I’ve always heard that it’s good etiquette to be cautious before talking about money, politics, or religion with others (specifically those who you do not know well). All three are topics that are deeply personal and likely to turn a group of people into opposing debate teams (who of course all think they’re right).
I understand how politics and religion can be extremely divisive and fiery, but finances is a topic that I’ve always been very comfortable talking about.
And that’s not because I’ve always had a slew of it to flash around, but more so because I’ve been fascinated for most of my adult life (all 12 years of it – I’m soooo experienced obviously! ha) by the income streams which are possible to generate money, the limitless options for building wealth via investments and stocks, and general retirement planning options.
I also think it’s fascinating when talking about money to see and hear about how others prioritize their money and what they choose to spend it on. For example, we’re all guilty of saying something along the lines of “I have no idea how so and so can buy all the things she buys”, but maybe she doesn’t prioritize vacations and would rather spend her hard-earned money on her attire or home. Or maybe you’ve said, “I just cannot understand how so and so bought that kind of home.” Well, maybe she inherited some money from an uncle who passed who graciously left her a bit of cash as a down payment. Or “So and so must be in so much debt considering how often they do xyz”
Ahh, the truth is that we typically have no idea where other peoples’ money comes from.
And while that’s nobody else’s business in my opinion, I do think it’s so helpful (and smart!) to chat about finances with others who are doing well if they’re willing and happy to share, and then pick and choose takeaways from your conversations to help you do better with your own finances in order to possibly achieve the things that you see others doing that you wish you could do too.
This has been on my mind a lot recently since our entire financial situation flipped upside down after transitioning from the Army to Jamie’s civilian job.
Everything from investments, healthcare, life insurance, and more was navigated through the military, and we’ve recently had to reassess every single aspect of our financial lives. (Trying to figure out this past winter how much of a mortgage we could afford in Alabama was a really scary thing because we were so nervous that the civilian world would be so different financially. Spoiler alert: It’s not that different. You just have to do your research and figure out the few of things that will change, such as retirement, state income taxes, and health insurance.)
Jamie and I are totally comfortable sharing that we’ve needed guidance from various family members, friends, and most importantly our financial advisor to help us allocate and figure out new financial avenues that will set our family up for financial success now and for a lifetime (especially things that involve these two precious faces). These are often heavy conversations!
On one hand, I whole-heartedly agree that the details of how you and your spouse ultimately choose to spend your money is a very intimate thing, but on the other hand I think it’s important to occasionally chat about finances with trusted peers or family members who are open to sharing the things they believe they’re doing right, so that one can potentially begin doing similar practices too. You don’t know what you don’t know sometimes, and I personally think that being teachable regarding your personal finances is so important.
But it should be noted (probably earlier in this post!), I think there’s a very fine line between talking about money in an obsessive, boastful manner and talking about money casually in a manner that is designed to help and inform others.
Talking about money
Since much of what you’ve read here is simply my opinion based on my own experiences, I decided to reach out to a trusty group of women (some that I know and others that I don’t) and ask for their thoughts. Do they talk about money with other people? If so, with whom and why? Do they view finances as a taboo subject to talk about? Why or why not? Their responses were all over the map; Here’s what they had to say.
Because the pay grade charts are out there
“I’m definitely comfortable talking about my finances with people I’m close with, especially those whose spouses are also in the Army because it’s no secret how much money we make. I’m confident with the financial decisions that my husband and I have made, which is probably why I feel so comfortable.”
On various debts
“I’m not ashamed of the debt I accumulated in grad school, maybe bummed that I have it, but not ashamed. I suppose if I had frivolous debt (which maybe my Tahoe is just that, but I don’t feel that it is) then I wouldn’t be so open about it, but I’m not embarrassed about the things that we owe on. We talk less openly about income with our friends outside the military, but don’t mind revealing what we’d have to make in the civilian world to maintain our lifestyle. We do discuss with our best civilian friends, applaud the ones who have worked hard to make a nice income and pay off their debts and they do the same for us. Unless you’re just making poor decisions or are embarrassed by the high amount you received in a trust fund (which no one should be) then I don’t see (talking about money) as taboo. I can also respect the fact that not everyone feels that way and is comfortable sharing, so I’d never flat out ask someone about their finances.”
Online friends rock
“I basically only talk to my sister because I could tell her anything, and she is also very money savvy at retirement investments and frugal (living) despite her income. Other than her, (I use) Facebook groups that are about finances in particular.”
Good ‘ole Dave Ramsey
“We’ve been talking about it more openly in the past 6-8 months because we took Dave Ramsey’s financial peace class and feel like we have some direction and are excited about it. I don’t think it’s taboo to talk about what you are doing/goals/priorities; I think it just feels like taboo when you’re bragging about how much money you have/make or are making other people feel bad. I personally think people should talk about it more because I think a lot of people feel lost/stuck/overwhelmed (I know I did).”
A bit of discomfort
“We follow Dave Ramsey and are proud of our more recent successes, but are also terrified of the future. It has given us so much peace to talk with (other) families and see that everyone is in a different walk of life. It doesn’t feel taboo to me (to talk about finances), but I also wouldn’t openly ask someone about it. I don’t mind when people ask us (about it though), if that makes sense. I guess it just feels uncomfortable if you worry that you don’t have enough in savings or haven’t made awesome choices financially, and you don’t necessarily want to share your mistakes.”
If you’re comfortable, I’d love for you to weigh in and share your thoughts.
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo