It’s no secret that most people don’t enjoy talking about money—and during tough financial times, those conversations can be even more challenging. Why is it that something like money, which is so much a part of our daily lives, feels so taboo to talk about?
One of the reasons I feel like we don’t “talk shop” is because a lot of the financial world seems foreign to us—at least it did to me. It feels like by the time you’re actually interested in understanding money, it’s too late, but I promise it’s not!
While there are many other theories why so many of us feel this way, there's one group of people that seem to have figured out how to overcome it: military families. In a recent survey we conducted, servicemembers and their families report openly talking about their finances, sharing that they feel better about their situation as a result. A servicemember wouldn’t head into a mission ill-prepared, and the same can be said for how they approach their finances.
In fact, fewer than one in four military households dread talking about their finances, with 94% of these households reporting that they speak honestly and openly about their finances and spending with one another.
Empowering the Next Generation
There are a lot of good opportunities to open those lines of communication. One of those is when children enter the teenage years—after all, social events and outings are a big part of the high school experience. This provided the perfect opportunity to go over a budget with both my son and daughter. This way, rather than worrying that our children would find themselves in credit card debt down the road, my wife and I chose to have a proactive conversation about finances and budgeting.
I was surprised that the idea actually took root, and my children have come to me for investment advice. Since that initial conversation, I have also shared much more of our families’ financial situation with my children. It was uncomfortable at first to discuss my income and how much the light bill is—but I thought to myself that if I’m training them to be financially responsible adults, why not lead by example?
Money, politics and religion may be three things that often are not considered polite to talk about with company, but being able to speak about finances with your family and those you trust is essential if you want your children to venture out into the world as informed, financially secure young adults. The more they come to you the better it is.
Remember—just as in the military, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Your children are going to overspend, ask for “advances” on allowances and more. Each of these situations presents an opportunity to discuss what sound finances look like and what decisions could have been made to avoid them.
Trust in Your Financial Institution
Our survey also revealed that military households who value their financial institution for financial advice are more likely to believe they are better prepared. They trust that they have access to all the information needed to make the best financial decision for their family. For this reason and many more, our 335 branches are located on or near military instillations—to provide the guidance our members seek.
No matter how your chips are stacked, if you want to feel more in control of your financial situation, open those lines of communication! Share your spending habits and savings progress with your spouse, partner or trusted friends and seek insights from your financial institution. These simple steps can help you feel more solid about where your financial journey is heading.
Clay Stackhouse is a Regional Outreach Manager at Navy Federal. Clay previously served in the Marines for 25 years, having been a Navy federal member for 34 years. Clay has a passion for interacting with military families on all things personal finance.