Many millennials nowadays are preparing for the future financially. However, when preparing financially for your future, it may be awkward or uncomfortable talking to parents, mentors, or others. None of us wants to have to go through that — which is why in this article, I’ll take you through how I talk to my parents about money.
Have an idea of what you want to talk about
Whenever you’re going to talk about a concerning subject, it’s ideal to have an idea of what you want to talk about and what you want to get out of the conversation. You may want to practice your little speech a few times before you open your mouth.
Personal finances can be a broad and sensitive topic to some.
Whenever I talk to my parents about money, I plan a roadmap for the conversation and ask myself what topics I want to discuss and learn about. Sometimes it’s savings, avoiding debt, investments, or other financial topics depending on what I’m curious about or need to learn more about.
When preparing for these conversations, tailor them to your personal needs.
Which of these topics is most important for you at the moment, or do you want to talk about finances generally? Preparing topics to discuss beforehand makes it much easier to control the conversation and thus makes it more comfortable.
Take time to plan out objectives for the conversation.
What do you want to walk away from the conversation with? It may be to have a better idea of dealing with finances in the future, investing, or other general personal finance principles.
Bring up ideas that you have or habits that you see in yourself that are positive or negative. For example, whenever I talk to my parents about money, I bring up principles and give them my plan or thought process on the matter.
Create your “speech” roadmap.
They are usually willing to add constructive criticism or new ideas to help me get where I want to be. When talking to parents about finances, the first step is to create a roadmap and prepare. However, the second is to ask questions and listen to their experiences.
Ask questions and really listen
Whenever I talk to my parents about money, I think about a handful of questions I want to ask. This goes for principles and topics I want to discuss and get their experiences with those topics.
For example, one of my parents really struggled with debt and had a mountain to overcome right out of graduate school. I talked to both of them about that situation and what they did to pay off the debt. I also ask what they think they could have done better, or if they were to go back and change anything that they would change.
Listen to solid experience — even if it hurts.
Hearing these experiences and stories makes personal finances a bit more real, and it helps me understand the impact or consequences that I could face if I’m not careful.
Map out questions
Once you know what questions you want to ask, listen with real intent to learn. The saying goes, learn to listen, listen to learn. Becoming an effective listener will help you get more out of your conversations and get to know your parents better.
Make sure that your parents are done speaking before you respond, or ask clarifying questions if needed. There were times I was scared to talk to my parents about money because I felt I would ask “dumb” questions. Your parents really are willing to help you — and will help you grow wherever you’re at.
This was a difficult lesson for me to learn, as I had to ask questions like ‘What is a bond?’, ‘How are you preparing for retirement?’, or ‘What is the difference between the federal reserve and the national bank?’.
Your parents want to help, and asking questions even if they seem dumb will help you in the long term. Asking open questions also gives your parents a better idea of where you are financially and can help according to your personal needs.
Review and Internalize
After talking to my parents about money, I think about the stories they’ve told me and the basics that I’ve learned. Now, I don’t take elaborate notes or study what they’ve said, but I think about what I learned and ask myself how I can take that to better myself.
I review the information discussed or learned, and I internalize what it means for me. That may sound daunting, but really all I do is go on a walk and make a mental list of key takeaways.
For example, recently, I talked to my parents about money in terms of saving and making a financial foundation. We talked about different habits that make saving difficult and what can be done to save money generally.
When I go on my walks, I think about what habits I want to build.
Then, I make plans on how to build them over a period of time. In this case, I also thought about what habits I had that weren’t great for my budget. For example, I was eating out a bit too much, and I’m currently learning how to budget meals at home while working full time.
Essentially, I try to remember to talk to my parents about money in terms of principles and habits.
Once I review what I learned, I begin to internalize the suggestions by making changes and setting goals with a plan and how to achieve them. These have been minor changes like not eating as much or looking for online sales before purchasing.
However, even in just one month’s time — I’ve saved over $150, which isn’t’ terrible for a college student!
Finances can be a touchy topic of conversation. When I first talked to my parents about money, it just seemed awkward.
Small changes can bring you large dividends.
However, as I’ve drafted ideas and topics I want to discuss and ask the questions while listening, and review and internalize lessons learned — I see that I’ve been able to make small changes with massive impacts.
You can have difficult conversations.
While the lessons I’m learning may be different than yours, you are absolutely capable of having these conversations with your parents. You can talk to your parents — and make personalized changes to hit your future financial goals.
Once you have formed habits from what you have learned through these talks — you’ll be in a better financial situation. Financial responsibility will be important for the rest of your life and will take you far.