It may be hard to talk about money, but it’s essential

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Couples fight about money. In fact, one study discovered it was the ‘number one issue couple’s fight about.’ And it discovered that ‘money fights’ were the second leading cause of divorce—behind infidelity.

It can be difficult to talk about money, but for couples it’s essential—and particularly as you plan your retirement.

How to begin

In a New York Times article (a worthwhile read), Carl Richards writes that it’s no wonder we find it hard to talk about money. In his case he says nobody ever taught him how to do it.

He isn’t alone. He’s discovered, after talking about money around the world for the past decade, that it’s a worldwide problem. It’s ‘impolite.’ It’s ‘unseemly.’ It’s an ‘incredibly emotional subject.’

So, how do you start to talk about money?

‘Here’s how it works: Grab the person you want to talk to about money. And . . . just start.

‘That’s it.

‘Just. Start.’

That probably won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile. Couples particularly need to talk about their finances to understand what they can and can’t do in their retirement. And to prioritise possibilities.

Recognise what you bring to the conversation

We’re shaped by our upbringing. Most of us can remember the moment we looked in the mirror and saw something of one of our parents reflected there. It can be a scary moment when you see yourself becoming like your parents.

Our upbringing impacts on how we think about money. Someone who grows up in a rich home will see money in a different way to someone who grows up in near poverty.

The prince and Cinderella would have had some fascinating discussions about their finances. But difference doesn’t mean you can’t get good outcomes from discussing your finances.

What the study mentioned above showed was that 41% of couples in debt (a mortgage is not counted as debt) argue about money—and it’s what they argue about most.

Among those who are debt free, only 25% of them argue about money—and, significantly, it doesn’t make the top-five list of things they argue about.

Debt adds pressure.

Heated arguments won’t help much. The best thing a couple can do is come with open minds for an open discussion about their finances. That not only helps clear the air, but helps the other to know where the concerns are.

And maybe they can work together to achieve their joint and individual goals.

Asking the why question

Richards reckons that, when talking about money, we should as the why question: ‘Why do you want money to begin with?’

The answer to this question, he suggests, may coincide with answers to these questions.

  • What are your dreams for the future?
  • How do you plan to spend your retirement?
  • What are your biggest fears?
  • If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
  • What are your insecurities?
  • What do you want to do with your life’s savings?

‘These are the big money questions,’ he adds. ‘These are your compass.’

And with these you can begin setting you goals. For now and for retirement.

You really should check out Carl Richards’ article here.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Attitude, Finances, Lifestyle, Physical Health

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