Money has been a taboo topic for so long that many of us struggle to talk about it. Especially since money ties into so many other things that have meaning to us.
Paradoxically money’s connection with many other life elements is precisely why we need to be on the same page as our life partners.
If the need for a conversation has been brewing for a while you can feel like you have to take your shot while you’ve got it and cover everything. Making it a big conversation can actually become an obstacle to starting, and also make it more unpleasant.
If you want big changes, start tinyBJ Fogg, Tiny Habits
Instead, consider the end game is to be and stay on the same page with money. That happens when money conversations are regular, routine, and easy(-ish) i.e. they are a healthy habit.
Taking inspiration from behavioural scientist, BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits Method try the following steps.
1. Start tiny
Some conversation is better than no conversation.
How short can you make the first conversation? Five minutes to cover one small topic?
Remember the intent is to end up having regular, easy conversations so you’ll get to cover everything eventually.
2. Make it easy to start
Choose a topic where no preparation is required by your partner and let them know you only need 5 minutes of their time.
Maybe the first conversation topic is to establish agreement of the need to develop a habit of talking about money.
Or start with topics closely tied to something they already want or enjoy.
3. Schedule it immediately after another routine
It’s easier to begin a new habit when the action is anchored to an existing routine.
“After [routine they already do] I’d like to talk for five minutes with you about [topic they enjoy].”
4. Reward yourselves immediately afterwards
Hack your brains such that they begin to associate pleasure with money conversations.
Choose a way to celebrate having a money conversation and do it immediately afterwards. It’s important that the reward doesn’t involve you spending money otherwise you’ll confuse your brain by acting contrary to your intention to be good with money.
For example, “after the conversation I’ll give you a neck massage for five minutes.”
Tell your partner about the reward so they get the pleasure of anticipation.
5. Schedule the next conversation
Begin building your new healthy habit by agreeing when you’ll have the next conversation.