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PERSONAL FINANCE: How to Put Your Mouth where Your Money IsnÂ’t


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Five Crucial Conversations for Financial Fitness in 2012

Many a South African household is feeling the crunch of soaring costs as the economic downturn continues to wreak havoc abroad. A recent study conducted by the authors of the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations, found that as much as 80 percent of respondents reported increased stress levels during financial strife. Interestingly, the stress was not necessarily related to how tight money was, but rather about the resulting quality of life and how to raise the issues without adding to the stress levels.

“While we cannot control spiralling costs or its effects on our wallet, we can control the way we communicate with others,” says Joseph Grenny, four times New York Times best-selling author in leadership, influence and communication, co-chairman of VitalSmarts and co-author of Crucial Conversations.

“Whether we are battling with our spouse over what expenses to cut from the family budget, telling our kids we will be cancelling this year’s vacation, or asking our boss about the stability of our job, we can have these conversations without blowing a fuse and ruining our valued relationships,” says Grenny.

The Human Edge, an international partner to VitalSmarts, adds that nearly half of the respondents to the study said the economic downturn increased the intensity level of their everyday conversations with family, friends and co-workers. Helene Vermaak, Clinical Psychologist, co-owner and principal consultant for The Human Edge, says, “One of the significant concerns raised is the potential negative impact that financial stress can have on family relationships that may well affect the quality of family life,” explains Vermaak.

Grenny says that there are five very crucial conversations that need to take place in order to take the bite out of the financial strain that is aimed at preserving precious relationships, especially within the family unit. “Many don’t know how to broach the subject or what to even talk about. These five crucial conversations may provide some direction.”

Reset Expectations
Have a candid discussion with your partner and family about what you can and cannot afford before problems arise.
Require Accountability
It is important to appropriately hold those accountable who agreed to change their spending habits but failed to do so, and this includes ourselves.
Stop Grieving Lost Money
DonÂ’t be afraid to talk to someone who is not willing to let go of certain freedoms and indulgences. Making sacrifices to stay financially afloat is a great deal more important than the alternative.
Uncover Secrets of Spending
Be careful not to use spending as a way to punish others. It is easy to let your wallet do the talking instead of holding the crucial conversation you know you need to have.
Find New Thrills
Discuss exploring new hobbies and forms of entertainment that do not require you to spend a great deal of money. This provides an opportunity to jointly consider interesting activities not previously explored that can have a positive impact on relationships and health in general.

Many underestimate just how important it is to talk about difficult situations. “The instability of financial concerns can weigh heavily on a family unit and while it is easier to avoid the topic, it will not alleviate any of the stress related to the situation. Having open and candid conversations with your family unit about your financial situation may be one of the most daunting tasks you could ever face, but very necessary,” concludes Vermaak.

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