Most people would rather talk about their own death with a loved one before discussing money, yet financial woes are a leading cause of divorce in the United States. Michelle sits down with Coach Adam Kol to discuss what makes money conversations so challenging–and how to get those hard conversations started with loved ones.

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INTRO: [00:00:00] Hello. And welcome to the Young Scrappy Money podcast. I’m your host, Michelle Waymire. And each week, I’ll be bringing you tips and tricks to help you take control of your finances as well as interviews with people who made big financial changes in their own lives. So join us. And we’ll help you get your financial s**t together.

MICHELLE: Hello, everybody. Welcome, welcome to another episode of the Young Scrappy Money podcast. As always, we have got money on the brain here. And, in fact, that’s kinda what we’ll be talking about. A little bit indirectly, but maybe getting into it more specifically, is how we’re thinking about money, how we’re talking about money, and all of that good stuff that you can expect, so those tough conversations.

If any of you have ever tried to talk about money with a partner, a spouse, a loved one, you will know that that can be a pretty difficult conversation to have. We do not particularly love talking about money as humans. But luckily, we are going to change that today.

So with me I have Adam Kol. Um, he is a couples financial counselor. So he helps folks who love each other make sure that the money conversations don’t get in the way. So if you’re having a little bit of relationship tension over money, this is the guy that’s gonna help.

Adam has over a decade of experience as a certified mediator. He’s a communications coach. He’s also a former tax attorney and financial advisor. So he’s got the— he’s got the technical knowledge. He’s got the soft skills.

This dude is totally ready to help. So we’re gonna pick his brain today. Um, Adam, welcome. It is a total delight to have you here.

ADAM: Thank you, Michelle. I’m really excited to be with you today.

MICHELLE: Before we kick off some of the questions about talking about money—

ADAM: Sure.

MICHELLE: I wanna hear a little bit more about the work that you do and kinda how you got here. So tell us a little bit more about your story. 

ADAM: Yeah. I just have spent a lot of time looking into how to make the biggest contribution to the people around me. And, uh, a couple years ago, I decided to finally formally launch a coaching business. And as I went along, I came to realize that I had a unique intersection of skills and passions to impact one of the biggest issues that is faced by families, by individuals, by couples— which is not just how to deal with your money, but the emotional side of it, the relational side of it, the communication piece, and particularly in couples where financial stress is the biggest cause of fights and one of the biggest causes of divorce.

And my mission is to help people transform the way they relate to money and to each other, uh, so that they can just have healthier relationships, healthier lives, more freedom. They can really prosper in whatever way it is that matters to them— and doing it through a lens that incorporates all the different experiences people have. No— no— everyone is unique. Each person, each couple, each relationship is unique.

And so I have people really look at their own background, their own history with money, which is gonna differ based on how you were raised, whether you had— were upper middle class or lived in poverty. What’s your gender? What’s your ethnicity? All of these things are gonna play a significant role in how you related to money. And I help folks draw out all of that, including using art to dig into it and understand their psyche a bit more so that they can empower themselves to have healthy conversations that move their relationship forward.

MICHELLE: So now that we know a little bit about your story, let’s get into some of the nuts and bolts here. So I want to start with the biggest question. Because I— I alluded to this. You alluded to this. Anybody who’s ever tried to talk about money probably knows this to be true. But we hate it.

ADAM: Mmm.

MICHELLE: So why do you think that is? Why do you think people hate talking about money so much? 

ADAM: Is it too much to say capitalism as the stock answer (LAUGHING)? 

MICHELLE: Uh, no, it is not too much. Get in on it.

ADAM: OK. Um, fair enough. It’s a simple question and a complicated question. The simple answer is because we’re really uncomfortable. We’ve never learned how to talk about it. And now, put us in a relationship with another human being, and try and bring together two people who are afraid to talk about it to talk about it? Yikes. It’s just not likely to go well. 

And, frankly, I mean, thanks for the permission to go in on it. Yeah, we are raised— at least here in the US, it’s a contentious, competitive, capitalist system that has us start to define our worth and value on how much money we have or don’t have. And so it becomes like a— just a sniping battle. We’re looking at other people. We’re comparing ourselves. It’s not— it’s not a fun topic. 

[00:05:00] And, um, most of our parents didn’t really know how to deal with it either. So they didn’t teach us. And I don’t just mean the nuts and bolts, balancing a checkbook. Like I was very lucky to be taught that as a kid. 

But just how to think about money, right? And we have all sorts of warped feelings about people who live in poverty, about people who are wealthy, about people in between— all kinds of opinions and judgments. And it’s just all clouded in our brain. 

And we basically have very few containers to reflect on this thoughtfully. So by the time people get to be adults, they’re in relationships. They’re married, whatever. Um, they just have no idea what they’re doing. They are embarrassed by their lack of knowledge. They may be ashamed of the situation in their bank account or their student loan debt, especially our generation. 

Um, and so they just continue to avoid the topic. But that avoidance only generates greater shame and greater lack of knowledge until we have this being the top cause of divorce in the US. So that’s really what I’m out to shift.

You know, and I’ve been divorced myself. It’s not fun, even when you have no kids and no assets. Because, for me, it happened during grad school. But there’s a huge emotional and financial cost that can be avoided if we can have these conversations in a healthy way.

MICHELLE: Yeah, totally. And I like that you nod at a couple of different factors there. So certainly, most of us grew up not talking about money. Some of us are afraid we don’t have the education or knowledge. You know, we don’t like sounding stupid. And so we feel that, if we’re not opening up about money— or, rather, if we are opening up about money, then we’re— we’re likely to slip up. 

I think it’s also— it’s important to talk about capitalism, right? In a world where there are folks who— and by folks, I generally mean corporations, business owners, who profit by keeping other people’s salaries hush-hush. I mean, if people are talking about money in the workplace, all of a sudden, we know who’s making what. And that’s not good for business.

Uh, and so I think you’re totally right. I think you’re right to acknowledge that, you know, that is an embedded part of our system that doesn’t just have impacts in the workplace. It filters through all other aspects of our life, even talking about money with loved ones.

ADAM: Absolutely. And, uh, that’s a really important issue, especially for me as a man and to encourage other men out there listening to, uh, do this work for themselves and see why they’re hesitant to share that information and how they can maybe show up and share, particularly with the women and nonbinary folks at their— in their workplace, in their industry. You know, tell them what you’re making. Because, as we know, there’s a gender wage gap.

Men are making more than everyone else. And the— one of the most powerful ways to show up for the folks in your life and in your work who are not men is to like tell them what you’re earning. Right? So that they can know, whoa, I’m being underpaid. Because news flash, even 2019, people still are. Women and nonbinary folks are still way underpaid compared to men in comparable positions.

MICHELLE: Yeah, absolutely. So talking about money is hard. We’ve established that. And you noted that, you know, two people talking about money, maybe both of them hate it. It just makes it even harder.

ADAM: Sure.

MICHELLE: Is there something about couples in particular, or people in a relationship, that also adds layers there?

ADAM: Well, no doubt about it. I mean, all of the dynamics that are at play in love also show up in the money conversation. So we’re talking about things like trust, transparency, vulnerability. Right? All of those things that we, um, work to reveal more depths and more layers to our partner, all of those things affect money as well. 

And of course with couples, you are just as likely to come from very different backgrounds as you are to come from similar backgrounds. And that can create a lot of tension. And it might even create tension that isn’t there. Like if you come from, uh, not having a lot of money, for example, how you grew up, and your partner comes from having a lot of money, you might already expect that they don’t understand you.

And there’s nothing worse than having the person you love the most and whose understanding you so desperately seek not be able to understand you, even if it’s just in your mind. Right? So there’s a lot at stake with the people we love. And so when it comes to money— and like you said, there’s an area where we just have a lack of knowledge and a lack of courage often to speak about it. There’s just so much at stake there that, moment by moment, most people choose to avoid it.

[00:09:52] But what I find is that, by choosing to avoid it, we get the predictable results of explosions into tension, into arguments, and even into divorce, um, or breakups— whereas, if you can have these conversations with the right intentions and the right tools, which is of course what I do with my clients and in my content, it can actually propel your relationship forward and bring you two closer together.

MICHELLE: Yes. Oh my gosh. What you said just now really resonates with me. Because I’ve found, even as a financial coach and financial advisor— I mean, I do this work all day, every day. It’s basically my job to facilitate healthy financial conversations. And yet, I have found personally in my own life sometimes I have struggled with it.

ADAM: Mm-hmm.

MICHELLE: And I think you’re exactly right. The difference is if I’m sitting across the table from clients, I don’t necessarily have skin in the game. If things get tense, I don’t have to go home to the same house as them. You know? 

ADAM: Yep.

MICHELLE: So it’s kind of easy for me to be a neutral third party. And then all of a sudden, if I’m in my home talking to a partner about— about these things, I— you know, we wanna avoid conflict. And it’s sometimes easier to just not bring something up than to address it, even if in the long run that may or may not be the healthiest choice. 

ADAM: Exactly. And we— you know, we don’t just see this with talking about money, right? We see it with, uh, food and exercise and any other uncomfortable topics or challenging things. It’s like each moment, oh, well, you know, it’s OK if I— right now I don’t exercise, or whatever. OK if we don’t talk about it right now. 

But then that adds up, that the “we don’t need to talk about it right now”s become a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade. And now here you are, 10 years into your relationship. And you feel completely disempowered around money. And there’s bitterness and resentment. And all of that, that of course doesn’t make for much intimacy. 

And so, you know, there is a way out. But it’s gonna take some— it’s one of those situations where I like to say the only way out is through. You actually have to step into some of the discomfort and have these conversations if you wanna be able to have the kind of life and relationship you deserve.

MICHELLE: Yeah. Absolutely. I can’t even tell you the number of times that I have told future Michelle that she is in charge of something. And then all of a sudden, future Michelle becomes present Michelle. 

And it’s like, wait a second. I didn’t sign up for this. Past Michelle signed me up for this. And I think you’re exactly right. It’s so easy to just keep putting it off and putting it off.

ADAM: Yep.

MICHELLE: And all of a sudden, you’re 10 years in. And whoops, we still haven’t had the conversation. You’re totally right. 

ADAM: Right, exactly. 

MICHELLE: So we know that there are obviously benefits to talking about money, certainly in the workplace, you know, hopefully reducing the wage gap. What are some of the benefits that you have seen among couples that you’ve worked with when they start to have those conversations?

ADAM: Oh, goodness. Um, everything you can imagine. I had a couple who came to me. And in our consultation, I said to them, you know, how’s this likely to go if nothing changes? 

And that’s a really important question to ask. To your listeners, you know, ask this to yourself really for any area of life. But, you know, if you’re here because you care about how to communicate about money in your relationship, ask yourself, if things keep going the way they are, if nothing changes, how’s that gonna turn out for you? Right? 

And, uh, my future client at that time said, honestly, if nothing changes, when the kids are a little older, I’m gonna probably walk out. And that was the first time she’d ever said that to her husband. Um, I think it was the first time she’d ever said that out loud. And her husband was on the call. 

Um, and of course my job is to hold space for people who are even in such a deep level of conflict and distrust and discomfort. By the end of working with me— actually, what was amazing was, within about two weeks, the husband’s number one thing was, oh, yeah, because of our money situation, I can’t create our dream home. Like, they bought a house, but they hadn’t been able to upgrade it.

Within two weeks, I kid you not, he was all of a sudden doing all kinds of projects around the house. And it wasn’t because they had any more money. It was because he stopped playing the victim. Because he got over it. He got over himself.

He freed up his energy because there was no longer this massive tension hanging over them about money. And he started to do all these inexpensive projects. And he got his kids involved. And he got his dad involved. And they started upgrading the house.

And then along the way, through looking at their finances and being able to have these healthy conversations once and for all, then they realized, wait a minute. The wife could restart her business that she loved and wants to run. Because right now— and she’d been homeschooling their child, who has special needs.

And I was like, do you prefer to homeschool him, or would you rather he be at the special school? She was like, no, no, no, the special school’s way better for him. And then she’s like, oh my god, I could make more money out of my business than his tuition. Wait, I don’t know why I haven’t been doing this all along. So she restarted the business that she loves. Right?

[00:14:52] And, um, they were just happier overall. At some point during the coaching, she said, Adam, I was talking to a friend of mine. And I referred to my husband as my best friend. Mike, I said Mike’s my best— referred to him as my best friend. I haven’t done that in years. Right?

So not everybody who comes to me is in as difficult a position as they are. But they get more closely, intimately connected. If they are struggling, they become best friends again. If they were already best friends, they deepen that connection. They understand each other better.

Another client more recently, the wife had been so anxious about their money situation that she refused to publicly admit, let alone— and maybe not even to herself the things she really, really wanted to have. And the truth is they have a financial situation that could support her having all of those things. We’re talking about like redecorating the house, taking courses, things like this that she really wants to do to grow herself and have a better experience of life. And to be able to open up about those to her husband just creates an entirely new trajectory for her life, for her self-expression, for their relationship.

Um, and one of my favorites as well is a client who then out of working with me was— like the people in her family, even her in-laws, noticed, wow, you’re like more assertive and self-assured. You seem more confident in your life. Right? Like that’s just what’s there.

Because when you clear stuff out of the way energetically, you just show up like an entirely new human being. And I think what she saw was like, I can tackle money? I can tackle anything. Right? Because she—

MICHELLE: I love that.

ADAM: Yeah. I mean, she also dealt with a learning disability that— and she kind of had that, well, I can’t deal with money because of my learning disability. And when she started to get on top of it, she was like, heck yeah, I am a badass. 

MICHELLE: That’s wonderful. And I wanna go back first to the question that you would ask folks, of like, how are things going to go if nothing changes? And I would really encourage listeners to give that one a ponder. Because I think the— the possibility of talking about money is so stressful and so overwhelming that it’s easy to put it off. 

ADAM: Yeah.

MICHELLE: And we don’t even stop to think about where we’re headed if we continue to put things off. And I— and I wanna contrast that to the benefits of talking about money that you just went over. Because I— I think it becomes an easier— it’s easier to convince yourself to get into that conversation if on one hand you see we’re kind of headed towards catastrophe, but on the other hand we could be in a really good place if we just started opening up a little bit more.

ADAM: Absolutely. And it’s incredible the way that people just— they will live in fear, and so then that fear creates ignorance around their finances. Um, one of my newer clients, they were like, yeah, we really wanna buy a house. But we don’t know how to do it.

And I’m like, well, how much is the house you wanna buy? And they were like, a million dollars. Because they’re out where I am in the Bay Area, and it’s quite pricey here. And I was like, so what would you wanna put as a down payment? They were like, 200,000.

And I’m like, and how much equity do you have in your current condo? And they were like, 260,000. And I’m like, did you know that you— you have enough money in equity to be having a serious conversation about moving into a house? Right? 

Not saying that you— you should also, of course, have like an emergency fund and a— and money put aside for things that could break down in a home and all of that and repairs. But they didn’t even let themselves realize how close they were to their dream home. Right? Because they were just so afraid to dig into the numbers and have these conversations.

Um, and, I mean, the benefits are honestly innumerable. And the biggest ones are around your own self-confidence, your own freedom. It’s like figuring out what financial freedom means to you and being able to actually see a way to get there. Right? 

To live the kind of life you wanna have, to have that balance, to have the opportunity to do things that you love, to take time off, to go to the beach, to go hiking, whatever that is. Right? Because you’re not panicked that you always need to be doing more and more and more because you’re on the same page with your partner, and you understand where your finances are at. 

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MICHELLE: So let’s say somebody is listening, and they are ready to take the plunge. They’re ready to start to have the conversation. How do you even get started with something like this?

ADAM: Yeah. It’s a great question. And honestly, this is where a lot of people get stopped. Because they’re like, OK, I’m ready. Wait, I don’t know how to do it. And like you said before, I’m worried I’m gonna look or sound stupid. And I don’t want that. Right?

Um, the first thing you do is you just make the request of your partner. Right? And if you’re listening right now, and this is you, take the first step. Send them a text. Or if they’re in the room with you, ask them, like, hey, you know what? I really care about you and this relationship. And, um, obviously money is an important thing. And I think we could really strengthen our relationship if we were to, you know, have a meeting of the minds, get on the same page with this. 

[00:20:13] Um, like what do you think? When might be a good time for us to at least start that conversation? And, you know, that’s kind of the approach that I recommend to people to get things going.

MICHELLE: Yeah. So even just scheduling out time, not necessarily like a formal calendar event, though maybe a formal calendar event if your life is anything like mine and requires a lot of scheduling.

ADAM: (LAUGHING) I mean, whatever works for you and your significant other. Just like, um, the first step is the hardest one. But if you can commit yourself in some way with a verbal or textual ask, now it’s— I’m a big fan of putting yourself in a position where, nope, can’t turn back now. Right? Or at least it would be like way more awkward to turn back than it would be to just go ahead and have the conversation. 

And if you tell your significant other, I wanna talk about this, then that will hopefully give you enough propulsion forward so that you actually have it. And, I mean, I’m also happy to share some tips about the conversation itself. But, you know, I think it’s pretty obvious the way you’d wanna approach any, uh, challenging conversation.

Be calm, like if you gotta meditate or take a deep breath, whatever it is. You know, put away the phone. Be present with each other. And, uh, just get connected, whatever that looks like. Some people, it’s sharing a hug. Some people, it’s opening a glass of wine— a bottle of wine.

Some people, it’s telling them about your day. Right? And then just be able to have that from that grounded place, remembering the love you have for each other. And the intention for this conversation is to be able to grow that love, including by living the lives you want.

MICHELLE: Yeah. In terms of topics that often come up in the first conversation about money, do you have any recommendations on things that you typically recommend, you know, folks talk about? Is it like lay it all out on the table? These are my fears. Is it focus on what’s present? Like do you see— do you see what I’m asking? 

ADAM: Absolutely. Um, I— you know, it all depends on where the couple is at. But one of my favorite ways to start the conversation— see, because it’s a scary conversation, um, people— I like to have people go in like kind of gently. And I’ll talk in a minute about how I recommend to do that. 

But here’s the pitfall that I want folks to avoid. Normally, they’re like, we’re stressed about money. OK, let’s talk about it. And they dive right into the action steps. They dive right into, well, we need to stop spending on this. 

And we should stop spending on that. And we should save for this. And we should sell our car. And that is just going to stress you out even more. That’s just gonna stress your partner out even more. 

Um, specifically, I’m even speaking even more perhaps to the men out there who, while of course this is not the case in always or with any gender or anything like that— like men, we are often socialized to wanna fix things, and fix problems, and solve problems. And we wanna go there first. And if your partner is feeling anxious about money, do not try and fix their problems. That is not the way to get more intimately connected to your significant other. 

The way to do it is to start to open up and be vulnerable. So hold off on the action steps. Right? Don’t even worry about, should we pay off which credit card first? That’s down the line. The initial foray should just be talking about your feelings about money, just even in that general sense, not even your specific situation, just like, yeah, you know, how’d you grow up thinking about money? 

One question I like is, how do you think about— what do you think about rich people? What do you think about people who are experiencing poverty? You know, how do you relate to them? Um, what are things you like about money or dislike about money? 

Just starting these— these kind of gentle questions because you’re just sharing your perspective, so there’s not really anything to argue about. Right? So I want you to be able to get one on the books, one money conversation, that felt good and healthy and wasn’t an argument and a fight. Right? So this is the easiest way that I recommend to do that is just kind of have a conversation where you talk about your own view of money and your own feelings towards it. Right?

And then there— there shouldn’t be— it’s really just a space for you and your partner to understand each other a bit better. It’s not like, oh, you’re wrong to feel that way, or, oh, if you feel that way, we’re never gonna be able to buy a house. It’s just like, oh, OK, yeah, I understand that you had that experience as a kid, and it affected you. 

Or, you saw these kinds of messages in the media about people with X identity that you hold. And so you, you know, either kind of took that on or maybe rejected it and went the opposite direction. Whatever that is, just to ease into that conversation. 

[00:25:04] MICHELLE: Yeah. That’s great. And I like that you— you mentioned trying to at least get one good, productive money conversation in the books before things start to get tactical. Because you’re exactly right. I feel like a lot of money conversations come from a place of wanting to fix a certain problem. And so then the conversation itself tends to be very tactical in nature. 

What are we gonna do about this issue? Or how are we gonna handle our debt? And exactly right. If— if different people have different ways of fixing that problem, I think that’s a common source of tension. So just taking the time to experience money conversations and listen and hold space for one another, that’s a wonderful practice. I really, really like that. 

ADAM: Yeah. And, you know, there’s— I think we all know this. But the amount of money you have or the amount of debt you have is not, by any stretch, perfectly correlated with how unhappy or happy you are in your relationship or how easy it is to deal with or talk about money. I mean, I had a client who was making, I think they said, in the neighborhood of like 350,000 a year— which, even in the Bay Area, is a lot. And by the way, I work with clients all over the country. I just happen to be sharing stories from some local ones. 

Uh, but this— even for them, there was a lot of eye rolling, throwing their hands up when they first started, you know. Because it’s not about how much money you have, or how much debt you have, or whatever. It’s about the intimacy and connection between the people and how much they’re able to be with their fear, and drop down into it, and open up and be vulnerable and talk about the things they’re scared to talk about. 

MICHELLE: Absolutely. Let’s say somebody is in this process, and they’re trying to have the— the more emotional conversation, or the less tactical conversation we’ll call it. 

ADAM: Mm-hmm.

MICHELLE: What tips do you have if the conversation does start to turn tense?

ADAM: Mmm. Well, the first tip is, this is almost certainly going to be uncomfortable at times. All right? This is not easy. And when I— you know, when I first made my website, it said, um, like, something like, “Talking about money should be easy, and now it can be.” And then it was like, wait, that’s not actually what I stand for. It’s not necessarily going to be an easy conversation, especially in the beginning. 

Because if you’re really having that level of depth, to get connected on that soul level or however you like to think of it, with your significant other, it’s gonna require unearthing some uncomfortable stuff. So it’s not going to be easy. Now, as far as tension, if it’s— especially if you can see it moving towards a fight, um, just breathe. And if you need to take a time-out, take a time-out. 

You know, we all have those moments where we can just tell that if we keep going with a conversation, it’s probably not gonna end well. Um, and one of the skills to develop, as somebody in relationship with other people, significant— like romantic or otherwise— is when you can just take a step back for yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to go calm down— and really keeping in mind why it is you’re having that conversation, which is probably because you love your partner. This is just an important topic. But it’s tough for you. Right? 

Then, that— let that drive you, right? Because the whole point of it is to build greater intimacy and be able to execute on your vision of financial freedom, whatever that means to you. And so keep those things present while you’re having this conversation and what you are trying to create with your significant other. And let that be your guide. 

And sometimes that’ll tell you, whoa, take a breath. Sometimes that’ll tell you, OK, lean into that discomfort and share that thing that your brain is telling you to share and also not share at the same time. Right? Um, but whatever that is, just stay present to why you’re there. 

See, my whole goal, like I said, it’s not— or you can probably deduce it’s not get you out of debt or get you with a bunch of savings. That’s part of the process. The goal is to have you and your partner have a stronger relationship through talking about money. 

MICHELLE: Yeah. And I will say from personal experience, I would always rather hear, hey, I can’t talk about this right now, or, you know, this conversation is proving to be a little much for me right now. Let’s take a break. I personally always like to hear those types of communication flags. Because that way, I kind of know, hey, let’s revisit this later if we need to, you know, with the obvious caveat that it’s not necessarily gonna be easier later. 

[00:29:54] But if you know yourself, and you know you’re kind of on the verge of the conversation legitimately turning unproductive, sometimes I think you’re right that it’s— it’s better to kind of take the deep breath and have a little bit of time to collect yourself. But you’re exactly right. It’s not gonna be easy work. 

I think no matter how you slice it, like it’s always gonna be a challenge, so kind of leaning into that and understanding, yep, we’re doing a hard thing. Sure does feel hard. Sure gonna keep doing it anyway. I think that’s an important choice to make. 

ADAM: Exactly. And I mean, look, the— we appreciate the depths to which we’re supposed to explore ourselves and our relationship in other areas. Right? When we talk about like future plans, like whether it’s a, where are we at? We’ve been dating for a couple months now. Or like, hey, where are we going? We’ve been together for a few years now. Right?

Whether it’s talking about whether you wanna have children or not, where you wanna live, um, if you’re talking about your sex life, all of these things require you to dive into some discomfort. And money is no different. However— ah, not however, but money, just like those other ones, there’s tremendous benefits for you to discover where alignment exists and where it doesn’t and where, if it doesn’t, perhaps you can create it. Right? So that you’re able to have that deeper connection and something that really works for you and your significant other.

MICHELLE: Yeah. And I think keeping in mind that having these dialogues is important. But it is a process. So it’s gonna take more than one conversation. 

ADAM: Absolutely.

MICHELLE: You’re not gonna talk about money once and suddenly like, woo hoo, magic, everything is— everything is wonderful. So how do you recommend folks have these types of dialogues on an ongoing basis to make sure that you continue to be on the same page? 

ADAM: Yeah. And I mean, there’s a number of ways to go about it. Um, when there’s some area that you don’t know how to approach, I just recommend something really straightforward. And so here, that looks like, OK, let’s just put a 45 minutes once a week on the calendar that we’re gonna sit down and talk about money-related stuff. And we can revisit that in a month and see how that’s going. 

Something really simple and straightforward like that, you know, just to get the conversation going because you never know where it’s gonna lead to. And I also recommend pick like a priority or an agenda for the conversation. Especially if it’s something you and your partner have been avoiding for a long time, there are going to be a bunch of things you’ll wanna talk about. 

Um, and perhaps you can set it up like each of you picks your top two priorities, and the first four weeks you’re gonna talk about your priority, then your partner’s number one, then your number two, then their number two, you know, something like that. Because the last thing, again, you wanna have happen is that you get overwhelmed, and you have a really negative experience in those first couple of conversations. And now, there’s not just the avoidance, the fear of talking about money. Now, there’s the fear that you’re gonna fight and have bad conversations to overcome. 

So just pace yourself. And like anything else, there will be, like you said, ongoing conversations to have. I mean, even once you’ve set up a system and a structure, and your conversation about money’s super healthy, new things will emerge. You’ll have a new desire. 

Maybe you’ll wanna go back to school or start a business. Maybe all of a sudden, you get curious about buying a mansion or about buying a tiny home and going the other direction. Right? And all of these are gonna be conversations that involve love and values and money and intimacy and connection with your partner. And so you’ll continue to have these in a healthy relationship. And they’ll continue to make more and more closeness available to you.

MICHELLE: Yeah. That’s wonderful. Before we get into a little bit more about the work that you do, do you have any other key takeaways, tips people keep in mind, anything else you’d kind of like to add to our conversation on talking about money more productively? 

ADAM: It’s worth it. There’s so much beauty and growth in these conversations. It makes me sad that people don’t see them that way. And it makes me sad that this is avoidable, and yet it’s a huge cause of breakups and divorce. 

It makes me sad that this perpetuates the systemic injustices in society through— because people are afraid to talk about it, they don’t empower themselves. It particularly disadvantages women because they don’t have these conversations amongst couples, especially heterosexual couples. And then if divorce happens, as it unfortunately does in almost half of marriages in the US, then you have women who are now even more disadvantaged financially because they haven’t been dealing with the finances, or they haven’t been on top of it. 

They weren’t on the same page with their husband. Oftentimes, people are left off deeds to homes, or they don’t know where the money is. And now, on top of a breakup or a divorce, you’re having to deal with all of this other emotional turmoil. And, you know, this is a conversation really for us to be having and to transform within individuals and relationships. 

[00:35:04] People deserve better. People deserve to have a healthy relationship to money, individually and with their partners. And until they have that, the norms, the stereotypes, the divisions, the oppression that has been driving the situation we see now, the inequal— the vast inequalities, that will stay in place.

It’s when people have the courage to talk about money, and the role it has played in our lives, and the way it’s been used as a justification to abuse and exploit people for hundreds of years, whether we’re talking about the slave trade— oh, well, we’re making more money. It’s OK, right? To modern-day times, even with the gender wage gap still existing, and racial wage gaps, and the incredible gaps in the, um, net worth of different kinds of families. Right? 

We— if we’re not talking about it, that creates the kind of environment where the status quo will remain in place. And so it’s almost a revolutionary act to get down and dirty and have these conversations in the workplace, with your significant other, with your family, with yourself, with your therapist, with your coach, whoever it may be, with your best friends. Right? 

That’s the only way we’re gonna create enough awareness to change things and shift them is by getting into it. So that’s what I wanna give people. And these conversations are absolutely worth it in the micro sense, in your own life and relationship, and in the global sense.

MICHELLE: Yeah. That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this perspective. So you’ve talked a lot about your work. And I wanna make sure that people have an opportunity to find you online and kind of get in touch with the awesome stuff that you’re doing. So where can people find you in this world?

ADAM: Yeah. Great. Thanks for that. So for everybody who’s listening, uh, on your computer or on your laptop, I want you to go onto Facebook, and type in the search bar Money & Marriage, but not the word and, actually the ampersand symbol, and click join on that group. And I’ve partnered with another wonderful coach who specializes in working with couples on the tactical and practical side, Cyndia Rivera. 

And together, we provide expert content and guidance on how to handle money and relationships. And, uh, it’s just a wonderful group. So I encourage you all to join. And I’ll see you there. Make sure you let me know in the questions that you answer to get into the group that you found me through Michelle’s podcast, through Young and Scrappy. And that will be really exciting to see. 

And, um, also, I’m going to share with Michelle a link to, uh, a— something I created called the Essential Money Conversation Checklist. So this is a really wonderful tool. I’m super excited about it. I actually am just premiering it now.

And this is something you can keep with you in every conversation you have about money. And it’s got, I believe, eight steps, seven or eight steps. And if you’re checking all those boxes, I promise you you will be having healthy, healthy money conversations that move your relationship forward.

MICHELLE: All right. Awesome. So y’all heard it here. Um, go ahead and check out that Facebook group. Check out Adam’s awesome work in this space. Um, he is a— he is a great guy and a great coach. And, um, I’m sure you can already tell from this conversation.

So I’m also gonna go ahead— if you’re listening, um, if you check out the show notes at youngandscrappy.com/blog, all of our episodes are on our website. There will always be show notes there with a little list of resources that we’ve talked about. So I’m also gonna go ahead and drop a link to Adam’s scheduling tool. So if you’ve listened, and you’ve thought, yeah, it’s time to maybe get into some one-on-one work, or, a lot of this information really resonated with me, I’m sure he’d also love to hear from you there. So I’ll— I’ll drop that scheduling tool in there for you guys. 

ADAM: Appreciate that. Thanks, Michelle,

MICHELLE: Yeah. You’re so welcome. Well, everybody, that pretty much wraps up our episode for today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. If this episode comes out on time, then it is Friday. So I wish you a weekend full of abundance, full of hard but rewarding money conversations. And I hope that everybody kind of has that— that moment where they start to open up with their loved ones about one of the hardest topics in the world. 

END CREDITS: I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Young Scrappy Money podcast. If you want to read about my work as a financial advisor and financial coach, you can do so at www.youngandscrappy.com. That’s www.youngandscrappy.com. Thanks again for listening. 

Made with love by Jesse in Atlanta. [SMOOCHING SOUND]


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