Friends and Finances DO Mix: Here's Why
It's Time to Stop Shying Away from Having Money Conversations with Those Closest to YouKathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Monday, 25 January 2021
The following article is based on the content covered in my book, Flourish Financially: Values, Transitions, and Big Conversations. If you’d like to read more, you may purchase a copy here.
If you grew up with the understanding that it’s inappropriate to talk about money in social settings, you’re not alone. A full 70 percent of people shy away from discussing personal finance topics with their friends. However, our friends are some of our greatest influences in life and I believe it’s important to have money discussions with those closest to you. Below I’ll share four reasons why I think friends and finances do mix, even if common etiquette tells us otherwise.
Friends Help Us Break Down Barriers
Family members should be our closest allies, yet many barriers prevent us from initiating money conversations with family. Emotions get involved and we have a habit of falling into old family roles or feeling awkward or resentful. With our friends, however, we can open up in a way that isn’t possible with family. With friends, those barriers and roles don’t exist.
In my own life, when one of my closest friends was going through a divorce, she opened up to me about the financial decisions that had been made before the divorce and that really affected her. It was a conversation she wouldn’t have had with a family member because she felt they might have clouded her judgment or even judged her decisions unfairly. I know that being able to talk to me, a trusted friend, about those money decisions and her anxiety about them was a really freeing experience for her.
Friends Provide Support
Sometimes, verbalizing our money goals with our friends can help us achieve them. Friends provide support and accountability in a way that we may not get (or want to get) from other people who influence our decisions. For example, if you want to learn more about giving to organizations or if you want to work with your spouse to set up an allowance structure for your kids, telling a friend about your plans will increase the chance that you’ll follow through on them. Accountability is a very powerful tool that can be used to your advantage in situations like this. Your friends might also have some ideas to help you achieve your goals, which leads to the next point.
Friends Offer Different Perspectives
Talking with friends offers a different perspective on how you might want to handle your own money decisions. All individuals and all families choose to approach and manage money differently. The only way to learn about your friends’ best practices is to start talking to them about finance.
I get ideas from my friends all the time. In fact, it was from a friend that I learned about the idea of creating parameters for each couple’s spending limits, which I wrote about in my book, Flourish Financially. She mentioned that she and her husband put a $500 spending limit on purchases. They don’t have to tell each other about anything under that amount. Now, I recommend that my clients who are struggling to get on the same financial page as their spouse take the same approach.
A key thing to remember here is that the point of having money conversations with your friends isn’t to become their financial advisor. It’s much more focused on learning from each other and supporting each other. Money conversations build a foundation for richer conversations in the future through shared vulnerability and authenticity.
Friends Encourage Us to Take a Greater Interest in Our Finances
Many people don’t know the details of their own finances because their partners take the lead. If you’re in this situation, talking to friends indirectly can encourage you to take more interest in something that affects every aspect of your life. Conversely, if you’re more tuned in to your finances, mentioning something such as a 401(k) plan or how you approach your own investments might get your friends thinking about their own investments.
You don’t need to get naked with your finances, but sharing general thoughts about goals and priorities can be helpful. The goal is to learn, be curious, connect more to your money values, be better prepared for a conversation you might have with your kids, and bring new ideas to your own life.
Getting Money Conversations Started
If you’re not accustomed to talking with your friends about finances yet, here are a few questions to help you get started:
- · What is your earliest money memory? (It’s where your money story originates!)
- · How are your money values the same or different from those of your parents?
- · How do you discuss and handle finances with your spouse?
- · What are your financial goals?
- · What lessons are you trying to teach your kids about money?
- · What conversations are you having about money with your parents?
- · What is the best financial advice you’ve ever received?
- · What does financial independence look like for you?
What Are You Waiting For?
Money is about so much more than dollars and cents – it’s about your life. Isn’t it time to start talking about it with the people who make your life meaningful? Our friends have so much to offer us, and we can make a difference in their pursuit of financial goals, too. All it takes is the courage to get the conversation started.
Was this topic useful to you? Read more in my book, Flourish Financially: Values, Transitions, and Big Conversations.
About the Author
Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.