Some conversations don’t just happen. While money is something you need to deal with every day, actually having a conversation about money (one that doesn’t involve raised voices or finger pointing) is as rare as it is important.

When your spouse or significant other has different spending habits than you, if an elderly parent is moving in with you and finances have not yet been discussed, when a sibling seems to be taking advantage of Mom, or your adult child begins to see you as a cash dispenser…all these circumstances call for a conversation. And it won’t be easy.

When this happens, see to it that the setting is neutral and friendly. You should both be feeling pretty good, meaning not tired or stressed. It’s a good idea to take a walk at the lake, a park, or have lunch at a restaurant.

Use ‘I’ statements. For example, “I feel hurt when our bank statement comes and I see large expenses I didn’t know about.” Or, “Mom may not understand what she got into by co-signing on your home loan. We both love Mom and want her to be in full control of her finances.” And then, look for a solution you can both live with.

If the conversation becomes an argument, call a time-out. Say something like, “This is a really important discussion and I’m glad we’re having it. It’s not easy to talk about this. Let’s take a break to think things through and continue talking when we’re both feeling better.”

If you can, establish a time limit from the start. After fifteen minutes, do something fun and completely unrelated. Set that expectation up front and you’ll find that you can really accomplish a lot in a short amount of time without anyone becoming upset.

In most cases, the other person will secretly (or perhaps openly) be glad you brought it up. Once the air is clear, mutually beneficial solutions can usually be found.

This article was taken from my July 2012 issue of YOU Magazine. Click here to view the full newsletter.

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