5 Reasons You Should Talk About Money With Your Friends
Talking about money is "tacky" or "taboo". Ever heard of these phrases? From the time we are young and innocently ask our uncle, "how much did that car cost?" We are reprimanded for discussing money. We're told it's rude, intrusive, or disrespectful to bring up any topic related to money or reveal our personal finances to others.
Well, times are-a-changing. Increasingly, millennials, and especially Gen-Z, are openly talking about money, doing so in the way they know best, through social media. However, I'm pleased to hear that these conversations are also happening (as they probably should) in private, between friends.
We talk to our friends about almost everything under the sun, from our relationships to personal struggles, to gripes at work. Yet we have been groomed to think it's insensitive to talk about something that impacts all of us: money.
"I hate talking about money" or "My parents always talk about money" are common phrases I hear from youngsters or even those my age. This is probably due to a root cause earlier in life, nurturing a negative or repulsive relationship towards money.
I know plenty of people I have met who don't have a positive relationship with money, don't "care" about it, or find it stressful. This is no way to live your life because even if you don't "care" about money, you can't escape it.
So, why not start working on having an optimistic relationship with money by using it as a tool? If you're parents always talked about money, or you don't feel comfortable approaching them on the subject, this is where your close friends will come to the rescue!
1) Know if you're getting paid what you're worth:
Salary transparency has never been easier to access than today. Thanks to salary transparency laws in the works, as well as sites like salary.com, Payscale.com, and GlassDoor.com, employees and job candidates can have a better idea of what to ask for after receiving a job offer, or even when asked what their "salary expectations" are.
However, the numbers online can be skewed due to a variety of factors (think age, work experience, geographical location).
So this is where asking your network, or your friends can pay off.
You can get candid information on what was offered to them, how they successfully negotiated their pay, and how they overcame anxiety when it came down to either accepting the offer or being prepared to walk away if their counteroffer wasn't accepted.
2) Learn ways to save in similar circumstances
Let's say you're shopping around for a new couch. You haven't done it in a while (or ever) because your last one was a hand-me-down from your big sister. So, what do you do first? Probably start online. And then you visit furniture stores (be sure to include Costco) to test drive a few, feel various fabrics, and contemplate how it will fit, look, and work with your living area.
Now, if you talk about it with friends, guess what can happen? One, they might just happen to be shopping around for a couch too and getting rid of their barely used one. Or they might be moving. So, they offer it to you for free or heavily discounted!
Or, maybe they have a friend of a friend who works at a designer gallery, liquidation company, or overstock furniture company. This connection can prove helpful in finding a steal of a deal just because you "know a guy who knows a guy" as dads say. This is probably some form of where the phrase "Hook it up" came from when chatting with friends.
Lastly, friends can give you ideas on places to buy a couch you hadn't thought of, like Facebook Marketplace or that obscure warehouse on the other side of town. They might also warn you of mistakes they made, being vocal about a certain manufacturer to avoid or how easy it's been to take care of that new leather sectional.
3) Get candid referrals
Friends are my first stop when I need to find a service provider. From accountants to contractors, to auto mechanics, there is no shortage of people we tend to seek out to make our lives easier.
Sure, you could search online reviews or read forums, but the people on there don't know you. They don't know what pushes your buttons or what you couldn't be bothered with.
Friends will be honest about their babysitter or landscape architect because they don't have a hidden agenda (at least REAL friends won't).
Just take a look at forums and Facebook neighborhood groups; plenty of people are looking for referrals for things like concrete paver installation to window cleaning.
Added bonus: when you hire someone your friend has also hired, it affirms to the service provider that they are doing good work, and they will work hard to continue providing good service so more referrals keep coming.
4) Learn coping/compromise methods
Like most things in life, we can't have everything we want all the time. Especially when you share finances with a significant other or children.
Do we want to stay in a nicer hotel or have more money for adventures on this trip? Do we really need a fire pit in the backyard, or can that money go towards replacing the bathroom tile? How can we save money for our kitchen renovation when my spouse keeps these expensive meal delivery services?
More often than we think, our friends have been in our shoes and can offer their words of wisdom on how they overcame obstacles to make the most of opportunity costs. Think of when one of your parents or relatives said to you "pull up a chair sonny, and let me tell you".
Words of wisdom don't always apply to relationships, they also apply to money. Believe it or not, money is emotional to most of us because it's a tool that can change our lives.
Money may not buy happiness, but it sure buys the opportunity to be happy or find out what makes you happy.
5) Get a reality check on Social Comparison
We all know how social media can put an unhealthy filter on people's lives, and sometimes when we see our friends in front of a new car or their hotel room overlooking the ocean, we feel insecure. We wonder how some friends seem to have it all, or have amazing lives that don't line up with what they do for a living.
Rather than admonishing them or gossiping that their parents probably foot the bill for everything, why not just ask them? True, you probably have many more "friends" on social media that you don't really talk to in real life. If that's the case though, why do you let their behaviors and lifestyle impact you?
Reality is not always what meets the eye. Maybe that friend who bought a house has been saving up for 11 years and is more than happy to share with you how they did it. Or that friend with a glass of wine looking over a waterfront balcony is in $18,000 in credit card debt.
You just never know sometimes. Good friends will be authentic towards you, and you should return the favor by being authentic with them. We all have to look out for each other these days!