Do you talk about money at the dinner table? If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back, because you’re probably one of the few. Trying to talk about finances with others is not an easy thing to do. Thankfully, some of the ideas below might help you break the ice.
A recent Leger poll conducted in February 2020 tells us that almost one in four Canadians state that talking about money makes them uncomfortable. Imagine sitting and enjoying a nice meal only to have someone bring up finances. Doesn’t sound very appealing does it?
Discussing finances with others can bring up a slew of complicated emotions. Some people are good with money and others are bad. Frankly, no one wants to admit either.
The goal here is not to pry into others financial situation for sake of curiosity or comparison. It’s to start normalizing talking about the money. To make sure that we all have all realize how important educating ourselves about our finances truly is.
Here are five easy ways to talk about money at the dinner table.
1: What was your first job?
Everyone likes to reminisce about what they did to earn their first paycheck. They will always remember the funny (or not so funny) stories of where they worked and the random personalities they had to deal with.
After hearing about someone’s first job, ask them what they did with their first paycheck? Maybe they were saving up to buy something special or putting it toward their future schooling.
The answer to these questions can give you insight into how someone might be currently handling their money. In most cases, bringing up this rather easy topic can be a primer to talking about money in more depth.
2: Who do you go to for financial advice?
We all get our news from various sources and financial advice is no different. There is a slew of financial information available at your fingertips. It might be hard to sift through and find out who you should listen to.
Various television programs, social media channels, and financial advisors might all claim to have the answers, but it’s not that easy. What strategies work for one person, might not work for everyone.
Asking someone where they get their financial advice can give you a lot of information. Dealing with an experienced financial advisor who has years of experience with your situation is far superior to taking advice from talking heads you see on television.
Every financial guru claims to know when the next market crash will be and what stocks to invest in.
Whatever source people use, they will have a certain perspective on how to manage their finances. If you feel that they would benefit from expanding where they get their information from, recommend some reputable sources.
Again, don’t put down their financial information sources. They may be very sensitive to contrary opinions. Tell them you just want them to see some alternatives, that’s all. After all, no one want’s you to tell them that their baby is ugly!
If you feel that you have enough knowledge on the topic to get them started, chime in with your own opinions.
If they trust you, they’ll listen. Simply listening to you, might spur them to look outside of their bubble and seek alternate sources of financial information.
3: When do you want to retire?
With the recent global pandemic ravaging everyone’s investments, the topic of retirement has never been more important. Even those who are not close to retirement might be revisiting whether they are on track or not. The pandemic has also made us reexamine how we spend and save our money.
Allow your dinner mates to share their insights into retirement and ask them what steps they’ve been taking to meet their goals?
If you feel confident, you can share your own personal story. Sharing your own retirement plans can encourage others to speak up, even if its not an easy thing to discuss with others.
If you are sitting with parents who are retired or close to it, this topic might be good to check in with them to make sure that they are aware of their finances and to offer help if needed.
Older generations might not feel forthcoming with getting help with money from adult children.
Prior to the first conversation about money, consider the talking points that might be difficult for them to discuss and make sure to steer clear at first. It might take a couple of conversations to get into more in-depth.
Take your time and don’t push if they are resistant. Make sure that you are supportive and that they know you are coming from a place of caring.
The Money Tree Investing podcast has an episode discussing this very topic that I found was quite helpful.
4: Do you keep a household budget?
Have you ever had friends or family say that they don’t know where their money goes? If so, they might be in need of a budget. Many people have a hard time saving money and tracking their expenses. According to the government of Canada, only 49% of Canadians report having a budget.
There are various ways of keeping a budget. There are online excel spreadsheets that you can use that are premade for you. Tech savy millennials have started using online apps through companies like Mint.com or You Need a Budget (YNAB) that make it easy to input and analyze your spending.
The important thing would be that you have a budgeting plan and visit it regularly.
If your fellow dinner-mates do not have a budget, you might ask them what they think the best way to track saving and spending is?
Having the focus on asking them how they would approach a budget rather than grilling them on how they handle theirs will make them comfortable to share their thoughts. And ultimately how they might be doing with their own situation.
5: Have you ever thought about a side hustle?
With the introduction of the gig economy, it has never been easier to start a job on the side of your regular nine to five. Companies like Uber and Lyft allow you use your car to drive people around in your spare time and Amazon has flexible package delivery jobs available to those in most major cities.
But there is another type of side hustle that people can explore. That is using their existing skill set to create their own business. Maybe you are a marketing expert who could start their own consulting business on the side.
Perhaps you’re a computer whiz that can offer remote assistance online for a fee. Whatever your skill set, there is a chance for a viable side hustle that you could start and operate in your spare time bringing in some extra income.
By asking this question, you could be giving some suggestions to those that might be needing to supplement their own income, but might not know where to start. Or it could spur others into action who have thought about starting their own business.
Many people feel that their income is insufficient for where they want to be in their lives. But it’s possible to spend a few hours a week on a side hustle and earn an extra few hundred dollars that can help out with bills.
Play a boardgame!
Okay, this might seem very cheesy, but playing games like Monopoly can be a very easy way to approach finances in a fun way. It’s very easy to steer the conversation into talking about money when the whole game centers around it.
Playing monopoly can show you how others might act with their money. You might be able to see who saves all their money before making any major decisions or those who might spend quickly once they come into some funds.
The chance to approach sensitive money topics presents itself easily. Just a reminder that many games can end in frustration, so don’t add to it with an interrogation of financial questions. Here are some things that could be talked about during a good old game of monopoly.
- How to buy property and handle a mortgage
- How to spend and save money
- How to diversify your investments
- How do negotiate financial matters like rent
- How to plan for unexpected expenses
Talking about money with the people in your life can be very difficult indeed. If you want to approach the subject with others, the best thing to do is to is bring it up in a relaxed way that makes people feel at ease. Some easy questions to bring up money at the dinner table are:
- What was your first job?
- When do you want to retire?
- Who do you go to for financial advice?
- Do you have a budget?
- Have you ever thought about side hustle?
Remember, no one wants to feel like they’re under a microscope especially when it comes to finances. Centering the conversation around their opinions on a certain subject like retirement will often get them to open up about their own situations rather than direct personal questions.
Whether you want to give or receive feedback from others about financial matters, the above questions will undoubtably help you talk about it.
Have you ever brought up this conversation at the dinner table? If so, let me know how it went!