Bonus financial conversation starters for individuals, couples & counselors
Usually when people use Money Habitudes as financial conversation starters, they stick to the usual money personality instructions. In the typical solitaire sort, people get to see their money personality for how they are today. But, of course, our financial habits and attitudes change over time.
Here are a few bonus financial conversation starters you can do with Money Habitudes money management games. Bear in mind though that you’ll almost always want to do the basic exercise first. This provides a valuable financial self-assessment and allows you to benchmark your financial behaviors as you are today. Then you can move on to these bonus financial conversation starters when the situation is right and if you have time.
These largely help people see how our financial attitudes and spending habits and behaviors evolve and change. Like the slow rise of sea level, it can be hard for people to see how much they’ve changed over the years because it’s often a gradual process.
The financial conversation starters below can be used by couples on their own – or by professionals like therapists and marriage counselors. (Therapists and counselors may also be interested in the Bringing Money Into the Conversation guide, which includes tons of other activities and resources beyond the Money Habitudes financial conversation starters.
Of course, always bear in mind the usual suggestions to have a good conversation about money, which we’ve posted before.
Financial conversation starters for Money Habitudes
- Before and after getting married. It’s not uncommon for couples to change after being around someone else for a long time. It may be that being with someone else moderates your behavior – or reinforces it.
- Before and after another major life event: divorce, having children, going away to school, retirement, etc. Did this major event change you at all? Was it a dramatic shift? Did it make you hesitant to spend money – or did you start spending more freely? Were you more likely to sacrifice for others? Do you think the change is permanent or is it a phase?
- You, today and 10 or 20 years ago. The goal with these financial conversation starters is to look at how you’ve changed. And, in that context, what’s changed around you? Were you living with your parents before and now live independently? Did you have kids living with you but now they’re grown and living on their own? Was the economy different Did you have different goals for yourself? What have you gained from these years of experience?
- How would you answer the cards differently if you lost your job? (Or, what if you went back to work?) Employment can have a big effect on our financial habits, attitudes and behaviors. Many people are spurred to think about their finances and talk about money only after this big change. But it’s helpful to be able to think about the situation in advance, when you’re not feeling like you’re in the midst of a crisis.
- How would your mother sort the cards; how would your father sort the cards? A very common a-ha! moment for people is seeing how they are like or unlike their parents (or other formative adults in their lives). Because our own household was our own “normal” environment, it can be hard to take an outside look in on that time. If you’re always spending money on other people, it may be that this was a strong tendency for your mother that you’ve just made a habit of because it was normal. That could very well be spending too freely, never spending anything, hoarding, spending to impress others, planning every expenditure in an exacting manner, etc.
- Sort your cards for yourself and then sort the cards as if you were your spouse or partner; do it for each other. These financial conversation starters reveal differences between how you see yourself and how your partner sees you. It helps identify gaps and misconceptions you might have about each other. One of the keys here is to refer back to the “how others see you” section on the yellow interpretation cards. If you see yourself as very frugal, but your partner sees you as overly cheap, a good conversation about how you both see money may big dividends. However, some of these differences may call for some professional coaching or counseling.
- How would you like to be with money in 5 years? How is that different from the money personality profile you got of yourself when you do the cards for how you are today? What would you need to do differently to become that future version of yourself? Do you want to become more balance? Do you want to increase a certain dimension within your money personality? Do you want to decrease a certain part of how you see and use money today? This returns to the topic of financial goal setting. For that, try using the SMART method to set good financial goals.
- How would you your sibling(s) sort the cards? Just as with doing the cards from your parents’ perspective, doing them from a sibling’s perspective can also be helpful. Why do you and your sibling(s) get along – or not – when it comes to money? What do you admire about your brother or sister? What do you think they admire about you? How was your childhood similar to theirs? Was your family always wealthy or always poor – or were there times when your family’s fortunes changed dramatically?