Like me, you were probably raised to follow a basic set of manners. Say please and thank you, respect your elders, wait until everyone’s food is served to begin eating, and avoid certain topics of conversation. Mainly, religion, sex, and of course money. But the times, they are a-changing, and it’s not uncommon to discuss what used to be considered touchy subjects with friends. You may experience the occasional tense conversation, but as long as everyone involved is respectful, empathetic, and open-minded, there are very few things you can’t discuss when in the company of trusted friends. Which is why I’d like to argue that not only should you be talking about money with friends, but that it could also really help you improve your finances.
Improve Your Salary
How much you disclose to friends about your financial situation is up to you. You don’t have to spill the exact details of your salary, 401(k) plan, or savings account if you don’t want to. But you should be talking about how you got your current salary.
Share your best negotiation tips. Discuss how you asked for raises and ask your friends to do the same. The more open you are, the more you can gain. You can also tap into work friends for more insight. It may not be the best idea to ask a current coworker what they are making — no matter how close you are — but a past coworker or mentor may be more comfortable sharing how much they were making.
Before you consider asking for a raise, consider consulting a colleague that you trust. Throw out a ballpark number that you’re considering asking for and see what they think your odds of success are. Chances are they’ll give you a pretty good idea if your ask is reasonable or if you should be aiming higher.
READ: How to Ask for a Raise
When it comes to spending, my best friend and I are super guilty of enabling each other. You’ll wear that dress forever, you deserve that second craft cocktail, you won’t regret signing up for pilates… the list goes on. Which is why when we started having very real conversations about money, we realized we could help each other cut way back on our spending.
We swapped Sunday brunch for free walks at the beach. We traded going out on Friday nights for girls’ night in. Just by finding alternatives to pricey activities, we’ve both been able to save a lot of money. We’ve also encouraged each other to go on spending freezes, cut back on unnecessary purchases, and can now turn to each other whenever we need to talk about tricky money problems.
Pick Up Tips
I’m embarrassed to admit that I know very little about credit cards. I didn’t have one until after I graduated college and even now I only use it for online purchases and pay it off immediately. I’ve never needed to rely on credit to make purchases, so I just took the simplest card my credit union recommended.
But once I started discussing money with friends, I realized that I needed to get way more savvy about credit cards. I’m missing out on cash back, airline miles, and other great credit card perks. I’ve learned a lot by asking my friends about their different experiences with their credit cards. Because they are in similar places in their life, it’s nice to hear their perspective versus more generic advice I’d find online.
What I lack in credit card knowledge, I make up for in my investment portfolio and am happy to share what I’ve learned about investing. Of course, if you have complicated financial questions you should consult a financial expert. But when it comes to budgeting, saving, and other basic aspects of financial health, your friends can be great resources.
Feel Less Shame
The more honest I am about my financial goals with friends, the less guilt I feel when I pass on costly social situations. I recently backed out of a staycation with two of my girlfriends. A weekend in a nice Los Angeles hotel seemed like an inexpensive way to do a quick and easy girl’s weekend, but when I tallied up the potential costs of the hotel, meals out, activities, and ride services that the trip would entail, I realized this weekend was going to cost a lot more than I had originally anticipated.
When I confessed how I was feeling, it turned out my best friend was feeling the same way. No one minded the trip being canceled, and we all saved hundreds of dollars. My point being, be honest with your friends and you won’t have to feel guilty when you pass on certain social outings. Share with them that you’re saving for a home, a dream vacation, or need to pay off your school loans, and they will be your biggest financial cheerleaders.
It’s important to remember that even if you are ready to dish about your finances with your friends, they may not be. You can lightly broach these money talks until you get a sense of whether or not your friends are comfortable tackling this topic, or you can simply ask, “Do you mind if we talk about finances? I have some money concerns I need to talk through.” As long as everyone is respectful, there is no reason you can’t talk to your friends about your finances. Hopefully you’ll all benefit!