HOW TO HAVE THAT CONVERSATION …
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!