Consumer Reports: Tough money talks

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We learn early in life to be spenders or savers. (WLS)

Attitudes about money and spending habits run deep.

We learn early in life to be spenders or savers. So when there's a tricky financial decision to be made by family members with conflicting money perspectives, worlds can collide.

Consumer Reports had advice on how to keep the peace and set out on a secure financial course.

As a financial planner, Robert Freireich, has seen it all.

"Money issues, plus family issues, can be a destructive combination," Freireich said.

In a recent survey, Consumer Reports asked Americans to rate how comfortable they were when having various money conversations with their family members.

Of those who've had these conversations, 29 percent were uncomfortable telling their parents it's time for someone to take over the managing of their finances. About 40 percent were uncomfortable telling their teenagers or adult children it's time to leave the nest. The toughest conversation was between spouses. About 49 percent were uncomfortable telling their spouse they aren't bringing in enough income.

But here are strategies to making awkward conversations slightly less awkward. The first tip is to focus on only one topic.

"Too often, people try to tackle everything at once. So start with identifying one element of the problem. You can work out the details of the resolution once everyone's on the same page," Consumer Reports Money Editor Tobie Stanger said.

Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.

"No amount of talking is going guarantee that you're going to get another person to see everything your way. When you reach an impasse, you may have to say sometimes, 'OK, let's move on.' But to make real progress, you may want to bring in a professional," Stanger said.

A financial planner, CPA or a mediator can help keep the conversations on track. They can also take responsibility for assigning tasks and holding people accountable.

Consumer Reports recommends holding a family conversation about money in a neutral place, or even taking a walk in an outdoor setting, like a park. Studies show people are better able to process information and come up with creative ideas while engaged in physical activity in nature.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org

Related Topics:
financeconsumer reportsmoneyfamilysave money

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