When someone starts broaching the subject of finances with you, how do you respond?
Do you dodge the question and try to change the subject as quickly as possible?
Do you even know the answer to the question?
Or do you come out swinging and blast them with your all-knowing knowledge?
Maybe it’s only certain financial subjects that rub you the wrong way? Things like drowning in debt, building up savings, super frugality, generosity?
How do we talk about these subjects without going overboard and alienating the other person?
To be personable is to make others feel good, important, positive and happy. To be personable means we are able to talk about hard topics but make the other party feel welcomed and not stomped on.
Today I want to talk about being more personable with your finances and how to reach out and ask for help when it’s needed. Maybe you’re a person that’s afraid to share your numbers with your spouse, let alone the world. On the other hand, if you are the type that wants to shout it from the mountaintops in an effort to help others out, you want to learn to do it in a way that is authentic, honest, respectful, and most of all, your own.
You see, my wife and I were not always that great with our finances. We actually used to shove them in a closet and bury them as deep as possible, never speaking their name for fear that we might be called out on what we were doing wrong. And when I say put it in a closet, I mean separate his and her closets on opposite ends of the house.
For us, talking about finances together was hard. We had different views on money and how to talk about it. My wife came from an upbringing where you just try to stash money away and hope you don’t spend it all. I came from an upbringing where you were to save and spend some, but somewhere learned that I could try to leverage other people’s money (read: credit) and spread it out over time to pay it back. It would all even out in the end. We both come from houses where budgets weren’t explained and we weren’t taught to look at how much, but rather how much per month.
Step 1: Get on the same page and be personable with your spouse.
Before we got married, we went through pre-marital counseling. Our pastor loved us enough to spend 6 months with us, teaching us to communicate and bringing up some hard questions for us to discuss and face each other on. One of the other requirements was that we had to meet with the church’s personal finance planner person. We had to sit down with him and go over our finances pretending we were married and how we would do things if we combined our money.
It really is an eye-opening experience when you are no longer the only one making all the decisions and have to ask permission for things or have to allow for money to be spent on things that you would never think to put money out about.
All this to say that the first person that you should really open up and be personable with is your spouse. If you aren’t communicating effectively to your spouse, then you are going to have bigger problems. Your spouse is an extension of yourself and really has just as much say in your financial world legally as yourself. It would be fantastic to have a spouse that was on your team versus one that was combative or doing the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. If your communication with your spouse in this are, check out this article about five ways to increase communication with your spouse and learn to work together to accomplish your goals.
Of course, as you and your spouse react to one another, there are probably other eyes watching as well. Your children are watching how you and your spouse interact over money as well. By showing that finances are not a weakness in your relationship, your children will catch on to this. Hopefully, if you are open enough about it, they will even do better than you when they start handling money.
Step 2a: Getting involved in a group (online or offline) helps you become accountable. Join & participate.
After forming your two person alliance with your spouse, the next thing is to find a group(s) that you can join. For us, this was a Financial Peace University small group class at church with other couples interested in learning about managing personal finances. This was a great starting point for us because it allowed me to talk to other like minded individuals. More importantly, it was helping my wife get out of her comfort zone and was forcing her to talk about our finances in a public setting. She really wasn’t comfortable with it. But, joining a group of people that were going through the same things really helped her realize that there are others struggling just like we were.
Another type of group that I’ve personally joined has been some online groups. I’ve really been loving a newer Facebook group called How Do I Money?. There are budgeting challenges, tip exchanges, and we help each other out as we all walk our personal finance journey. I’ve found that there are many others going through similar situations as me or have already been through them. I get to draw upon their experiences. This is so valuable.
Feeling more comfortable getting out and talking to more people about your situation, you’ll find it’s easier to talk about finances. It just takes a little practice!
Step 2b: Reach out to your personal connections. You may already know some folks that you see everyday that are good at handling money God’s way.
The next level of being personable is reaching into your circle of influence, your best friends. Working through talking with your spouse and joining various groups, this next step should flow naturally into place.
I’ve gotten to know my best friends and family the last decade much better on this wild ride. As we’ve grown closer in friendship, I’ve noticed the money subject come up more and more. Some people reaching out with questions, others interested to hear my take on news and how it affects finances. It’s really amazing when you are passionate and personable about something, how approachable you become.
I challenge you to reach out to someone in your circle of influence and tap them for knowledge. Just ask questions about how they succeeded in the financial arena. By opening up that conversation, you’re going to learn from them by their experiences and how they overcame the hurdle.
It’s important when someone asks for your advice, you lead with personal experience and sharing your victories. I try not to tell people what to do, but let them draw their own conclusions. By sharing what has worked for me, maybe they can emulate it in their own journey.
Step 3: Be transparent and open about “taboo” finances.
Walking the walk can be one of the hardest things to do in life. But if we want to be personable, we should strive to do just that by being transparent and open. We’ve found being open financially with others, we motivate and inspire others in many new ways. It’s actually one reason we post our monthly “net worth updates” on our website.
We want people to know that it’s not a straight climb to the top. There are months when we slack off and aren’t the most financially savvy people because we let loose a little. But, there are also those months when we are chugging along like a well oiled machine and growing like crazy.
We also know that when others are watching, we will hold ourselves more accountable. We also work harder to progress because we aim to please.
I would challenge you to start posting your numbers up for someone else to see. Be the light that shows you care. Force yourself to build accountability into your journey to force progress. I’m not saying that you should start a website or anything. If you can help just one person and everyone does the same thing, imagine what we could accomplish!
So, where are we now? My wife and I have been on the same page since August 2011 when we graduated from FPU. We have gone on to host another six classes since then, helping others get control of their finances. I’m also a member of many Facebook groups that focus on helping others with finances. I’ve even created my own website dedicated to tracking our family’s financial journey and experience
. My wife is actually OK with the idea of sharing our information publicly. She is seeing how it’s empowering others to take action in their lives as well.
My action step for you today would be to answer this question. What is holding you back from sharing your financial journey with others? Please share with me in the comments or feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.