Money too tight to mention?

4 min | 09 February 2023

Chanté Joseph
Chanté Joseph

Do you think conversations about money have to be awkward? Think again. We've spoken to some savvy money people about having those tough conversations.

What's more awkward than seeing friends plan a big night when you know you can’t stretch your budget that far? If you think it's telling them that you can't front the cash at all, read on.

Saying no to fun plans and activities can feel upsetting – it can seem easier to excuse and isolate yourself from plans than to say that you just can't afford them. However, there are ways of having these conversations so that you don’t feel bad for not having the money to spare. Plus, being open with your friends and family gives them the opportunity to include you. Don’t avoid the awkwardness – embrace it.

I spoke to Emilie Bellet, founder and CEO of Vestpod (Opens in new window) the digital platform and community that empowers women financially, and Euphemia Moore, founder of She’s On A Budget, which is a social hub (search for the podcast) to help people reach greater financial independence. They break down why talking about money can feel tense and suggest healthier ways to have those conversations so that we don’t feel stressed about sharing our circumstances.

It feels like the way we approach money has changed. What are some of the biggest shifts you’ve spotted in attitudes towards money recently?

EM: People are realising that the amount of money you have doesn't dictate how good you are with it. And if you lack the skills to manage your finances when you have a limited amount of money, this is only emphasised when you have more.

EB: Post-pandemic, I think people have re-evaluated what money and wealth mean to them. There's more of a drive to spend mindfully, partly because of climate change but also because we're beginning to value experiences more than material things. We also have inflation and a cost-of-living crisis hitting people’s wallets, which means that many of us are more mindful of our budgets.

Why is it so tough to start conversations about our finances?

EM: There's an expectation that we should just know how to manage money. If you talk as though you don't, there's this fear that people will look at you as though you are 'bad with money'.

EB: A lot of us were raised being told that talking about money is somehow rude. Plus, people may feel that they aren't doing as well as others, so they fear that they'll be judged. Money is so personal, and we all earn and spend differently, so it can feel like it's a topic that's just best avoided.

It seems like so much of this is societal stigma. How do we overcome it and become better at openly talking about money?

EM: It starts with education at a young age. Budgeting and money management should be taught to children while they are in full-time education. Thankfully, the digital budgeting community is rapidly growing, so hopefully, this will become a positive resource for those who need it.

EB: Practice and start small, perhaps by opening up to the people you trust the most. You could start by discussing phone bills, your experiences with salary negotiations or saving goals. It also helps to stop comparing yourself to others and try to ignore the noise on social media.

It's easy to feel guilty for turning down plans with family and friends. How can we feel more assured about our choices?

EM: Focus on your goals! There have been plenty of times on my debt-free journey that I had to turn down plans, but my true friends understood and encouraged me. I think it's important to be honest because you never know – it could help someone else in your friendship group to speak up too.

EB: Your life is yours, your money is yours, and only you can decide what to do with it! Honesty works well. 'I'm sorry, but that's out of my budget – let's do something else another time' is a completely okay thing to say. If you don’t want to share why things are difficult or why your financial priorities have changed, don’t feel that you must. Take charge and work towards being in the driving seat when it comes to your finances.

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