Week 5
Money Talks: Master the Art of Financial Communication

We learn how to talk about money with the people around you and start working as a team.

Week 5: Communicating about money

We learn how to talk about money with the people around you and start working as a team.

Communicating and staying on track

Week 5 is all about communication. Specifically communicating about money with the people around you and working as a team, although this these tools and ideas can be applied to any area of life or business.

One of the biggest reason for divorce is money. 41% of people say money is a HUGE source of stress in their lives. If we can operate better, communicate better and work together it is amazing the progress we can make together with our finances. The YouTube live of the course is above.


There are a lot of resources that we have created to help you with this week. Here is a list of them all and then scroll on to find the course notes!

Course notes

This week’s course is in 2 parts. Firstly how to communicate about money and secondly how to stay on track when you get into this finance stuff.

​Katie and I created a short six minute YouTube video that highlights the key points and is easy to share. One way to recap the main content of part 1 is to watch that video or to read the article we wrote about How to talk to your partner about money.

In week 3 we spoke a lot about internal alignment. Does your goal align with your identity, beliefs and more. Internal alignment is only step 1. The second is the external alignment or alignment with the people around you.

If you and your family, partner or other have a joint goal to get your finances sorted but one of you doesn’t believe it is possible or isn’t really interested, it is going to cause huge friction for you both. How do we know? Because this is what happened to Katie and I for a long time. I was excited about sorting our finances and getting to financial independence but at that time Katie had a belief that “she didn’t deserve it!”. We need to uncover this stuff and work to resolve it.

The problem

Money ripped Alan’s family apart. It has caused huge damage in both our lives and the thing we have come to realise over the years that it is not money’s fault. It is the people and their lack of ability to communicate and work together that is the problem. Don’t blame money for your lack of communication skills or ability to work together.

It is never the thing, it is how we think about the thing that is the problem.

1. How to communicate with the people around you about money

We covered 10 key principles in communication on the course last night. These 10 things will give you ideas and clues about where you might be stuck as a team/family. The key for us is to use the alignment model to work through together to find out where you have alignment and where you don’t.

Maybe you could use the alignment model to go through as a family / team and to work to see if you have alignment. Ask them what their goal is and compare it to yours. Ask them what they believe about money / finances and compare it to your beliefs. See if you can uncover the differences and possible friction points!

Where to start

Where do most people start when working on this stuff? By trying to control their behaviours or the behaviour of their partner / family. How does this go?

They say things like “You need to budget, you need to spend less, you need to stop going to Greggs / the pub or wherever they are spending “too much money”

If you try and control your behaviour or that of other people without first having a huge why, a goal and working through the other alignment behaviours then you are doomed to failure. Not only that you will damage your relationship with the other person / people and they won’t want to work with you on money again.

First step is to think through the different alignment levels for yourself and then start to work with the other person.

People support what they co-create

If you go to your partner / family and say I have decided to go for financial independence so you need to stop buying Legos to help me get there you will find resistance.

If you try and force your goal and dreams on the other people they won’t follow. You need to take a breath, understand them, and build a goal or a vision with them.

You can pitch your ideas but you need to understand what they want. And if you come to a decision together to go for financial independence then you will both work at it. Don’t present a final vision to them and then expect them to hop on board, you need to build it with them.

How to communicate with your loved ones about money

​As a reminder here are the 10 points and a brief description of each.

  1. Internal / external alignment – use the alignment level model to understand where you are aligned and then where you and the people around you have alignment or not. This will help you identify points of friction and potential future arguments.
  2. Understand first – most people like to tell first. They tell you what they think, they explain their point of view without understanding. Stop telling people what you think and ask questions with curiosity. Understand the people in your life BEFORE you try and be understood. People will not be open to your way of thinking until they feel like they are understood.
  3. Find forgiveness – if shit has gone wrong with your finances in the past, if your partner, family have made mistakes with their finances then you need to find forgiveness. If you can’t find forgiveness then you owe it to yourself and the other people around you to admit that. Don’t just live in pain, find forgiveness and a way forward.

Katie and I have discovered that the reason people won’t forgive is because they are afraid that the problem will repeat itself. Your partner goes into debt, you find out, you pay it off, but you can’t let go because “What if it happens again?”

What this means is we get stuck in a loop, we have lost trust and the damage to our relationship is immeasurable.

The key to getting out of these loops we all get into is learning and change. Discussing the issue, the thing that comes up and then finding out what you and the other person have learnt and seeing if there is room for change.

The same is true for yourself. You need to work out what went wrong, what mistakes you made, own them, understand them and then learn from them. If you don’t learn from the things that go wrong in your life then they will keep coming back and biting you in the ass till you get the lesson.

4. Start with the vision/why – Most people start with “You need to budget!” which is a sure fire way to put people off working with you. No one is going to be interested in a budget, tracking spending or other things until they know why! You need a vision, a huge reason WHY you are getting on top of your finances. Are you doing this to be able to travel, look after the kids, have a comfortable retirement or another reason. Always start with why!

5. Gently introduce the numbers – Once you understand why then you can introduce the numbers gently. You can say to your family, your partner “ok, so we have a goal of XXX, will you help me look at the numbers to work out how we might be able to make this work?” Then you have permission to work on the spending, work on investing to create the life they are interested in!

6. Be Vulnerable – Someone has to go first and it is rarely anyone other than you. You might need to share your fears, share your letter to money and be vulnerable with the other person. You will learn a LOT from doing this no matter which way the conversation goes!

7. You have time – finding alignment, working together and making this happen takes time. This is not a one chat and done kind of thing. Be patient and take your time. Work on this slowly together.

8. Ask directly for what you want – what more can I say other than stop being British, stop indirectly asking for what you want, stop the passive aggressive crap about them not categorising the spending properly. Directly ask for support building your dream life together. Directly ask the other person for what you need with kindness and compassion. Direct communication is critical to working on the future together.

9. Make it fun – finance can be fun. Do the monthly finance meeting with a curry and a glass of wine, or like we do with a nice breakfast! Create fun charts, joke and have fun. Finances don’t have to be tough, they can be fun. Use your imagination to make things fun and watch how the people around you open up and start getting excited. Watch your kids, your family as they start to realise money doesn’t have to be a source of stress but can be a source of joy and opportunity!

10. Love conquers all – love for the people around you and love for yourself. Self-care is not bubble baths and chocolate and all that crap. True self-care is building a life you don’t have to run away from. Love yourself and your family by working on your finances and your life to truly build a life that you want to live.

Money Scales

In the next part of the course we moved into some scales that can be useful models to understand the people around you and their default way of operating.

Everything you want in life is done with and through other people. With this in mind one of the most important things you can do is to work to understand your friends, your family and your partner if you have one. The better your communication around money the easier your progress will be.

We looked at was the differences in how we operate around money. We introduced four scales to highlight some of those differences. Homework alert…. team up with another human, mark where you are on these scales and discuss the answers:

  • spender vs saver
  • past focused/present focused/future focused
  • towards motivated vs away motivated (the carrot and the stick)
  • big picture vs detail

Katie and I found it eye opening working through these and started to understand why we argue sometimes. Katie and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum on motivation and big picture versus detail.

Understanding this helps us both to flex our styles so we work better together. Remember these are NOT identities and a reason to excuse behaviour. These are default positions that have become habitual and your success in life is actually dependent on your ability to flex your style when you need to.

There are times in life where it is useful / good to be a spender. And there are times in life where it is better to be a saver / investor. Can you flex between the two or are you stuck in one position!?

Identity warning: This is not an excuse for you to “label” yourself a spender so you don’t have to change. Non of these things are labels they are just ways of thinking about our behaviour. We all have default positions that we get stuck in that we can work on and change. Just because you focus on the detail first doesn’t mean you can’t look at the big picture or even train yourself to start with the picture.

The second thing I really want you to get is that none of these things are either good or bad. Being a spender is not good and being a saver is not bad. They are just habitual ways of behaving that lead to different results. If you have fallen into a spender habit then you will find spending easy and saving difficult and vice versa. Both patterns have different outcomes and side-effects. This exercise is about noticing you and your families default ways of operating and then working together to be more flexible!

Your success in life is related to how flexible you can be on these scales. Sometimes you need to think about the future and focus on your plans and then you need to come back into the moment and live for now when you are with the people you care about. Sometimes you need to focus on the vision and big picture and then you need to focus and flex to look at the details that make the possible. Become flexible!

Remember as you go through this stories will come up. For example you might say “I just don’t like spending money”. This isn’t true or a fact, you just haven’t learnt how to yet. Don’t let your stories or the ones from your family trap you and stop you designing the life of your dreams.

​Alignment Levels

The alignment levels give us a tool to be able to look at our own world or that of our family/partner and to discuss different issues we have. Most people try and solve issues they are having at the behaviour level (i.e. you are spending too much money, not tracking) and don’t realise that the issue is at a different level such as identity (I am not good with money)

Here are the levels and a description of them.

  • Mission / Vision – Where are you heading as a couple, family or individual? Do you have a vision for life in the future?
  • Identity – who are you? Are you good with money? Do you enjoy maths and spreadsheets?
  • Values/beliefs – what is important to you? What do you believe to be true?
  • Capabilities – what skills do you have? Have you developed spreadsheet, investing or communication skills?
  • Behaviours – what are your daily habits?
  • Environment – where do you have your monthly finance meeting? Is the environment conducive to good conversation and focus? What type of people are you surrounding yourself with?

The real power of this piece of work is to help us get alignment internally and then with other people. If you are working to get to financial independence (mission) and you believe that are wealthy people are crooks (belief) then you are going to be torn as you work on this. You are going end up finding it difficult to follow through or having self-sabotaging behaviours. if you can work on alignment together and internally you will find making progress on your goals and vision SO MUCH EASIER!

Practical things you can do in this area are:

  • Develop a vision for your future. Share and discuss. The Donegan way of doing this is to each create a PowerPoint answering a question like “What do we want life to be like in retirement?” and then discuss the answers!
  • Work through the scales above and discuss – the first step to making progress is understanding. building trust starts with understanding your family and the people around you. Only then can you work on getting alignment.
  • Start conversations about money by asking questions. Your mission is to understand the other person first

This Mad Fientist interview shares Jill and Brandon’s story of how they found alignment.

The pre-work money belief survey is an interesting exercise to do with your partner or family. Fill it in independently and compare your answers.

2. Staying on track

Alan (with the help of the fabulous Haseena from the group) wrote an article on how to run your monthly finance meetings.

How to run a monthly finance meeting.

In the second part of the week we shared six ways to stay on track if you find yourself in the valley of despair at any stage.

After you leave the course your are bound to lose motivation at some stage. This is not an excuse to give up but rather a sign that you need to set up systems to help you keep going and to go about living your life in the time it takes for this stuff to work.

  1. Automate investments payments – don’t rely on will power. Automate your payments to pay off your credit card in full each month, automate your contributions to your SIPP and ISA and take advantage of automated systems to make things easier.
  2. Reconnect with your why – if you lose motivation reconnect with the reason why you are doing this! What is your vision of the future, are you doing this for your family? What is your motivation. It is not the Donegans’ job to inspire you it is YOUR job. Inspire yourself by thinking about your dream life and then get going on making it happen
  3. Monthly Finance Meetings – this is a critical element that we use to stay on track with out finances. Find the article about how to run your monthly finance meeting.
  4. Continuous Learning – there is always more to learn. Find a podcast that inspires you, find content that lifts you, find a book that ignites curiosity and continue to develop your skills over time.
  5. Find other Rebels – Two of the people that came on the course last year have been meeting every week on Monday ever since. Monday night is finance night after all! They work together on their finances, they chat and make progress. Use the Facebook group to find people in your area, or set up a virtual meeting with people you like and work together on your finances.
  6. Live your life – we had a question from an incredible participant last year who had done all the homework and he looked at us deep in the eyes and said “What do I do now? I have set up all the direct debits, and the investments and I don’t know what to do now!? Katie and I in unison replied “LIVE YOUR LIFE” The reason we work on our finances is to enable us to live our life. Why else are we doing it. money, finances and investing are tools to allow you to live how you want to live. Nothing more. So once you have set it up get on with living your life, spend time with the people you live, cook, travel, create or anything than brings you JOY!

Choose someone to do the monthly meetings with so that you can hold each other accountable. Schedule it in each month and make it fun! We like to do ours over a leisurely breakfast. How might you make it fun and exciting for everyone?! Post in the Facebook group if you want to find a Rebel Finance School buddy to do your monthly finance meetings with…

People always do more for other people than they will for themselves. To take advantage of this commit to doing it with someone else, commit to helping someone else, commit to making it happen and that will hold you accountable.

Week 5 homework

To get the most out of this course you must do the homework (plus homework is fun!)

So here is the homework for week 5…

  1. Set up your monthly finance meeting
    • Who
    • Where
    • When
  2. Set up recurring calendar invite
  3. Have a conversation about the future with your partner/family/friend
  4. Do the four scales exercise with a friend and discuss your answers

Ask for help

Remember to reach out in the Facebook group with any questions you have or if you get stuck. Don’t let confusion be an excuse for not progressing with this stuff. We are here to support you!

Katie’s millionaire tool

Have a go with Katie’s millionaire tool and let us know what you think. All you need to do is go to it, type in your net-worth and it will tell you how many countries around the world you are a millionaire in!

​You need just £200 to be a millionaire in Colombian Pesos! We haven’t defeated the game yet and we aren’t millionaires in every country around the world! are you?