Letting you in on a secret; sometimes I talk to myself about myself, pretending that someone is asking me some very profound advice about life. Its interesting because I came across an article today which has quoted a Harvard study that concludes just this.
Clearly, the reason is because it feels good. It’s reassuring, self-attesting, sometimes gratifying and almost always fantastically affirmative conversation about one’s own life choices and successes. Talking to yourself about yourself is like eating chocolate without worrying about the calories – without the danger of being judged – and that is why it feels so good.
Anyway, I didn’t start writing about this to guide you towards an epiphany about your own self-talking ways, rather to point out another aspect which the article talks about.
While, we love discussing ourselves, most of us do not like to talk about our money. We feel shy, under-confident, inadequate (in knowledge) and sometimes intimidated by the person we are talking to. In fact, when it comes to our money, often we don’t talk about it because we judge ourselves.
Yesterday, I had this very conversation with a veteran advisor who agreed that when it comes to family finances – even spouses don’t discuss details with each other. A working couple, often will not know what their spouse earns and spends from the monthly salary. Both maybe contributing to household expenses, but beyond that sharing financial information somehow doesn’t happen or isn’t considered useful.
It’s a mistake. Shun the fear of being judged about your money coffers and your financial knowledge, start talking more openly about your finances.
Good habits can rub off, if you share
This is not just a local issue, globally people are not open about their money habits. Why is it important?
Think about your physical health for a minute. If you are not feeling fit and falling sick often or not feeling strong enough for basic activities through the day, what will you do? Call a friend who is fit and active or in dinner parties casually mention this and wait for others to give you suggestions. Slowly you try one suggestion and then another till you find one that works for you. You start implementing it and over a period of a few weeks or months health starts to improve.
Women share learnings on hair, skin and shopping deals all the time (I’m not being sexist, just talking from experience). Then why not money? We aren’t all proficient money managers, some of us use external advisors too. Why not share these experiences?
You can find motivation through others experiences. Let’s say a friend of yours believes that consumption should always be debt free – no personal loans, no credit card EMIs or easy pay options. This is a good habit because it saves you from expensive interest payment and ensures that you buy what you can afford. Debt can become a vicious cycle if you are not careful. In a group of say 5-6 friends, if 4 are firmly against taking on consumption linked loans – the remaining 2 are sure to start getting influenced at some stage. Slowly, but surely behaviour can change.
You can also learn from each other’s mistakes – everyone makes mistakes even when it comes to money management. Sharing your money mistakes will not only help you avoid what others went through, but also give your confidence in your own abilities.
Knowing that others go through similar troughs in money decision making or have been conned into a dubious scheme and built their way out – lets you know you are not alone in this.
Being a parent to young children, mornings are almost always exhausting in the rush to reach the bus stop on time. On a particularly down day, I was lucky to encounter a few other parents who were dealing with precisely the same chaos we were in each morning. It felt like a load lifted – our family is not dysfunctional, its normal – is the message I took away.
It’s the same thing when it comes to discussing money.
You realise that you are in fact not inadequate, too blessed or deprived compared to others. Everyone has their unique money issues and then there are those common challenges too that affect almost everyone around you.
Both talking and listening helps
When it comes to your money, both talking about it and listening to others’ experiences is important.
Don’t be SHY, don’t feel UNCOMFORTABLE, don’t COMPARE rather just SHARE. This is so much more important when it comes to family finances. I have been shocked by revelations from friends and peers about how they have no clue what their spouse earns. How does one build trust and comfort with a life partner, when there is an awkwardness to talk about this very important aspect of their lives?
It’s impossible to have a mutually constructive, positive and genuine union in a family if money matters are not discussed openly.
TRY IT. Go ahead and talk about YOUR MONEY. Just like the fitness tips, the money tips won’t all work for you. You are the best judge on what suits you and what doesn’t – but sharing your experiences and listening to other’s experiences in money matters can only enhance the impact of your own money management exercise.