Worried about money? Why it’s important to talk, and how to get started

Worried about your finances, but to scared to tell anyone? Find out why it’s important to talk openly about money (especially if you’re struggling) and how to start the conversation.  

For something we use every day, we seem have a real problem with money. Or, specifically, talking about it. A new study has discovered that a staggering £96billion of debt is hidden from friends and family in the UK. And, while 8.3million of us are in debt, less than a quarter of us seek help.

It’s easy to let money issues creep up on us without noticing. You let the odd bill slip. Your outgoings quietly outstrip your income. You lose your job.

And, rather than confront the increasing fear that you may not be holding your finances together, you squash your worries and carry on as normal. You put a brave face on your feelings, and steadfastly avoid confiding in your friends and family – and quite possibly your partner.

And with every demand for payment; every unopened letter or unanswered phone call, your stress levels rise, and your mental health declines.

It’s no surprise that seven out of 10 couples say they row about money. But it doesn’t need to be that way; all you need to do is open up about your money worries to start seeing a positive change.

People who talk openly about money make better financial decisions, have stronger personal relationships, feel more in control, are able to help their children form good monetary habits and experience less stress regarding their finances.

Making money conversations a part of your everyday life can help you build financial confidence. It also can help to take a lot of the weight off your shoulders if you have any worries. But how can you start the conversation? Here are some tips to help you.

Prepare to talk about money

Planning ahead can make you feel at ease. It can also help you begin to take small steps in decisions to help your problems. Here’s how to get ready to have the money talk:

  • Prepare some talking points to help you get into the right mind frame and act as prompts if you feel anxious.
  • Choose who you want to confide in based on who makes you feel at ease and is willing to listen.
  • Decide when and where to talk in a safe environment for you both, for example, at your home or out for a walk.
  • Practice the conversation; try saying it out loud to make the situation real.

When you’re ready to talk, tell your chosen person that there is something you’d like to talk to them about. Give them time to make space in their day and know that it’s a serious conversation.

Drop the subject into an everyday conversation

If you feel planning ahead is causing you more worry, then don’t. Instead you can bring up your concerns in an everyday conversation:

  • If a friend of yours is experiencing something similar, maybe discuss what’s happening to them to get the ball rolling.
  • Maybe your situation or something similar has come up in a TV programme you’re watching, book you’re reading or is in the news. Mention how this is similar to what you’re experiencing.
  • Use whatever is around you to spark the conversation – bills, a new item of furniture you are still paying off.

Use these money conversation starters

If you are still struggling to find the words, sometimes knowing the first sentence can help you feel more confident about discussing the topic directly. Here are some conversation starters:

  • I have something I’d like to talk to you about that I think would help us reach our goals more effectively.
  • I’d like to talk to you about [blank], but first I’d like to get your point of view.
  • I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?
  • I think we have different ideas about [blank], I’d like to hear your thinking on this.

Start by having the chat with yourself

Money can be an emotional topic; one that often makes us feel anxious or angry. If you’re not ready to talk to someone else about your finances, you can start by having the chat with yourself.

Think about your long-term goals, and how much money you’ll need to achieve them. If there’s any immediate problems such as debt that you need to tackle, seek professional advice.

When you’re ready, you can share with a close friend or relative. It doesn’t have to be an unnatural conversation – you can start by talking about a bill or a piece of furniture you’re paying off, for example. You could share money-saving tips with a friend or talk to your child about pocket money. These little conversations open the door to in-depth discussions that will lead to less financial stress.

There are so many different charities and support networks that you can use to get help with your finances. No matter how bad you think your situation is, it’s better to talk openly about it and get assistance. The charities and support networks are not there to judge, and they will give you practical, logical advice that will help you take charge of your finances.

The Money Advice Service has plenty of resources available to help you talk about money. Head over to their website and get involved in the conversation – whether that’s with yourself, your partner or a friend.

Photo by Eunice Lituañas