Money. It's something that we really don't like to talk about. But it is possible to ease the stress and embarrassment that can crop up from the idea of talking finance and normalise conversations about money. This Talk Money Week, we hear from Lia Loewenthal, founder of Get Comfy With Money .
What are we even talking about?
When I say “Let’s Talk About Money”, I don't mean tell other people how much you earn, or brag about your investments. I mean have real, deep, honest conversations. Express your experiences dealing with debt. Share your savings goals. Explore financial freedom or show how you want to enjoy your money.
My own money story started way back when I was little. I grew up in a family that valued happiness over wealth (yay!) so I was used to seeing my parents splurge, then feel awkward and guilty.
At 21, I got my first credit card. I used the money to travel and invest in my first business, which turned out to be a flop. Over eight years, I accumulated credit card debt from 10 providers in 2 countries. But I would put on a smile and pretend to those close to me that I was living a perfect, fun life and I was building a successful company. The heavy £27,000 weight of my debt led me to finally confide in a close friend. It was a painful conversation. But to my surprise, once I shared my most shameful secret, the pressure eased enough for me to focus on a plan to tackle my debt head on.
Opening up about my experience with debt allowed me to shed my self judgement and has released some of the negative beliefs I previously held about money. This is why I now work to embolden women to also talk about, make and manage their own money.
We can feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable
An astounding 8 out of 10 women say they have refrained from discussing their finances with those they are close to, according to a report by Fidelity UK. And when it comes to hiring a financial professional, only 47% of women feel comfortable doing so.
Everyone has their own unique money story. But so many of us struggle to open up and share anything related to money. We may feel stressed, overwhelmed or one thing I used to be - a bank balance avoider!
So is it possible for us to take ownership of our own money story?
Absolutely. It all begins with a conversation. We talk. We open up. We increase our financial knowledge. We rewrite the story that we've been telling ourselves about money up to this point.
Here are my top tips for how to open up about money:
The more you understand your own views on money, the more open you will be to shifting how you really feel. Try this, write down some of the things you currently say to yourself and others about money.
Creating a plan for the future of your finances can help you to think beyond the uncomfortable feelings that you may have now, about money. Ask yourself - what's the overall goal for your finances right now? Who in your life will be involved in achieving these goals?
We all have an innate need to belong. Make a list of all the people you feel comfortable talking to about money. It can also be useful to create a sub-list of the people you don't feel comfortable talking about money with. Circle the person on your list that makes you feel the most safe.
Turn your money plans into actions. Set a date in your diary to have a chat with the person you trust the most. Sharing something simple first will help you to be open with the more challenging financial issues you may want to share later down the line.
Practice makes perfect
Talking about money is like working a muscle - the more regularly you do it, the more comfy it becomes. Conversations about money can become as natural as conversations about the weather, work or relationships. Now that I talk more often about money with my partner, friends, family and colleagues, it's completely shifted my relationships on many levels. I’m able to get the support I need, connect more deeply, but also think more positively about money and therefore back my own financial future.
So who will you be sharing your money story with?