Money Talks - We listen

Money Talks Newsletter

Susan Hammitt, AFC, CDFA

511 SW 10th Ave., Suite 805

Portland, Oregon 97205


Email: -  Phone: 503-233-8142

In This Issue
Husbands, Wives, Lovers, Children, and Friends
Talk About Money - Molly's Successes

IRA Contributions

It's not too late to make an IRA contribution for 2010.  It must be made  prior to filing your 2010 tax return, but no later than April 15, 2011.
Trying to encourage young adult children to contribute to an IRA?
Consider matching funds for contribution as a gift. 
Then, once a quarter, host a family investment meeting. It's a great way for everyone to increase investment skills and reinforce the commitment to save.

Make a Plan that Works for YOU!

Susan Hammitt, AFC, CDFA


"Talk about Money"   That has been a consistent battle cry throughout my career in Personal Finance.


It doesn't mean talk about money all the time.  And, it doesn't mean that money talks should be big dramatic conversations. 


On the contrary, learn to talk about money in the context of daily life. Create transparency by communicating money messages  that establish humanity and clarity in relationships. 


Talking about money bridges gaps, establishes common ground, and provides opportunities to share ideas that fortify healthy mature decisions.



Best regards,

Susan Hammitt




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 February 2011

Personal Financial Sustainability 

February; the month of Valentines and focus on relationships


The quality of personal relationships is a stronger indicator of happiness and wellbeing than money and wealth. It's not difficult to accept results of happiness surveys confirming these findings. Yet, financial issues often place personal relationships at risk. Developing the skill to Talk About Money strengthens relationships. Consider: 

  1. All relationships have an element of financial connection through peer support and pressure or direct financial cost and benefit.
  2. The manner in which we allocate resources (money) is an organic extension of values and priorities. The quality of financial relationships often indicates the quality of the emotional relationships as well.
  3. Communication, the ability to talk about money, is a valuable skill in human relationships.

Make a Plan to Talk About Money!


Husbands, Wives, Lovers, Children, and Friends

Talk About Money


Culturally, we have been taught to avoid talking about personal finances. Absent the skill to talk about money, financial issues fester in relationships - degrade marriages, skew dating protocols, confuse children, and limit friendships. 


The most valuable financial tool we can use to fortify personal relationships is to talk about money.  Not big conversations, arguments, or accusations - simple conversations that help shape and model financial integrity in healthy mature relationships. 


Husbands and Wives


Healthy and mature life partnerships require financial solidarity. Financial solidarity does not imply specific structure in relationships, there are many formulas that work.  However, there are two constants: (1) Transparency, both partners must have ready access all financial information, (2) Shared consequences based on financial decisions and management.


Talking about money requires skill.  All skill requires  practice. Life partnership offers many opportunities and much time for practice. The earlier in relationship both partners engage in financial solidarity, the more sustainable the life partnership.


Here are a few guidelines for talking about money in Life Partnerships:

  • Review cash flow plans and net worth reports together at least once a year.
  • Agree on three to five priorities: how and to what extent those priorities will be funded.
  • When financial issues arise; no ambushing! Diving into a controversial financial subject when the other partner is unprepared or distracted is degrading and unfair.   Instead, schedule a time when both parties can participate with full attention.  
  • No nagging! If the same financial issues keep occurring in relationship it is likely connected to values and priorities. If a financial issue is festering and degrading relationship, seek profession help through counseling.



Financial realities of dating are regular topics in financial counseling and planning. Financial resources impact access to dating relationships for many singles, particularly as life experience adds complexities.  


Traditional gender models requiring men to pay for everything don't hold up well, even when early life sensibilities persist. 


Concerns that relationships may drain resources can be a deterrent. 


Outward appearances of financial circumstances may be intentionally or unintentionally deceiving. 


Although challenging, concerns do not have to be disabling.  To quiet fears associated with financial vulnerability it's important to be comfortable talking about money, with productive and un-judgmental skill.


A simple, "Will this be your treat?" before accepting an invitation can save a lot of heartache and embarrassment. 


A general question, "What is your financial situation?" is not prying in the context of determining how to organize the cost of shared life experiences.


Does a restricted budget lead to social isolation?  It may be an epidemic problem for single adults. Talk about money with other singles who date or want to date, it's a great way to begin getting comfortable talking about money with prospective partners. Here are two actual case examples:


Betty's Dating Experience - Difficult lessons learned.


Molly's Successes - Talking About Money  - Article below.





Unconditional love of parents for children can lead to poor or misguided judgement in financial relationships. When are children financially independent?  The answer is often when parents quit being a financial resource.


Parents teach children by role model and by instruction which means talking about money. Absent high drama, comfortable conversations within earshot of children is as much a teaching opportunity as any life lesson. From the first allowance, birthday gift money, or earnings, children learn to allocate their resources as an extension of their rights and responsibilities. 


Successful parents wean children of financial dependence over time, having provided enough financial guidance that their children adapt to independence. When children enter adulthood:

  • Financial gifts should be inconsistent and discretionary  so that children do not rely on windfalls.
  • Bailouts must be carefully negotiated, come with conditions, and rarely (if ever) repeated.



We choose our friends and define friendship based on many factors. Friendships offer unique opportunities for learning and building financial skills. 


Talking about money with friends broadens perspective, challenging or reinforcing financial behaviors. 


Talking about money provides a great opportunity to create stress free equilibrium for healthy relationships. 


I always encourage friends to pool funds for trips. It minimizes splitting checks and keeping track of who paid what. 


Deciding on dinner and a movie?  Talking about money helps to create an inclusive plan, that everyone can afford. 


Talking about money is a critical life skill. The more comfortable the conversation the more sustainable are relationships.  


Make a Plan to Talk About Money!

MollyTalk About Money:

Molly's Successes

Molly is one of my financial companion clients. We meet once a month to Talk About Money. She has given me permission to share her financial successes.
Post divorce Molly needed to modify her personal finances -  build financial skills, live within her income, adjust financial relationships with family members, and establish healthy financial relationships with prospective friends and boyfriends. She has been very successful, albeit, with much angst fortified by humility and  genuine commitment.   


Her successes began with Thanksgiving.  Rather than hosting  Thanksgiving dinner, spending a couple hundred dollars and wowing her guests, she accepted an invitation. Spending $50 contributing two pies and a bottle of wine, Molly reported having a terrific time.
Molly had been motivated to preserve cash in order to fund a Christmas visit with her adult daughter and granddaughter. 
She arranged her cross country trip using air miles and  designated a specific dollar amount to spend for all gifts and other holiday related expenses. When she arrived in Florida she and her adult daughter successfully planned their (cash) Christmas spending. Including her daughter in the process reframed their financial relationship.


In January, at our regular meeting, Molly informed me that she went into debt to purchase a plane ticket to fly to New York. This time it was to spend time with Mike, a man with whom she enjoys a new relationship.  She was very excited and very insecure, for good reason.

  1. She was concerned about spending too much money on the trip.
  2. She wasn't sure Mike had the financial resources to host her visit and it might be stressful for him.
  3. She did not want her Mike to get the impression that she could afford to make regular trips across the U.S.
  4. She was questioning the viability of her long distance relationship.

Molly agreed to talk about money with Mike before making the trip. She didn't know quite how to approach it. We agreed that I would send her an email which she could forward as a method of opening the subject for conversation.


Here are the emails. First, the one I sent to help Molly open the conversation about personal finances. Second, Molly's report of success.


Click here to read email intended to open financial conversation with a new boyfriend.  

Click here to read Molly's email describing her success.