How to start conversations about money (Alamy/PA)
08 November 2021

Talk Money Week: How to approach money chats with your boss, friends, partner or kids

08 November 2021

The idea of starting a conversation about money can make many people feel stressed, or even embarrassed. But by grasping the nettle and having that vital chat, you could improve your own financial wellbeing – and perhaps even end up feeling relieved.

Talk Money Week (November 8-12) aims to encourage people to start conversations about money.

“Talking openly about money is vitally important for our health, wealth and relationships,” says Sarah Porretta, propositions, insights and external engagement director at the Money and Pensions Service. “It means we can be prepared to tackle potentially tricky situations – whether it’s splitting a bill with friends, broaching the topic in the workplace, or helping a child form good financial habits from an early age.

“People who talk about money make better and less risky financial decisions, have stronger personal relationships, and feel less stressed or anxious and more in control. Whatever your situation, Talk Money Week is the perfect opportunity to start.”

In general, Porretta suggests talking about money when you’re in a comfortable setting, listening as well as talking, and making sure you end the conversation with some positives.Here are some ideas for approaching money conversations in specific situations…Talking money with children

“We know from our research that the way we behave and talk about money is linked to our early experiences, which is why it is also important to start speaking about money with children as early as possible,” says Porretta. “The simple act of striking up a conversation with a child can help form their financial habits.”

She suggests leading by example, so when out shopping you could compare prices of items out loud or ask children to tell you the different prices of products.

Talking money with friends

With some skilful negotiation, you can avoid friendship fallouts over money. Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy, Millennial finance specialist at Barclays, says: “Be honest about what you can and can’t afford. Whilst this might seem daunting, it’s very unlikely that your friends will choose money over your friendship.

“You never know, they might also be worried about their own finances, so breaking the ice could also be a big relief for them. Money shouldn’t be a taboo subject, with honesty and transparency strengthening a friendship.”

She adds: “Don’t be afraid to say no. There is absolutely no shame in pushing back on someone else’s expensive choice, or speaking up against an unfairly split bill if it takes you out of your budget. Being in control of your finances is something people should respect, rather than judge.”

By being proactive and sharing ideas, you could also put forward free or cheaper options for fun activities, Kwaw-Swanzy suggests. Keeping a separate budget for socialising can also help you to work out how much money you have available – and take a firmer stance – if friends’ suggestions would bust your budget.

Talking money with a partner

One of you may be better at managing money than the other, but be open and honest, particularly at crucial life stages when you’re combining your finances – such when you’re buying a house or starting a family together.

There may be some situations when you should be wary though, as romance scams are rife. If a potential partner you’ve been chatting to online starts asking detailed questions about your finances, or claims they need money urgently, this should ring alarm bells, so discuss it with friends and family you trust.

Talking money with your employer

Laura Stewart-Smith, head of workplace savings and retirement at Aviva, says: “Some employers will be able to offer external financial education either through a specialist provider or an employee assistance programme (EAP). There are a number of 24/7 helplines and online resources at hand that can offer information about financial issues.

“One of the areas that employers can offer important support is retirement savings. As a result of auto-enrolment in 2012, all employers must provide a pension to those employees who meet the criteria. The minimum auto-enrolment contribution including employee and employer contributions and tax relief, is 8%.

“However, employers often offer higher matching contributions. It’s so important that employees understand the advantages and benefits of their workplace pension.”

Talking money with your bank

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at trade association UK Finance says: “Banks and lenders are ready to help if a customer is struggling with their finances. There’s a range of tailored options for people who need support and it’s always best to speak to your lender sooner rather than later.

“Leaving it too long could worsen any money problems – don’t put off the conversation with your bank, get in touch and find out how they can help.”

Want to do some more reading? UK Government-backed MoneyHelper’s online guide – How to have a conversation about money – has further tips for positive chats about finances.

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