Let’s talk about money…
…because you really should
And my mum brings in ‘The Book’, as she attempts to have ‘The Talk’ with me.
You know, THAT talk…
The ‘Facts of Life’.
‘The Book’ is a thin hardback book from a more innocent time, one that our family mysteriously acquired somewhere.
With images lifted straight out of ‘The Joy of Sex’, it’s both colourful in a 70s way as well as unnecessarily graphic at times.
However…she was unaware my school had already given us this information when we turned 11.
Sorry, mum – it was too late!
It’s funny the things we will talk about.
Or the topics we avoid talking about rather than anything else.
Even at the dinner table, the topics of religion, politics and sex, traditionally ones to be avoided, are starting to be aired.
But we as a nation are not ones to talk about money.
Your first Saturday/part-time job?
How little you made?
The character building experience it was?
But right now?
If someone asked you about your current salary?
It’s not polite.
It’s crass. Or rude.
We need to change this mindset.
Because not only is it outdated, like ‘The Book’ my family has, but it could be harmful.
What happens if you don’t write a will? If you have assets you want to share but have only vaguely mentioned to your family? What if you injure yourself, become ill and are then unable to communicate what you want, with regards to your money?
Money is especially difficult to discuss at emotional times, when you’re gone, so if anything, make it easier for your loved ones when you’re not there for them.
There’s various reasons as to why we do so – it could be that we don’t want others to know how much we make (or don’t).
Maybe you grew up in a household where money was tight.
Maybe you grew up rolling in it. Literally. Like Scrooge McDuck.
But it’s important because being open means you can be better informed. So where should you start?
Talk to your friends
You may find it easier to start with your friend group than with family. Or vice versa.
But talking to them, you may find out how much they earn or save. Whether or not they have any tips or strategies. You may not agree with what they are doing (as everyone has different needs) but you may get some ideas.
A conversation with them might lead to you starting a good financial habit. Which is always a good idea.
Talk to your partner
For better and for worse, for richer or poorer – you should start by talking to your Other Half about money.
The best tactic here is to have an open mind & remain neutral – one of you will inevitably be less practical with money than the other.
So listen and don’t say anything judgmental as a closed mindset can lead to arguments.
Firstly, you could try to set a joint financial goal because a shared purpose and responsibility can bring you closer.
Share the bills so that the stress is not just on one of you – and if one of you is paying for something that is not being shared, do you even need it?
Talk to your children
…because the schools don’t!
Who do you go to when you’re younger, for help with this? If you’re lucky, you may have a parent you can ask. But what happens if you don’t?
It’s funny how my school was obsessed with exam results and getting as many of us into university.
How we were taught business or economics, but we never really were taught any useful/real life financial skills. My school offered PSE (Personal & Social Education) as a subject but this did not include anything such as opening a bank account, credit/debt, saving or investing money.
You know, skills which would have been really useful to have at university.
And then suddenly once you’ve become a parent, you find that you’re going to be somebody’s role model.
Until they end up detesting you when they hit puberty…
Start with board games such as Monopoly, which will teach them the value of buying a property and rent.
However, I have yet to find anyone who’s had a successful ‘bank error in their favour‘…
It’s never too early to start with children. Talk to them about saving up for something they want.
Open a savings account/JISA in their name, to get them enthused about saving up.
Help them to set goals – for example, in primary school, it may be tickets to see their favourite band. In secondary school, it may be to buy driving lessons.
When you think they’re old enough to understand how money works, sit down and explain ‘compound interest’ in as clear a way as you possibly can. Don’t worry – we’ll be doing content on financial education for children (which goes into more detail) later on.
At some point, you may find yourself with assets you want to pass on or you may be able to help your family financially, but because you haven’t sat down and discussed money, they never find out…
Talk to a financial adviser
The clue’s in the name here. Their job is to give financial advice.
A good adviser should be able to explain any complicated jargon or keep it to a minimum.
If you find that your personal finances are not what you’d expect or that you’re prone to making emotional decisions around your finances, then perhaps working with a financial adviser could be an option.
(Although we have heard from one adviser that a fact-find with one couple, who were so averse to talking about money, even just the basics, really was like trying to get blood from a stone…!)