Most women talk. Put a group of women together at a table who have never met one another before and in no time, conversation is flowing and soon, new friends are made. I host an event each year, a Ladies Tea, and the first time I held this event, except for just a few of my guests, no one knew each other. Starting with that first event, diverse conversations were held, connections were made, shared interests identified, and even travel partnerships formed. And yet it seems there is one topic that never seems to be discussed, unless I bring it up. Money.
Whether you have a lot of it, or little of it, money touches virtually every aspect of our lives, and yet we don’t talk about it. Many families don’t talk about money and very little is taught in school about money. Its like we are all meant to learn the hard way. Yet money is integral to our everyday life and the security of our future, and it is also a topic that is exceptionally vast. From how much to save to how to invest, from finding the best credit card to understanding mortgages. It includes topics like budgeting, making big purchases, tax, insurance, how to turn savings into retirement income, what different types of accounts and investments are, financial planning, wills, powers of attorney, and even philanthropy. And this isn’t even an exhaustive list. The purpose of pointing out how vast the area of personal finance is isn’t to overwhelm, but rather make the point that because the subject area is so vast, no one person can be expected to know it all. Even for those who work with a professional advisor, it also means we have a tremendous amount that we can learn from each other. When we talk about money, when we share what we know, what our experiences have been, not only might we be helping that person with a decision they may be making, we might very well be able to help them avoid making the same mistakes you yourself may have made. Avoiding mistakes can be just as valuable, if not more valuable, than the positive experiences we have had.
In 2019 UBS surveyed single women and men about financial topics. 66% of single women agreed with the statement “It’s helpful to discuss finances with my friends.” The women who participated in our focus groups when writing the book Bank on Yourself – Why Every Woman Should Plan Financially to be Single, Even if She’s Not we conducted focus groups and it was incredible how open the women were to having conversations about financial topics. They readily shared their experiences, including the things they felt they did right, and the errors they made along the way. As much as none have them had really discussed these things in great detail before, they all expressed how good it felt to be able to open up about their finances and that they learned from each other. Whether you realize it or not, each and everyone of us, including you, has a lot to contribute to the financial conversation.
Are you facing a financial decision today? Are you experiencing a challenge, or, do you have a financial success to celebrate? Identify one friend or family member who you trust to keep your confidence. Share it with them. You don’t have to show your financial statements or vital data, rather bring up the topic. As them for their insight or if they know anything about issue. It might be awkward to take that first step, but once you take it, the conversation should flow. Like those UBS surveyed, even though I’m not single, and I am a financial professional, I still feel it helpful to discuss finances with close friends.
Note – there are two, very important rules when it comes to having successful money conversations. Firstly, confidentiality. Money conversations are held in confidence and there is no faster way to ruin relationships and stop the willingness of someone to engage in money conversations than breaking that confidence. Secondly, there is no room for judgement. Listen. Brainstorm ideas and share knowledge. But don’t judge your friend’s financial habits or situation. Right or wrong, their choices are theirs to make. And it isn’t uncommon that the right decision for your friend may be different than the right one for you.