“I Don’t Have Time”

“I don’t have time” is a phrase I hear a lot.  Particularly at my last company.  I spent hours trying to convince new analysts to enroll in their 401k.  It’s a critical decision in my view.  But many couldn’t take the 15 minutes to set it up.

I see the same strategies at play with family caregivers.  After hours driving in traffic, the third doctors visit this week, and a home caregiver that didn’t show money feels like the furthest topic anyone wants to discuss.

So instead of admitting that money is a thorny highly emotional topic that often brings up shame and guilt, people say they don’t have the time.  Or they use similar deflections like “I don’t know how to do this” or “I have no idea how to use a spreadsheet.”

How do you reach these people half way?  How do you respect the emotional pain but still have the conversation?

I want to give you the language and strategies you need.  The result will be that you have a productive conversation while keeping the strength in your relationship.

Below are 5 strategies I have used that take 2 minutes to execute.  They will have a significant impact on your discussions about money.

Speak In The Morning

I don’t know anyone on the planet who is better at having emotionally charged conversations at the end of a long day.  Avoid the evening.  Have the conversation in the morning.

If your loved one isn’t a morning person wait until they finish their morning coffee.  Wait until they start talking.  Then get started.  Usually a time between 9:00am and 12:00pm is best.

This may seem like a small point but the emotional and physical state people are in has a huge impact on how they respond to difficult situations.  If you come to people at the end of a long day you’re likely to meet resistance.  If you speak to them in the morning your odds are better that they will be more receptive.

Tell Them How You Feel

Say, “Mom, I am nervous about talking to you about this.  We haven’t talked too much about money in the past and sometimes it’s been difficult.” 


“Dad, this is really hard.  I don’t want to talk about this because it makes me nervous and scared.  But I really want to speak to you about your finances and how I may be able to help.”

This will help your loved one see that you are coming from a place of compassion.

Schedule A Time

I cannot recommend this enough. Bring an agenda.  Make sure kids aren’t around.  Take notes and run it like a meeting.

Sometimes the structured approach is the best way to get things done.  There are times for an open emotional discussion and then there are times for getting down to business.

Ask For Advice

I spoke about this in a previous post.  It’s worth repeating.  One of the best ways to approach an emotional conversation is to ask people their opinion.

“I recently finished paying off my loans Dad.  What do you think I should do with my extra savings?” or “I am thinking of switching careers to a lower paying job.  What do you think Mom?” are both great examples.

This will show your loved one that you are coming from a place of openness.

Focus On One Thing

Pay a bill.  Create a simple budget.  Set up an insurance policy.  Negotiate a phone contract.  Keep is simple and easy.

Avoid solving all of their financial problems.  Don’t bring up the larger topics.  Many elderly are already losing significant portions of their independence.  Focus on small bite size pieces they can work with you on.

If you like this post and would like more information on financial matters for caregivers sing up for the email list!


Published: July 2, 2015
By: JP Adams

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