Talking about Money with Your Friends

Restaurant BillWould you tell a friend what you earn? How much debt you have?

Despite how much you share with friends about the rest of your life, money remains a weirdly taboo topic. And that’s a shame, says financial therapist Amanda Clayman.

Just as you turn to pals for support in most others stressful situations, “friends can offer encouragement, information, and advice that can help with financial issues,” she says. The trick is getting past the long-held silence.

  • Why is talking about money with friends so uncomfortable?

The bond with friends is based on what you have in common, “but money exposes your differences,” Clayman says. Not only do you and your friends likely have different incomes and lifestyles, you were probably raised with different values and beliefs.

As a result, “with money, there’s a tendency to think you’re right and someone else is wrong,” Clayman warns. In fact, it’s more profitable to take an open-minded approach when talking finances with a friend—the same way you would with any other dilemma.

  • How can you break the ice?

Be up front—tell your friend that you want to talk about a money issue. But be clear about the kind of support you want, Clayman advises. Do you need specific advice? Do you want to vent? Given that money is a new conversation for most pals, friends should set guidelines and expectations to avoid hurt feelings.

  • Is it okay to give a friend unsolicited money advice?

Tread carefully! Many people use money to express another issue, Clayman says. A super-spendy pal might be trying to make up for low self-worth. “If you tell her she’s spending too much, you won’t resolve her problem—you’ll just add to her shame.”

Instead, gently invite her to talk about her financial choices. If she wants to explore it, she’ll appreciate you bringing it up (and may come to you later). If not, back off.

  • How do you prevent a money convo from becoming a fight?

Be more sensitive when talking about money (we’re all new to this!). And pick a neutral setting before raising financial topics. If your friend always dodges the check or tends to borrow money at the mall, bring it up before you go out.

Buddy up. Do your friends make it easy to talk about money—if so, how?

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