A good friend of mine is a chartered accountant, heâs a young guy, 24, but heâs so knowledgeable about finances, saving, investing and just the whole money industry. He recently sorted out my tax return for me. We got together and he did all the lodging and technical stuff while I told him whatever he needed to know and let him access all my accounts etc.
While I was happy enough to let him look at whatever he needed, he kept asking âis this okay, are you comfortable for me to look at your accounts?â and my response was always âwhatever man, check what you need to check â itâs all good.â
After we got it all sorted, I asked why he kept asking these questions and he just said, âWell a lot of people arenât always comfortable to talk about their money.â
For me this was a bit of a realisation that talking to friends about money is not an easy feat. Letâs face it, bringing up the topic and discussing dollars and cents with your friends can be pretty uncomfortable for a lot of people.Â If you say the wrong thing or even the right thing sometimes, you could really stretch and put pressure on the friendship, making friends unwilling to chat about the âdirtyâ topic of money.
So how should we talk about this âdirtyâ little topic?
I guess for a lot of people there is a level of doubt about how much money you should have. âWhat if my friends have more or what if I have a lot more than they do and I make them feel bad, or even worse they ask to borrow some?â
For me personally, there is a level of doubt. I work in a competitive environment, with a corporate feel and a chance to climb the ladder. Right now Iâm not far from the bottom â I have a uni degree and have worked for less than two years in the industry, so I still have a long way to go.
I have some friends that Iâm so open to chat about money with, we help each other out when we can and are just honest about the situation. In saying this, I also have a few friends who are in very different situations. Some are still at uni or chose to go into trades, internships, traineeships and donât necessarily have a lot of money, while some others have worked hard and their work has paid off with a âlucky breakâ and have a lot of money.
Although this creates some barriers, the best way to breach the topic of money is to know where people are at. If someone is wealthy and you arenât, my first piece of advice would be to be honest â if they want to go to a super snazzy restaurant or go out every night, just say, âHey, for me at the moment I canât afford to do all these things. Is it cool if we just do something a little lower key?â
This is a difficult thing to do. It is hard to admit you donât have as much money as your friends but it is always easiest to talk about if you are honest from the outset. Donât live beyond your means just to impress your friends, otherwise you could end up resenting them, just because they have a bit more money than you.
On the flip side if you have more money than your friends, offer to help them out if appropriate but donât do it in a way that makes them feel âpoor,â and also be careful that they donât take advantage of your money.
Studies have found that finances are one of the most difficult things to talk about. If you know you and your friends are not on the same page financially, find something else to bond over and always do things that are on an even playing ground financially. Money is never worth creating a breach in a friendship, so be sensitive to those you are spending time with.
“The only person who wants to hear about how much money you have, is you.”
Bragging about money and wealth is not attractive, especially if you are in the company of people who are having a tougher time.Â So as simple and maybe contrived as it sounds, in talking about cash with your friends be real and let honesty speak for itself â your real friends wonât judge you on your bank balance, so just tell them the truth.