I know my friends’ joys and anxieties. They know my family members and preferred pizza toppings.
But we know squat about one another’s finances.
Apparently, we are not alone. Only 35% of Americans said they had discussed finance-related topics with their friends or peers within the previous six months, according to a 2018 survey by Capital Group, an investment manager.
Many folks resist the topic because it makes them feel uncomfortable or vulnerable to judgment, said Meghaan Lurtz, senior research associate with Kitces.com, a financial-planning industry website. But friendships tend to survive uncomfortable conversations.
So let’s buck up and get chatting.
By discussing money, you are “investing in the relationship,” said Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, host of the podcast “Breaking Money Silence.” You learn about friends on a deeper level and better understand why they scrutinize the group dinner bill or sit out a $100 concert.
You may also discover that you share similar goals and challenges. Perhaps you are both trying to negotiate a raise. This is stuff you could navigate together, said Gaby Dunn, who is behind the “Bad With Money” podcast. Last year, Dunn told her colleague (and peer) that she wanted to consolidate her student loans. Go figure — her colleague had just done that.
Maybe a friend learns about a first-time home buyer program from you. Maybe — probably — the more chatting and learning about money you do together, the less weird the topic will feel.
I’ve started bringing up money with girlfriends and can report zero weirdness.
How to bring it up: I’m following Lurtz’s lead. Her friends know she’s a “safe person” to talk to about money, she said, “because I talk about my own situation”
To normalize money talk, bring it up yourself. Here’s how:
• Check your judgment. Remember that there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to handle money. As with all sensitive topics, err toward listening over advising.
• Start with small doses. The goal of early conversations is simply to establish that you are game to discuss money in the future.
• Keep it breezy. Start with a light topic. Maybe you want to track your spending. Does your friend do that?
If a face-to-face conversation seems daunting, I get it. Another way I’ve hoisted my “Will Discuss Money” flag is via text, sharing an article on discussing money with a friend. Soon, we were doing the same.
Laura McMullen is a writer at NerdWallet. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lauraemcmullen.