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It’s time to have the talk. About what? The topic that most Americans are afraid to discuss. Now is the time to find the courage to release our fears and let our friends and family know if we are experiencing or will soon experience financial challenges. I call this Money Talk, an open and honest conversation with our inner circle of friends/family about our financial situation.

During the past two years, many of my clients have opened up and revealed their deepest and darkest secrets: they are on the verge of losing their home, they lost their jobs, their credit is terrible, their home values have drastically declined, they are unable to pay their monthly bills, or they have little savings. Many of my clients consider me a trusted professional, so they feel comfortable sharing their financial information with me but they are unwilling to share their financial distress with their close friends or family members. The failure to communicate these important financial concerns create financial illusions; giving many people the impression that their friends and family members are doing just fine. This lack of communication causes people who are in financial distress to try to keep up with the Jones’s even though they are on the brink of financial disaster (and the Jones’s might be in big trouble too!).

After listening to my client’s financial concerns, they have expressed a sense of relief. Just simply being able to communicate their feelings, thoughts, and concerns was therapeutic. Many clients said that just being able to have the Money Talk caused them to feel like a burden was lifted from their shoulders. The clients had the desire to communicate but felt ashamed or embarrassed to discuss their financial concerns.

The failure to have The Money Talk is having an impact on the young adults too. High school and college students were told to get an education and they would be rewarded with a good job. Currently, a high percentage of high school and college graduates are facing challenges finding employment. Young adults are facing the most difficult economic environment in decades and they don’t know how to start the conversation. Their elders are only teaching them how to avoid the Money Talk. While some of their parents are facing challenges, the young adults are facing their own challenges such as: increasing tuition, reduced financial aid for school, a lack of work and/or life experience, lack of healthcare, increasing competition for entry level jobs, high student loans balances, high credit card balances, and very little spending money. At a time when practical advice from mature adults is required, young people feel like they are on an island by themselves; forced to develop their own solutions without the proper tools for the job.

The side of effects of delaying the Money Talk include: migraine headaches, high stress levels, high blood pressure, panic attacks, heart attacks, and other health complications. In addition to the possible health problems, the financial problem remains unsolved. In an effort to begin to address this problem, I challenge the reader to select a close friend and/or family member and have the Money Talk. Before starting the conversation, consider seeking a person who is a good listener, nonjudgmental, open minded, and most importantly willing to participate. If you are uncomfortable with having the Money Talk with your close friends or family, then I strongly urge you to seek out a trusted financial professional who can listen to your concerns and provide you with guidance.

We are experiencing a massive financial and societal transformation, which requires us to adapt to a new paradigm. One way we can embrace the change is to accept who we are, where we are, what’s going on, and to develop a plan on how we can move forward. The first step toward moving forward is the courage to face our fears and have the Money Talk.

Rashad Phillips is a Certified Financial Coach and Tax Accountant. For additional information regarding this article, you may contact Phillips at phillipstaxg@aol.com.

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