You Should Talk About Money

Taking the “taboo” out of Money

How to remove the stigma of poverty

Growing up, talking about money was taboo. No one discussed how much they made, how much big things cost, or whether or not you could afford something. Not being able to afford something was a given, but was embarrassing to admit. This was something that was passed on to my friends and I. I remember whispering amongst ourselves when an expensive extracurricular trip was offered in school. One girl turned red as she whispered, “My parent’s probably can’t pay for that”. We all stared at her awkwardly. We had nothing to say. We had no clue what to respond to that terrible admission. Never mind that my parents couldn’t afford something like that either. Never mind that, in retrospect, it would have been a struggle for many of my friend’s parents to pay for that type of trip either.

It was considered “socially-off” to actually ADMIT something like that. The words “I can’t afford it” were one of the most embarrassing things to say. Why? My guess is that my parents and their friends very much considered “struggling” to be shameful. A personal failure. Something that reflected badly on them as individuals. Not having enough money or even choosing to be frugal as looked down upon.

money

Fast forward and I am an adult and I am newly unemployed. Money is tight and my husband and I are desperately trying to stay within our means and not go into debt.

My friend and I were brainstorming something to do on the endless Sundays with our kids. Her ideas all had some dollar price attached. Even her “cheap” ideas cost some money. I was about to agree to her plan when I realized how idiotic that would be. Was I agreeging to do something that I couldn’t afford just because I was too embarrassed to say that? Why was I so scared to say that money was tight and I didn’t want to spend money? Why should I spend money that I don’t have just because I was too embarrassed to admit that money was tight? Was I so scared of her reaction that I couldn’t share with a close friend that I didn’t have extra money to spend?

I took a deep breath.

“I would like to do something free” I said.

“No problem” she responded, “Should we check out this new playground I heard about?”

That was it. It was not as embarrassing as I thought it would be. I was so used to conflating my money or lack thereof with my own self-worth- as if it was my fault that I was unemployed (newsflash: it wasn’t). I was projecting my own securities onto my friends and imagining what their reactions would be. Luckily, most of my friends had grown up and had come to the same realization that I did. Lack of money or frugality does not need to be a topic that can’t be discussed. Once it was “out in the open” the conversations started. I realized that there were so many people who were in the same situation that I was in. So many of us were struggling. So many of us were doing our best to lead budgeted lives. So many of us were nervous about money. So many of us were anxious about our financial security. Once we realized that we were in the same boat, we were able to support each other. Share tips, recipes, and encouragement.

When we are raised that money shouldn’t be discussed, that not having money is some sort of personal failure, a moral failing or stain on our character , then we are depriving ourselves of an environment where we can share and be supported in our struggles or our goals.

How should I approach the topic of money

with my friends?

There is no need to bring up the topic unless you want to or need to. Don’t force people to share things with you that they would rather not share. Not everyone wants to be open or forthcoming about their finances, and that is their right. But you can talk about money in a way to remove the stigma of poverty.

Some Tips:

  1. Do make sure to create an open and non-judgmental atmosphere when it comes to money.
  2. Don’t mock or pressure others into spending money that they don’t want to.
  3. Take the words “cheap” and “mean” out of your vocabulary.
  4. Respect others spending limits.
  5. Don’t commit someone to an amount of money before speaking to them.

Looking for A Job?

Are you Unemployed?

Being unemployed can be an extremely stressful and difficult situation. I’ve been there and to put it mildly, it’s not fun. Searching for a job can oftentimes be frustrating, upsetting and even demeaning.

The job search can seem endless and pointless. It is so hard to know what to do in order to get that perfect, or not so-perfect job. Most advice is empty and not concrete: Network more, Put yourself out there etc. Your worth is not determined by your job or your income but job-searching can easily make you forget that.

As  the job search goes on and the money starts to run out it can be increasingly difficult to go to interview. The cost of transportation, childcare, appropriate job-interview clothing can make a difference when you are on a tight, tight budget and every dime counts!

Looking for a Job

Once I was offered a job interview. I rearranged my schedule, got a babysitter, got dressed, took public transportation to meet with two people about the job. I talked, brought my resume and (hopefully) presented myself well. I emailed them the next day thanking them for their time and got back… Nothing. They totally ghosted me and I never heard from them again.

Another time, I emailed back and forth with someone about a Social Media position. We ended up on a phone call where he illustrated the job, what it entails etc. When I finally asked about compensation, he told me that it was “more of a learning opportunity for me, because I would learn from his experience, and so he wasn’t paying for the position”. It was a colossal waste of time as I needed a JOB to pay the bills not some half-baked non-paying internship program.

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It’s All About the Budgeting

The Controversial Latte

Half of the personal finance pundits rail against it. It is the evil of our generation. It is the reason why so many are in debt. In fact, its the main reason why so many people have so much debt, have so little savings and will either retire to live on their social security checks or work until they die. 

The other half of the personal finance pundits take great offense to this. They point out the other large money issues that people face. It’s not the lattes they cry! It’s the student loan debts, the sky-high cost of healthcare, housing and daycare. It’s the fact that wages have remained stagnant for years and minimum wage is not a livable wage. Drink your latte, they urge, drink and enjoy! It will make you feel good as you drudge through your bleak days.

The Latte Factor

Continue reading “It’s All About the Budgeting”