You Should Be Talking About Finances With Your Colleagues, Partner and Friends
Finance is one of two F words that when casually dropped at the dinner table, the people sitting around you will either loosen up or pretend they didn’t hear it. According to a report published by Fortune, almost half of millennials feel like they’ll never have the things they want in life because of their financial situation. For generations, Money has been filed under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and as financial health for millennials continues to fall drastically below the rest, the question begs to be asked – should we be talking about money?
The power of pay transparency
In the office, right between the on-tap kombucha and the quirkily named meeting pod, you’ll find the largest, most unaddressed elephant in the room – the wage gap.
According to a report published by the census bureau, women are earning 82 cents to the dollar of a man, and those pennies drop as you begin to compare the 64 cents black women make, and the 52 cents Hispanic women have to take home.
While external factors like systemic racism and society’s attitude towards women in positions of power have their hands far too deep in women’s bags, the power lies in pay transparency.
Having conversations with people in roles linear to yours gives you clarity on what growth in your current, or next company could look like. Similarly, having insight into what others made in positions you’re interested in helps you not lowball yourself when you get to the awkward part of the interview where they ask you for your salary range. Talking about things like PTO, bonuses and salary with colleagues has been made to sound tasteless and taboo for years, but really all it does is help you hold your employer accountable to pay equality.
The TikTok hashtag #PayTransparency has over 13.9 Million views and almost just as many videos from designers, bloggers, actors, marketers, data specialists and people in finance sharing what they’ve made throughout their career. In the comments, there’s a healthy mix of those that are spilling all the tea, and others that wonder if they’ll get in trouble for joining in on the fun.
The misconception that talking about salary is a fireable offense was likely created by the same people who wouldn’t benefit from word getting out (hint: stingy corporations). Lucky for us, under the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to communicate with other employees at their workplace about their wages, so if you’ve ever zipped your lips in intimidation, it’s time to start asking questions.
For richer, for poorer.
Money comes up in relationships from the minute the bill hits the table at the end of your first date. Who you believe should pick it up is your prerogative, but your partner’s relationship with money gives you immense insight into what a future (if that’s what you’re looking for) with them would look like. As you unpack the unresolved trauma their first grade crush may have caused, it’s also important to get briefed on the role finances played in their upbringing and how that may show up in their behavior today. A person who grew up experiencing financial scarcity at home can turn to binge-spending for comfort, or binge-hoarding for security. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a person who grew up aloof to money could be a careless spender, or be completely unaware of financial stressors you may be experiencing.
Millions of relationship experts cite communication as the core of all healthy relationships and when it comes to finances it cannot be more true.
According to a study by Ramsey, money is the second-leading cause for divorce in the U.S. and whether you’ve just made it IG official or you’re hinting at moving in together, it’s never too soon to set a foundation for healthy, open communication.
Getting a firm understanding of where you and your partner stand financially early on helps you both be able to navigate relationship expenses like vacations, dates and even expectations when it comes to gift giving. When you’re daydreaming about your future together, you’re likely not thinking of student loans, credit card debt, or how much you’ve got in savings, but those inevitable debbie-downers show up like a “hey girly” DM after your ex comes back from a boy’s trip. A study from UBS Global Wealth Management found that 56% of women ages 24-34 leave financial management to their spouses and with an average lifespan longer than men, you can see how the chances of that being a problem one day are quite high.
Money talk is definitely not sexy, but creating a safe space where financial milestones are celebrated and hardships aren’t felt alone bring you that much closer together. Be honest about where you’re at, where you’re hoping to be and how you hope to get there – there’s nothing more romantic than raw, honest truth.
Baddies talk budgets.
Your friend circle is a sacred place where even your worst is really not that bad. It’s hard to believe that people that have seen you sob, throw up and thrive (even in the same night) would judge you for saying no to a week-long ski trip during peak season. In friendships especially, the fear of missing out mixes with the fear of saying no to create a strong, anxiety-flavored cocktail that leads to poor financial decisions we may come to regret.
The same way that financial transparency helps set expectations in romantic relationships, it helps your friendships remain resentment free. The general rule of thumb could be simple, if you feel comfortable enough to tell them that the balayage on their hair isn’t working for them like it did in 2019, you can let them know that Carbone followed by drinks at a place that doesn’t list the price on the menu isn’t in your budget right now.
Clear communication about finances with your best friends could be as fun as you make it.
Set savings goals for a much-needed girl’s trip, make vision boards to manifest your dream lives and pick accountability partners for over shopping.
Added plus – celebrating things like getting a raise or paying off that credit card you naively took out in college with your besties is much sweeter.
Hard conversations are hard for a reason – vulnerability and honesty about a topic that has been hush-hush for ages doesn’t come naturally at all. If you’re going to start anywhere, start by having the difficult convo with yourself. Get very acquainted with your spending habits, know where your money is going and where it would be better off. Financial literacy is a skill that transcends the workplace and knowing how to manage your bag will only position you for success. You’re never too young to start thinking of future you, whether that means planning for milestones like buying your first condo or preparing for retirement on the Amalfi coast.