Talk smart about finances

Economic flux hurts more than our wallets. Financial woes can lead to emotionally damaging arguments among couples and put unnecessary strain on the family, said Josh Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Klapow is the author of Living Smart:  5 Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever.


He said financial discussions, and even disagreements, can have a positive impact on families struggling through uncertainty. The key is to make those discussions productive, not destructive. Dr. Klapow offers 5 talking tips:

1.  Keep a cool head. When your emotions are high—be it anger, sadness, frustration—thoughts get cloudy. Relax, breathe, wait 2-10 minutes, then start to talk.

2.  Start easy. Arguments often start because of a critical remark or an angry tone. Try to bring up problems and mistakes gently and without blame.

3.  Don’t assume. Talk about your feelings, not what you think your spouse or partner is feeling. Describe your feelings in first person with “I” and explain why.

4.  Think then speak. The goal of the conversation should be to problem-solve, not to win. Remember, once the words are out, you cannot take them back.

5.  Repair and recover. Don’t let the discussion get out of control. End on a positive, or at least neutral, note. Lean on patience, change the topic, or offer a positive comment to let the other person know you’re part of the same team.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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