Talking about money is like talking about halitosis. There’s no way in hell you want to tell your friend their breath stinks, but you’d be doing them a disservice if you didn’t. Money is emotionally charged. Managing money is, for lack of a better description, really fucking charged. Talking about it? Almost impossible. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have, inevitably you’ve got some beef.
There’s the obvious: when some friends make more than other friends, and you go out for a fancy meal, and the bill comes, and everyone wants to split it evenly. Cause it seems easier. But the “richer” friends feel guilty, and the “poorer” friends get pissed. Then there’s avoiding credit card debt, which, despite all the tips from the pros, is easier said than done.
You’d think that with time and maturity, it would get easier. Not so much. Suddenly there’s this foreign thing called long-term financial planning, and 401(k)s, and buying cars and houses and determining all the best interest rates. Which all told, equals a huge learning curve. Unless you are some rockstar venture capitalist or something else finance-oriented I know you understand but I don’t.
When I was a little kid, my parents constantly fought about money in front of me. One time, and I must have been about three-years-old, my mom bought my dad a birthday present and he blew up at her about how much she spent on it. Throughout my childhood, I used to beg my parents not “discuss” their finances in my presence. Their divorce only made the money fights worse. I don’t care that they have their reasons, and believe me, they do, I hate that I’ve been drawn into them.
It took me years to disassociate enough to budget in a stress-free state of mind. And then my budgeting got so stress-free that I didn’t actually budget and blew more of my savings than I care to think about. Now that I’m moving forward in a committed relationship, I have to think twice as seriously and carefully about money management. And I constantly have to remind myself that Bryan and I are not my parents, and that the way we talk to each other about money is just as important as the way we budget it.
But if there’s a silver lining to all these money woes it’s this: the longer you do it, the more you do it, the easier it gets. And since it is so emotionally entangled, the more you succeed in money management, the more you grow. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Talking about it in a healthy fashion does.