Reading the comments on Kristin's Wednesday post, Money lessons I've learned since writing for Get Rich Slowly, it's very clear that being able to talk with family about money is as difficult as it is beneficial. And while we've discussed the topic before (Ask the Readers: How to talk to friends and family about money), it's a big enough problem that updating it could be helpful.
A 2012 survey by T. Rowe Price bears out the breadth of the problem. It determined that 28 percent of parents found it difficult to talk to their children about finances — and 29 percent of those surveyed said it was difficult to talk about puberty.
A lot of you agreed with Kristin's points that not talking about money promotes financial illiteracy and leads to spending more money. Some observed that cultural issues affect money discussions and that sometimes it is better not to divulge too much. Still, El Nerdo reminded us that taboos may have evolved for a reason but that not discussing money with children at all is “just wrong.”
Even as Kristin identified that “not talking about money creates conflict,” it seems that the opposite is also true — otherwise, why avoid the topic? So given how important it is to get the subject on the table, how do you actually go about it? Some of you offered solutions: Talk about percentages, principles, and strategies. Talk against debt, talk about the path to prosperity, but be discreet. I think we have to be prepared to meet people where they are, not where we are.
For instance, I asked the readers “Are you involved with your parents' finances?” when I was in the process of helping my father change his living situation because it was becoming unsafe for him. As he and I started talking about the costs, I learned that he wanted to make the change but found it all too overwhelming to do on his own. What if the people we care about really want to get control of their finances but just find the whole process too daunting to begin?
Here's a new direction: Should you adopt a different strategy to discuss money based on your relationship with the person, for example, whether they are your parent, your child, or other loved one?
Have you ever tried to talk to your adult children about their financial situation? Have you tried to influence friends or relatives to see the light? Share what worked, what didn't, and how you got past the money taboo!