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Let's talk about cash, baby!

World renowned financial coach Simonne Gnessen helps us get over our shyness about money

The Talk

Remember having "the talk" with your kids about sex?

Well get ready for another potentially  tough conversation  - this time with your elderly loved ones about their financial wellbeing. Simonne Gnessen knows a thing or two about conversations about money.  She's like a  fitness coach, but for your finances. So why can talking about money be so tricky? "There’s so much emotional content with it , around how we value ourselves . There might be guilt and shame and fear associated with it."


Some of the knottiest aspects of our relationships can have financial ramifications. Just think about the elderly parent who wants to use their will to  even things up between a successful offspring and their less successful sibling . Family dynamics can manifest themselves in our financial decisions. Your family's attitude towards conversations in general, can also be a factor.​"It might be that you're  a  family that’s never talked about money" she tells me.. "So suddenly you’ve got to say 'do you still have a mortgage' and ' what happened with that bond you had  years ago. 'The older generation could find that quite uncomfortable to share."

​But they might not be the only ones with  sensitivities  to overcome. After all, no one relishes the idea of having to tell an elderly  parent  that they are running out of money for their care, or haven't made sufficient provision for their funeral costs. Before you even start the conversation, try to  uncover your own emotions around the issues you want to talk about.​"We’ve had decades of having emotions attached to money and that’s quite difficult to quickly unravel." says Simonne."We should be aware that there will be  emotional content here. What we want to do is see things from each others perspective."

Ask, don't tell

Nagging elderly loved ones about their financial wellbeing  is not a winning strategy. "Get them to acknowledge the importance of this." Simonne advises." So drawing out suggestions from them. Ask them what they're worried about."  It's important they don't feel railroaded into making decisions. It might also help both of you to set aside specific space and time for "the talk" rather than ambushing them with it.  If you or your parent has a financial adviser, it might be possible for them to convene a family meeting in which these matters are discussed. "It’s really about listening, being fully present trying to get out of your own head so  you're trying to see things through their eyes." Make lots of notes. "You really want to get a sheet put together of what have they've  got, what are their passwords."

Start early

Simmone says it's a good idea to start laying the groundwork early - even if you don't need to have "the money talk" right now. "I would encourage transparency and open honesty around this topic all the way through our lives." The earlier we prepare the better. "The most important thing is that you understand their wishes, you know what they’ve got and that you've had some of the tougher decision," One thing is clear. No matter how awkward these conversations  can be -  evasion is not an option.

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