These days people communicate a lot and lot which we couldn’t even imagine the extent of the conversation. The “M Word” is one of the very important conversations which we need to speak about and most of the people including the major subset of couples don’t discuss on this part. The recent ending of the Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Sidhartha is also into the loop with this if we read his adieu note to the BoD of CCD. Even VGS could have easily sorted the financial demand very quickly if he had strong support emotionally. Though he was surrounded with tons of people, he was alone internally which every Entrepreneur could feel at least once in their life.
Last week while I was in the UK, I co-chaired a Financial Event of a Big Four bank in London. The floor was shared by two of us including the Vice President Commercial of the Bank which is promoting the “M Word” concept in the UK. I really enjoyed the conversation with her as it was the very first time we speak out about it. It was quite equal enough excitement for me both Professionally and Personally. Usually, the young couples who are about to start together or as like my most of mates who got recently married or started the phase of parenting speak a lot about Politics, Economics, Governance, Diplomacy, Spiritual, Intellectual and Intimacy sparks. But when they speak about Economics, they address as if Prime Minister or Finance Minister or Finance Secretary, Reserve Bank of India or England Governor and I have never heard or saw someone saying their spouse as financial controller.
One of the most influential components of life is money, and there had been always a gap between Saving Money and Living only once. Middle class (Economically) people like me are sandwiched between those two and understanding this had been rocket science. These days there is a gender pay difference and always the weaker ones demand from the stronger ones, be it for shopping or family maintenance or any other such. There is a great policy of making the weaker to understand how hard it is to get the money. The weaker and stronger doesn’t exist only in the romantic relationship, also it does exist between a cohesive family of Father – Mother – Son – Daughter – Brother – Sister or name anyone who can fit into the framework.
People from India are confident about speaking irrelevant things whose list extends for AADHAR (National ID of India) for cows, Ambulance for Cows and cleaning the Ganges and much more even not limiting to coitus terminologies and others but not about the FINANCE. I know most of us here aren’t even comfortable in disclosing our salary pattern even to our Parents or Siblings which comes out of my total interpersonal experiences. There could be many reasons as they may not be able to understand what it is actually, or they may mismanage and various others. It is always better to disclose and keep informed someone not necessarily the better-half or friends or siblings or parents or anyone with whom we are confident enough.
Most of them don’t want to discuss their salary pattern with their parents!
To discuss my case, I refrain discussing my financials from anyone, but people know my financials. People are again a large subset, to be precise more close people would know about it. Not any individual would know equal to mine or make a consolidated valuation of me. For example, my Indian Bank accounts information is learned by a group of associated people from Thailand, my Credit Card information to close friend of mine, my debit card particulars by someone from the United Kingdom, my off-shore particulars by another guy, and such a diverse. Sometimes people address me as crazy when I share the screenshots of the credentials or photo of credit or debit card. I believe my life is full of uncertainty, and I am not like a V G Siddhartha, Founder of CCD to make a list of my all assets. I am an omnipotent individual and entrepreneur who doesn’t love a single source of income. There would be someone in our life who could be trusted financially without any barrier, identifying them is a challenging task.
I do still remember, 5 years ago, while I was busy serving diplomatically after meeting with one of my comrades, it was 3 AM and he was sleepy. While dropping him at his home, he mistakenly swapped our wallet. And, I was rushing with back to back schedules denying us to meet again to exchange the wallet. But for almost 2 weeks in a row, we both were able to manage because he was aware of my Credit Card and Debit Card information, so I was also aware of his credentials. We didn’t find something weird or uncomfortable in both the two weeks which was very impressive and quite compassionate enough. For both of us, the spends weren’t too much but the more relishing moment was not the 2 weeks, the way he presented the total value and his administrative demand to repay the difference amount of Rs. 107 (approx $2) where we usually spend Rs. 3500 (approx $50) on every meeting. The explanation which he offered was impressive and I loved his intention to uphold the friendship.
On the other hand with another acquaintance, while we were making some online booking my acquaintance was asking for the credentials to his fiance, which initially she was frightened to share. There comes the information security of the data being perceived. She might have not known where he was or she could have imagined that I would have made him as a hostage or something and so on. The place and time of speaking this finance are also very important.
What happens when we understand this is a blissful moment. A wide example, an IPS family friend a few months ago was on a casual chat with me and suddenly his wife called him to enquire if he had a coffee in the evening. He was emotionally evading her to control the finance by saying that he was saving the coffee money for some gift which she was demanding. Understanding the difficulty she said that the gift isn’t necessary for her as it wasn’t important than his health. To intervene, I rolled my head by saying “Ahaan!” as it was on his car Bluetooth. When I said I am along with him and he needs to offer a treat for something, the quick girl said: “OK, take KK for a treat to Sangeetha or Saravana Bhavan hotel and he will sponsor the bill so that you can save that money for my Gift!”. The damage was Rs. 340 (5$), but still for the people if it is for them, it is blood and if it is for others, it is just some mock ketchup.
Not talking about money is a source of stress, anxiety, and unnecessary problems for many families. 1 in 3 people have experienced stress and anxiety in the last month, and according to the Single Financial Guidance Body, 63% of people say that money worries are currently affecting the mental health of someone close to them.
6 Tips to help you start conversations
- First, go over your finances and understand what you need help with:
Perhaps you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start. It’s important to take the first step – for example asking a family member to look through your finances with you.
Gathering all the information you need together can also help. For example, if you are struggling to get a deposit together for a home, it will be easier to start the conversation if you know how much you’ll need to borrow. Once you’ve established all the facts, working out a plan will be much easier.
- Be prepared to talk, but also be prepared to listen
Understand and acknowledge the other person’s point of view. It’s only by listening that you’ll be clear on what’s important to the other person and be able to make a plan together. Calm exchange of views is a lot better than one person giving their point of view and not giving the other a chance to be heard.
- Find a place where you feel comfortable talking
It may be that home isn’t the right place to have the discussion. A neutral location is often a good idea.
- Feelings around money can be strong, but they don’t have to lead to arguments
It’s not unusual for families to argue about money. There can be a lot of intense feelings, but the important thing is to have a calm conversation about the issues. Imagine you were explaining the situation to a friend. Tell them how you feel rather than focusing on what they are doing wrong to avoid coming across as critical and accusatory.
- Remember that talking about money can strengthen relationships
1 in 3 couples did not talk at all about money before moving in together, but it’s never too late to start. Talking openly about money can help you to take shared responsibility in deciding how to handle your money, and make plans for the future. This can be a positive experience for everyone involved.
- Make a plan together
Reach an agreement about what to do next, and keep talking about it. Occasionally the relief of having talked about money is so overwhelming that people don’t mention it again, and don’t really convert words into action. Take the first step together and then keep talking about it.
Guidelines for Discussing Finances
1. Make a time and place for conversation
Choosing the right time and place to talk about money can make all the difference. Pick a time when there will be no distractions and you’re both most likely to be calm. Have things like bills and bank statements to hand. Choose a neutral spot if it’s likely to be a difficult conversation. Sitting next to each other rather than opposite each other can reduce anxiety and encourage you to talk more freely.
2. Understand the current state of affairs
Acknowledge and accept where you are financially. Perhaps one of you earns less than the other or has different demands on their budget, such as travel or child maintenance? Look at the whole picture and decide what feels fair and works for you both.
3. Understand what is important to each other
You may not always agree on what’s important to spend money on. Explaining why you think they are important helps you understand each other better. If you do end up disagreeing, it may help to have individual pots of money for yourselves, in addition to a shared pot.
4. Work out what to share and what to keep separate
Some couples decide to have a joint account for household bills while keeping separate accounts too; some choose to share everything, and others prefer to keep everything separate. There is no right or wrong way. Talk to your partner about what would work best for you and revisit the conversation later if it’s no longer working.
5. Create shared goals
It’s important to talk about your financial goals. A shared goal helps you prioritise spending and work out how to achieve this together e.g. putting aside a certain amount towards a holiday each month. Where you don’t have common goals, don’t give up. It may help to approach the conversation in a different way, another time.
6. Build a healthy habit
Having regular conversations about money is really helpful for your finances and your relationship. Make this a habit – not just a conversation you have when things are difficult. Decide how often you should chat about money – monthly, weekly or less frequently. Change the frequency, location and approach if you need to.
See you all back soon!