You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money

Flashback several years ago to my last relationship. The guy I was dating at the time wasn’t open to discussing his “numbers.” Mind you, this was several years into our relationship. Although I disclosed how much I earned and saved, he was radio silent. Needless to say, it didn’t work out between us.

When it comes to talking about money: It’s no big secret: we’d much rather talk about sex and politics than money, according to an article in The Guardian. We despise being defined by our wealth—or our lack thereof. We’re also often taught that talking about money is a faux pas. In fact, 7 out of 10 people think talking about money is rude.

Taking a step back, it’s no surprise that we don’t want to talk about money—a cause of stress for many people. In fact, 90% of Americans are stressed out about money, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Add to this that saving money is hard and many people don’t even have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency Why would they want to discuss finances?

Yet, in order to break through the money taboo, it’s important to learn how to openly talk about money matters. Here are some tips to break the ice when it comes to discussing money with your significant other or spouse.

Get financially naked

We all have different money values. In fact, your perceptions about money were likely formed when you were young. And, since you were raised differently than your partner, you may even have polar opposite money values. For example, you may have the “scarcity mindset,” in which money is hard to come by. This means you may be a penny pincher. Your partner, on the other hand, may be prone to emotional spending and find it challenging to save money.

Regardless of your different relationships to money, it’s important for you and your significant other to get “financially naked” when it comes to talking about money, according to Time Magazine. Financial infidelity, or hiding your financial matters from your partner, can ruin your relationship.

You can start making money discussions fun by setting up a monthly date. You can keep it casual and perhaps schedule it after a relaxing night after a homecooked meal. Topics you’ll want to discuss may include your net worth or outstanding debts, your short- and long-term money goals, creating a budget, and whether you should have a joint bank account. You can also use this time to discuss future job changes and general concerns you have about your finances.

Keep in mind that if you are cohabiting or engaged, it’s important to get your money matters out in the open before you make any major life changes, like uprooting to a new city, getting married, merging investments or raising kids. By starting now, you can lay the foundation for building a life together.

 

You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money

 

Talk about your pain points

When it comes to money, it’s no surprise that many turn to personal finance forums on Reddit and Quora. These channels offer a virtual space where you can disclose details about your financial situation and remain anonymous. Although it seems uncomfortable, why not instead discuss these topics with people you know?

I know it seems strange, but sometimes being the first in a group to disclose your money matters can pave the way for others to do the same. This way, you can all support and help each other achieve your financial goals. For instance, I am usually the first one in my circle of friends to discuss my savings goals and the financial resources I’ve stumbled upon. I’m also not afraid to talk about my biggest challenges.

If you don’t want to talk about anything big, start by discussing a small win, like how you saved money at the grocery store last week or earmarked some of your bonus toward your summer vacay. By doing this, you’ll let your social circle know that “hey, I’m comfortable talking about money, and you’re welcome to do it, too.” My friends and I now talk freely about saving for retirement. I also receive texts when someone made a final car payment or paid off his student loan.

Going beyond your immediate social circle, it’s also a good idea to practice discussing money with family members or roomies. This will make it easier to broach topics like splitting a dinner tab or dividing up household bills.

Know your worth

Knowing your worth in the working world and asking for greater compensation is a crucial part of climbing the corporate ladder. When you know the value you’re contributing to the job, and just what it takes to level up to the next rung, you can feel confident asking for a raise. While it still remains taboo to ask your co-workers what they earn, you can still discuss this with your boss. This way you’ll have a better idea of what it takes to earn more, and what it takes to perform to move up the pay scale.
Likewise, in order to net higher rates as a freelancer, it’s important to know what others earn so that you can effectively raise your own rates. As a self-employed writer, rates vary and it can be challenging to determine how much to charge clients. To help me out, I often reach out to other freelancers to talk about what rates I should charge a client.

Regardless of how you decide to get your money matters out in the open, keep in mind that money is a tool. That is, money is a resource to help you achieve your goals so that you can live your preferred lifestyle. By openly discussing money, you’ll be more apt to align your money goals with your values. And that, my friends, is the sweet meat of having heart-to-heart discussions about money.

 

4 Awkward Money Scenarios with Friends and How to Handle Them

It’s inevitable. At some point in your life, you’ll find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with friends. The culprit? Money. Whether it’s splitting the tab after dinner or lending money to a friend, things can get sticky.

To help you handle awkward money situations, check out these common financial scenarios and learn effective ways to deal with them.

Awkward scenario #1: Splitting a large group check

You get invited to a big birthday bash for your BFF. To keep it frugal, you stick to an appetizer and one drink. When the bill comes, the group somehow decides that it’s “easier” to split everything.

*cringe*

Have you been in this situation before? Super awkward, right?

Several years ago, I attended a friend’s birthday dinner at a sushi restaurant. I was in serious debt repayment mode. Now, I love raw fish but let’s face it, sushi isn’t known to be cheap. Beforehand, I decided that I was going to order one roll and one drink. Frugal win! As everyone else was enjoying rows of sushi delicately placed on wooden boats, I enjoyed my one roll.

When the bill came, the resident mathematician of the group divided the total bill by the number of people. I was then supposed to contribute three times more than I anticipated. We all threw down our cards and in that moment I regretted not enjoying those sushi boats. Though I paid more than I wanted and didn’t make a fuss, I wish I could have changed the situation.

How to handle this situation: 

Be honest and tell your friends you’re on a budget ahead of time. This way, it won’t come as a surprise if you order less than everyone else. For example, you can say, “Thanks so much for inviting me! FYI, I’m working on saving money and I want to hang out, but I probably won’t spend a lot of money.”

Be honest and tell your friends you’re on a budget ahead of time. This way, it won’t come as a surprise if you order less than everyone else. For example, you can say, “Thanks so much for inviting me! FYI, I’m working on saving money and I want to hang out, but I probably won’t spend a lot of money.”

Once you’ve laid your financial state out on the table, here are a couple options for dealing with the situation:

  • When you arrive at the restaurant, ask your server for a separate check before everyone starts ordering. I know this can seem uncomfortable but hopefully, your friends will understand and this beats asking for another check at the end of the meal.
  • Agree ahead of time to split the bill based on how much each person spends. Or, make sure your friends understand that your budget prevents you from chipping in extra cash. An easy way to do this is to use a mobile payment app like Venmo or divvy up the check and pay back the bill-payer using Chime. And, if the tip amount is also an awkward pain point, Chime offers up instant transaction notifications for restaurants that include a 15% tip calculation.
  • If you really don’t feel comfortable splitting the check down to the exact penny, consider budgeting for situations like this. This way, you’ll be prepared to spend more on the group meal.
  • As a last resort, you can always say no to an invitation and propose something that is more budget-friendly at a later date.

Awkward scenario #2: When your friend asks to borrow money

It’s the 29th of the month and your friend calls you. You know the one – she has trouble holding down a job but has a heart of gold. With all of her courage, she asks for money to pay rent.

You want to help your friend and you have the money, but you don’t want things to be weird. You also don’t want to be a bank. Your job is to be her friend, not act like a lender, right?

How to handle this situation:

As hard as it is, you should probably say “no” to your friend. Mixing money and friends can get weird real fast. How will you feel if she doesn’t pay you back? Or how would you deal with seeing her on Instagram at the hottest new cocktail bar – very likely spending the money you just loaned to her?

It may seem awkward, but just tell your friend in plain and simple terms: “I don’t lend out money. It’s a rule I have.” This could mean a moment of awkwardness instead of a broken friendship down the line. Which one would you prefer?

On the other hand, if you really do want to help your friend and have the funds available, then you can certainly consider lending her the cash. Just make sure lending money won’t put you in a tough spot. A good rule of thumb: Don’t lend money that you wouldn’t give as a gift. Always remember that you might not get your money back.

Awkward scenario #3: Asking for money owed to you

You book a girls’ trip with your favorite ladies and put it on your credit card. You let your friends know their part of the bill and they all agree to it. No problem.

After a wild weekend of fun, you still haven’t been repaid for the trip. You don’t want to be a total buzzkill and sending them Rihanna’s song “B!%#* Better Have My Money” is a bit much. What do you do?

How to handle this situation:

Instead of launching into a discussion about how much money your friends owe you, bring up the situation as an afterthought. You can say something like “I had such a great time with you at [trip/concert/dinner,etc.]. We should do that more often. I wanted to follow-up with you about the bill. I’m about to pay off my credit card soon, do you want to Venmo or PayPal me the money? Your portion was $X.” Pro tip: If your friends are Chime members and use their mobile banking app, you can use the Pay Friends feature to make getting paid a breeze.

Awkward scenario #4: Will you co-sign for my loan?

At some point, a friend may ask you to co-sign for his loan. A co-signer is typically someone with excellent credit and if you’re that person, you can help your friend get approved for a car loan or perhaps even secure the apartment he’s had his eye on. This may not seem like such a big deal to you. But, before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to recognize that, as the co-signer, you are legally responsible for the loan. If you friend is delinquent on payments, guess what? Your credit score may suffer.

A few months ago my friend asked if I could be a co-signer on her apartment application. I knew I could help her get approved, but I wasn’t willing to risk my own credit — or our friendship over it. So I told her the truth. I said, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t do this. I’m getting my credit in shape after paying off all my debt. I don’t think I’m the best one to help you with this.”

It was tough and definitely awkward. But our friendship is fine now and he eventually got an apartment.

How to handle this situation: 

Just say no! You don’t want to be on the hook and risk your own credit because of someone else. Trust me. Be polite and give it to ‘em straight. Make it about you, not him.

Final word

It’s tough to navigate the complexities of dealing with money issues with friends. Consider your values when dealing with these awkward situations. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground or be true to your financial goals. While you’re at it: Fully explain your personal situation and reasons for the decisions you make. By being honest, your friends will understand where you are coming from. And this, my friends, can help you keep your friendships and finances intact.

 

Money Manners: How to Deal with Friends Who Owe You Money

Money Manners is a series that explores everyday money situations we encounter in our relationships, at work, and at home along with practical tips on how to handle them

The first rule of loaning money to friends is often: don’t do it. But that’s what friends (and family) are for, right? When a friend asks for money, it can be hard to say no. Whether it’s covering the bill for lunch or helping out with a down payment for a new home, it’s gratifying when we’re able to help.

However, loaning a friend money comes with the risk of not getting repaid. In fact, a survey by PayPal found that a third of U.S. adults say friends and family owe them at least $450.

There might be an unspoken understanding that your loan will be repaid as soon as possible, but that can lead to a wild mismatch in expectations between the lender and recipient. For larger sums of money, this often leads to serious tension. Here are some tips that will improve your money manners and make sure you get paid back without ruining a relationship:

Establish clear expectations.

If you did not take the time to discuss a repayment deadline, you shouldn’t threaten mafia involvement. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt that paying you back simply slipped his mind or that you had a different expectation about timing for the repayment.

Use this opportunity to get on the same page and agree to a repayment schedule. Maybe you’ll get your repayment right then and there.

If the overdue balance is more than your friend can handle at one time, she probably views the debt as insurmountable. Let her know that you are sympathetic to her situation, but you still expect to get your money back. Start to discuss a payment plan that works for both of you. Invite her to set it up and share it with you first. If she fails to do so, come up with your own schedule and let her know you’ll follow up every time payment is due.

Let tech do the talking.

Use apps like ChimeSquare Cashor Venmo to request the repayment amount. Your friend will need to approve the request before you get paid, but it’s another good (and polite) reminder that you’re waiting for reimbursement. This method also makes getting paid easier so you can avoid the “check is in the mail … oh, it must have gotten lost” saga.

Time the ask.

For small amounts of money owed by a friend, consider a more casual opportunity to square up. The next time you’re out together and the bill shows up feel free to say, “Since I covered dinner last time, want to get this so we can call it even?” If your friend cannot cover the entire amount owed at that moment (be understanding she may be on a tight budget), ask her to pitch in for what she can afford.

Respectfully decline covering your friend in the future.

Depending on how serious the situation is (a couple bucks to cover lunch is very different than thousands of dollars) you may need to say no to lending money in any amount to your friend in the future. You have every right to make that determination for yourself. Keep in mind debt can cause major stress on your friendship. Refusing to put either of you in that situation is the best way to avoid it. 

The bottom line.

Even after all this, your friend may never pay you back. In that case, you have to decide if you can get over it and move on, or if the debt is too much to forgive. If it turns out to be the latter, let your friend know you don’t feel comfortable continuing with your friendship because of the way they are treating you. If anything, it will be your last ditch effort to encourage your friend to do the right thing.

What to do if you owe someone money.

It happens! (Remember the statistic at the beginning of this post?) But it’s never too late to correct a mistake. Be proactive and let the person you owe money to know that you haven’t forgotten about the debt. Then, create a payment plan and explain what the steps you will take to make it right. In the future, if you can’t afford something, politely decline and know there will be many more opportunities. And always remember that friends are friends, not banks.

 

How to Mind Your Money Manners When Splitting the Bill

Dealing with money can be awkward regardless of how much you have, especially when it comes to splitting the bill. Whether it’s asking a roommate to pitch in for toilet paper or deciding who pays on a first date, navigating money manners for shared expenses can be tricky. Here are some common scenarios you may encounter with our tips for gracefully and economically splitting the bill.

The dinner with friends.

We’ve all been there — the group dinner with friends of varying tastes, and bank accounts. You’re on a budget so you order an appetizer and a beer, while your friend orders the prime rib and a bottle of Bordeaux. The bigger the group, the harder it is to make sure everyone pays their fair share of the check without pulling out a calculator.

If you want to avoid bankrolling your friend’s expensive taste in food while still maintaining your manners, offer to be the accountant. Instead of splitting hairs (and cents), my friends and I divide portions by $5 increments. This allows for a more equitable division of cost while still making it easy to manage. Most times, your friends will just be grateful that you’re handling the math on their behalf.

The group getaway.

If you are looped into an event or a trip that you can’t miss, offer to plan it so you can help find ways to keep it affordable and help manage how expenses get divvied up. If you can find quality options at a good price, you’ll also get bonus points for putting in the work.

First, create a list of costs that will need to be divided, such as groceries, activities, rental deposits, and fees. If one person is shopping, set a budget and create a grocery list so there are no complaints about unnecessary expenses. Set clear expectations up front with the group about what is shared and what is on the individual. If someone wants special items, they can pick it up separately.

To make it even easier, you can estimate the shared costs and have people send you ahead of time for shared items like food and accommodations. Use apps like Splitwise and Divvy which make dividing up expenses easier when there are lots of expenses to manage.

The shared monthly rent and bills.

Roommate situations can be tough. You live with these people after all, so money matters need to be handled with care. When a roommate is failing to pay his or her part of the household expenses, it’s more difficult to confront when there’s no formal expense tracking. The best way to fine-tune your money manners with roommates is to have good documentation, and thankfully technology can help with that.

Before you sign the lease or a new roommate moves in, agree to some rules about how expenses will be shared and the process for collecting everyone’s fair share. Again this is where apps like Splitwise and Divvy can streamline monthly bills and save you an awkward conversation.

The first date.

Who pays on the first date has become a tricky question when it comes to money manners. Dating culture evolving so quickly in the era of Instagram, Snapchat and Tinder, you might expect that traditional etiquette has become irrelevant. But surveys have found that even today, most heterosexual couples still aren’t going dutch on the first date. Yup, in most cases, the guy is still picking up the tab.

According to research conducted at California State University, about 10% of heterosexual daters expect the man to pay for everything, 10% expect to go 50/50, and the rest are somewhere in between. In other words, there’s no clear money manner on the first date.

This is why I like to stick to the simple rule of—if you ask someone out on a date, you should also offer to pick up the bill. If they insist on splitting it, great. But beware of the fake wallet reaches. About half of women reported they get upset if they end up having to pay, even if they offered. I suppose that’s on them, but just be aware.

The most important manner to keep in mind is this—don’t assume the other person has the same spending habits as you do. I personally think splitting the bill is a good move on a first date, but I wouldn’t be okay if I was forced to fork out $100 unexpectedly.

The alternative.

Social norms will tell us that talking about money is taboo. It’s uncomfortable. It makes us vulnerable. It can expose us. But when it impacts your ability to be financially stable, it’s important to communicate when you can’t afford something. Or at the very least, learn how to politely say “no”.

Next time you get an invitation to a dinner date, a weekend escape, or the trip of a lifetime, considering how it will impact your goals. Does it align with your priorities, or are you simply matching what others are forking out for the sake of appearances? While it’s tempting to live in the moment, and dreadful to experience FOMO, remember your budget is there so you won’t feel like you’re missing out down the road.

We haven’t even scratched the surface of awkward money situations and how to handle them, so feel free to share your stories with us! You can comment below or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MoneyManners