Today’s podcast guest is Kathleen Burns Kingsbury. Kathleen has a background in Banking and Finance as well as Psychology and after deciding to merge the two areas she’s passionate about -Female psychology or empowerment and behavioral finance / behavioral change component – She founded the KBK Wealth Connection firm.
She also has a brand new book out titled Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances and Live a Richer Life.
An important lesson you will learn today is what private business owner’s need to be doing when it comes to Money Conversations. These are important conversations which often pushed away by many people, and most people who have them go about them ineffectively. This is where Kathleen comes in.
A few takeaway’s from today’s podcast:
- The importance of Meaningful Wealth Conversations
- How you can have more productive and positive financial discussions with people close to you (Spouse, Children, Parent’s)
- What to do when you’re spouse is not willing to have money conversations and how to go about it effectively
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, this is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business podcast. Our guest today is Kathleen Burns Kingsbury. She has a brand new book out. It’s called Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances and Live a Richer Life.
Today, we’re going to talk specifically of what private business owners need to be doing when it comes to money conversations. My experience is most of the money conversations are pretty bad. Let’s bring Kathleen in. I’m going to ask her, first of all, what she does and she’ll tell us a bit about that. And then, we’ll get into the topic.
Kathleen, welcome to the show today. Thanks so much for joining us.
Kathleen: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to have this conversation with you.
Josh: Yeah, me too. Kathleen, tell me a little bit about your background. What makes you a money expert? How did you get here?
Kathleen: How did I get here? I think that’s more than 20 minutes long but I’ll give you the short answer which–
Josh: The 30-second version. How’s that?
Kathleen: –which basically is, I have a background in banking and finance and a background in psychology. In 2006 or 2007, around that time, I decided to blend the two worlds. I took everything I love about working with women and women’s empowerment and the psychology of women and everything I love about finance which tends to be the behavioral finance or behavioral change component. I blended them together to start my firm KBK Wealth Connection. Since then, I primarily train financial advisors to communicate and connect with women, couples and families more effectively and to engage in meaningful wealth conversations.
Josh: Cool. Let’s start off and say what does a meaningful wealth conversation look like?
Kathleen: Well, I think a meaningful wealth conversation, the definition would certainly be up to both parties. But in general, what I’m talking about, when I’m talking about breaking money silence is the idea of having a financial dialogue that is about more than just dollars and cents. It’s not just about the numbers. It’s about what’s underneath our financial decisions. What are our goals? What are our values? What are the automatic thoughts we have about money that impact our decision making around how we’re going to use it in our lives, or save it, or invest it. And so, I think a meaningful conversation just goes a little step deeper than just talking about the technical sides or the numerical side of money.
Josh: You’re dealing with what a lot of people in the industry refer to as the softer side and what I like to call the purposeful side of money.
Kathleen: Nice. I wince a little bit with the softer side because the softer side, it kind of papoose it. It makes is like “Oh”. I know what you’re saying. That’s what the industry calls it. A colleague of mine, she happens to have the same first name, Kathleen Real, who works a little bit in this space. She talks a lot about how the financial conversations are actually the hardest part of it. I’ve started calling it the human side of finance as opposed to the softer side.
Josh: Oh, I like that. That’s a good thing. That’s a very good thing.
One of the things that I’ve noticed a lot, over the years, is that business owners – specifically male business owners are extraordinarily bad about talking about money and what’s going on with money in the business with their spouses. Has that been your experience or have you had some experience with that?
Kathleen: I have. I think gender-wise, it may be that men have been raised that they’re supposed to be providers and they’re supposed to take care of it and not be vulnerable so that may block them from having money conversations with their spouses. But I would say that I think it’s just really hard for business owners to find the time and for their partners to set aside the time to have these types of conversations. While I think they’re necessary, I can certainly feel for why it’s complicated to begin that dialogue in a society that says, “You know what, we’re really not supposed to talk about it. And if you’re a man, you’re supposed to have it all handled for your female counterpart.”
Josh: Yeah, but at the same time– and this is my experience, when I’ve dealt with spouses of these business owners, is the spouses are generally scared to death. There’s usually not a very good reason for them to be scared to death because the business is fine. The cashflow is fine. The profits are fine. The financial security of the family is usually at least okay. But still and all, they’re frightened. Wouldn’t it make sense that the spouses might be the ones who should really initiate this conversation?
Kathleen: Well, I think someone should initiate that conversation. When you say that the spouses are scared but it doesn’t make sense–
Josh: It makes tremendous amount of sense–
Josh: –because they don’t know what’s going on. If they did know what was going on, it wouldn’t make any sense at that point.
Kathleen: Okay. I’m reacting to two things. The first is, yes, I think having more knowledge, more information, no matter what your gender is, often does calm you down in terms of, “Okay, I’m fearful because I don’t know.” The unknown is often very frightening for people. And so, more information and having a conversation, I think, would be really useful and certainly, something I’m a proponent of.
However, there are situations – and you may not be talking about this, Josh, where women in particular may be fearful. And even when they have the data that says that they’re okay, they still worry that they’re not going to be. That tends to be a female phenomenon. It tends to be more about the emotional side of money and less about the rational side of money. But certainly, I think, information all the way around and having a dialogue and an interchange makes perfect sense and can go a great distance in really helping business owners, and their significant others, and their families understand what’s going on and feel more confident in what’s going on.
Josh: Spouses, being scared, even if they have the information, is there a behavioral finance component in there of some sort? If there is, which one would it be?
Kathleen: In terms of an error, you mean? Like, a behavioral finance error?
Josh: No. Not an error but a belief system.
Kathleen: What I find with people who have this, and it’s called bag lady syndrome because it does typically happen more to women than men. It’s when somebody fears that they’re going to run out of money, outlive their money, even when they have the money. And so, I think, it really gets down to women not having the information. But when they have the information, it can be not feeling confident in their ability to make, and manage, and invest money especially if their partner dies first or leaves them. It also can have a lot to do with what they saw in their own history. Maybe mom, once dad was gone, really struggled and didn’t do very well and they’re afraid they’re going to repeat that pattern.
Women, just like men, have a great ability to take care of themselves financially but unfortunately, until recently, the previous generations, later boomers, certainly traditionalists and some gen-Xer’s have not been really encouraged to learn about finance and take care of themselves financially. I think that’s where the fear comes from. It’s the lack of confidence, a lack of knowledge. And then, sometimes it can be really irrational. I saw my mom go through this. I’m just really fearful. I don’t want to go through the same thing.
Josh: Okay. That makes sense. How do we get it so spouses are supportive of their business owner spouses – too many spouses in here and not be quite so scared? What could they be doing that would help them along with that?
Kathleen: Well, I think all couples – especially business owners, should have routine, regular money conversations. That sounds so boring, right? Like, “Uh”. Like, I want to do that on a Saturday.” But I think that these conversations can be pretty quick, right–
Kathleen: –if you do them regularly. They don’t have to be this big drawn out thing. It can be 15 to 20 minutes, checking in.
If you’ve never done this before, it starts off with saying, “Hey, let’s spend some time and talk about what we feel good about in terms of what’s happening in the business financially or what’s happening in our personal lives financially.” And then, over time, you might move to more charged topics like things that aren’t going as well or concerns such as legacy planning or what kind of lessons do we want to teach the kids.
But I think if all adults, and especially partners, and especially if you have this complicated family structure that you have a business and you have a family, if you can just set aside some time to have that conversation, it really can go a long way. Not only in helping both of you feel more comfortable about what’s happening in your lives financially but there’s actually research that shows that couples who talk about money more often actually are more satisfied in their marriages.
For the male business owners out there thinking, “I don’t want to do this”, just know it could increase intimacy and it can make your wives very happy.
Josh: How about the other way around, where the woman is the business owner and the male is the outside spouse, would there be a different sort of strategy that you would be pursuing there? Or is it the same rules, both sides?
Kathleen: I think the rules are pretty similar. I think what’s different is women are hardwired and more often socialized to want to collaborate and to want to talk things through. And so, we may – and this is a generalization, but we may have a greater tendency to do that.
In my house, I’m the female business owner. My husband– well, I wouldn’t call him an outsider. He doesn’t work in my business. He works for someone else. I have to say that we do talk about our financial lives a fair amount because I try to practice what we preach. I don’t know how much I sit down and actually tell him what’s going on in the business. I may be very similar to some of those male business owners out there, not even thinking it might be a concern for him.
Josh: Yeah, so it might be useful for folks just as a first thing that you might want to think about is to ask your spouse how they feel about your financial security and kind of start that conversation.
Here’s my other question. It sounds to me like you’re not recommending these be moderated conversations. They’re just conversations. Does it make sense to start with moderated conversations around this first?
Kathleen: I actually think it depends on who the couple is. Sometimes you can like listen to this podcast or watch this Facebook Live or read an article and you can then bring that information to your significant other and you guys can start a dialogue. There are some couples that are capable of doing that. Usually, it’s because both partners want to have that conversation. For others, and especially when it comes to money, it can be kind of scary, depending on what your thoughts and beliefs are about talking about money. And so, often, what I encourage people to do is to find an advisor like yourself or a financial planner or somebody, even a counselor, who could help facilitate that conversation or get the dialogue started.
In my new book, I offer at the end of each chapter, Josh, some exercises, like coaching activities, that can help people who are self-helpers start that conversation. But also, can help their advisors take those exercises and work with their clients. I think it really depends but there’s nos shame– and it certainly can be extremely helpful to have somebody, who’s a third party, who’s pretty neutral, that can get the dialogue started.
Josh: What happens when– I’m giving you all these sort of stupid hypotheticals–
Josh: –but here’s another one for you.
Kathleen: Okay. Bring them on.
Josh: What happens when one spouse wants to have the conversation and the other doesn’t? What’s your recommendation then?
Kathleen: Give up. No. No, that’s not my recommendation. That happens, more often than not– you know this Josh, right? That happens more often than not that there’s one person–
Josh: Yes. I’m aware of that.
Kathleen: –who’s really into it and the other person’s like, “I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you bothering me?”
Kathleen: There’s a couple of techniques that I encourage people to use. (1) If your spouse doesn’t want to talk about or have a financial conversation with you, certainly, you don’t want to berate them with this all the time because that’s just going to turn it into a negative situation. But what I do think is worth exploring is seeing if you can ask a couple of follow-up questions. “I know you don’t’ want to talk about money or you don’t want to follow this advice that I heard on this podcast but can you tell me a little bit about “why”. Help me understand why you don’t want to have the conversation.”
There may be some really good reasons why the person doesn’t want to have the conversation. It could be as simple as “this isn’t the time” or “I grew up that when my parents talked about money, they just fought about money and I don’t want to fight with you. The business isn’t going well, I don’t want to talk with you about it.” Whatever the case may be. And then, if you find out why and you go, “Oh, then I need to do my own work and you can continue to work on your relationship with money.”
The other thing, and I say this a lot with aging parents but I think this works with partners as well, is something from the counseling world called the broken record technique. And so, it’s every once in a while, bringing it up, saying, “You know, it’d be really helpful if we could just have a short conversation about money. I know maybe this isn’t your favorite thing to do.” And then the person goes, “No. I told you I didn’t want to do this.” And it’s like, “You know what, I hear you but I’m going to probably follow up again in a couple of weeks because this is really important to me.” And so, you just kind of chip away at it.
There are going to be people who are never going to have this dialogue with you but I’m convinced, if you can express to them why it’s important to you and assure them that it’s not going to be a forever conversation, like it’s not going to go on for hours and hours, and you also can find out what the resistance is. Over time, you can move towards having a little bit of a dialogue.
And the last thing I would recommend is start with successes. What are our successes? Help the other person feel good about the money conversation. You certainly don’t want to start with everything they’ve done wrong, in your viewpoint, because that’s not going to be something that’s going to be enjoyable for either one of you. Does that make sense, Josh?
Josh: That makes a lot of sense. Actually, we had a podcast yesterday and a Facebook Live session yesterday where I talked with Ed Jacobson about appreciative inquiry.
Kathleen: Yes. I know of his work.
Josh: Yeah, he does great stuff.
That’s essentially the whole thing. You’re going to start with something good and build on it which, to me, tends to make a lot of sense.
Now, you’ve mentioned legacy planning just a minute ago. I’m good friends with Tom Deans who’s written a book called Willing Wisdom which you may be aware of. Tom has done some research and he tells me that only half the people in North America have wills and only 5% of those people have wills actually talk about what’s in the will. Do you have any opinion about that and some things that you might think people should do?
Kathleen: When they say talk about what’s in the will, you mean the specific amounts that are going to people?
Josh: The specifics – the conversation about what decisions you’ve made, why you’ve made them, who’s going to get some stuff, where does philanthropy fit in, and especially if you intend to leave more money to charity than your kids.
Kathleen: I feel very strongly that parents can really give a great gift to their adult children if they have a conversation with them or several conversations – it’s usually not just one, about their legacy plans. And certainly with a business, you’re going to want to make sure you talk to them not only about personal legacy, but also what’s going to happen with the business. Hopefully, there’ll be a whole succession plan, whether it’s you’re liquidating the business, whether one of the children or several of the children are taking on the business or whatever the case may be.
I think that, once again, knowledge is power and having those conversations with your adult children can be initially difficult but can be so rewarding. I can give you two examples from my own life. My mother, several years ago– well, now, it’s been probably 15 years ago, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My dad was her primary caregiver.
One of the things that dad did early on is, I think this helped him with all the emotions, he very much focused on getting the family trust in order, and the wills, and the healthcare proxies and all that kind of stuff. And so, what his estate planner did was he had myself and my sister in to talk with him because my dad had a concern of “What was going to happen if he died before my mother” because he was the primary caregiver for her as she continued to get more ill. At that point, my mother was not healthy enough to attend the meeting so it was the three of us – my father, my sister, myself and the attorney.
In that 45-minute dialogue, my father was able to share information with me. It wasn’t necessarily the specifics of what was in his will other than we knew kind of that it was going to be split between the two siblings but more about what was important to him in terms of my mom’s care, if he died first, and a little bit about what he had hoped my sister and I would take on as his legacy. I was very close to my father. In those 45 minutes, I learned so much more about my dad, about my sister. And, certainly, I had a lot of respect for that attorney who facilitated that conversation because even though this is what I do for a living, when I’m the adult child, it doesn’t mean I always act professionally or having a facilitator is really useful.
And so, that made a really big difference, when my mom was sick and eventually passed on, to be able to have that dialogue. As a quick follow up, recently there were some other changes in my family, I went back to my dad, had a dialogue with him, one-on-one, about some of my concerns or questions about the estate plan. We could have a very calm, adult conversation about it and I’m convinced it’s because 10 – 15 years ago, the foundation was laid that it’s okay in my family to talk about money and to talk about legacy. And so, that’s a gift that my dad has given me that I really hope that a lot of folks out there who are listening in will give to their adult children or the adult children will ask for that gift from their parents.
Josh: In my experience, the parents have to lead that charge. Children can ask but parents will more often than not say “no” unless they already have a predisposition towards saying “yes”. I really think that, as parents, we need to be the adults in the room.
Kathleen: It doesn’t always happen that way though, does it Josh? I mean, ideally it would be great if parents always led the charge but I have had a couple of people I interviewed for the book where the parents got sick and then the adult children started to ask questions and then together they started to do it so it wasn’t–
Josh: I think that’s the exception right there.
Josh: I always sound like everything coming out of my mouth is true 100% of the time. I never mean it that way but I know it always comes across that way. What I’m talking about, the majority of the time.
Now, one of those exceptions is when you have a terminal illness. As an adult, you’re probably going to be more likely to accept questions from your kids because you can see the end. But when you can’t see the end, it becomes a harder thing for an adult to have their children bring it up and easier for parents to bring it up. In my opinion, I think the parents need to be the initiators if, at all, possible.
Kathleen: I would agree with you.
Josh: It’s hard for kids to say, “Hey, mom and dad, what’s in your will?” We don’t want to sound greedy.
Kathleen: Well, yes, because even when I brought up this recent issue with my father, I felt like, “Ooh, I hope–” and I said this directly because I’m a direct communicator. I said, “I hope you don’t think this is about money, it’s more about kind of value and knowing that when you’re no longer with us, making sure that things are as good as they can be”, given the fact that you’d be grieving.
You’re right, as an adult child, I thought, “Uh, I hope this isn’t being construed as Kathleen’s greedy.” I do think greedy or rude or “we’re going to make mom uncomfortable”. Maybe it’s because I’m an adult child and I don’t have kids, but I found a lot of my peers are the ones who are kind of just planting the seed with mom and dad. And then mom and dad come along for the ride.
Folks that work with you or have businesses that have wealth advisors and professionals that can help them out, their wealth advisors should be bringing up the idea of these conversations and planting the seed as well.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. By the way, I don’t know if you know this but I am a CFP also.
Kathleen: I do. I called you an advisor. I use the word advisor for everybody. Yes, I do know you’re a CFP. I did my homework, Josh.
Josh: Oh, okay. Good. You’re three steps ahead of me.
Kathleen, unfortunately, we are out of time for the podcast episode. I know I’m going to buy your book and read it. I’m going to bet some other people would like to buy your book and read it.
Kathleen: I would love that.
Josh: How would they go about and hopefully leave a review on Amazon while they’re at it.
Kathleen: Oh, yeah. Two easy ways. (1) Amazon. It’s called Breaking Money Silence and there’s a long subtitle. My name’s Kathleen Burns Kingsbury. Breaking Money Silence on Amazon.
And then, also, you can go to the book’s website which is breakingmoneysilence.com. There’s information about the book. There’s a video book trailer. And there’s a lot of freebies that you can sign up with, tip sheets on how to start these conversations, on how to fight fair financially, how to talk to your teens about kids. Definitely, go to breakingmoneysilence.com and check that out.
Josh: Okay, cool. And if somebody wanted to have a conversation with you, could they e-mail you or–?
Kathleen: Oh, absolutely.
Josh: –is there a contact you form?
Kathleen: There’s a contact me form.
Kathleen: I’m on Twitter @KBKspeaks. I love to connect with people who are reading my work. I get the most joy in knowing how it’s impacted people and what are the further questions that you have that I can answer potentially in my next book.
Josh: I also have an offer for you. I have a one-hour – it’s actually a 48-minute free audio CD course. It’s called the Financial Freedom Project. It’s essentially what you need to do, as a private business owner, about achieving financial freedom from your business. It doesn’t mean you’re going to leave your business but some day you probably may want to have the option to do that.
To get it, it’s really easy, you take out your smartphone. You do not take your smartphone out while you’re driving, especially if you happen to be in Vermont because I’m probably riding my bike and–
Kathleen: That isn’t funny, I think.
Josh: Yeah, take out your smartphone and text RETIRE1, that’s the number 1, RETIRE1 to 44222. That’s RETIRE1 to44222.
This is Josh Patrick. You’re at the Sustainable Business. I hope to see you back here really soon again.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.