Whether it’s asking your roommate to pay more in rent, sharing your financial situation with your significant other or negotiating with your boss for a raise, money conversations can seem pretty precarious and daunting. It makes sense – money typically evokes a lot of emotions!

Here are a few ways to approach money discussions in a way that will be most beneficial to everyone involved and your bottom line.

Just Do It

Yes, these conversations are difficult but the longer we avoid them, the more the anticipation builds. If a discussion is long overdue we run the risk of getting emotional and may be less able to come up with creative solutions.

If you have been waiting for a promotion for a year, while you will be very certain on what you deserve, you may be attached to a specific outcome. If your company can’t promise you your desired salary, how about additional compensation tied to your goals or a year-end bonus? Also, why wait a year before bringing this up? You’re leaving money on the table.

Start talking about these types of things now.

Be Honest

Whatever the conversation is about, be honest. How can someone truly understand your perspective if you don’t tell them? It will also be harder for them to get angry when you show your true colors.

Rather than yell at your spouse for spending too much, explain that your financial independence is really important to you and you feel scared when you see the credit card bills come in high each month.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Really listen to the other side’s perspective and try to understand where they are coming from. Don’t focus solely on the opposing opinion but also appreciate the underlying why behind what they are pushing for. This could shed light on a potential compromise or at the very least, facilitate a more successful conversation.

Find Common Ground

Once everything is out on the table, try to find some common ground. What aspects do you agree on? If you can’t find any common ground, go broad. What beliefs or values do you share? Finding where you agree is the starting point for creating a compromise. If you are negotiating a raise, the common ground might be that you and your boss believe you are a valuable asset to the firm. How can you then work out a deal where you are happy and the company gets to keep a valued employee?

It’s More Than WHAT You Say

How you say something is just as important as what you say. Watch your tone of voice. Depending on who the conversation is with, it might make sense to sound more confident and speak loudly or to sound more soft-spoken and caring.

Watch your body language. Regardless of how heated the discussion gets, give the other person their space.

Keep the Goal in Mind

Don’t forget the goal of the discussion. What are you looking to get out of it? Try not to bring other situations or passed disagreements up. Even if you get upset, stay away from bringing up that time your significant other forgot to pick up the milk. Remember, reaching your goal is much easier if both sides are less emotional.

Money conversations are difficult and while there are best practices, forgive yourself if your emotions get the best of you or if you don’t listen as well as you’d like. Practice makes perfect and you can’t get better without practice. Commit to having difficult money conversations and you will see that they start yielding results.


Ashley Feinstein Gerstley is a money coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme where she demystifies the world of money and personal finance. Get her exclusive how-to guide “30 Days to Financial Bliss“ – free for GoGirl Finance readers.