Time to talk about… Money

February 2 is ‘Time to Talk’ Day, which is a day dedicated to having conversations about our mental health.

Recent research shows that more than a fifth of us has mental health difficulties directly caused by money problems1, while the cost-of-living crisis means that many more of us will find that money has an impact on our wellbeing.

Supportive and helpful conversations about money can help to improve our mental health and our financial health as well, but it can be hard to get started.

Here are some ways to help yourself and others by talking about money.

Make it habitual

Having a big ‘money talk’ can seem daunting, so instead try to make money a regular topic of conversation with family, friends, or flatmates. That way, when you need to cover trickier topics around budgeting and bills, it will be easier to talk about it.

Moneyhelper, the government website, has a series of suggested ways to start a money conversation that might be helpful, here. These include using the news, a book or magazine as a starting point.

Share your goals

Having goals and targets can improve your money outcomes2, and one way to ensure you stay on track with yours is to share them with a friend or family member.

You could even set up an accountability group with friends to keep you on track if your goal involves saving a certain amount of money a month, cutting down a certain amount of debt, or even giving up your daily coffee and putting the money into a savings account.

Not all money conversations have to happen in person and using something like a WhatsApp group to keep on track with money goals could improve your outcomes.

Tackle difficult topics calmly

Money can be a huge source of stress, so sometimes money conversations can get heated, especially if you are having them with someone you live with or share finances with.

It’s important to keep calm and ensure you stay on topic if you’re having a difficult financial chat. The free guide, here, to talking to your partner about money, may help.

Prepare in advance

If you need to tackle a certain financial issue, such as debt or your pension provision then having paperwork in front of you will really help. Prepare in advance by downloading statements and finding the interest rate on any debt, or by tracing different pensions before you get started with a chat.

Calculators such as this one from Age Concern, can help you work out state pension age so you can talk about money in retirement, while there is information about tracing pensions here.

Meanwhile if you’re trying to deal with debt, this calculator from charity Stepchange can help you to talk about the implication of paying more or less of your debt each month.

Automate where you can

Not all money topics require a chat – some can be solved with technology. For example, if you’re constantly talking with flatmates about splitting bills, it is time to get technology involved. Apps like Splitwise or NatWest’s new Housemate app can help you to keep track of who owes what without tricky conversations.

Know when you need to talk with an expert
Money conversations with family, flatmates and friends can be helpful and productive, but sometimes it is best to leave things to an expert.

If it is debt you want to talk about, then Citizens Advice or Stepchange could help. If it is investment or pensions, you might want to speak with a financial adviser, who can look at what to do with your money holistically and help you to invest it in line with your goals and risk tolerance.

2nd February 2023

1 https://www.lowellbusiness.co.uk/hubfs/Financial%20Hardships%20May%202022.pdf
2 https://www.stir.ac.uk/news/2021/april-2021-news/setting-goals-will-make-you-a-better-saver-says-stirling-study/