Discussing money matters

Talking about finances can be painful, as not everyone is happy to discuss how well they manage their money. But the festive season, when you’re together with family, can be the perfect opportunity for these more challenging conversations. Tread lightly and you and your family will be able to have an open and honest discussion.

Whether it’s your parents will, your children’s financial safety net, or your partners out of control spending, these tips will help you to broach the difficult topic of money.

It’s all about timing
While the issue may have been on your mind for some time, bombarding your adult children, or ageing parents, with questions about their finances the minute they walk in the door isn’t a good start. Nor is starting the conversation over Christmas turkey. A better approach is to privately gauge how amenable they are to the subject and then let them know you’d like to have a chat before you part.

Conversation, not criticism
Remember, whether it’s your parents or your children, they’re adults and one way to put them offside is to criticise the way they manage their money. Talk to your mum about her will and ask if she needs any help. Discuss with your expectant son the importance of insurance. And if they’re not interested, back off.

Give a little, get a little
Let your family know a little about where you keep your financial documents and what arrangements you’ve made. If they feel you’re being open and honest with them, they will be more likely to reciprocate.

Slowly, slowly
Talk about one or two key issues at a time, rather than trying to solve all problems at once. You may want to talk to your parents about their hopes and preferences for their care as they age. While with your children, it may be easier to chat about their plans for getting a mortgage, or paying off their student loans. If it’s your partner’s spending which is on your mind, then suggest you set a common goal for the next year.

Listen and observe
Sometimes it’s the little comments, or signs, which indicate that things might not be going well. Are your father’s clothes unkempt? Does he talk about struggling with the cost of day-to-day living? Or maybe you’ve noticed that your son isn’t driving his usual car, or is joking about borrowing too much money. Keep alert and you may discover what you need to know in order to start a much-needed conversation.

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