Talking about money – as is often the case with sex and politics – is still a big taboo in many countries and cultures. There are certainly many people who benefit from this cultural norm, but are the masses benefiting from this topic being by and large off-limits? And as individuals, do we flourish more when we conform to this cultural norm, or do we flourish more when we break outside of it?
It’s not always easy to find money-related topics that apply to a global audience – seeing that, as is the case with so many things, financial structures, vocabulary and culture are often very country-specific – HOWEVER, when it comes to the topic of becoming more transparent with money, I think it’s safe to say that there is something here for everyone.
Why in the world might it be in our best interest to start talking more about money and being more transparent with our own ‘money situation’? What might we have to gain?
Well, first and foremost, as is the case with ALL OTHER THINGS in life, it is absolutely impossible to be open and transparent with others about money, if we have not learned how to do it first with ourselves. I don’t know what percentage of the population out there falls into this category, but I know for a fact that there are a significant number of you out there! (And I, certainly, fell into this category at one point in my life.) This category is made up of those who have not yet learned how to look their money in the eye. (The opposite of ‘looking your money in the eye’ by the way is…sticking your head in the sand! Which may be OK for awhile, but eventually you will have problems breathing properly…)
So: how can we start looking our money in the eye? Luckily, there are a few simple ways to do this:
- Do you know exactly how much debt you have? And do you know what the interest rate on that debt is? If not: figure it out!
- Do you know exactly how much money you have in your current account(s) / checking account(s)? If not: log-in and look!
- Do you know exactly how much you have saved (or invested) for your “future self”? If not: go find out!
- And for any investments: do you know exactly where this money is invested? And what the asset class breakdown is? If not: figure out how to find out!
- Do you know what your credit score is? (If that is a thing where you live…) If not: do what you need to to find out what it is!
- Do you know how much money you spend every month? And where that money is spent, generally-speaking? If not: get tracking!
What is incredible about ‘getting naked’ with yourself financially – if this isn’t something that you’re used to doing already – is that at this point, it is a huge WIN just to acknowledge WHAT IS. If you look your money in the eye and acknowledge what is – at this moment in time – you have won the game. Congrats! Just keep on doing this, day after day – and month after month – until you are intimate with what is on the money front. (Incidentally, ‘what is’ often changes by itself just by doing this, and remember: “If you can track it, you can change it.”)
Once you have mastered the skill of looking your money in the eye, then comes the fun (and sometimes scary) part – you get to start trying on talking to people about money (and your money numbers). Fantastic! There are so many benefits to reap at this point.
If you enjoyed ‘getting naked’ with yourself – just wait until you try ‘getting naked’ with your partner! One of my favorite activities (on the personal finance front) is to – on the first of every month – get naked financially with my boyfriend. We both whip out our laptops, and we calculate our respective net worth (assets minus liabilities), and then we show each other all of our numbers. This is incredible on so many levels. It brings to the forefront interesting conversations; it helps spot any potential pitfalls on the horizon; and it allows a second pair of eyes to make sure all is looking good. (e.g. “Wait a minute! We made a big payment on that car loan two weeks ago; why is it showing that we owe the same amount of money that we did last month?!”)
If being financially transparent with your partner is old hat, then it is time to be a bit more adventurous. Have you shared with your closest friends what your salary is? Or how much debt you have? What is the number you feel most proud of – and why? What is the number that you feel most ashamed about – if there is one? Perhaps you could find one person you feel comfortable sharing that number with – and see what happens. If you do feel shame around any of your numbers, sharing the reality of the situation can lessen the burden. “We’re only as sick as our secrets”, and often exposing truths to ourselves and others can transform those truths.
At the moment, I earmark 1% of all money that comes into my world as ‘money to give away’, and I keep that in a pot. I had a friend recently confide in me that she was struggling to get by in the month in question, and thanks to her telling me about it, I was able to send her all of the money that was in my 1% pot. Had she not said anything, I wouldn’t have known to send it to her! Another example relates to the gender pay gap. It has been proven that when women open up and talk transparently about what they earn, this is often when gender discrepancies are spotted. And they can only be corrected for if they are exposed.
Like everything in life, finding the courage to look at something clearly, and then daring to share what is true with others allows us to better understand the terrain we are on and then navigate said terrain more effectively.
Here at Growmotely, we operate in a global context, and therefore we think that it is more important than ever to push the envelope when it comes to speaking openly and transparently about money. If we are going to remake the Future of Work into a global ecosystem of conscious-culture remote professionals and companies, we need to be able to courageously and boldly navigate – collectively – the financial piece of this vision. And, really, the only way for us to do that is to talk openly about it.
We would love for you to join us!
Written by: Vanessa Kettner (Growmotely’s Creative Writer and your Remote Work Cupid)
Dedicated to: Growmoter Ayotale Omereonye – I look forward to talking about money with you this week!