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How Financially Personable Are You?
When someone starts broaching the subject of finances with you, how do you respond?
Do you dodge the question and try to change the subject as quickly as possible?
Do you even know the answer to the question?
Or do you come out swinging and blast them with your all-knowing knowledge?
Maybe it’s only certain financial subjects that rub you the wrong way? Things like drowning in debt, building up savings, super frugality, generosity?
How do we talk about these subjects without going overboard and alienating the other person?
To be personable is to make others feel good, important, positive and happy. To be personable means we are able to talk about hard topics but make the other party feel welcomed and not stomped on.
Today I want to talk about being more personable with your finances and how to reach out and ask for help when it’s needed. Maybe you’re a person that’s afraid to share your numbers with your spouse, let alone the world. On the other hand, if you are the type that wants to shout it from the mountaintops in an effort to help others out, you want to learn to do it in a way that is authentic, honest, respectful, and most of all, your own.
You see, my wife and I were not always that great with our finances. We actually used to shove them in a closet and bury them as deep as possible, never speaking their name for fear that we might be called out on what we were doing wrong. And when I say put it in a closet, I mean separate his and her closets on opposite ends of the house.
For us, talking about finances together was hard. We had different views on money and how to talk about it. My wife came from an upbringing where you just try to stash money away and hope you don’t spend it all. I came from an upbringing where you were to save and spend some, but somewhere learned that I could try to leverage other people’s money (read: credit) and spread it out over time to pay it back. It would all even out in the end. We both come from houses where budgets weren’t explained and we weren’t taught to look at how much, but rather how much per month.
Step 1: Get on the same page and be personable with your spouse.
Before we got married, we went through pre-marital counseling. Our pastor loved us enough to spend 6 months with us, teaching us to communicate and bringing up some hard questions for us to discuss and face each other on. One of the other requirements was that we had to meet with the church’s personal finance planner person. We had to sit down with him and go over our finances pretending we were married and how we would do things if we combined our money.
It really is an eye-opening experience when you are no longer the only one making all the decisions and have to ask permission for things or have to allow for money to be spent on things that you would never think to put money out about.
All this to say that the first person that you should really open up and be personable with is your spouse. If you aren’t communicating effectively to your spouse, then you are going to have bigger problems. Your spouse is an extension of yourself and really has just as much say in your financial world legally as yourself. It would be fantastic to have a spouse that was on your team versus one that was combative or doing the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. If your communication with your spouse in this are, check out this article about five ways to increase communication with your spouse and learn to work together to accomplish your goals.
Of course, as you and your spouse react to one another, there are probably other eyes watching as well. Your children are watching how you and your spouse interact over money as well. By showing that finances are not a weakness in your relationship, your children will catch on to this. Hopefully, if you are open enough about it, they will even do better than you when they start handling money.
Step 2a: Getting involved in a group (online or offline) helps you become accountable. Join & participate.
After forming your two person alliance with your spouse, the next thing is to find a group(s) that you can join. For us, this was a Financial Peace University small group class at church with other couples interested in learning about managing personal finances. This was a great starting point for us because it allowed me to talk to other like minded individuals. More importantly, it was helping my wife get out of her comfort zone and was forcing her to talk about our finances in a public setting. She really wasn’t comfortable with it. But, joining a group of people that were going through the same things really helped her realize that there are others struggling just like we were.
Another type of group that I’ve personally joined has been some online groups. I’ve really been loving a newer Facebook group called How Do I Money?. There are budgeting challenges, tip exchanges, and we help each other out as we all walk our personal finance journey. I’ve found that there are many others going through similar situations as me or have already been through them. I get to draw upon their experiences. This is so valuable.
Feeling more comfortable getting out and talking to more people about your situation, you’ll find it’s easier to talk about finances. It just takes a little practice!
Step 2b: Reach out to your personal connections. You may already know some folks that you see everyday that are good at handling money God’s way.
The next level of being personable is reaching into your circle of influence, your best friends. Working through talking with your spouse and joining various groups, this next step should flow naturally into place.
I’ve gotten to know my best friends and family the last decade much better on this wild ride. As we’ve grown closer in friendship, I’ve noticed the money subject come up more and more. Some people reaching out with questions, others interested to hear my take on news and how it affects finances. It’s really amazing when you are passionate and personable about something, how approachable you become.
I challenge you to reach out to someone in your circle of influence and tap them for knowledge. Just ask questions about how they succeeded in the financial arena. By opening up that conversation, you’re going to learn from them by their experiences and how they overcame the hurdle.
It’s important when someone asks for your advice, you lead with personal experience and sharing your victories. I try not to tell people what to do, but let them draw their own conclusions. By sharing what has worked for me, maybe they can emulate it in their own journey.
Step 3: Be transparent and open about “taboo” finances.
Walking the walk can be one of the hardest things to do in life. But if we want to be personable, we should strive to do just that by being transparent and open. We’ve found being open financially with others, we motivate and inspire others in many new ways. It’s actually one reason we post our monthly “net worth updates” on our website.
We want people to know that it’s not a straight climb to the top. There are months when we slack off and aren’t the most financially savvy people because we let loose a little. But, there are also those months when we are chugging along like a well oiled machine and growing like crazy.
We also know that when others are watching, we will hold ourselves more accountable. We also work harder to progress because we aim to please.
I would challenge you to start posting your numbers up for someone else to see. Be the light that shows you care. Force yourself to build accountability into your journey to force progress. I’m not saying that you should start a website or anything. If you can help just one person and everyone does the same thing, imagine what we could accomplish!
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Lots of good advice! You’re right, there’s a fine line between being offensive and being reclusive. But especially in marriage, I think both parties should be an open book (respectfully, of course).
Daniel Palmer recently posted…Buying vs. Renting- What’s Right For You
Thanks Daniel! I appreciate your input!
Great post, Steve. Too many folks have a perception that talking about money is “taboo”, but it’s too important an area of life to not reach out to those who know better than you.
One of the unexpected benefits of writing my blog is all of the discussions it’s generated from co-workers who read it, then come to ask me questions. I love it when that happens!!
Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto recently posted…Stealth Wealth
That’s awesome Fritz! I’ve been in the same situation at church, my old job and in other areas as well! Anytime we can reach out and pull someone else up, we are doing a good thing!
Great article! I love Step 3-being transparent (at a minimum, with yourself and your family) is so key. And the more we talk about money and finance, hopefully the more others who might be less interested in the topic can learn.
Thanks Liz! Yes, being transparent is key. As more people find that you are a “safe place” for talking about money, they will do it more too.
Great post. My wife and I are currently reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” together and are finally sticking to our grocery budget. For the longest time, we just constantly went out to eat and not caring about it. But, with the birth of our son and my wife’s desire to be a stay-at-home mother (which I support 100%), we had no choice but to live on a budget. It wasn’t an “if we felt like it this month” anymore — it became a necessity.
Finances aside, I think we would all be better off if we were more transparent with each other. That said, finances are a great start. The more open we are, the more people we can help who may feel all alone in their own situations. That’s not how God calls us to live.
Thanks for sharing. God bless.
“Total Money Makeover” was great! We ended up taking “Financial Peace University” but the principles are the same. We still have issues with our grocery budget, but I think we underfund it for all that we purchase.
Good for you for being able to make the switch to a one income household (I’m assuming you did?). It’s amazing what people can do when there are no more resources. I think some of the best budgeters are those living closer to the poverty line because they HAVE to know where their money is going.
As far as transparency goes, the more you are open about things, the more others will be willing to come and speak with us and possibly open up themselves on topics. If people know that they won’t feel judged or that it’s not wrong to talk, then they will look to us to do that!
Thanks for reading and leaving such an insightful comment!
Hey Steven, this is really great advice. Currently I am single and I have a pretty good grasp on my finances so far. However being with someone really means you have to consider their stance and perspective on money. I never really thought of this until now, thanks for bringing this up!
Absolutely T. One of the big lessons I think new couples have to learn is how to compromise and value each other’s opinions before they make a decision. When adding a second person to the mix, you no longer get complete control. Glad you found it helpful!
Great list! We used to have a similar situation with “his and her” closets at the beginning of our relationship.
I’m glad step 1 was becoming a team together. We often mirror the behaviors of those closest to us, so of course it makes sense we should be on the same page! Easier said than done! (took us 9 months, but well worth it!)
To answer your question, I’ll bring up what held me back for so long. I was scared people would knit pick or criticize something about my plan. After revealing my information to a few people in person, I realized people don’t care that much. They’re too busy figuring out their own finances.
Thanks Matt! I think you can make such progress when you are both pulling in the same direction! Once you realize that people don’t care all that much because they are so focused on their own situation, it definitely makes it easier to speak freer. I mainly only tell stories of my experiences to explain a point or to teach something new. I leave it up to people to make the connection and apply it to their own lives!
Great post! I have noticed that there are some people who feel uncomfortable even when I state I’m on a bit of a spending freeze this year. I can’t quite pinpoint why though I do know that the people giving me those types are reactions come from money. Perhaps it’s just that they can’t relate or understand why someone would need to cut back so drastically.
I will second your suggestion to find an online group. Although it’s not a formal group, the online Personal Finance blogging community has been amazing and extremely supportive.
That’s an interesting insight about people that come from money don’t relate to your spending freeze! I would completely agree that the online PF community is awesome! I think some groups that specialize in being where you are on your track can be really helpful as well! I’ve found that I don’t relate as much with real estate investors since I don’t invest that way but I can totally relate to cutting back to increase savings and investing into different index funds.