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Breaking the Taboo: Why Women Need to Start Talking About Money

Updated: Mar 5

Should we talk about how much we earn with other women?


I will start by stating the obvious: everyone has their own comfort level with this question.

In my opinion... absolutely we should!

Here’s another opinion (that just so happens to match mine 😊) from The Financial Diet website:

... if we believe in one thing at TFD [The Financial Diet], it’s that money shouldn’t be taboo, and that one person’s honesty about their own life is not a personal attack on anyone else’s. Having more or less than someone is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it something to be proud of. It just is, and the sooner we accept that money is just like any other necessary aspect of human life, the sooner we can break that taboo and start learning from each other, just as we learn in talking about love or work.”


In an homage to Queen… 🎶, “I want to break free! I want to break free!” 🎶

two women high-fiving while smiling big

Merrill Lynch & Age Wave conducted a study (Women & Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line, 2018), finding that 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than finances. In fields mostly comprised of women--the odds of us talking about money are slim.

One more quick fact from the ML & Age Wave report: Women’s media doesn’t even touch on personal finances. Of 1,594 pages of editorial content in the March 2018 issues of the top 17 women’s magazines, there were only five pages covering personal finance. That’s less than 1%.

No wonder women aren’t openly talking about money! Why would we? It’s not something we are exposed to. We have to shift that paradigm.

One quick example from years ago: I worked alongside two sign language interpreters with similar credentials (college degree, national certification, and 10+ years of experience). One was earning $36/hr, and the other $45/hr—a $9/hour difference. If you bill 30 hours a week, that’s a gross income difference of $14,040!

So why was the first interpreter still at $36/hour?

  1. She followed the pay schedule from her partnering agencies versus establishing her own rate from the beginning

  2. She wasn’t sure what other interpreters of her caliber were earning

  3. She didn’t know how to request an increase... by the way, partnering agencies are not your boss. They will do what's in their best interest (and maybe not yours).

[Soap box if you please: When a female is asked to grovel for an additional dollar, it makes them feel like they aren’t worth it. It’s frustrating and requires vulnerability. I asked a dude about it and he was like “Yeah, I just tell the agency how much I’ll be charging.” In the spirit of the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.… I have a dream that the day will come for women to just tell people how much they’ll be charging!]

Back to the $36 v $45 topic for a moment. The three reasons listed above all point to hesitancy in discussing money.

How do we solve this conundrum?

  1. Discuss money with your people. If you rush out and start asking everyone you meet, it won’t end well. Start with people you trust.

  2. Make it a regular-ish conversation. Once every 5-10 years probably won’t cut it.

Money is a fact of life. It’s okay to treat it like one.

This blog has given me a lot to think about. Why do women struggle to talk about money? What does it look like in your industry? I'd love to hear your thoughts on Instagram. Send me a DM!

Here's to you!

Melissa Mittelstaedt

Money Coach | Accredited Financial Counselor®


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