OnePoll research Link opens in a new window reveals that 35% of UK adults admit talking about money can be more awkward than discussing health problems. Yet with the cost of living crisis ever-present in headlines, the time to talk about the ‘M’ word has never seemed so relevant. Let's take a closer look at how to do it well.
Why do we hate talking about money?
Conversations about money can be associated with awkwardness and a fear of judgement as tradition would say money is a private matter. As American entrepreneur and financial expert Ramit Sethi explains: “Our relationship with money is just as personal and valuable as any other relationship in our life.” But if money is a valuable relationship for us all, why do we all feel so awkward talking about it?
Taboos, like the ‘M’ word, often result from “ambivalent social attitudes.” In other words, because there is no singular view on money, such as the right way to spend and save or the right amount to earn and buy, it leaves an intimidating grey area in which whoever we talk to about money could have drastically different opinions compared with our own. However, there are some situations in life where we may have to face the grey area and talk about the ‘M’ word.
We asked the Money Medics community on Instagram to share their own experiences about talking about money in different situations.
When might we need to talk about money?
1. How to talk about money to your boss
“For a while now, I’ve been thinking about asking for a pay rise. I start to note down my accomplishments since being in the role and how they may exceed the job description, plus all those times I stayed working late, but when it comes down to putting something in my boss’ calendar, I can’t do it. I look at the list and just think I can’t possibly ask for a pay rise, let alone know how to without sounding too confident or demanding.”Gemma
When asking for a pay rise, well…when thinking of asking for a pay rise, many of us talk ourselves out of such an idea. Alina Jaffer, money expert at Virgin Money, says: “Asking for a pay rise is a tricky conversation that many don’t feel comfortable with and imposter syndrome can make this feel even more difficult. Your feelings of inadequacy could be holding you back from having those difficult conversations.”
These conversations can be difficult, yes. But can the outcome be fruitful? Absolutely. To ease your nerves and script your proposal, dig back through and find your original job description. Note everywhere you have met and exceeded the requirements, spotlighting any key moments during your time. If you find you have exceeded the scope of your job spec, the conversation shouldn’t feel awkward but rather it should feel empowering. You are walking in there with the facts to back up your request, acknowledging the price of your performance.
2. How to talk about money to your partner
“Recently, I got a new job at a company I really like. I was super excited to share the news with my husband, and the fact that it was a job which paid more than my previous one. When I explained the increase, he did the maths in his head. He hasn’t said much since, but he’s definitely acting strange and part of me thinks he is feeling inadequate now I earn more. I thought he would be supportive and excited for me, rather than caught up in patriarchal notions that the man is the main breadwinner.”Jennifer
A report Link opens in a new window from April of this year describes how an increasing number of women are taking home bigger paycheques compared to their male partners. But despite this changing stat, many mindsets are yet to fully change when it comes to discussing salaries and finances in relationships.
It’s safe to say, the ‘M’ word is not the type of ‘M’ word many like to talk about in relationships, but how do we approach the subject when it inevitably arises? Such as when it comes to revealing one’s salary.
It is important to see that money adds value rather than constitutes your value. Someone may feel inadequate if they earn less than their partner because they are stuck on this latter idea. To change this, it will involve going back to square one to determine how each of you view money and where those attitudes come from. Open up the conversation by communicating your future goals and ask your partner for theirs too. By realising one another’s goals, and shared goals, hopefully you will each see how money can add value as a steppingstone between these. Salaries will be seen as a means to build a life together rather than a means for comparison.
3. How to talk about money to your friends
“My friend and I always pay for different things, promising to pay the other back. While I stick to my side of the agreement, my friend seems to always ‘forget’ when it comes to her side. At first I didn’t mind, it was only small things, but now they are beginning to add up. I don’t want to create tension by refusing to pay for things now, or demanding repayment, but I also don’t want to keep going down this road.”Mark
We’ve all owed and been owed at one time or another money from a friend, but sometimes our generosity can feel like a lending game.
More often than not, a friend is not paying you back to take advantage of your generosity. What you might find is they haven’t opened up about the ‘M’ word and the problems they are facing. Approach them sensitively and free from judgement, acknowledging they may feel awkward too.
While it is important to hear your friend out, continue to strive to a point where you can both agree to a realistic repayment plan.
Other times when it’s right to talk
There might be other times in your life where reaching out to organisations such as Turn2Us Link opens in a new window, Citizens Advice Link opens in a new window and MoneyHelper Link opens in a new window in a time of crisis is the route to take, and sometimes these can be the hardest conversations to have.
No matter how you feel about money, the effects of keeping any financial woes under wraps far outweigh the awkward effects of talking about it. When picking up the phone to talk to one of these organisations, remember the voice at the end of the line knows how you feel and they reserve no judgement.
Talking about the 'M' word doesn’t have to be awkward, but rather it can be personable, profitable, productive, and positive. During a time when things are tough, it has never been more important to talk about finances with those around us to lift the weight off not only our shoulders but maybe theirs too.
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