By itself, just talking about money can feel awkward. So, when you escalate to fighting about money, stress and other strong feelings often pop up—whether you argue with your roommate, girlfriend, father, or anyone else.
However, knowing how to "fight" fair is an important life skill that can make your money conversations go much more smoothly. By mastering the five tips below, you'll learn how to keep your cool during these confrontations and figure out solutions that work for everyone.
1. Be Respectful
The first rule of fighting fair financially? Don't point fingers.
Sure, it is OK to disagree about money with others—you might even expect it to happen, depending on your and your combatant's backgrounds. But when this happens, it is important you handle these disagreements respectfully.
Swearing, name-calling, and blaming the other person are surefire ways to turn a small disagreement into a big ole fight. Make sure you treat the other person in the conversation as you would want to be treated.
Active listening is vital for any type of effective communication, and talking about money is no exception.
Active listening means you don't interrupt and you work hard at putting yourself in the other person's shoes. You listen to understand—not to defend your position. Once you really get what the other person is saying, then you get a turn to speak and explain your viewpoint.
Active listening can be challenging, especially when feelings are running high. But in time, you will be a real pro! Remember: Listen, don't interrupt, and speak calmly. When in doubt, take deep breaths as needed.
3. Use "I" Statements
During an argument, you may be tempted to say, "You idiot! You didn't save any money to pay your share of the phone bill." This is likely to make the other person defensive and angry.
Instead, use an "I" statement when sharing your thoughts and feelings about money. Say something like, "I am frustrated that you didn't save any money to pay your share of the phone bill." While this may feel like a subtle difference, it will help move the conversation forward as opposed to blow it out of the water immediately.
4. Be Patient
Talking about money can be difficult. You likely won't solve most money disagreements in a single discussion, so be patient.
Take your time to understand what the other person is trying to say. Take breaks, and by all means, don't pull an all-nighter. It is better to have four 20-minute chats than to lose sleep fighting about money. Besides, breaking it down into bite-size pieces allows everyone to calm down between each session.
5. When In Doubt, Agree To Disagree
Not every disagreement will have a solution. Not every fight will find that someone is "right" and someone is "wrong." That's OK.
You cannot expect to see eye to eye with someone on money all the time. If you can't find common ground, acknowledge your differences and agree to disagree.
The end goal of a money conversation should be to understand each other, not agree on everything (but also to get that phone bill paid if someone forgot to do so!). So respectively disagree if needed, and don't let the bad feelings gnaw at you. If you've fought fair, they won't.