Let's Talk About Money

financial professional development Aug 28, 2023

Money can be uncomfortable to talk about. It can be seen as taboo to ask people about how much they make, what they pay for certain things and how they manage their money.

But it’s important to be able to have healthy conversations around money and finances with those around you. Whether it’s a romantic partner or spouse, a family member, friend or roommate, it can get awkward when someone has different financial priorities from you. 

For example, maybe your partner wants to save more of the money they make, and you want to use the money you make to go on trips and vacations. Or, perhaps your family members want you to pay your own way on a family trip that you can’t afford. Or, maybe your roommate doesn’t want to spend on exterminator services that aren’t covered under your lease and you do. 

These are just a few examples of the ways that money can play a role in your relationships. So how do we talk to others about money and finances? 

Talk about your financial priorities. 

The most important part of money conversations is to understand what your priorities are and what the priorities are of those people important to you. If your partner wants to prioritize saving up for future retirement and family planning, and you want to spend money on a vacation for the two of you, that could cause a conflict. But if you can talk about what those priorities are and understand what matters to each of you, it can make it easier for you both to come to a compromise. 

Understand what your money relationship with that person is. 

It’s important to delineate where you are making joint money decisions with others and when you are able to act on your own. 

With a roommate, there are likely only a few financial decisions that you are making together. Rent, renewing a lease and any maintenance that isn’t covered under your agreement with your landlord. You may have other unique things that apply in your situation, but knowing that the majority of your money decisions will be independent of that person is key. 

For someone you are in a serious relationship with, money is a huge piece of the puzzle. You need to be sure to understand how that person thinks and feels about money and clearly delineate what money decisions will be joint and what you each will handle on your own. 

Do your research. 

Let’s say you’re on the job and want to advocate for a higher salary, or more benefits. You should start by researching similar positions to yours - what salaries or benefits are out there that you can use as benchmarks? Be sure you know the basics and can understand what opportunities are available to you. 

Another great way to do this is to create conversations with others in your department and get an understanding of what they are making. That doesn’t necessarily mean grabbing them in the hallway to ask about their salary. Set up a time to grab coffee or a drink and ask them about their priorities. 

Have they ever been promoted and what was that process like? Where did they start and did they feel that they got what they deserve? It can give you a better idea of where the rest of your team stands and how realistic it will be to ask for more. Plus, you may find an advocate internally to help push for your advancement together. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! 

If you don’t know what something is, or what a term that someone uses means, just ask! Chances are you aren’t the only one and you’ll give someone the chance to explain things to you. It can be intimidating to admit you may not understand something around money and finances, but it is so much better to be honest and share that you need help, then to lie and risk getting into things that you don’t understand and making the wrong choices. 

Understanding how to have conversations around money and asking the right questions is important to maintaining relationships and encouraging transparency about your priorities. And as you get into these conversations, they’ll get easier over time and you’ll continue to learn and grow. And the best part? You can then help others learn and engage around their own money priorities and conversations.


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