How To…Normalize Talking About Money With Friends

Talking about money with friends doesn’t need to be awkward or stressful. Here are some tips to approach the conversation. 

Do you feel like you can’t talk about money with your friends, coworkers or peers?  

You’re not alone! 
 

  • One 2018 survey found that the majority of Americans would rather discuss anything (including drug use, politics, and racial issues) before they’d choose to talk about money.  
  • Many millennials feel as though their unique place in history has primed them for worry. After all, they went from growing up during the 2008 recession to graduating into, or trying to establish a career, during a worldwide pandemic. 
     
  • Another recent survey found that many Americans suffer from so-called ‘FOMO spending’. Nearly 40% of millennials have taken on debt just to adhere to a similar lifestyle as their peers.  

The bottom line? Financial anxieties are more prevalent than you think.  

This means that we all stand to benefit from a little more transparency around our finances. We can lower our stress levels, strengthen our relationships, meet our financial goals more easily, and maybe even find the inspiration to ask for that raise we deserve.  

Normalize Talking About Money With These Pro Tips 

  1. Acknowledge that money can be emotional and complicated. Our finances are inextricably linked with our goals and our progress towards them, so be kind, understanding and non-judgmental. 
  1. Be open about your finances if you expect others to be open with you. 
  1. Rather than a head-on approach (ex. How much is in your bank account? How much do you earn? What’s your debt situation?), try weaving it into the conversation casually. Ask specific questions – but keep them open-ended, and center them around your own financial goals or experiences. Here are some examples:
  • So, I’m thinking about setting up a retirement account. Do you guys have any experience with Roth IRAs?
  • I did some market research about salaries for my position, and I think I am being underpaid. Have you ever asked for a raise before?
  • I am trying to be smarter about how I spend my money, have you ever used any budgeting tools? Do you have any recommendations?
  • How do you save up for large purchases? I am trying to save up for a new car, and I would love to hear some other approaches.
  1. When one of your friends communicates a financial win, big or small, congratulate them! This may be a good time to talk about a financial goal you’re working towards. Ask them how they made their financial plans work out; as a rule, people like talking about their own successful experiences.  
  1. Try not to make assumptions about other people’s financial situations. Everyone’s allowed their own unique priorities, which may or may not line up with yours. 
  1. Leave comparison at the door. Financial conversations can lead to an unpleasant attempt for everyone involved to one-up the other. No one wins when playing this game.  
  1. If you need to talk about money with your friends because you need to start being more financially conscious about the activities you choose, communicating a clear goal may be helpful. ‘We’re trying to save up for a down payment!’ is more concrete and compelling than simply wanting to save money. Plus, your friends can help you celebrate when you reach that goal knowing how long or hard you worked to get there! 
  1. If you’ve told your friends or family that you may need to choose less expensive pastimes, come to that conversation equipped with ideas for budget-friendly things to do or workable alternatives. Maybe instead of eating out, you invite your friends to your house for dinner; instead of heading to watch a sports game, you go play one yourselves. 

There’s a very good chance that everyone feels awkward when talking about money. Meghaan Lurtz, a financial psychology consultant, put it this way: “Because money means something—it reflects who we are as a person, like it or not—it can be very difficult to talk about.” But it doesn’t have to be! 

If we challenge ourselves to initiate and navigate conversations surrounding financial wellness with the people around us, we may be able to make the types of financial decisions that make us proud – and help us work towards our goals faster.  

If you’re looking for more concrete ways to work towards your financial goals, we’ve got you covered. We’re here to help you talk about money with your friends, family, or anyone else in your life. The team at Commas is ready to help you define your financial goals and start working towards them. Reach out to us today for more info!  

Commas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Truepoint Inc., a fee-only Registered Investment Adviser (RIA). Registration as an adviser does not connote a specific level of skill or training. More detail, including forms ADV Part 2A and Form CRS filed with the SEC, can be found at www.usecommas.com. Neither the information, nor any opinion expressed, is to be construed as personalized investment, tax or legal advice.