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Insights & Outcomes: Being Brave

Being Brave: Navigating Money Talk With Loved Ones

Why did we title this conversation “Being Brave?” Financial services giant TIAA conducted a study in March 2017, to get parents’ and adult children’s thoughts on money conversations. Although 75-85% of both parents and children consider financial conversations to be very important, only 11% of parents and 37% of adult children say they’re likely to initiate a conversation about any financial topic. And what usually happens when families do talk about money? According to the study they are overly generalized and happen spontaneously, at the spur of the moment. This is where the bravery comes in. Tackling a money conversation with loved ones is uncommon and we usually don’t see it modelled in our culture.  But there is a reason to persist. When families do have financial conversations, the outcome is usually positive: about half of the parents who talked with their children frequently about their future financial plans felt proud about how those conversations went – as they should. These parents also reported feeling happy and uplifted.  It’s not easy, it’s not our cultural norm, and it takes courage.  But the benefit is that the bond between loved ones can be strengthened and the level of support among family members reinforced.

At last week’s circle, the conversation did not disappoint. Once everyone had settled, we checked in, introduced ourselves, and let our opening poem set the stage. We then dove into a writing exercise that proved revelatory for many of us, looking to see how our families of origin may still influence our money talk today. We gleaned useful insights looking at this legacy of how money conversations were held (or not). We then worked through an exercise to help frame and script a conversation we need to have or wish we could redo. This exercise gave each of us a tool to prepare for that pivotal discussion: in order to be straightforward in our communications we must begin with a clear understanding of what we actually intend to communicate. We asked:  When we initiate a conversation, how much is about our own needs and how much about the other’s?  Do you really want to have a monologue, politely disguised as a dialogue? What happens when you ask the other person how they feel, thus letting go of a narrative you may have written for them?  As ever, it becomes a balancing act:  our own specific needs, wishes and boundaries, balanced with an open and curious mind.

The women in the circle shared insights around ways they’d reacted to money pinches with family, partners and friends. Many reflected that often the issue at hand is not actually about the money, but is tangled up with deep-seated emotions that can be difficult to face. How do you renegotiate a loan with a family member when they begin missing payments?  How do you balance generosity with healthy boundaries?  And how do we go about revealing long held secrets that no longer serve?

We were touched, though not surprised, by the power in the room. It takes courage to get out of our comfort zones –  but step out we must if we want to grow. Each woman brought her unique stories and willingness to listen and share. When a group of brilliant women come together in this way, we truly lift each other up. Our diverse community fosters the courage to share the tough stuff and a generosity of spirit – and we embrace that diversity as it provides a beautiful backdrop for exploration, learning and trust.

Warm regards,

Diane, Lexi & Hallie


May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.

May the flame of anger free you from falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a secret gift woven around the heart of wonder.

–John O’Donohue