We’re taught from an early age not to talk about money.

It’s almost like it’s some sort of taboo, or a bad word we can’t say in front of other people. And even though we might have exceptions to that rule, like with our spouses or immediate family members, we don’t really talk about money outside of that. (And if the divorce statistics have anything to say about it, most married couples don’t either — money is the #1 cause of divorce!)

The more you talk openly about money, the more it loses its mysterious power over your life. We all have questions about our money (or someone else’s) and there’s nothing wrong with that. Let’s start talking about money by discussing some of the reasons why we don’t talk about it and then build a plan for having healthier money conversations. 

Money conversations held hostage 

What makes money such a powerful topic of conversation? 

💰 Money is the easiest measurement stick we have, which can be dangerous. Your “money number” can only measure the number of dollars you have to your name. What it can’t do is measure the intangible things or the reflection of your full life. 

For instance, how do you measure joy? A great relationship with your family? Moving out of a soul-crushing job and into a great new career? How do you measure the years off you took to spend time with your kids? These things may have negatively impacted your “money number,” but they have a priceless value in the context of your life. 

So much of our value is decided on what number is in our bank account. But if money is so reflective of our values, what does it mean that our values change so widely? Mine are not the same as yours, yet we both feel success in different parts of our lives. 

More reasons we’re so tongue-tied…

Aside from socially ingrained habits, there are a few other reasons we don’t talk about money: 

❌ We don’t know where we stand money-wise. The most common question I get when someone comes in for help with their money is, “Am I normal?” Most of us don’t know what part of the curve we are on: ahead or behind. We fly blind because we’re not talking about money as a society and it’s hard to gauge where we are or even what we should do.

❌ Money is confusing. Between projections, assumptions, investments, insurances, risk management, etc., there is so much that goes into a financial plan. The job of a financial planner is to help make this simpler and easier for you. But it can still get really overwhelming, especially when you feel like you have nobody to ask questions or talk about your finances in detail with. And don’t even get me started on how financial planning is historically offered only to people who’ve built wealth.

❌Money is so personal. The right advice for you may not be the right advice for me. It depends on your life situation, your income, your net worth, what you want, and what’s most important to you. Unfortunately, that’s not something you can just Google the answer to (or listen to one Baby Boomer’s advice about).

Change the conversation (and start it!)

The first thing I like to do with clients who are having a hard time talking about finances and aligning that conversation with their personal values is my BudgetingBlocks™ exercise. 

During this exercise, we use physical blocks on the table in front of us to see where you spend money. Then we see how your values reflect your money spent. 

When I look at a budget, I can immediately tell what is most important to someone, and that’s the ultimate goal of the exercise, because your budget should reflect your values.

Some other ways we can approach having better money conversations?

❎  Start practicing with whoever you feel comfortable with.
❎  Stop saying you “can’t afford” something and start saying “I’m choosing to value this over this,” which reframes comparison and measuring.
❎  Be aware of the differences in how you prioritize things vs. how other people do.
❎  Talk to a financial planner. Get a clear to-do list, get a clear idea of what you need to do in your financial life to make progress, and establish the steps you need to get to your goals. 

Thanks for tuning in!

Thank you so much for checking out this episode of Everyday Money with Hannah Moore. I look forward to sharing even more tips on how to have healthy conversations about the money matters in your life!

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Resources mentioned in this episode: 

  • Use our BudgetingBlocks™ to plan a financial future that includes the highs and lows of the market. A good budget includes all possible financial scenarios and helps you see where your money is going! 
  • Check out the Everyday Money blog for more ways that you can budget smart during times of financial turning points: Budgeting, Setting Goals, and Choosing Trade-offs Wisely