We need it, we think about it, some might even salivate over it.
So why is it then, when we utter the dreaded m-word, it makes us want to crawl under a rock, never to be heard of again?
Being open about money doesn’t necessarily mean going out and sharing in detail how much you make and what you spend on to everyone you meet down the street. Certainly not. It’s more about what gives us the heebie jeebies when it comes to talking about money with friends and family.
Take Kate Dore, blogger from Cashville Skyline. She has no idea how much her partner of seven years makes. “We’ve lived together for most of our relationship, but I don’t know exactly what his financial picture looks like,” she confesses.
The weird thing is, some of us are more willing to share our sex lives with friends than talk about money. Why is that? What makes people be so secretive about something that affects us all?
We’re Afraid of Being Judged
Let’s be honest here. Most of us have made bad financial decisions in some form or another. Maybe you dipped into your emergency fund to buy a nice jacket for yourself, or you missed a couple of payments on your student loans.
But to admit that to other people? Gosh no!
Oh, so you’re one of those types who’ve never made a bad financial decision? Fine. But people probably still judge you on how you spend your money anyway.
“I’ve been scared to discuss investing in my personal and professional development openly with my family members,” freelance writer Sabita Saleem says. “My family would say it’s a waste of money to spend on such things. Rather, it’s better to enjoy the limited earnings you do have and just put in more work hours if you want more money. I’m scared I’d be seen as irresponsible because I’m not contributing towards my family, that I’m selfish for thinking only about myself.”
There’s nothing worse than the thought of people point fingers at you and laughing at what you did. Kind of like when you have those dreams where you walk down the school hallway naked. It’s those feelings of judgement that makes us keep tight lipped about money.
We’re In Denial About Our Financial Situation
What if you finally decide to have an honest conversation with your friends, only to find out that you make less than they do? Or what if you openly discuss your spending habits with your spouse only to find out you spend more than you make?
Some of us lie to ourselves about our current situations. No, I’m not talking about whether or not you’re fooling people into thinking you’re naturally blonde (though I’m sure you’ve spent a lot on those beautiful highlights!). Maybe you have an addiction to buying clothes and you’re not checking how much you swipe that credit card. Doing that might mean you have to stop doing something you love.
I had a friend who was a doctor with her own practice and always showed up to social events carrying a handbag du jour. Later, I found out that she racked up over $60,000 in credit card, all in the name of keeping up with the joneses. She fooled people for years, simply because people all thought she made a lot of money since she was a doctor. But her constant spending caught up with her, whether she liked it or not.
Your friends or partner probably had different values than you do. Most of the time it’s ok, but when it comes to money, it becomes something really sensitive. Kind of like when you rip the bandage off a wound. Ouch!
Whether you like to admit it or not, money is a reflection of your values. If they clash in any way can lead to conflict.
Another example is my close friends. She used to get really irritable whenever they try to discuss money. “My husband likes to live on a strict budget,” she says. “I prefer to be more generous with others, like purchasing higher quality foods and products even if they’re more expensive. He thinks I waste money. That’s one of the areas where we are in conflict.
Removing the Stigma From Talking About Money
Alright, let’s stop talking why talking about money sucks and do something about it. In fact the more open you are about money, the more you can create the life you want.
Think about it: What is the money really for? Most of us use it to take care of our needs, sure. But digging deeper, all we really want is freedom. Some people choose to quit their jobs to travel the world. Some people want to pursue a business idea they had. Heck, some of us just want to know our medical needs are being taken care of.
So how do you start? Think and talk about money like a wealthy person. How, you ask? It’s easy: take action.
The rich didn’t become wealthy by sitting around and avoid talking about money. If they did, they probably wouldn’t see how much money was coming in and coming out, whether they were living below their means, or find specific ways of earning more money. They take massive action, so they can look toward the future and use money as a tool for living their dreams.
It’s not easy to change. If it were, everybody and their dogs would be throwing bucket loads of money because they have too much of it (where can one find those people?).
Here are some ways to start:
–Read finance articles: Nobody says that you have to start off talking about your own money situation. If you want to open up a conversation without your face getting all red, find an article that seems interesting or could be on a money topic you really want to dig deep into. Casually mention you’ve read this article and ask what your friends or family members think about it. Let loose the can of worms that way. Some great ones to dig through are The Simple Dollar, The Penny Hoarder, Financial Samurai, Good Financial Cents and Get Rich Slowly.
– Share your salary with someone you like: what’s the worst that could happen? Go ahead, double dog dare you. Just do it, even with a coworker or a friend. Once you’ve divulged personal information such as that, there’s no going back.
–Look at your bills: If you’re one of those in denial about the hard numbers, you gotta face it sometime. Drink some wine if you must, or chocolate if that’s your vice. Write down all those scary numbers and see what your situation really is
–Find an online group: Join a Facebook group (there are tons of them) and talk about money that way. You’re surrounded by people you probably don’t know, so it seems less scary. Think of it as practice for when you will have those conversations with people in real life.
So there you have it. Money isn’t scary. Get out there and start talking about it!