How to Get Better at Talking About Money
A recent study from Empower reports that 62% of people simply don’t talk about money. And 43% would rather talk about politics, while 32% prefer to talk about death over money. Even in a day and age when we’re comfortable sharing basically every aspect of our lives on social media, our society is still really, really uncomfortable talking about the Benjamins.
As much as I’d like to be surprised by studies like that, I’m really not. If anything, running this site for the past few years has taught me that most people are either afraid to talk about their financial situation or don’t believe there is anyone around them to talk to about money.
While so many people don’t talk about money, that same study reported that 66% believe financial conversations lead to financial freedom and building generational wealth. Additionally, 62% of respondents say it can help improve the gender wage gap, and 56% say that open money conversations can improve workplace transparency.
If the majority of people believe we should talk about money and see the benefits, then how do we get better at doing it?
6 Steps to Getting Better at Talking About Money
Understand That Money Doesn’t Dictate How Awesome You Are
A good portion of our society equates wealth with intelligence. If someone’s moved up the corporate ladder, can start a successful business, or retire early, they must be brilliant. Right?
The reality is that some of the most intelligent people I know have struggled to build a business or are buried in debt. Not only that, I’d much rather hang out with them over some of the wealthier people I know. At the same time, I know people who’ve found “success,” but it’s more luck than smarts.
Judging yourself based on your bank account or credit score isn’t fair because money is a tool, not a character trait. Once you understand that, it makes it easier to avoid some of the negative stigmas surrounding financial struggles.
Prepare Yourself for Getting Your Feelings Hurt
Now with all of that said, when you first start talking about money, it’s easy to get defensive when people try to give you advice.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen people snap at each other for the smallest things when it comes to personal finance conversations. I’ve definitely gotten negative feedback for my opinions about paying off debt or saving money.
When I first started having conversations with my mentors, back when I had $40K in student loan debt, I would get defensive about facts. It hurts to be told that you have a negative net worth. It stings when someone says you can’t afford the things that you want yet.
Eventually, though, that negative stuff wears off. You realize the responses have more to do with how others feel about their financial situation, not yours. Once you reach this point, you can talk about money without all of the emotion.
Find a Mentor
The one thing in life that you can’t put a price on is wisdom. Unfortunately, when you’re young, you have to find it elsewhere.
My mentor, Mike, has had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. He took me under his wing and has taught me a ton of money lessons over the years. Through Mike, I met my other mentor David, who is a commercial real estate investor.
Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to hang out with these two very successful people and listen to some pretty interesting personal finance discussions. There were plenty of times when I watched them go back and forth about how to invest, how to run a business, when you should pay cash for things and when you shouldn’t, etc.
I learned how they think about risk, making decisions, ROI, and so on, and I applied the same strategies to my own finances and business. No one was telling me how to do things, but I learned how to approach big decisions.
Obviously, mentors aren’t just waiting around for you to find them. Keep it simple and start by looking for successful people in your inner circle of friends and family, and then reach out to them and see if they’ll grab a coffee with you just to talk.
Listen More Than You Speak
What’s the point of having mentors if you don’t listen?
I think one of the hardest things to do in life is to be still and actually listen to what other people say, especially when it comes to personal finance.
We all have egos, right? There’s nothing wrong with having your own opinion on things, but if you’re more eager to share yours than hear someone else’s, that’s a problem.
If you don’t get anything else out of this article, understand that listening to other people’s wisdom can be the key to success in anything you do.
Consume More Personal Finance Content
There’s no shortage of personal finance content these days, from social media, podcasts, YouTube, books, and blog posts. It’s easier to access than ever, and I’ve noticed a trend toward more authentic personal finance content, which I love.
People are sharing real stories about money and not glossing over the difficult parts. They’re telling you exactly what they’ve gone through and what they’ve done to move forward. Personally, I love this shift because it encourages discussion, and people realize that they’re not the only ones who have ever struggled.
It goes beyond knowing you’re not alone in your financial struggles—you can learn strategy, best practices, how to approach tough decisions, and how to plan for the future.
Spread the Word
It takes time to master these steps, but once you do, try to spread the word in some way. The only reason I got excited about personal finance is that someone took me under their wing and showed me information that I didn’t know was out there. As you evolve in your own personal finance journey, you could do the same thing for someone else.
At the end of the day, money is a tool. It’s a big part of our daily lives, and we should feel comfortable talking about it in the same way we talk about food, music, and anything we interact with on a daily basis.