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Communicating about Money

Communicating about money among family members is essential.
Communicating about money among family members is essential.

Nashville, Ark. –

Have you started your taxes for 2020? Are you surprised by how much or how little you made? Has Covid-19 affected your monthly income? Money…it is something we need, but it can sure cause problems no matter your income. Sometimes, it is a lack of money that causes the most money problems. More often, it is a lack of communication among family members that is at the root of money problems.

            When family members have different values and attitudes about spending and saving, or setting unrealistic goals, there is the chance that conflict will happen. When family members do not “talk things out,” even the best plans may not work.

            Preventing and overcoming money problems takes honest and open communication. It also takes time and effort. Here are some strategies for communicating about money matters in your family:

  • Keep in mind that whoever in the family earns the money does not also earn the right to dictate how it should be spent. Everyone should work as a team. Everyone should have input in financial decisions.
  • Identify the problem. Is it spending too much, spending it at the wrong time, or spending it on unnecessary or unimportant items?
  • Let each family member freely state his or her wants, needs, and personal feelings. Avoid judging or criticizing.
  • Listen carefully to the other person. Ask questions if needed.
  • Be willing to negotiate for a realistic settlement of differences.

Most money problems generally fall into four categories.

  1. Value Conflicts. To save or spend, to buy life insurance or a new car, to pay for college tuition or the latest iPhone – these choices reflect values and potential conflicts. No two persons have exactly the same values, but when there are sharp differences in values in a family, negotiation is vital.
  2. Unrealistic Goals. Wanting the same type of house, furniture and car that took your parents 30 years to earn is a common problem. Insisting on unrealistic standards often results in frustration and, worse, over-indebtedness.
  3. Emotional Uses of Money. Buying status, friendship, or love; controlling or punishing others by withholding money; and over-spending to get back at someone else are all examples of emotional uses of money.
  4. Lack of Planning. Impulse buying with credit cards, daily trips to the store, inadequate health insurance and low-yield investments all indicate a lack of financial planning.

Making financial decisions is a challenge for every family. Some steps that may help you come to an acceptable solution include:

Step 1. Define the problem. Be specific. List only one problem at a time.

Step 2. List ways to solve the problem. Write down all possible solutions. Do not judge.

Step 3. Evaluate the solutions in step 2. Are they workable, practical, and agreeable to everyone involved? Can you combine some of the solutions?

Step 4. Select a solution. List the steps it would involve to arrive at a solution.

Step 5. What might prevent you from achieving your goal? How can you avoid these obstacles? What support do you need?

To help get you started on communicating about money, check out the Talk About Money Worksheet available from the Howard County Extension Service. It is designed to give you more insight into your values and attitudes about money. It will also indicate some of what you know about your family’s income and spending habits. For a free copy of the worksheet contact me at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. You can also email me at for a copy. You can also check out financial information on our website at The Howard County Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Strong@Heart Red Salad Recipe

            This recipe is from the Strong@Heart website. February is heart healthy month. Try this delicious recipe this week. Great salad to compliment any Valentine’s Day meal.

  • ½ cup chopped pecans, roasted
  • 1 bunch spinach, rinsed
  • 1 red apple, sliced thin
  • ¼ red pepper, sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • Dressing
  • 2 Tablespoons red raspberry jam
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Arrange pecans on baking sheet. Toast in 375⁰F oven for 5 minutes, or until nuts begin to brown. Cool.
  2. Toss nuts together with salad ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. For the dressing, combine jam, vinegar, oil, pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together. Pour dressing over salad to taste. Toss to coat.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517

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The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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