HOW TO HAVE THAT CON­VER­SA­TION …

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ALEX HOLDER, gen­der pay gap cam­paigner and au­thor of Open Up, shares her tips for get­ting used to talk­ing about money…

We need to get com­fort­able talk­ing about money. If we never talk about money with our friends, our part­ners or our par­ents, then when we need to talk about it – in a pay re­view, when choos­ing a mort­gage or even call­ing out a hen do that’s get­ting too ex­pen­sive – we won’t have the vo­cab­u­lary to ad­vo­cate for our­selves.

Money is the lead­ing cause of stress and anx­i­ety – so if you’re ner­vous about broach­ing the sub­ject of money with some­one, the first thing to know is you’ll not be the only one feel­ing stressed and un­com­fort­able. I’ve found with friends, most peo­ple are re­lieved that some­one has brought the con­ver­sa­tion up. If I say “Can we do some­thing cheaper?” there is gen­er­ally a sigh of re­lief from every­body. Also, our con­ver­sa­tions are more fun now that we don’t skirt around any­thing to do with money – we gos­sip about ridicu­lous wed­dings we’ve been to and ask each other ad­vice about awk­ward bosses in pay re­views.

With your part­ner, talk about it when there isn’t an ur­gent is­sue. If you only ever talk about money when there’s an over­due bill, it’s al­ways go­ing to be a stress­ful con­ver­sa­tion. Check in reg­u­larly with each other – one con­ver­sa­tion about money isn’t go­ing to solve every­thing. For money con­ver­sa­tions to feel easy, you need to make them reg­u­lar.

With peo­ple at work, I think it’s about re­al­is­ing what you can gain from talk­ing about money. Re­mem­ber that se­crecy gen­er­ally only pro­tects em­ploy­ers. The eas­i­est first con­ver­sa­tion to have is with a col­league who is leav­ing your place of work – the di­rect com­pe­ti­tion no longer ex­ists, so the ques­tion, “can I ask what they were pay­ing you?” is eas­ier.

Child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences or mem­o­ries of money can have a big im­pact on your spend­ing and ap­proach to fi­nances in adult­hood. Be­cause of the whole “don’t talk about money” taboo, what we learn in child­hood re­mains un­chal­lenged through­out our life, so how our par­ents were with money – whether good, bad or weird – sticks with us. A great way to un­pick this is to chat to your par­ents about money now. If you’re lucky enough to have them around, ask them what they wish they’d done dif­fer­ently. And ask them about their pen­sion – it’s of­ten a pretty sober­ing chat!

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