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Money Talks: Who Do You Discuss Your Finances With?

Updated: Jan 19

Money is a complex topic that can be challenging to discuss, especially with people who may not share your views and values. Finding safe and supportive spaces to convey your thoughts and concerns without judgment or criticism is essential when talking about money.

So... how do you find those spaces or people?


Getting a pulse

Not everyone is game to talk money. For example, one of my sisters is uber-private about money. It's her business and no one else's. My other sister is an open book. She and I talk about wages, expectations, raises, negotiating, retirement planning-- the whole nine yards. You have to know your audience.

If you're not sure if someone is up for talking money, you have two choices:

  1. Ask them how much they make and watch to see if they answer or squirm

  2. Be blunt: "I'd love to have a money convo with you. Are you open to that?"

I will not judge the method of your choosing.


There are a lot more people who are open to talking about it than you might think. But, they may be hesitant to start the conversation. If you're open to leading that charge, you could be the hero in this story.

a group of people clapping

But remember, some people are uncomfortable discussing finances or may have different values around money. The ultimate goal is to respect others' boundaries and avoid pushing the conversation if they're not open to it. If you try to force a convo on someone, you become the villain in this story.


Peers

Talking about money with people in your workplace or the same industry can be challenging. There is the potential to hurt other people's feelings, to learn you aren't making nearly as much as you could be, or to ruffle feathers. I get it. It's not easy. But it's necessary. If we want to close the gender wage gap, we have to be willing to engage in those conversations.

In my 9-5 days, I had that conversation with two people at two different organizations. Interestingly enough, one of those conversations was with a male counterpart. He asked me how much I made, and I blurted out my salary. He was getting paid 5k less per year. That was a surprise. The other conversation was with a female counterpart; she made quite a bit more than me, and we were at the same management level. I knew I was leaving my position soon, so I opted not to proceed with any further discussions.

In my Video Relay Service days (interpreting phone calls between deaf and hearing parties), management made it REALLY clear that we couldn't talk about wages. I wish I had known more about my rights, which brings me to this...


The National Labor Relations Act

By law, we have the right to talk about how much we make with whomever we please, but not always wherever we please. For example, if you are employed, the company can mandate that you don't discuss wages during work hours or onsite. Also good to know there are a few groups who aren't protected by this act:

government employees (disagree with this),

agricultural laborers (don't agree with this either),

and interstate railroad & airplanes.

Aside from those folks, talk away!


Family

I grew up in a family where we didn't talk about money. I had a piggy bank and probably still do somewhere. I was mainly a saver as a kid, but I don't recall saving for anything specific. Christmas money-- tucked it away. Birthday money-- tucked it away. I wish someone had asked me why I was doing what I was doing. But, alas, that wasn't my story. The fact that I didn't have those convos probably led me here today.

If you have genuine communication in your family, but no one talks about money, you could always ask why not. Maybe they weren't allowed to talk about it growing up, so it's not even a thought. Who knows, they may be open to it now! If your family is more private in their communication, you'll have to gauge each person individually on where they stand.


Friends

If no one in your close circle is up for talking about money, it's time to find new friends. (half joking here)


In all seriousness, finding people who aren't peers or family members to chat with about finances is imperative; it allows for a more authentic/honest dialogue about what you're thinking and needing. There are several financial communities for women; you can find them in a quick Google search. Two that I am a part of are:

The Pledgettes

Ladies Get Paid

Financial Professionals

As a Money Coach, I would be remiss not to include the professionals. But this blog post is about something else. I will write about this very topic soon. Stay tuned...


In Closing

One thing that may help others feel comfortable talking about money is if you share your own experiences. Model the behavior. Consider discussing your struggles, what wins you've experienced, and something you're eager to learn about. Vulnerability often requires one person to take the first step. You can be that person.


Here's to you,

Melissa Mittelstaedt

Money Coach | Accredited Financial Counselor®


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