Smart women share a lot of things with each other–a lot. Everything from bad dates to bad bosses, trying to get pregnant to birth stories, cute kid stories to how to keep the relationship alive post kids. Women share incredibly intimate details of our lives with each other. But there is one thing that we do not talk about, the “F” word: Finances.
We. Just. Do. Not. Talk. About. Finances.
Why do women share collective wisdom and experiences about the most intimate details of our lives but we cannot talk about our finances? 60% of women are the primary breadwinners in their households1 but according to a Fidelity study, 8 in 10 women confess that they have refrained at some point from talking about their finances with close friends and family because it was too personal.2 Seriously, too personal?
Maybe it’s not that talking about money is too personal–maybe it’s that the conversations out there aren’t relevant to the way women experience life and manage money. Women are hard wired for relationships and relevancy from our early cave ancestors’ days. Women were hunter-gatherer’s and responsible for caring for children. We shared important knowledge communally–eat this berry–not that one, drink water from here–not there. Women have a long history of sharing collective wisdom around our spouses, our children and our bodies. Whether you are a mother or not, you may have heard other women delve into incredibly intimate details about giving birth. It is an ancient way of creating a strong connection; bonding with each other over an experience that literally and physically changes your world; a welcoming to the sisterhood. Women will not only recount their experience but also share other women’s stories they have heard, offer advice on techniques, doctors and hospitals, diet preferences, clothing, relationships before and after. The end game of all of this personal sharing is validating a shared experience, offering wisdom and expertise from what you’ve learned, and welcoming another woman to the sisterhood. We learned early on we survive better when we survive together.
Women are important relevant contributors to the global economy; Women make 85% of all consumer purchases, about 7 trillion dollars,3 and the U.S. Federal reserve reports that women control 51.3% of all wealth in the United States.4 Women are doing a whole lot more than keeping track of school lunch balances and clipping coupons for yogurt at the market. We are earning 60% of master’s and 52% of doctorate degrees5 and starting new businesses at a faster rate than our male counterparts.6 Women are literate, capable and many time the Chief Financial Officer of their families. Women need to share that wisdom and experience by talking about the “F” word–Finances with each other.
I am issuing a challenge to all women to start talking about finances with your friends. Below are four starter strategies to help you get the finance talk rolling. It may seem awkward at first but push through it–the same way you do through a bad day.
Starter strategies on how to talk about finances with friends:
- Piggyback: finding a semi sort of related money topic and catch a ride on it. “I am waiting for those shoes to go on sale.” “Ugh, I’ve been trying to get better at that too. I get so mad when I blow my budget. Who am I kidding–I have no budget! Do You? No, really, do you have a budget?”
- Kiddo/Parent Power: using your children or aging parents to find common ground and gain empathy – then throw finances into the mix. “My parents called again last night. My mother is crazy. After asking if I was still dating Mark, she asked if I had a retirement account. I seriously think she’s worried I’m going to get divorced and be broke before I’ve even had a second date. Do you have a retirement plan?”
- Give and Get: give one piece of financial wisdom; ask for one back. “How was your Caribbean vacation?” “Great! It was even better that we paid cash for it. I opened up an account at a different bank and had money direct deposited every paycheck. Have you ever done anything like that to help save?”
- Straight Shooter: straight up ask. “Hey, can I ask you something? I am trying to wrap my head around my finances and was wondering if you use any budgeting tools/online money management sites? ”
Be Compassionate. As women, we can be pulled in a million different directions with often times, equally important competing priorities. Do I serve my family oatmeal for dinner and get the laundry done or do I cook an actual meal and throw the clothes in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet? We all have struggles that plague us. Empathy and compassion are the foundation for the house of wisdom we inhabit. We survive better when we survive together.
Trust me, talking about finances gets easier the more you do it and the initial awkwardness is outweighed by the collective wisdom and experience that we can share with each other. Let’s make Finances as acceptable to talk about with each other as a great date over a bottle of wine.
- 2013 Women, Money and Power. Allianz.
- Fidelity Investments. 2015 Money Fit Women Study.
- She-Conomy, 2012: “Marketing to Women Quick Facts”
- 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
- American Enterprise Institute, Carpe Diem, Mark J. Perry, 2013
- The Six Costliest Mistakes You Can Make in Marketing to Women. January 2013.