Does it feel like you’re always trying to save money on a shoestring budget while your friends are out living it up? Financial FOMO (fear of missing out) is nearly impossible to avoid in the age of social media. When your goals don’t align with your friends’ overall financial plan, you might feel extra pressure to spend money you don’t really have in your budget, though it’s easy to misunderstand what you can’t see.
Even though the U.K.’s Equality Act of 2010 prohibits victimisation, harassment and discrimination in society and the workplace from nine protected characteristics, recent data shows that little has changed in recent years to actually move the needle to improve the gender pay gap disparity.1 What does that mean for your finances? Well, if you don’t know what you should earn based on your position and responsibilities, you might not realise what the job you do is actually worth.
Why don’t more friends discuss matters like personal finances openly? Though it may not traditionally be a polite topic of conversation, there’s so much to learn from talking openly with your social circle about personal finance. What if you missed something important you should’ve learned in school?
Even though you can’t expect to be in the same position as your peers, you can still have a respectful, thoughtful and educational discussion about personal finance. Keep these considerations and tips in mind for your first financial discussion with your friends.
When Should You Talk to Friends About Finances?
You Can’t Afford to Keep up With Their Lifestyle.
When your friends don’t understand your financial responsibilities, they might have a difficult time respecting your limitations. A brief discussion of your saving and spending goals can help you align your activities with your social group. Plus, identifying one or two people with similar savings goals to yours can help you combat FOMO while you practice more fiscally responsible activities together.
You Look up to Them as a Mentor.
If you respect your friend’s relationship with money, you can likely learn something from that person. Think of your conversation as a growing opportunity and not an interview. What piece of advice do they wish they’d known? Let your friend know how much you admire their fiscal ability, and they might be more willing to tell you how they got there.
You’re in the Same Industry or Position.
Since you’re legally protected from victimisation of protected characteristics at your workplace, you should at least feel comfortable talking to your colleagues about compensation. Knowing what your friends in similar professional positions make can help you leverage your own position and help you earn what you should make.
You’re Not Trying to Boast.
A financial conversation amongst friends isn’t the time to flex your knowledge of fiscal terms or show off your investment portfolio. If you’re comfortable enough to discuss money, you should be sensitive to the fact that everyone is different. Don’t overwhelm your peers, and back off if you sense a hesitation to share more personal financial details.
3 Tips for a Tactful Money Conversation With Friends:
1. Don’t Compare Numbers.
You can still have a positive and enlightening discussion even if you discuss finances abstractly; a friendly conversation can turn sour fast if it feels like you’re trying to compete. You’ll never have the complete portrait of someone’s life, and you simply can’t reduce someone’s financial wellbeing to a number. Unless your friend is comfortable providing very specific figures, keep your discussion to general concepts rather than net worths, and you’ll have a lot more insight to gain.
2. Encourage Shared Goals.
No matter how different your financial paths and lifestyles might be, you can still identify and bond over similar shared goals, like saving more and spending less. How do you plan to get there? What are some of your best time-saving, frugal dinner hacks? Do you have a favourite savings app? Regardless of income or assets, you can always work on your shared plans and goals together.
3. Don’t Judge.
Have you ever felt like you were criticised for a choice you made in the past? It doesn’t feel great, especially when that judgement comes from a trusted confidant. You probably wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up to that person again. Your friend might have a lot of debt, or they might not have any form of emergency savings. There’s a big difference between criticism and helpful guidance; avoid the urge to provide unsolicited advice.
Fiscal responsibility doesn’t just happen overnight. But the more you know now, the better off you’ll be in the future.
1Government Equalities Office. (5 April 2019). Private sector employers report second year of gender pay gap data. Retrieved 5 August 2019, from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/private-sector-employers-report-second-year-of-gender-pay-gap-data