Financial Transparency: How to have new Money Conversations

written by Bari Tessler May 4, 2010
Financial Transparency How to have new Money Conversations

How to have new Money Conversations: Tips on how to set up Money Partners & Money Dates

In my work, I like to support transparency around our relationship and actions with our finances. I am thrilled when I hear that all of you are initiating new money conversations with the people closest to you.

I know that many of us come from families that do not talk about money or some of us come from families that talk ‘too much’ about money. We need to find the right balance here. And, for many of us, it is typically being willing to open up and start sharing our money experiences in a new way and in a safe way.

And, I don’t mean I am encouraging you to start screaming your money story (strengths or challenges) from the rooftops. But, I am inviting you to find a few, or start with one, safe person to start having new and different money conversations with. Who can you imagine feeling comfortable with (or slightly stretching yourself) to talk to about money in a new way?  A friend, a spouse, a partner, a colleague, a sibling, a parent or a child (of appropriate age), or even a journal to start!

Here are some examples:

Having new money conversations with a sibling and comparing notes on your upbringing and how the similarities and differences have played themselves out in your adult money patterns.

Having new money conversations with your elderly mother about inheritances in the family, some that came to be and some that did not.

Having new money conversations with your 20 something year old child about how much college tuition you can comfortably pay for and what is realistic given her current life situation.

And, lastly, a couple having new money conversations and starting to really understand how to compromise just the right amount to honor the one spouse’s need for security and the other spouses desire for fun/spontaneity with money and life.

All of these are great examples of the new money conversations that I am inviting you to begin to have. In my 6 month Wake up With Money course (which is now my Home Study Program) I took people through a step by step process that looks at many different aspects of our money relationship and patterns.

We start with our current relationship to money (earning, spending, saving, etc), move on to understanding how the past has shaped us, positively and negatively and then we take steps to complete the past and move forward on a practical and psycho-spiritual level through a ritual, filing old taxes or having new money conversations. We then move on the practical terrain of money management and take one practical step after step to get our bookkeeping systems in place, our values and goals clarified and a ‘practice’ in place to help us monitor our progress and setbacks with our goals on a monthly and yearly basis.

My course is a step by step process that offers a new money conversation following each class.  Each theme and each handout would make a great new money conversation with someone that you feel safe with.

To access one of my course handouts on ‘Your Money History’, please go to my website and sign up for the: To receive 2 free recordings and a worksheet to get a taste of the Conscious Bookkeeping method. This will be a great questionnaire to fill out and then bring to someone close to you that you would like to share your responses with and also learn about their responses.

Also, below are additional themes and topics from some of my colleagues that would make for great new money conversations as well. There are many areas of our relationship to money that we can understand better for ourselves.

Which of the areas of your money story, do you want to understand better and/or talk about more with the people closest to you?

For those of us that are already having the money conversations or rather ‘money arguments’ with the people closest to you, please start to consider what you would need to have in place for the conversations or the environment to start changing. For couples, how about ‘not’ bring up money right before going to bed or in the heat of strong feelings after opening a credit card bill?  (I still have the urge to bring up money stuff right before bed…I have to watch this!)

Wouldn’t it be helpful to set up ‘Money Dates’ 1x per week or 2x per month and actually schedule it in your calendar? Wouldn’t it be nice to plan a 30 – 60 minute money date where you write down your questions or concerns beforehand and bring them to the table? Would it be helpful to set some guidelines on how to listen with each other and how long each person is talking?

This may be ‘controlling’ at the beginning, although, I assure you it will be helpful down the road and set up a new foundation on how to openly share money feelings with each other and also be able to attend to your goals for now and the future.

Some of you may need to have a glass of wine or a little chocolate during your ‘money date’. Or some of you may need to leave your home and go to a coffee shop or out for a moderately priced dinner at one of your favorite restaurants.

Ultimately, how can you commit, now, to putting your old patterns to the side and carving out and protecting a little time with your sweetie to ensure that you have space to openly discuss all areas of your finances, from your feelings, to your goals, to who is attending to what aspects of the bookkeeping.

It can be so supportive to get a friend or sibling or spouse to join you in this very important ‘money work’!  And, if you cannot get your closest people to join, still go ahead and do it yourself…they may join you down the road 🙂

So, once you have found your partner of choice and who is willing to join you. Here are a few simple tips on partnering to support new and different money conversations:

1. Get clear on how much time you have to talk. Let’s say you each get 15 minutes to start….

2. Be clear on how you want to be heard and received:


Either let your partner know that you just want to be listened to and not receive any feedback or that you would like to receive some feedback and questions (during your sharing or save it to the end of your sharing – the last 5 minutes)

3. Please listen well to each other and do your best to come from a place of learning and unconditional love/compassion.

4. Use your time in a way that will best serve you. Go through each question very briefly from the questionnaire, talk about the highlights, or focus on what you are learning, your new insights, the places you are growing or still being challenged by.

5. Stay open and curious about yourself and your partner.

6. Please thank your partner at the end of your time 🙂

7. Set up and schedule your next ‘Money Date’.

Please know this is an ongoing journey and process and there is much to learn, understand, celebrate and change along the way.

Let me know what you would additional add to this list of tips-

Take Care Everyone and Be Well,


Here are a few initial topics to explore as a Couple from my dear colleagues:

75% of Us Fight Over Money – 4 Tips on how to work things out – Galia Gichon

Five Problems We Struggle with as a Couple – by The Simple Dollar

Financial Foreplay: Are you doing it:  Manisha Thakor

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