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The Language of Finance: Communication without Emotion

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As parents, all we want for our child suffering with addiction is to make it stop. We will do anything to make the pain and suffering go away. If we are fortunate and our loved one begins their journey on the road to recovery, we desperately want to help them transition from becoming sober to living a sober life. We know what they need to do; if only they would listen!

This is delicious irony. We want them to listen, and they want to be heard. In my experience the reason there is no communication is due to emotion.

The beauty of the language of finance is its ability to quantify the consequences of one’s decisions without emotion or judgement.

A family recently contacted regarding their daughter. She is weeks into her recovery and they are concerned about her ability to manage her financial affairs. I spoke with the parents and learned of their concerns. She is bright, but impulsive. She is unable to manage her finances. She cannot hold on to a job.

I soon learned that she was evicted from her sober living home and soon after, learned that she is pregnant.

Her parents understand the financial realities of raising a child. They did the math and realized that unless their daughter got significant financial support, raising a child would be a tremendous uphill climb. Despite their wisdom and love for their daughter, she did not listen. Her parents were of the opinion that she should have an abortion, and urged me to talk her into it.

This I could not do.

As a financial advisor, my job is clear; to develop a financial plan to help clients achieve their goals, regardless of their circumstances.

Life can get in the way and you can face unexpected hurdles. In these types of situations, I usually begin by working on basic financial concepts such as debt management and budgeting. After each session, I give an exercise. For example, one week might be to identify all the questions to ask a potential landlord to help gain confidence as you learn about the total cost of renting an apartment, and obligations you would be held accountable for after signing a lease.

We then could dive deeper into spending habits, and tackle any fears and anxieties surrounding money. Most clients are surprised at how much they spend eating out and some have no idea what basic groceries cost. Discussing the importance of a good diet and showing someone how to create value meals at a fraction of the cost can help them appreciate the concept of ‘opportunity cost’.

By teaching how to break down what appears to be an insurmountable goal into smaller more manageable tasks, anxiety levels can decrease and confidence grows. Building a plan, their plan, when complete, will show the client what help they need and give them the strength and confidence to ask for that help. And they will be prepared should the help they need not materialize.

My priority is for a client in this situation to be able to evaluate the consequences of their decisions without anyone passing judgement. No longer being told what to do, they can learn how to rely on themselves, evaluate their choices, and take responsibility for their actions.

Isn’t that what independent living is all about?

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