“Talking about money” is not about telling people how much you make


written by oz chen

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I was reading TeamBlind’s Instagram post of poll results to the question “Do you usually tell your total compensation to your relatives?”

Reading this response triggered me:

“We’re taught that discussing money is taboo. I think money should be openly discussed.”

team blind do you tell friends your compensation talk about money taboo

I believe that this sentiment comes from a good place, but it’s deeply misguided.

Assumption: talking about money = talking about how much money you make.

That’s like saying “It’s healthy to talk about sex” (yes) and the first follow up question is “How big are your genitals?” (no)

Let’s open the door to money conversations without having to step over hot coals first.

Starting a money conversation with personal compensation – especially with others who are uninitiated to this type of conversation – can lead to several problems:

  • Invite jealousy or judgment
  • Encourage self comparison
  • Question your ability and self worth
  • Make someone feel like they need to share their financial info, even if they’d rather keep it private (probably for the reasons above)

Everyone thinks “I wouldn’t judge anyone based on how much money they made.”

But everyone. Fucking. Does. (Welcome to human nature.)

Even some of my most grounded and spiritual friends can’t help it.

Wow, did you know that girl makes over $200K a year?
Really, her??

It’s like knowing someone’s age, height or cup size.

You just can’t un-know it, and it becomes NOISE in your head that distracts from deeper conversation.

So let’s reset. What’s the point of talking about money?

The desire to talk about anything is to feel connected to others.
To connect with others on money, talk about your relationship to it.
Talking about our relationship to money starts with our feelings about money.

We don’t need to know how much someone makes, or what someone’s net worth is, in order to have productive conversations about money.

Here I offer 5 questions that get to the heart of our relationship to money:

  1. What’s one of your financial goals?
  2. What’s a favorite recent purchases of yours?
  3. How do you feel about your finances right now?
  4. What parts about money give you the most stress? The most joy?
  5. What’s something important you’d like to invest more time and money into?
  6. (Meta) What areas of personal finance feel the most taboo for you to discuss?

There. Don’t those feel so much better?

Saying “and we don’t have to share any specific numbers, I just think it’s healthy to talk about how we relate to money” can win you extra large brownie points at your next therapy visit.

If you want to volunteer how much money you make or have, BE MY GUEST.

Just remember the point is to connect with others over a topic that too many people feel a lack of expression around.

Asking “how much do you make?” can easily be a disconnecting experience if the conversation starts off anchored by that charged question.

I hope you found this useful in kicking off some juicy money conversations.

To your wealth and wellbeing,

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