From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Speaking of Money
In the aftermath of December spending, it is not unusual for money to become a painful
topic for discussion. Indeed, many family arguments are based on issues of spending and
earning. As difficult as it sounds, it is possible to make financial discussions less
painful. To this end, I offer the following suggestions...
- Set up a business meeting with your spouse. When finances need to be discussed, this
should be done in the context of a business meeting. This involves planning a time when
the two of you can sit down without being interrupted, and look at your financial picture
in a logical and rational fashion.
- Acknowledge that your family is a partnership. No matter who earns the money, all
spenders are part of a financial partnership. If you want family members to approach
finances cooperatively, they must see themselves as partners who are sharing the same pot
of resources. Cooperation requires taking responsibility for "our money", not
just "mine and yours".
- Avoid blame or criticism. It is easy to fall into the trap of pointing the finger, and
accusing your spouse of overspending. But this often alienates the spouse and causes
further arguments. Instead, it may be more profitable to put the family budget on paper
and think together about where to "cut corners".
- Set financial goals and plan strategies for reaching them. It is often easier to
"pinch pennies" when we are saving them for something in particular. You can set
goals for achieving certain levels of "savings" in the bank, or
"savings" for vacations, a new house, furniture, etc. The important thing is to
specify your goals and work towards them together in a united effort.
- Teach your children about money. Spending habits are formed early in life. It is
important for children to realize the relationship between education, career choice, and
salary. Children are often motivated to do better in school, if they realize that
education is the key to their economic future.
Money can be a great source of anxiety in our family relationships, or it can be a
carefully-considered resource. In these uncertain times, it is important to plan our
finances, and not allow them to be a constant source of conflict. As with so many other
problems, decisions about finances are best approached as a family.
ęCopyright 1989, 1995, by Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated August 30, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.