I saw the fabulous Sallie Krawcheck on a panel last year, discussing women and money with other financial gurus. One of the women on the panel remarked, “Well, talking about money is like talking about S-E-X - it’s just not done!” Sallie fired back, “I talk about sex all the time with my girlfriends...I’m not sure what you’re talking about!”
It was a hilarious moment, but at the center were two huge topics that many women were coached not to discuss in polite company: our sex life and our money realities.
In my introductory post, I cited a Fidelity study that disappointed me. It found that 92% of women want to learn more about financial planning, but eight in 10 “...confess they have refrained at some point from talking about their finances with those they are close to.” Women report that talking about money is “too personal.”
I’ve found that money is something we’re dying to talk more about. Importantly, discussing money is critical to learning. Since the beginning of human civilization, we’ve learned from sharing ideas, stories, and experiences. If we’re not talking about money with our closest girlfriends, how do we expect to make progress closing the pay and money gap women face?
So I encourage you - be the woman in your group that brings the topic of money to the table. How can you do this in a non-threatening, positive, non-judgmental manner? I have a few ideas.
Share a resource. Mention an article, study, book, podcast, or financial guru that you’ve been following and ask your girls what they think. Feel free to share my blog (*wink*), and ask your ladies if they agree with my Five Fabulous Steps to Financial Freedom! By bringing a resource to the table, you’re demonstrating that you care about financial education and are providing a safe path to start talking more about money. You’re doing so in a neutral, non-threatening way without asking your friends to open up their bank statements for your judgement!
Get real with your girls. Share something you’re working on. This takes a little personal courage, but saying, “You know, I’ve been working on $2,400 of credit card debt and I am really making some good progress,” opens up a real dialogue with your girlfriends. It gives them permission to commiserate, share ideas, and perhaps open up about a money challenge they’ve been facing. It also helps explain why you suggested dinner at your house instead of that new restaurant everyone is dying to try!
Ask if they’d like to talk more about money. Maybe there are some in your circle that are not ready to open up about money right now. Ask the women you’re closest to, “Hey, I’d love to talk more about money and personal finance - but I know that can make some people feel uncomfortable. Is that something you’re interested in learning more about, too?” Being direct can help you sort out the money-curious from the money-shy, and get a conversation going.
Create a money club. Like a book club, the idea is similar. You get together on a regular basis, and pick a money-related book, topic, podcast, article, or other resources to explore together. My resources page can help you get started. There are so many wonderful experts passionate about personal finance - check out many of the gurus I follow on Twitter for a candid, real-world take on personal finance.
Find a money accountability partner. Sharing your goals with an accountability partner can be incredibly powerful. One study found you have a 65% likelihood of completing a goal if you commit to someone. You may already have a partner or family member you’ve shared your financial goals with, but a close girlfriend can be an amazing supporter in your quest for financial freedom.
Stop the judging. Finally, I encourage you to stop judging the money decisions or appearances of others. This is really, really tough. In today’s social-media-fueled world, it’s easy to judge the cars, vacations, expenses of others. I find many women have shame or embarrassment about some part of their finances - and the fear of judgement can hold us back from asking for help.
Ladies, let’s talk more about money. At least half as much as we talk about sex, okay?! Let me know how your group treats money - taboo topic or your favorite conversation? How have your girlfriends helped strengthen your finances?
xoxo, Ms. Financier