Money has always been one of the harder topics to discuss with friends and family, but 2020 has taken it to a new level. This economic recession has hit some industries much harder than others. This makes it especially difficult to know exactly how well someone is doing financially.
This can make it difficult to talk about money with loved ones, whether you are fine or struggling to make ends meet. How do you avoid someone becoming aware of their financial situation without being curious? How do you tell a friend that you can no longer afford your weekly dinner? There aren't any easy answers here, but there are some strategies you can use to navigate these topics elegantly. That's why we've put together some tips from our favorite experts on uncomfortable money conversations.
Despite the global health and financial crisis, many Americans are doing well or even better than before. Here's how to act when you are financially successful while your friends and family are in trouble:
Everyone wants to share the good news; B. a raise you fought for or a new job with a 25% raise. However, it is important to pay attention before sharing your excitement with a friend who has been unemployed for six months.
"If that person doesn't initiate the conversation with you, you shouldn't bring it up," said Erin Lowry, personal finance expert and author of "Broke Millennial Talks Money: Scripts, Stories, and Advice on Navigating Troubled Financial Conversations".
Sharing the news with your friend can make him feel worse about his financial situation. It can also potentially create an emotional gap between the two of you. Instead, share your excitement with someone who is also fine, as it will be easier for them to share in your joy. You can also talk to your parents who are likely to support you without being jealous.
Learn to listen
When someone shares bad news, it can be easy to jump in with suggestions and platitudes. Practice listening without troubleshooting.
You should also avoid remodeling the conversation to do it about yourself. Even if you've been unemployed before, you don't need to share this story with your friend. When you focus the conversation back on yourself, the other person will feel like you just want to talk about you.
Remember to ask them about what they are struggling with rather than waiting for them to bring it up. Do your best to stay engaged and ask relevant questions, but back off if the answer seems uncomfortable. This shows that you really care about how things are going, but that you also respect their privacy.
Start the conversation
If you and a friend take turns picking up the tab, you should repeat this routine if she is now unemployed. They don't know if she'll take on additional freelance work and cover the food, or if she'll just survive on credit cards.
If you feel uncomfortable bringing up the problem, you can simply start changing your activities together. Suggest walking in the park instead of asking them to come with you for takeout. Don't let them choose whether to be rejected or spent out of budget.
Be careful when giving advice
Talking about money with friends is often awkward, but it can be especially awkward when you are trying to give them advice. No matter how much you think you can help, you should generally avoid telling them what to do unless they specifically ask for help. For example, if you know they are looking for a new job, sending them job postings can be annoying – especially if they have already made it clear that they are out on the hunt every day. If you harass someone with unwanted advice or help, it means you don't believe they are capable of doing things themselves.
When you're really sure you are making a costly mistake, speak to it once and then let go of it. Ultimately, you can only change a person's mind if they want them to be changed.
When you have financial problems
Admitting that you have money problems can be difficult, especially when you are surrounded by people who are fine. Here is some advice on how to deal with the situation:
Do you speak – – Your friends or family members may not personally know what is wrong with you, but they do know that millions of people have problems. Lowry says you should take advantage of this moment. "It is a unique opportunity to be really open and honest about your situation with the people in your life because they understand that it is beyond your control," she said. You don't need to provide exact numbers, e.g. B. How much savings you have left or how much debt you have accumulated. Only share what you are comfortable with. You will be surprised at how well others identify, like a friend who is fine when secretly dealing with a pay cut.
Learn how to say no – – If your friends keep inviting you over for outdoor brunch that you can't afford, Lowry says it's best to be honest. It's easy to lie and apologize for being busy. However, this will only drive a wedge in your friendship. They may think that you are trying to haunt them and eventually stop inviting you. “Fib can be dangerous because it can be spurious. You might get caught up in this lie at some point, or the reason might not make sense to your friend, ”Lowry said. If your friend replies with something like, "It's only $ 20," you should tell them, "I understand, this seems like a small amount, but it's $ 20 that I really have to pay." This may seem uncomfortable straightforward, but it is important to explain why you are saying no. If you decline, suggest a cheaper idea like going for a walk and bringing snacks from home. If you say no without suggesting another plan, your friend may feel hurt. You may just be thinking that you are using money as an excuse not to hang out.
It's easy to back off when you are ashamed of your financial situation. However, if you keep these connections going, you'll end up feeling better.
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Zina Kumok (114 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she repaid $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.