Just as there is a time to discuss one’s sexual proclivities, money has and deserves its place in our culture and discourse as well — without fear that to partake in those discussions will taint us. We think we’re liberated because we can go for the jobs we want, swear like sailors, have sex “like men.” But until we are able to discuss dollars and cents, we’re not as liberated as we think.
Me? I’m on the verge. I’m easily persuaded. I’m the girl with my hands on my shirt buttons, ready to strip down to bare-bottom lines, metaphorically speaking — as long as someone else will join me. If not, we both remain chaste and financially clothed.
I risked taking it off first, so to speak, with a colleague recently. Deb* and I had been collaborating on a project for a few months, and I wanted to take our relationship from professional colleague to peer, maybe friend. God knows female solopreneurs could use more support and camaraderie, and I had hopes she would be one of them. A few weeks after the job ended, I reached out and asked for her opinion on a quote I was giving a client. I added that if she wasn’t comfortable discussing, I’d understand. She said she was very happy to talk money.
Except it turns out she was happy to talk about my money, not hers. I spelled out my proposal and my concerns — did she think that sounded right? She emailed back, saying that what she charged depended on the client, and they were all different, and that I should charge what I thought I was worth.
That’s it. I felt like I was standing there in a towel while she was still wearing a business suit. I learned nothing from that exchange except that she wasn’t willing to give me even an idea of her rates — either because she didn’t trust me or didn’t think it was worth sharing.
We made plans to have lunch around that time, but those plans fell through. Then they fell through another time. I haven’t talked to her since.
Now, I haven’t written this woman off. I liked her and still do. There may be many other opportunities to work together. But I know now this topic is off limits unless she initiates and is willing to share.
As for my proposal, I did what I always do: wrote to my trusty, snarky, hilarious freelancer friend Jess. She and I make no secret of rates. We talk during the lean times and celebrate our boons. We have an unspoken mutual agreement: I have her back, she has mine. Friends don’t let friends undercharge. I don’t hesitate to run numbers by her for fear she’ll second guess my value; she always let me know I’m worth every cent.
*Not her real name.
Terri Trespicio is VP of Talent & Business Development for 2 Market Media and a lifestyle expert. She is the author of Full Disclosure, the bi-weekly column for DailyWorth. Visit her at territrespicio.com or on Twitter @TerriT.