12 People From Bustle's Rule Breakers Event Talk About The Taboo Surrounding Money
Money talks, but why don't people ever talk about money? Yesterday, Visa's "Money is Changing" activation sought to explore that question, by breaking money taboos in a buzzing corner of Bustle’s inaugural Rule Breakers event.
From minor daily transactions (your morning latte) to major investments (the down payment on your first home), money is a part of everyone's lives. Yet speaking about the subject often feels like breaking some sort of unspoken societal code, especially for women. Issues like the gender gap in pay are still pervasive, and while while the wage gender gap has narrowed since 1980, it has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years, according to the Pew Research Center. Last year, a Pew study found that American women earned 82 percent of what their male counterparts were paid. Based on that stat, the study wrote, it would take women an extra 47 days of work to make what a male colleague earned.
When it comes to women asking for their worth, research published in Harvard Business Review found that women in the workplace ask for raises just as often as men, but are less likely to get a raise. In the study, women were granted a raise 15 percent of the time, compared to men's raise acceptance rate of 20 percent of the time. What sounds like a modest difference adds up over a lifetime, the research noted.
Opening up a conversation about sticky financial topics like wage gaps and asking for a raise is a crucial part of breaking the money taboos and initiating change. At Visa's activation, attendees were gifted with clear tote bags emblazoned with the phrase "She's Got This," a fun play on the event's theme of making money-talk more transparent. In the spirit of the event, we asked 11 attendees about their thoughts on money, ranging from the best financial advice they've received (or wished they have received) to the biggest money rule they have ever broken.
Antonia Baker and Alexis Simmons
Antonia on money advice she'd tell a friend: "Always negotiate, never take the first offer. I always say, when you know the amount that you want to go in and ask for, add 20 percent tax to it because women in the workplace, especially women of color, have an emotional tax. We go through emotional labor in the workplace, and you have to make sure you add tax for that."
Alexis on the biggest money rule she's ever broken: "Personally, I think the biggest money rule that I've ever broken, especially as a woman, is not countering the offer that a company gave me. If you start with a low asking price, you're setting yourself up to no longer get what you deserve."
Jessica Solon and Jen Fox
Jessica on asking for raises: "I think transparency between an employer is important, and setting expectations in advance of what's acceptable to ask for if you're going to go into that kind of negotiation. If you don't know what's appropriate to ask for in advance, then how can you have that kind of conversation?"
On the societal money rule she'd like change: "I'd like to see the societal rule of not talking about your salary with men be broken."
Susan Deng and Jamie Kay Wilde
Susan on a rule she's broken: "People always tell me to cook, not to spend money on food. I say, 'Hell no!' All my money goes to good food, and it's the best decision I've ever made. Every single expense item on my credit card is food, food, food, and I live a happy life."
Jamie on the importance of self-care spending: "I believe in breaking money rules for self-care sometimes. Sometimes you need to treat yourself, and so I'll break a monthly budget sometimes to get something I really want. Or I have a little bit of money I set aside for miscellaneous things I really want, like a manicure, a massage, a top I really like, or a yoga class. I think self-care is a good investment."
On credit cards: "I wish someone would've told me more about credit cards and the concept of credit in general. Specifically about how easy it is to get multiple credit cards and maybe that you should start slow and just have one that you take more seriously...I thought that having a credit card was attached to status and everyone had to have one, and that sometimes you mess up and it isn't a big deal. But it's a huge deal and it follows you wherever you go."
Amelia Acosta and Jane Danger
Amelia on the money facts she wishes she knew: "I wish I knew what an interest rate was and what that really means towards credit cards that you're essentially being handed when you're a college student. I had no idea that I would be paying insane percentages on interest rates annually, and that's pretty much killed all of my twenties and ability to save anything in New York City at all."
Jane on great money advice she received: "Building your credit, like getting your first card and maintaining it. When I got one, I did maintain it but I decided it was too much work and just kind of closed the account. Looking back ten years later, it would've been really helpful if I would've just continued on it. I should've just kept with it, because it's so easy, those little steps that can affect your credit rating. Follow through!"
Nathan Cook and Jenna Cook
Jenna on her biggest financial misconception: "When I was getting my first bank account, my dad basically told me that credit cards were really bad. Growing up I realized that they are not that bad and that if you use them wisely, they can be really beneficial, as long as you don't go into debt. But we've seen the benefits of having credit cards, points, and what not, so I feel like that was a big misconception I had as a young adult."
Hana Burkly and Theresa Romualdez
Hana on her best money advice: "My dad told me that whenever I plan for a trip, I should put aside a certain amount of money. It was based on the idea that if you're traveling, at some point, you're going to spend money on something stupid by accident, so you should plan that into your budget."
Theresa on the money rule she's proud to have broken: "Asking for or negotiating a salary or a raise. Doing unpaid internships in college is difficult when you're a student and you have to make money to eat and things. This past year, I actually asked whether I would get a stipend or any money for my internship. It ended up being valuable and I was able to get something out of it, which was nice."
Talking frankly about money isn't easy. But starting honest conversations about the ways people earn, live, and spend, however messy or awkward those conversations may be, is the key to breaking down society's outdated financial taboos.