I was told, as many of us were, that we should never talk about money, religion, or politics. Not suprisingly, this has left me void of knowledge in three subjects: money, religion, and politics. Sure I have opinions. I’ve read some stuff. But I don’t have that breadth of ideas and security in my understanding that comes with a topic that has been passed around my friends and co-workers a few dozen times.
Taboo topics, like money, get avoided because they stir up passionate feelings. People find it difficult to talk about the taboos in calm and rational ways and it’s a shame. Think about how we could all benefit from the knowledge and personal stories people have stored up inside about these topics, especially money.
Once, I asked a particularly financially sound friend how she became so savvy with money. She told me to go take a class at the community college. It’s a little like being a part of a club, money: you have it or you don’t. If you don’t have any, you better figure it out on your own.
Of course it would be rude (not to mention scandalous) to mention your salary at work. What could it hurt to discuss retirement? Investment? Debt-reduction plans? Apparently, women are especially secretive when it comes to talk about money. As a women, I guess I thought everyone was private about fiance, but this article reveals that men actually discuss investment and finance with each other. We women can talk about couponing all day, but we are on lock-down when it comes to discussing long-term financial plans and success. We don’t share tips or advice with each other, almost as if we share what we know there will be less money for us out there.
Fear. Women, myself included, often feel weak in math skills. We feel uncertain and vulnerable in financial discussions because we doubt our ability to work with numbers. Pushing aside the reasoning behind this deep-seated insecurity, it is simply untrue. One of my friends, a man, who happens to be very gifted in math, said that finance really isn’t about math at all. It got me thinking, “Not about math?! Maybe I can really do it.”
What if we approach the conversation by 1) having the conversation in the first place and 2) by thinking about it as understanding concepts or philosophies rather than mathematical principals? Just as I’ve written about speaking with your partner about retirement, we have to remove the taboo on financial conversations. Spread the wealth (of knowledge) by talking to each other, as much as we talk about celebrities or our children, about investing, our future, and other money matters. We can leave the amount out of it. Let’s empower one another to take charge of our purse, ditch the old-fashioned thinking that men do it better. You may get a few crazy looks, and a few awkward pauses, but start asking the questions. What do your friends do with money? What do they say about investing? How do they imagine spending their golden years? What advice were they given that really worked?
Vee and I talk about this article and money-matters in today’s Sippin’ Social Hour podcast. Join in our frank, no-frills conversation about fear and money, and feel empowered to begin your own discussion with your girls!