the financially superior position, so show them how you got there. Use examples from your own life that resemble their situation, if applicable. If you can relate to them in a personal way without using a condescending tone (easier said than done), you will give them an invitation to humility while giving credibility to yourself.
You have to know your stuff
If you’re not a financial advisor, it can be risky giving guidance to other people. Your intentions may be pure when you tell your brother how beneficial a 529 college savings plan can be for his children, but you might be causing more harm than good if the drawbacks aren’t clearly explained, as well. Do your best to share as much information as you can, but make sure your words aren’t the sole reasoning for their decision-making. Your full discretion here is vital. The endgame should be the improvement of their researching and analytical skills rather than simple memorization of individual facts and figures.
Follow up and show continued support
Giving your loved ones a copy of your fancy budget template and telling an inspirational, “I clawed my way up from the depths of debt” story are great ways to open their eyes and get them on the right track. It’s important to remember, though, that inspiration is perishable. Your motivated mentees have already made poor financial decisions that have resulted in poor financial situations. Changing the way in which they handle money is a slow process that requires patience. Your approachability is paramount; they need to know that you’ll have their back if they don’t get it quite right the first time around. Checking in with them periodically might seem annoying, but they’ll know it’s for their own good, and they’ll appreciate it more than they might admit.
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