Would You, Could You, Budget With Friends?
Does the thought of talking about money with your friends feel all kinds of awkward? I don’t mean declining a movie offer because you’re ‘waiting on payday’ kind of talk. I’m referring to open, candid conversation. The kind of conversation that might start something like this:
“My student loans are CRUSHING me.”
“Do you think retirement is even a possibility ... like, really?”
“I want a house, and I have no idea how I’ll ever make that happen.”
“I’m considering a small business loan.“
If you’re not discussing money, you could be missing out. Real, open talk—the kind that leaves us super vulnerable—can, ultimately, lead to deeper bonds and, just maybe, life-changing financial solutions. They say two heads are better than one, right?
Why Silence Isn’t Always Golden
YNABers know that ignorance, when it comes to our cash, is definitely not bliss—budgeting is. And budgeting is pretty much the opposite of ignorance. When we mindfully give our dollars jobs, it forces us to take stock of what we really need in life to feel safe, happy and stress-free or, in other words, blissful (just ask Erin).
The problem with avoiding the subject of money is that silence promotes ignorance. In other words, we have fewer chances to explore a topic, so we learn less. What’s that phrase? Oh, right, it’s “Knowledge is power.”
And financial power? Golden. Think back to when you first started budgeting. There's the moment of realization when you're surprised to discover that managing your money feels good, that it’s not a punishment (and that you can accomplish so much more when you start spending intentionally).
How cool would it be to have figured that out a decade earlier?! I know I wish I had. That’s where friends come into the picture …
True Friends: Worth Their Weight in Gold
Sharing our wins, losses and strategies for managing our cash isn’t just good for us, it’s good for everyone. Consider this:
People don’t know what they don’t know. If you grew up in a household that didn’t talk much about money, imagine the great wealth of knowledge you might receive if more money-savvy friends talked freely? Maybe you’d have considered investing a long time ago if you realized how much it helped your friend get ahead!
Or maybe you’d spot a friend that you can help …
It never ceases to surprise me how many people are bashful about owning their worth—and the enormous variations there are in salaries for equivalent jobs. The more people talk about wages, the more empowered we are to negotiate with employers.
If we share our money goals and stop being bashful about our budgets, it might just make social situations easier. Maybe your friend will stop adding you to MLM Facebook groups to buy jewelry you don’t want. Maybe your squad will decide that Secret Santa’s got to go (and decide to gather and share “grateful fors” this year, instead).
Keeping Up? Nah.
The pressure to stay on trend and in debt? Totally loses its magic when everyone knows it comes at a sacrifice. I’d rather talk about building my dream life in my favorite, old pair of jeans and leave the ‘outfit of the moment’ on a mannequin.
Isn’t there something soothing and wonderful about knowing that, however you show up, your friends love you? That you’ve got nothing to hide? Open communication about the stuff that matters, including money, means no secrets. Truer bonds. Knowing that your friends love and accept your filthy-richness (or your debt-soaked self).
Imagine the relief of talking to your friends about how to save, how to invest, or your money worries. That’s what friends are for, right—for hashing out life’s biggest challenges and opportunities in a safe space? (And you might be more receptive to sound financial advice that’s delivered by a friend, not a stern elder or money guru!)
Your Money, Your Business
Of course, there will always be people who feel like their money is nobody’s business but their own. I get it. I don’t suggest talking about money with just anyone. But, especially if you’re struggling with a big decision (or worse, a crisis) don’t let money shame silence you. You’re not alone. And sometimes the solution to your problems is much easier than you think—so talk it out!
And if you’re not struggling? Maybe someone you care about is. Making a bit of space to talk about finances might be one of the most generous things you can do.
Let That Shame Go!
At the root of it all, I think we’re afraid to talk about money. We don’t want to be judged for having too much, having too little, losing control or for having financial advantages. And, in the process, we’re missing out on the full strength of friendship.
The power of community can amplify our ability to create financial change in our lives, to make better decisions about our futures, and to escape the paycheck-sucking grip of debt. So use it!
Sharing Is Caring
If you’re timid about bringing up the subject of money with friends, I’ve got a few ideas for you:
If there’s nobody to turn to, or you’re really uncomfortable talking about money, why not seek the comfort of a very, very good book—an introvert’s best friend! I can’t more highly recommend reading Jesse’s new book. (Bonus: if you learn something amazing, you might just want to tell a friend. Voila! Conversation started.)
If you’re comfortable, but not ready to divulge details, how about a book club? There are a lot of great books about debt, investing, entrepreneurialism and, of course, budgeting (see Tip #1 for my best suggestion).
Try an offer/ask approach. It looks like this, “Hey, I know we’re in similar fields, and I’m considering asking for a raise in my annual review. I make [this many] dollars, do you mind talking about your compensation and benefits? I’m trying to get a better feel for our industry.”
Or this, “I know you’re into investing, I would love to learn more about how you got started!”
Or even this, “Can we talk about budgeting? I need a new plan!”
You might be pleasantly surprised that this opens up conversations where you’ve got some much-needed advice for your friend, too—and everybody learns something new. (The key is to be open and willing to accept that your friend may not be.)
Start a wish farm and invite your friends! You can race to see who can grow their first wish the fastest—or maybe grow a group wish, like your next big group vacation. Everyone loves a good wish harvest, and it’ll naturally loosen up the mood when it comes to talking about money.
Plus, Get Free YNAB!
And, in case you didn’t know, YNABers and their friends can earn a free month of YNAB—which is all the more reason to talk about budgeting!