Family feuds

Ah families.. The Brady Bunch one day, Dallas the next. What are the best ways to handle a financial argument between family members?
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Families are “unique” little units, aren’t they? Sometimes it’s all love (like The Flintstones and The Brady Bunch) and sometimes it’s all manipulation and scheming (like Dynasty and Dallas).

Some families are like a comfy old slipper. And some others, well, you wish you could find the adoption papers that would prove why everyone else in your nuclear family is weirder than you. You know you’re strange also, you’re just from another planet of fruit loops.

In my family, arguing was a sport. You played to win, but to win with superior debating skills. Or bulldust. Whatever scored the points. Those “discussions” could get pretty nasty, but all would be forgiven soon enough.

Family money arguments are a whole new level of horrid. And it will drag on until the financial issue is settled. Don’t let that be never.

Fighting with family inevitably sees totally unrelated sore points from years ago raised into any new argument. Like some European nations, this argument was actually picked to settle something from decades ago.

So ... if the issue is small, be big enough to make the first compromise. Perhaps your opponent will give a little too. Eventually, you’ll get there.

If it’s big, bring in a neutral family member, counsellor or financial adviser as an independent mediator.

If it’s huge, even small arguments in the remade Dallas will surely be about billions of dollars, bring in the lawyers!

Your best bet, is to not get backed into that corner in the first place. Family relationships are hard enough to manage without the added emotions of money.

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Bruce Brammall is the author of Debt Man Walking ( and principal adviser with Castellan Financial Consulting.