How to Talk to Your Friends about Money
I bet you talk more openly with your friends about your sex life than your money life. Am I right? Somehow it’s more comfortable to discuss what’s happening between the sheets than what’s happening in our bank accounts. I really believe it’s time to change that! Why? If we could learn how to talk about money with our friends, we would all be a lot better off.
We’d feel less embarrassed about spending less at the bar, or staying in more often. Our friends would know our financial goals, and we would be more supported. We’d also feel less alone. I hear so often that people think they’re the only ones struggling with money, that they just “don’t have it together”. If we talked to our friends about our money issues, we could see that they might be struggling with the same things. It builds community, compassion, and understanding. And you might even get an accountability buddy out of it!
So let’s start the conversation. Here are some tips for how to approach the money talk with your friends.
1) Be honest
It might go without saying in this article, but you need to actually talk to your friends about money. In the past, I would say no to plans or bail at the last minute because I couldn’t or didn’t want to spend the money. But I wouldn’t tell my friends why I was canceling, I would just cancel, or make up a different excuse. I ended up feeling isolated, and I pissed off some of my friends. If you’re honest about what your limitations are, your friends will better understand where you’re coming from. Maybe they’ll even feel relieved, because they were struggling with the same issue. (Now that I’ve typed this out, it’s a lot like depression and anxiety. If you are honest about what’s going on in your life, people will probably be more understanding of you!)
2) Be vulnerable
At Money Circle last week, one attendee said, “the only way to counter shame is vulnerability”. (Thanks, Brené Brown!) It’s true. Money brings up a lot of shame, especially in women. But the only way to deal with that shame, and hopefully step out of it, is to be honest about our experiences. If we hide what we’re struggling with, the shame will only grow stronger. Get real about what your money issues are. Talk about your debt. Talk about your spending habits. From there, it will get even easier for you to talk about it, and hopefully easier to deal with.
3) Talk about your goals
I’ve said this before, but just saying “I’m broke” probably isn’t a very compelling excuse to your friends. However, if you let them in on your long term goals, they will probably be more supportive. This might involve getting pretty vulnerable, like I mentioned above, but it will pay off in the long run. Let them know that you have a set weekly budget because you’re saving up for a big trip, or because you want to have your credit card paid off by next spring. It’s easier for people to get on board with a tangible goal, rather than the abstract idea of spending less money.
4) Ask about their goals
I mentioned this in my piece about having the money talk with your romantic partner, but it works just as well with friends. Do you know what your friends hope to achieve in life? Maybe they want to earn more money, maybe they want to save up to buy a house. They might not even have clear goals yet, but asking about them could very well set them down that path. Encourage your friends to identify and clarify their goals, and see how they relate to money. For example, one of my friends really wanted to quit her job and become a real estate agent. Knowing that, I could encourage her to save up a cushion so that she could take that leap. I also knew what types of activities might be too expensive for us to do together, so I planned accordingly.
5) Offer support
We all do better when we have a buddy. Accountability is really hard on our own. So if it turns out that your friends have similar financial goals to yours, team up! You could set weekly money dates, where you both review your spending and compare with your monthly budget. You could plan fun, affordable outings together. You could also just simply send each other encouraging texts every week. It’s easier to keep working towards a goal when we know we’re not alone.
Some people might not respond well to these frank conversations. A lot of us have resistance to money (which is normal; it’s scary!). It also can be a bummer to have to worry about money when you really just want to have fun. So if any of your friends are less than understanding, it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you; in fact, it’s great that you want to take control of your financial future. Hopefully you’ll inspire your friends to do the same.
Have you had the “money talk” with your friends? Share your experiences in the comments!
Maggie is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. Her life’s mission is to give women the support and the tools that they need to take control of their money, break the taboo of discussing debt and income, and achieve their goals and dreams. She does this through one-on-one financial coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, and speaking engagements. Passionate about many issues affecting women, Maggie also serves on the board of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, is a member of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington’s Developing Leaders Program, and was trained as a salary negotiation facilitator by AAUW.