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What Is Your Family’s Money Dynamic?

On Easter Sunday we had dinner with my husband’s family. Over dinner the conversation turned to my brother-in-law’s truck problems. He’s in construction and relies on his truck to get him from job to job. Money is tight for them so having his truck out of commission is a big deal. He shared with us what was wrong, how he should fix it, and his plan to do it himself and save $200. Sounded like a fine plan to me, but I know very little on the subject of fixing cars.

It wasn’t until we were in the car driving home that my husband voiced his doubts about my brother-in-law’s plan. (Mr. Frugal knows a lot about cars and can pretty quickly diagnose any problem.) I thought it was interesting, but not surprising, that he didn’t voice his doubts during dinner. We’ve been married nearly three years and in that time I’ve learned that when it comes to the topic of money or anything financially related, in Mr. Frugal’s family you mind your own business. You don’t offer suggestions or advice unless it’s solicited, and they rarely are.

This is completely different from my family where suggestions and advice flow freely and money and finances are often the topic of conversation. Perhaps this is due to the entrepreneurial bent that runs on my side of the family, we can’t help ourselves. So its sometimes tough for me to sit by and not offer up some advice, but I never do. I don’t want to offend anyone.

So this makes me wonder, what is your family’s money dynamic? Do you feel free to share your views and offer advice? Or is the subject of money taboo?

10 Comments

  1. We have a similar dynamic in mine and my husband’s families. I still do my brother and his wife’s taxes. I help my sister set up her ROTH IRA. My parents share their plans for retirement with us. They are aware of my blog… With my husband’s family, money is very taboo topic – they all just pretend they are “doing great”, but in almost each case that is far from the truth. No one talks about “money issues”…

  2. Growing up we did not talk about money – it wasn’t taboo or anything like that, it’s just that somehow we had an instinctive compass and kind of knew how far we could push the envelope whenever we as kids wanted something. Over the years I saw that our parents were able to buy more and better quality. I think our parents just felt that it was their responsibility to provide for their family and that we as children should not have to take on their worries re money. We were given allowances but it was just for our entertainment and goodies to buy. This became the model when I had a family of my own.

  3. We have a few extended family members we discuss money with but mostly the topics of money are taboo. Sad thing is that we “know” some of them are really struggling but they don’t want to hear anything from us. I think they are mostly in denial.

    With our children we make sure we have lots of discussions about money – how to handle it, why debt is bad, how to save. We also make sure we model for them how to handle their own money. Since they were little we’ve showed them the method for tithing, saving, and spending.

  4. My brothers and I are pretty open, but we tend to stay away from our parents’ situation. They have a complicated, layered relationship with money and it easier to divest myself of it emotionally. The Wife’s family is pretty open about almost anything.

    Visiting from Yakezie!

  5. I can’t say that my husband and I get into any real money discussions on either side of our families. There isn’t any talk on big issues like salary, retirement savings, etc. But on smaller issues, like money-saving tips, how much we spent on some patio furniture, my brother’s new mortgage rate, etc, we are fairly open.

  6. As a recovering advise giver, I tend to agree with Mr. Frugal’s attitude although I have hard time following it. *grin*

    I used to make suggestions freely (my family is pretty open). After a while though it became clear that creating disturbances for nothing because people tend to have already made up their minds when mentioning things to others. AKA – Your brother in law had his plan worked out and to express doubt, however right it might have been, would have mostly probably only accomplished an argument/uncomfortable discussion at the dinner table. Your BIL would have done whatever the heck it was he wanted to anyway after the conversation.

    It’s easier to be open if everyone is comfortable with each other’s situation and generally has the same attitudes towards money. And even that takes a lot of security on everyone’s part. Groups like that definitely can form but it’s a luck of the draw.

  7. I don’t think your husbands family is abnormal – it seems like a lot of folks just don’t talk about money with others…or if they do it becomes more of a heated exchange and name calling episode!

  8. We have a few extended family members we discuss money with but mostly the topics of money are taboo. Sad thing is that we “know” some of them are really struggling but they don’t want to hear anything from us. I think they are mostly in denial.

    With our children we make sure we have lots of discussions about money – how to handle it, why debt is bad, how to save. We also make sure we model for them how to handle their own money. Since they were little we’ve showed them the method for tithing, saving, and spending.

  9. My family is openish about money…they’ll talk about anything except exact income and retirement numbers. I know they have at least a million, but I don’t know specifics. They spend less than my husband’s family usually.

    My husband’s family will discuss what they want to do with money, but no real numbers on income or retirement. Although I know they have lots of it (they each have a pension plan and continue to work to save more…they just spend more than us as well). That side of the family thinks that my husband and I save too much, but when the economy crashed, my MIL said she was happy that she didn’t need to worry about us. They’ve been less critical since then.

    My husband and I are completely open with everybody we know…I’ve gotten good advice this way (it’s how I found out about Roth IRAs) and it helps some of our friends without them needing to ask.

    No, we don’t bombard people with our money numbers, but if a topic is brought up, I use our real numbers in my reply. I don’t see why it seems weird to some people…it’s just money and frugality. That openness has helped spark some really interesting conversations too.

  10. In our family, we can pretty much discuss anything. My husband’s family is really open, too. Everyone talks about things pretty freely. Even money. Only slightly less on my husband’s side. Probably because I’m slightly less comfortable there.
    .-= Amy@Free Family Advice´s last blog ..Free Teen Budget Planner =-.

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