6 Unexpected Ways Talking About Money Will Benefit Your Life

by Natalia Lusinski
BDG Media, Inc.

Some people think talking about sex is easier than talking about money, and I'd agree. After all, money talk is so… personal. However, talking about money will benefit your life, according to finance experts, so don't shy away from doing so. But I know — easier said than done.

Sallie Krawcheck, Co-Founder & CEO of Ellevest, wrote a blog post, "We Need To Start Talking About Money," about how one of her work colleagues did an informal survey with 10 of her girlfriends about money. One of the questions was "Which [your savings account or sex life] are you more likely to talk about at brunch with your friends?" Guess which answer received more votes? Yep, the sex life one, 8-to-2. And Fidelity ran a survey that agreed — out of 1,542 women ages 18+, they found that eight out of 10 women didn't discuss finances with close friends and family.

So what's a woman to do? "One of the biggest mistakes we see is women just don't talk about their money," Sylvia Kwan, Chief Investment Officer at Ellevest, tells Bustle. "The implications of this are far-reaching — money plays a major role in our society, our politics, our work, even our relationships. If we shy away from talking about it, we put ourselves at a disadvantage. Money is power, and we need to get comfortable talking about it."

Without further ado, there are six ways that talking about money will benefit your life, so as soon as you're done reading, start talking!


Talking About Money Will Help You Negotiate A Raise

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When it comes to talking to your friends, colleagues, and other people in your job field about your salary, I know that it can be a touchy subject. But, if you don't, how will you ever know if what you're making is standard?

For instance, I have a friend who *hates* negotiating — actually, I have several friends who hate it. Whether it's a 9-to-5 job or they freelance, they take what HR and their clients offer to pay. But if you don't ask for more, you don't know if you'll get it, especially if you've discovered that you're not making at least the market rate for your job. "Talk about your salary," says Kwan. "Talking to others helps you learn how much you should be making, and gets you more comfortable negotiating for that raise. Forty-six percent of men always negotiate salary following a job offer, compared to just 30 percent of women, and that can lead to up to $2M left on the table over the course of your career." When you look at it from that perspective, it's a game-changer.


Talking About Money Will Help Manage Your FOMO

Hannah Burton/Bustle

When it comes to money, chances are, you compare how you're doing with your friends. Maybe none of them bat an eyelash over going to the pricey new hot spot for brunch, but you know that'll put too big a dent into your weekly budget. But you want to go, and you also don't want to be "the frugal friend". So you go, and decide to spend less the next week on your grocery budget. Problem solved, right? The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a *big* deal to many people, and it's not always as easy as the above example. But the good news?

"Talking about money will help manage your FOMO," Brianna McGurran, Student Loans and Personal Finance Expert at NerdWallet and fellow female Millennial, tells Bustle. "Few things are more envy-inducing than your friends' vacation photos on Instagram. But if you don't get real about money with your friends, you might never know that their trips are funded by high-interest credit cards, or that they've got massive student loan debt they're choosing to ignore."

So what should you do about bringing up a topic that's not an easy one? "Try broaching the subject by sharing some of your own money goals," says McGurran. "Maybe you're saving for a vacation or you recently negotiated down your cable bill. Ask what goals your friends are working toward or what they value most, whether it's travel, dinners out, or an apartment of their own. That might give you insight into the sacrifices they've made to go on that solo European trip."


Talking About Money Will Help You Invest More Vs. Only Save

Hannah Burton/Bustle

When it comes to your money, you may be more of a saver than an investor. However, that can change After all, there are plenty of investing apps and resources to help you out. For instance, whether you use an app like Acorns and round your purchases to the nearest dollar, having Acorns invest that for you, use Stash, that promotes how you can start investing with just $5, or use a platform like Ellevest, which is a digital advisor for women, by women, which helps you start investing in just 15 minutes, it's not as tough and intimidating as it sounds.

"Women are great savers, but talking about investing is a quick way to get us to clam up," says Kwan. "We are underinvested compared with men. In fact, more than 70 percent of the average U.S. woman's portfolio is held in cash. Just saving at today's low interest rates won't get you to that kick-ass retirement. Not talking about investing usually means we're not investing — and if we're not investing what we're earning, that can cost us hundreds of thousands, if not millions, over the course of our careers."


Talking About Money With Your Significant Other Will Help Prevent Future Conflicts

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While it is tough to talk about money with a love interest, especially a new one, it's critical — eventually. You may be able to hide all of your debt for awhile, but if you and your significant other start talking marriage, they'll acquire your debt, so it's best to be honest sooner rather than later. The same also goes for your out-of-hand credit card spending or other debt. I know a couple who almost divorced over his wife's credit card addiction. Finally, she chopped them all up and does not use any to this day.

"Being upfront with your spouse or partner about money early helps reduce misunderstandings and money mismatches later," says Kwan.


Talking About Money Will Help You Learn From Others' Mistakes

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Like anything in life, you learn from other people's mistakes, and the same goes for money matters. "Talking about money will help you learn from others' mistakes, says McGurran. "Maybe older family members or friends didn't save enough for retirement or relied too heavily on credit cards when they were younger. Ask about their experiences, and what they wish they'd known when they were your age. A lot of good money habits require long-range thinking, like saving for emergencies before they happen and getting the employer match in your your company's 401(k) plan, even though retirement feels far off. Others who have been there can help hammer home the importance of making good choices now."


Talking About Money Will Help You Realize You're Not Alone

Hannah Burton/Bustle

When you have money problems, it may seem like you're the only one, whether it's getting behind with credit card payments or drowning in student loan debt. But that's not the case. "Talking about money will help you realize you're not alone: If you're drowning in bills or struggling to save, others in your life probably are, too," says McGurran. "A Federal Reserve survey released last year found that 46 percent of respondents couldn't cover an unexpected $400 expense without selling something or borrowing money. When you talk about money, some of your anxiety might be lessened knowing you're not the only person walking around with fear or self-consciousness. You might find inspiration in others' stories of how they overcame financial trouble, too."

Hopefully, the above helped show you that, though money may seem like a difficult subject to broach, talking about money can benefit your life, and in several ways. And there's no time like the present to start talking.