How do you react (or not) when someone asks to talk about money with you? Does it go well? Do you dread it? Do you wish you could talk about it more? (Or perhaps those are all true at once!)
It’s a fresh new year. You’re not alone if you feel extra revved-up around getting your finances in order. What happens when you are on board but a significant other is not quite there yet? What happens when your Sig O is kinda nerdy, and you don’t know what the hell they are talking about with the “spending plan” and the “we need to save more money” mumbo jumbo? I don’t have YOUR particular answers, but I do have some tools and tips that can make the chats go at least a tad bit smoother.
I don’t just mean “partnered” folks, either. I live alone, yet I have significant others. I’m talking about people with whom we eat, travel, work with, etc. Or it also could be a child, parent, or other Sig O. Just think of all of the money decisions we make together on a daily basis. What level of restaurant will we go to? Where will we stay when we travel? What kind of holiday celebration will we pull together? And so on.
So let’s say you’re the nerdier one.
You are my peeps. We look at price tags. We use tip calculator apps. We love a spreadsheet like some people love fine wine.
Are you aware that we can be considered….uptight? Rigid? Controlling? I know…we’re just doing what comes naturally to us. But we didn’t always score highly on the “plays well with others” part of the report card, right?
There are ways we can still be true to ourselves, and not drive our less-spreadsheet-motivated Sig O’s over the edge.
1) I try to not dive immediately in to a specific money chat until I’ve checked in with Sig O to see if now is a good time for that. I’m shocked that not everyone wants to geek out about it on the regular. But they don’t. We may just see the dollar figures and want answers, but sometimes it’s easier said than done depending on peoples’ comfort with the topic.
2) Sometimes it can help to use down-to-earth terms, instead of trying to be fancy and use money-ese shortcuts. I can say “savings for after we retire” just as easily as I can say “IRA”. That may just make my message more accessible, which is more important to me than using industry-standard terms.
3) Use this as a way to build my patience muscle. Just because I’m ready to talk about it now, doesn’t mean that everyone else will be. I would want the same space and consideration if the other person was asking me to wade in to a topic that is uncomfortable for me. Even if “I don’t want to talk about it now” is the answer I don’t want to hear, I will get further in the long run with kindness and curiosity, than I will with impatience and/or negative judgments.
4) The more simply specific I can be, the less anxiety-provoking it is for other people. Barking out, “we need to save more money!” could spike anyone else’s blood pressure. Saying, when they are ready to hear it, “I’ve looked at our numbers, and I’d like us to see how we can save an extra $500 per month for the kids’ college fund” is much more likely to be something the other person can take action on.
SURVEY for you
This is just one question that will help us see which approaches work better for what percentage of people. No right answer…just what would *you* truly prefer at this time in your life.
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Now let’s say you’re the one who pays less attention to $$ than your Sig O.
I’ve heard it’s a different world over there. Some say that you creatures don’t necessarily lose sleep over “what if’s” around money. But I know its not always that simple, and that you just may speak a different dialect (as opposed to an entirely different language) around money issues. Here are some ideas for how to connect even better with your nerdy Sig O around money, without your having to turn nerdy yourself.
1) If your answer to, “when do you want to talk about money?” is perpetually, “later”, this is extremely difficult and frustrating for the other. You of course do not have to be available on demand, but at some point, please do face it and just talk with us. You can even set a timer and make sure to stick within the 20 or 30 minutes allotted to a specific agenda that your nerdy Sig O wants feedback on.
2) If there is something we say about money that you don’t understand, please don’t put yourself down about it. You can help us by just asking for clarification, instead of keeping quiet and thinking you should know the answer already and therefore shouldn’t ask. I know we can seem like righteous know-it-all’s, but it can be downright sexy to be able to share information together. It means that we are engaging around the topic, which I believe is the key to it going well in the long run.
3) Please do your best to not let 100% of the financial housekeeping fall on our shouders, even if we are “better at it”. I see this dynamic getting lots of Sig O’s out of balance. I’m definitely not advocating for 50/50. However, it’s likely to go better in the long run if I take a few minutes to understand what is going on, even if it means visiting Nerdland!
Well, that’s a wrap on the February edition. I love feedback, especially after people have tried the tips…please do feel free to email with comments or questions at email@example.com! And best of luck with having breakthrough conversations with your own money influencers. Small baby steps of progress lead up to a whole different life experience.