Talking about money is important. Like talking about dating, work, family, or the search for an apartment —it's a good way to relate to friends, feel understood, have fun, and get feedback from people who are in the same boat as you. Money is an often taboo subject that gets ignored for fear of offending, judging, or falling too far outside of the bell curve.
And our reluctance to talk about money — combined with our insecurity about our own knowledge in the subject — is undeniably doing no good. Personal finance is a vital, empowering part of everyone's life, and often it’s the only topic that doesn’t get covered at the Seasons dining table, and doesn’t make it to the top of the priority list at home. So let's taco bout it!
DO ask questions if you don’t know something. “Do you guys have savings set aside? Cause I’m not even sure where to begin…” is a perfectly smart, healthy way to start learning.
DO be supportive of your friends’ successes. When they land a stellar, well-paying internship, or reach a saving goal, celebrate with them! Let them have their awesome financial [life] moment.
DON’T compare your financial situation to someone else's life. You can’t know what someone's full financial story is, and even if you could, it wouldn’t affect your own. Stay in your lane. You know what they say —Every minute you spend wishing you had someone else's life is a minute spent wasting yours.
DO remember that you are not obligated to keep up. If you have friends whose lifestyle or frivolous ways with money is making you feel like you need to prove yourself or impress someone, you may need to hang out with them less often... Preserve your own mental and financial health.
DON’T keep financial awkwardness bottled up. If you have a friend who consistently tacks on an extra drink to a shared bill at dinner, or proposes spring break trips you can’t afford, have a calm, open-minded talk with them. Say, “hey, I’m really trying to save and I want to be able to hang out with you but I hate having to say no to things — can we plan some more budget-friendly things for now?”
DO have suggestions for the budget-friendly things you’d like to do.
DO bring the topic up in a productive, positive way, so that everyone can participate. Say something about the new savings strategy you've started, or the budgeting app you read about, or something you saw on LinkedIn. Take it upon yourself to get the money talk ball rolling.
DON’T judge anyone’s situation. The quickest way to stop a productive financial discussion in its tracks is by making someone feel judged for their situation or choices. (And you know you wouldn’t enjoy someone doing that to you.)
DO accept that everyone’s situation is going to be different. There is going to be a bell curve — of backgrounds, incomes, goals, parental help, lifestyles, and financial maturity. That’s normal, and you don’t have to worry about where you fall. As long as friends are open, caring, and humble, you can overcome most of these differences.
DO help one another out if you’re trying to save, or budget. If one of you is saving up for a security deposit on a new apartment, don’t invite them out to do bouji things that weekend. The more you know about one another’s lives and goals, the more you can help each other reach them.
So bring up money with your friends. Ask questions you may think are dumb, or talk about the issues you’re currently facing. Make it a topic as common and universal as dating or weekend plans. But before you do, remember the dos and don’ts of talking about money. Better yet, come see us at the Student Loan Education Office. We would love to have a chat with you about your money questions. No judging, no uncomfortable conversations. Find us on ISUappointments!