Top 10 tips on how to discuss family finances this Christmas

Families talking about money – can it work at Christmas? 

Content supplied by Barclays

BarclaysIn a recent YouGov survey*, we discovered that 60% of Britons are unable to get on the property ladder without the help of their parents and more than 5 million are planning to use this Christmas as their opportunity to broach the subject of a cash injection.

And Mumsnetters are no exception. In our recent Barclays on Mumsnet survey you told us that two in five of you have asked your family for financial help.

But how do you bring up the M-word without your parents or kids choking on their roast potatoes? Here are 10 top tips to get the conversation flowing without running the risk of stony silences on Boxing Day.

1. Pick the right time...

Asking your family for financial help when they’re tucking into Christmas dinner (and wearing silly hats) could make them feel awkward. Waiting till after dinner (when everyone’s had a few drinks and wants to crash out in front of the telly) could make them plain grumpy. Emotive subjects like money should never come between a family and its sofa.

2. …and place

Look for a neutral space to broach the subject – the Boxing Day walk to work off the sprouts, or a quiet moment alone in the kitchen. Almost 1 in 10 of those surveyed by YouGov think a conversation about money is best done at the breakfast table. Your ideal venue will be calm and free of distractions.

3. Cut to the chase

Trying to start a money conversation by drip-feeding lots of hints is likely to either confuse, or annoy, or both. If you’re going to ask, pick a moment and be clear. Firm but not strident is what you’re aiming for.

4. Get the details straight first

Are you looking for a bit of extra cash to help pay the bills or to install a roof-top Jacuzzi? Prepping details beforehand, including how you plan to repay, can help avoid confusion, give your relatives confidence the money will be used wisely (the Jacuzzi might be out) and ensure a positive conclusion is reached quickly.

5. Be open and confident

Honesty, it is often said for good reason, is the best policy. Lots of people find it tough to ask for help but the fact is that these days we need to find new ways to help each other out. So be open about your finances. Even if your relatives can’t provide financial assistance they may be able to give you advice or a shoulder to lean on.

6. Tailor the conversation

Think carefully about who will be most receptive to your request and how best to tailor the conversation. 20% of Britons prefer asking Mum for help rather than Dad (just 3%), but every family is different. Does your prospective knight in shining armour like details? Will they need time to think and a follow-up chat?

7. Be fair

Ask yourself honestly if your family can afford to help you. Almost half the parents in the YouGov survey said they would find it hard to provide financial help to a child buying their first home, and if you know that’s true of your family, don't put yourself or them through the stress of a ‘no’.

8. Stay focussed

Wills or inheritance might also be on your mind – according to YouGov 8% of us intend to bring them up over the holiday period. They are of course highly relevant to some financial conversations, but introduce them into yours with caution. You don’t really want to make the chat about family finances more complex than it needs to be.

9. Man up

While only 2% of women intend to ask for a financial gift of more than £200 this Christmas, ten times that number of men intend to do the same. So if you are wavering on whether to ask or not, perhaps it’s time to man up.

10. Try to see things from their perspective

Nobody wants the feeling they’re being ambushed. If you raise the subject of money and your family says they’d rather pick it up in the New Year, it’s often best to say yes. In the end, there’s no better time to put relationships with the relatives on a new footing than in the New Year.

* Source: YouGov, November 2012

    Family finance, from Barclays 

     

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Last updated: 20-May-2013 at 12:25 PM