How much is your rent? How much do you make? What are your money goals? And why do you want to have money, really?
We know, we know. Talking about money isn’t just hard, or uncomfortable, or weird… in our society, it’s taboo! Growing up, people act like talking about money is one of the rudest things you can do—but how can we help each other be better about our finances without ever talking about it?
No matter who you’re talking to, from your friends, your family, to your partners, here are the 6 rules for how to make talking about money less painful (and dare we say fun?) for everyone.
1. Start by… Starting 💸
When it comes to chatting about the thing that rules the world around us, I’m reminded of an ancient, wise proverb… Start by starting.
If you’re waiting around for the “perfect time” but nothing “feels right,” it’s because money is a sensitive topic, and it’s going to be hard no matter when you do it. So just grab the person you want to talk to about money, and start! It’s easier with practice, and you’ll get better as you do it more often—but there is no time like the present. Ease them into the conversation by being honest and straightforward about why you want to bring up finances in the first place.
🔥 Chime Tip: Don’t have a conversation about money when one or both of you are super stressed or tired. Why? High emotions and tensions lead to people saying things they don’t mean, and money is no exception. Try to select a time when both of you are in the right headspace to have an important conversation.
2. Set the Expectations 📝
If someone asked you out of the blue “How much do you have in savings?”, you probably wouldn’t react positively. In the same vein, don’t just jump into the conversation with aggressive questions or demanding answers. Start with being truthful with what you want out of the convo.
Showing your hand tells your friend/partner/family member that one, you’re serious and two, you’re being honest—which makes them want to be honest with you. Setting the expectations also lets the person know what they’re in for, and can help them feel prepared.
3. Good or Bad, Honesty is Key 🤞
Money, like most things in life, is easy to mess up. The difference is that if you make a mistake with your finances, it can have life-changing effects. When chatting, keep in mind that honesty is key to having a productive chat.
A good thing to establish before you really get into it is that this talk is a no-shame space. Whether it’s you or your friend who made a bad move, we’re not here to judge or talk about “should have, could have, would have.” We can acknowledge when we make mistakes just as much as we can discuss solutions and ways to improve our financial situations—together!
🔥 Chime Tip: If it helps, write it down—literally. Take out a pen, a sheet of paper, and write down “No Shame Zone”, and place the sign in between you. Now, you can point at it whenever it’s necessary! It might sound funny, but it’s a physical reminder during your chat that we’re all here to listen, not judge.
4. Focus on the Things You Can Control 🎯
When it comes to finances, it’s almost too easy to start fantasizing about what you would do in a different situation, but that’s not what we’re here to do! Focus on the things that you have power over—things that you know you can change, or research, or learn from, or take action on, and urge your partner to adopt this mindset too.
Keep in mind that no one has the power of seeing into the future (no matter what your friend who is way too into astrology wants you to believe.) Forgive yourself for not taking that business opportunity, or investing in that home, or whatever it is you’re kicking yourself for, and look for new ways you can take what you learned and apply them now! As the saying goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
5. It’s Okay to Take a Break 💨
With all this money talk, it’s important to remember that it’s a touchy subject. People are intensely private with their finances, for good reason. They’ve been taught that it’s something to keep secret, to feel shame about, to feel proud about, to feel anxious about—and all of this will affect their attitudes when having this conversation. Keep tabs on the situation, and make sure that neither of you is getting too fired up—and this might be a two-way street.
It’s 100% fine (and healthy, even!) to acknowledge when the conversation has gone from being educational to emotional, and to take a break to work out some of that frustration. Even a simple “I think I need a break, let’s talk about this again in XXX time.” will let them know that you’re not just dipping out of this chat, but you need some time to think and get back to them.
6. When Talking to Kids, Keep It Simple 🧒
Chatting to kids about money feels like a totally different ball game, but as long as you remember the basics, it doesn’t have to be intimidating at all! They’re naturally curious, and will have a bunch of questions—some serious and some not. Treat them with respect and honesty, and answer their questions in the simplest way you can think of.
The one thing not to do is to brush them off with a “Because I said so.” Money is a serious topic that they’ll need to learn about eventually, and it helps when the adults in their lives treat them with the respect and intelligence that they deserve! It also breaks down the stigma of money when you, as the adult, can truthfully talk to them about it—and just like that, it’s no longer such a scary topic!
🔥 Chime Tip: Talking to kids about money is a great way to practice money conversations with other people. The stakes are usually lower because they’re only children, and don’t have money issues of their own. You can be honest with them, have fun with them, and even learn a thing or two from the wisdom of their youth!