How to Talk to Friends About Money

If I May

A funny thing happens when you become an author: People ask your advice. While the primary topic is writing and, given my day job, career management, the subjects have a surprising span. Over the years, readers have asked about love, politics, health, family life, sex, finance, technology, and even spiritual well-being.

Like every human, I have some experience in these areas, but I’m no expert. Frankly, learning mindfulness from me is like learning to ice skate by listening to an accordion.

I warned readers to no avail, but the questions kept coming. Most recently, a reader asked: How can I talk with my friends about money?

Short answer: Don’t. Mind your business.

Okay, assuming you’ll ignore that, try these largely harmless actions:

Swap Advice

It’s impossible to keep up with every financial instrument: 401(k)s, IRAs, 529s. Swapping knowledge about longer-term vehicles is a great way to get comfortable with money as a topic of conversation. This can lead to open discussions about near-term saving and investment strategies. Granted, the subject may not become a staple of your happy hour convos, but this strategy will allow it to ease into the rotation occasionally.

Share Your Values

Money is a finite resource, and people elect to spend their disposable income differently. Some think nothing of dropping big bucks for the latest tech gadget, while others would rather splurge on experiences. Even within the categories, there are differences. Regarding experiences, some prefer fine dining over entertainment. Others seek travel, adventure, and the ultimate background for their social feeds.

Letting your friends know what is important to you can help set expectations and place boundaries on your outings. For example, if you’re not a foodie (or big drinker), sharing that will help circumvent the awkwardness of splitting a lopsided check. Instead of acquiescing to a fancy meal, suggest a more reasonably priced venue or a home-cooked option. Your honesty will let you keep the connection but on your terms.

Be the Voice of Reason

You wouldn’t think twice about saying something if your drunk friend reached for his keys or your buddy used a piece of gym equipment bassakward. If you see a pal doing something overwhelmingly stupid with money, say something. Yes, it will be weird, and he’ll probably get mad, but friends don’t shrink from tough conversations.

Suggest Non-negotiable Items

Finally, if you have a friend who is fast and free with money, share examples of your non-negotiable saving goals. Just mentioning your dedication to saving for a house, a car, or a kid’s college fund could prompt similar actions. Or perhaps you’ll feel comfortable enough to share your journey on debt reduction.

Maybe they’ll find inspiration in your actions. Maybe they won’t. Either way, I stand by my initial advice. Mind your business.

Tim Toterhi is a husband and dad based in North Carolina. He writes write philosophical fiction and snarky humor. Read more at www.TimToterhi.com

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