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Let's chat about communication!

You’ve heard it said that communication is key.  This means, not only the act of communicating, but the way in which we do so.  When you are speaking with your children, they are often more in tune to how you say it than what you are saying. 


You certainly can capture a child’s attention with tone of voice and facial expressions.  As to the “what” of what you say, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  Translation: try to put a positive spin on things.  For example:

·         “Stop running” becomes “Please walk”

·         “Shut up” becomes “Quiet down, please”

·         “Stop doing that” becomes “Let’s find you something else to do”

You get the general idea.


Then with transitioning from one thing to another, try this approach…

   “Turn off the (whatever electronic device)” becomes “You’ve got about ten minutes and then it’ll be time to turn off…”

Most people respond better to transition when they have a few minutes warning instead of an abrupt stop and change.

It’s another way of communicating positively and bringing less stress into the scenario.


Of course, if something is a life or death/emergency situation you would use a tone of voice that will stop them in their tracks.  Once everyone is safe you should resume calm, positive communications.


Communication is also the key to managing finances well together. “Best practice” in this area is periodic meetings with both partners at the table to discuss what are the priorities for giving, saving, and spending.


As Jim has worked with couples on this issue, the tension lies in how one person communicates to the other from an attitude perspective. Generally speaking, the “bookkeeper” or “saver” comes across as “lording it over” the “free spirit” or “spender.” (Sorry about all the quotation marks, but these are the terms I hear people assigning to their spouse, can you relate?) Many times there is an attitude about one person’s perspective on money management that they believe is superior to the other person’s perspective, and it comes off in attitude, in body language, in facial expressions that offend their spouse. So how do you deal with this?


The best way to deal with it is to sit down and decide together on what are your long-term (i.e. retirement or late life-stage goals) for your finances? These are serious discussions about your true beliefs, not whimsy. How do you want to live? What legacy do you want to leave? How will you take care of your family? Once this is agreed upon, and all points of view are valid in the beginning, you need to build a plan to take you there.


Now, building a spending plan each month to move you further along the road toward your goals becomes a bit easier. Every decision becomes a financial decision. Does the decision move you closer or further away from you goals? Inevitably, there will be some things out of your control and you will need to deal with them in the short term. This is why we encourage people to have an emergency fund. But generally, your spending decisions should be made each month to move you closer to your goals. Here are a couple of simple steps to get you started:

1.      Determine your long-term goals

2.      Establish an emergency fund

3.      Pay off and stay out of debt

4.      Save for the future

5.      Give as much as you are able to help others (We like the 80-10-10 plan. Give 10% of your income, Save 10% of your income, live on the remaining 80%).

6.      Get help from wise counselors along the way


Remember, communication is as much about intent (feelings, attitude, expression) as it is content (what, why, how).



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