For many, talking about how we are doing financially can be uncomfortable and feel awkward. You might think if things are going well, people will think you are bragging or even ask to borrow some cash. Alternately, if you are struggling financially, it’s possible to feel like your friends or family might look down on you if you talk with them about it. In reality, many of us will live beyond our means or miss out on opportunities due to the lack of comfort when it comes to discussing money.
Dig in without getting too personal
Money conversations probably won’t be very successful if you try to get too personal by asking about specifics like debt load, savings, or salary. However, you can talk about finances without disclosing or asking others what they have in their accounts. Discussing finances with those around you should be utilized as a way to learn new information or techniques, feel connected, identify skills you have that could help others, or get you thinking about money in different ways.
I want to go to dinner tonight and brunch tomorrow with everyone, but I can’t really afford both.
- Which would you do?
- Do you have tips on setting aside more money for the weekends?
Do you have a 401(k)?
- Can you tell me more about them?
I’ve been thinking about opening a credit card, but I’m not sure where to start.
- Do you have one and do you like it?
- What things should I try to look out for when researching where to open one?
What apps are you using to invest?
- What features do you like?
- How did you decide to start?
I have a meeting coming up with my boss and really want to ask for a raise.
- Have you ever done this?
- How did it go and how did you approach it?
I’m thinking about doing education abroad, but don’t know if I can afford it.
- Do you know any sponsors or ways to get grants for this?
- Do you have any tips to start saving for this?
Things to keep in mind
It can be easy to automatically feel a little jealous or start one upping each other when discussing money. Keep in mind, we all have a different relationship and background with money so try not to compare yourself to other’s financial situation. Try to be aware of this when it arises so it doesn’t impact your relationships or add more stress.
Also, identify your spending boundaries and ask friends if they have any you should keep in mind. If you or one of your friends says they are on a budget for one reason or another, try to respect that when asking them to hang out or do certain things. Finally, remember not everyone you talk to is an expert on the topic so listen to their advice but make your own decisions.
If you’re still feeling nervous to start talking about money with the people in your life, it’s okay to start small. Find a topic you are comfortable discussing like saving or building credit instead of jumping right into talking about investing or 401(k)s. Build up your confidence by reading more content focused on finances, listening to podcasts discussing money, such as Wallet Watch, or watching videos from reputable sources. You can do this!