Money conversations

Let’s Talk

If you haven’t guessed, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist.

A few weeks ago, I had what I thought was going to be tough conversation with J. Before that, I had stressed about it for weeks — what if he was upset at what I said? What if I didn’t express myself clearly or completely and he was confused? What if I looked like a bumbling idiot? What if it didn’t go perfectly?

The same set of fears manifests before each post I write. What if I can’t get across what I want to say properly? What if it’s confusing, boring, incomplete or worse? What if I sound completely ridiculous or like an amateur? What qualifies me to be able to write about these topics?

I have this idea of how things should be — how our conversations should go, what our relationship should look like, how this blog should read and on and on and on. I measure myself against an impossibly high standard, and I’m always scared of falling short.

Eventually I mustered up the courage to talk to him. I put aside my fears of not being perfect and took action. (I even managed to be calm during our discussion!)

And it couldn’t have gone better.

Because I was calm and talked about things in a friendly, yet matter-of-fact tone, he responded in kind. I set the tone.

Each time I do these things, I’m setting a precedent that our relationship is important to me. It’s one where we can talk about things — things that are difficult, things that are important, things that are on our minds, or even trivial things.

Those things also include talking about money.

I’m not an expert on money, but by opening the door and talking about it, I’m setting the stage that money is something that we talk about. It’s not something mysterious or difficult or something to be avoided at all costs. It’s not a holy grail, it won’t fix all of your problems and it’s not something to obtain at the expense of everything else. To me, money is a tool that will (ideally) allow each person to live the life they want to live.

The thing about breaking through and talking is that once you do it, it’s easier to do the next time. And not only is it easier, but you get better at it. And it becomes commonplace — it’s something that you do. Even if you stumble or it doesn’t always go well, you’re still doing it.

So talk to your kids. Even if you don’t have your finances 100% figured out, start with the basics. Open up a discussion. Almost anything you say will be better than saying nothing.

And if you haven’t already, try to get on a good path and be a good role model. It takes what you’re saying to the next level — you’re walking the talk.

Most of all, keep going. Don’t give up when it’s hard or when you’re scared. Your kids will thank you for it.

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