How to Talk Money With Friends (the Polite Way)
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
Create & Cultivate is an online community and creative conference that serves up serious boss-piration (like MyDomaine’s own co-founders, Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr) to female entrepreneurs looking to revolutionize the digital landscape. So who better to tap for intel about the practices of successful women than Create & Cultivate’s editorial director, Arianna Schioldager?
“Do you mind if I ask… ?” These are six little words that almost always preface questions about money, especially among female friends. “Do you mind if I ask how much that cost?” “Do you mind if I ask how much your rent is?” “Do you mind if I ask how much you make?”
Women have traditionally shied away from discussing personal finances, instead choosing to tiptoe rather clumsily around these conversations. But like anything else, if we don’t talk about it, we won’t get good at it. From asking for a raise to investing in a 401(k), there is plenty of good advice to be gleaned from your friend group.
Keep reading to learn a few ways to broach money talk with friends.
Have an honest conversation with your friends about what they are making and and their financial goals. The second part of this is equally as important as the first. Talking salary with friends can boost your financial confidence, which in turn can have a positive impact on your career. It can also highlight if you should be making more.
If you know your friends are making more money than you, use it as motivation to achieve your financial goals. Journalist Moira Forbes once told me, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” See it, hear it, and share it—because the highest wave floats all boats.
The raise conversation is a tricky one to have with colleagues because we don’t generally divulge our salary to our co-workers. If you’ve already had the salary talk with close friends, chatting over the realistic and unrealistic expectations of your raise will prove beneficial to all parties. However, because money is a sensitive topic, try to have the conversation with a friend who is paddling in a similar financial boat. Talking to a friend that makes significantly less than you could potentially strain the relationship. Talking to a friend that makes significantly more than you might have you reaching toward an unrealistic branch on the money tree.
Aim for the middle and be prepared to have a real talk about what you’re worth and why. A true friend will not only help prepare you for the convo, but will steer you in a realistic direction toward your goals. Understanding how to price yourself is paramount, and the more we understand the realities of others’ financial situations, the better we understand our own.
Our relationship with money can sometimes feel like a bad marriage. We don’t talk about the things that bother us, instead choosing to sweep problems under the rug in the hopes that they might disappear. The great thing about true blue friendship is that you can talk about anything—especially when you’re not in the green.
Our friends are there to remind us that the idea of "keeping up" with others is one of the biggest illusions out there. If you thought you’d be making more, saving more, or wrapping up those student loans, it’s time to assess and call up a friend. Talking through missteps or how much you’re putting on your credit card every month will lend a little financial clarity.
Oh, the expensive inconvenience of convenience. Are you spending an absurd amount on apps like Uber and Postmates? It’s easy to push a button, but not so easy to stomach the end-of-month tally. If you have a habit of spending money on easy-come services, it’s time to sit down with friends and chat about how they save for their future. Make a pact with your BFF to delete apps like Postmates from your phone. You don’t need everything to be delivered to your doorstep, and doing it together makes it less painful.
The friends who are married with kids. The single friend with a disposable income. The one who created an app and is rolling in dough. The reality is that most of your friends will be in very different financial situations. When you're the one trying to make ends meet, a simple dinner can be anxiety inducing. Your friends may be buying bottles while you can barely afford a glass of the house red. A couple of things: If you know you can’t afford a dinner, don’t go. The more transparent route is to make it known from the start of the meal that you can’t simply split the bill evenly. If they are truly your friends, they won’t care one little bit.
On the other hand, if it's your pockets that are heavy and you want to invite a friend to dinner, make sure to suggest a restaurant that you both can afford. What's better than Taco Tuesday? Be realistic and your friendship won’t become tense.
Do you talk about money with your friends? Tell us how you feel about this traditionally tight-lipped subject.