Relationships

Do You Talk About Money With Friends?

Do You Talk About Money With Friends?

My friends and I swap intimate secrets like my little brother used to trade Pokémon cards: gleefully and without hesitation. I know every detail of their dating lives, political beliefs and greatest fears. We talk about anything and everything — except our finances. Is this your experience, too?…

A 2015 survey conducted by Ally Bank found only 20 percent of Americans discuss personal money matters with friends. For something that influences major life decisions — education, career, family planning, possibly even how we see ourselves — it’s fascinating that the subject of money still feels so taboo. It even affects how you spend time together. (Have you seen the episode of Friends where Rachel, Joey and Phoebe can’t keep up with Ross’s expensive birthday activities?)

For me, money talk has always felt a little awkward, unless I’m choosing an emoji on Venmo. Research attributes this country’s sensitivity to several hurdles, including etiquette norms (70 percent of Americans think it’s rude to bring up in a social setting), a person’s upbringing and the fear of judgement (people are seven times more likely to chat about their number of sexual partners than their income). Lately, though, I stay quiet because I compare my finances to unrealistic standards — how is everyone on Instagram always brunching? “People may be reluctant to talk about money because they are ashamed that they haven’t saved enough, or that they don’t know much about personal finance and so they don’t want to ask ‘dumb’ questions,” writes Paul B. Brown.

Tackling the subject could be beneficial for everyone, though. “Knowledge is power,” explained Greg Heller, founder of HCR Wealth Advisors. “People tend to feel a huge sense of relief from discussing their situation and possibly fears with regard to money.”

Recently, I admitted to my friends that I had gone over my budget this summer, and that I had to lay low these next couple months to stay on track. Surprisingly, it started a dialogue between us. Everyone chimed in with similar experiences and opened up about their own financial situations (we found it easier to trade approaches and percentages, rather than exact numbers). A good friend explained her struggle paying off student loans, while another revealed her responsible habits — she deposits a percentage of her nannying paychecks into a retirement fund and she just purchased her first individual stocks (!) We saw a new side of each other, and there was so much to learn. Why had we waited so long?

I’d also love to talk to them about saving strategies, salary negotiations and the wild world of investing. It’s definitely not as entertaining as our usual topics, but we can work to make better decisions together, or at the very least, have a companion to figure things out with along the way. I’m learning that this transparency with those you trust makes you feel less alone.

What about you? Are you experiencing any financial ups and downs right now? Is there anything specific that’s on your mind? Or that you’d like to read more about? We will be writing more about this subject, so let us know what you want to hear. Feel free to comment anonymously, if you’d like.

P.S. How to ask for a raise, and paying for your parents.

  1. Anonymous says...

    I’ve been loving reading the comments on this thread! Concrete numbers are helpful for comparison, so I’ll share mine. Someone else mentioned that they didn’t understand how people could be going on vacations and spending what they do and I am certainly in that boat. My partner and I earn in the top 20% for our region – $150k gross. We max out both retirement accounts ($36k total), JUST got access to an HSA ($12k next year), max out IRAs ($11k total), and bought a home for $230k – mortgage is $1k/month – in a nice neighborhood using sweat equity and market growth from a fixer-upper (parents loaned money for down payment and fixes, fully repaid and greatly appreciated). We have one car, no car debt, paid for my husband’s graduate degree in cash, and are on track for early (40s) retirement. Our undergraduate degrees were mostly paid for and auto loans paid off several years ago.

    We consciously make those trade-offs – infrequent meals out with friends, no lavish vacations, we don’t buy much besides food, we each get $150/month in “fun money”, and swing between extra mortgage payments/home improvements/vacation with any surplus funds. We save until we have to think about our spending, then discuss moving spending up or down. YNAB has been critical to our success and managing the increase in income over the years (we started at $60k combined). Paycheckcity.com is another great resource to see what different options will do to your take home pay – taxes, 401k contributions, new medical deductions, etc.

    We talk about money to a few friends, but not all because our spending and saving habits are SO different from them. We know that our incomes are roughly the same, but we don’t have kids and prioritize saving over pretty pictures and status.

    • Courtney says...

      YNAB changed my life financially! It helped me pay off my credit card debt and increase my payments toward my student loans. I’m now using credit cards responsibly (i.e. balance paid in full monthly) to earn travel rewards. I love singing the praises of YNAB!

  2. My friends and I have no problem discussing money together. We actually talk about money problems and lend one another in case of necessities. If we’re not comfortable talking money matters with our friends, it seems that the relationship is not strong yet.

  3. Emily says...

    I love this idea! I started broaching the topic with my girlfriends a couple of years ago, but reading this now after a breakup from a long term relationship, I realize we set ourselves up for failure by relegating this topic solely to our romantic partners. When we don’t discuss it with friends, it puts so much pressure on our domestic relationships. Talking with friends gives us a variety of approaches to keep in our tool box, and also helps us stay in tune with one another about whether dangerous/destructive behaviors are brewing. When it’s insulated within the partner dynamic, it can be so much more volatile! Thanks for the food for though! <3

  4. Chelsea says...

    I’m extremely open about my finances, the way I’m open about my struggles with mental health. (Obviously I wait for a natural lead-up to both topics, I don’t just meet someone and go SO I MADE 40K LAST YEAR WBU?)

    I find that being honest and open about these things leads others to sharing their own struggles and strategies with you.

    I’m definitely better at managing money than I was 5 years ago, and I hope to be even better in another 5. I credit a LOT of that to asking “dumb” questions. :)

  5. Ellie says...

    If I just met you, I’m not likely going to talk about finances; but with my close girlfriends, I have no problem talking about. It’s not some juicy topic that I want to spend my Friday night discussing over a glass of wine, but it is really helpful to know where people are at. There’s been times where I need to say, “I can’t afford that activity right now, can we do something else?” and it’s been really helpful to know how friends have negotiated salaries. I recently had a conversation with a girlfriend about how she negotiated her salary and I learned a lot!

  6. Glad someone is talking about this! We talk about finances with our friends in percentages as well and it is helpful to be able to share best practices and get budgeting tips from each other!

  7. Carrie says...

    I’m in my early 30’s, live in Canada, and pretty much all of my friends and I talk about money to some degree. This is across different friend groups… from different eras of my life, living in very different areas of the country and with different SES. With closer friends, we know almost exactly how much we (and our spouses) make. With more distant friends, we usually just vent about the cost of living and talk about things in more general terms. One thing that I do find is still a big taboo though is talking with co workers about salary! And likewise, I don’t talk to my family about it much at all, but that may be due to the fact we’re not all that close in general.

  8. Gabrielle says...

    When we don’t talk frankly about money, we allow for all forms of injustice to be perpetuated. Income inequality disproportionality affects women, especially WOC. If you can’t talk about money with your friends as a starting point, how will you be able to talk about it in public dialogue, when it really matters? And the talk needs to be explicit-“I make x, I expect to make x at my next job, I spend x on rent, x on essentials, discretionary, etc.” And you have to talk with your coworkers/peers in similar fields about salary-how can your correct for the wage gap if you don’t know what others are making? Economic justice is at the root of all major social movements. Power concedes nothing without a demand. Cmon folks, talk about money! Whats more important–social etiquette that allows poor and working people to stay in poverty, or correcting injustice?

  9. Anonymous says...

    I’m a huge personal finance nerd and loved this post and the comments. I think it’s so interesting what people make, spend, and save. I know the general amount that my friends and siblings make, but don’t know their debt or savings information. It IS a little weird to talk specifics (maybe because it can come off as bragging or complaining?) but since this is anonymous, here are my husband and I’s numbers:

    My education: Undergraduate (instate and including 2 years of community college) and Graduate degrees paid for with financial aid, scholarships, and $55,000.00 inheritance (which I am forever grateful for)

    His education: Undergraduate degree in country of origin paid for with full time work

    Equity: husband’s house -worth US $30,000- in his country of origin

    Net Income after taxes and benefits: $28,800.00 husband (I’m finishing up grad school and we’re expecting a baby in the summer- I hope to have the option of staying home and living off one income during the preschool years. If I do stay home I will have be very intentional about staying connected to my field (medical social work) and then will probably start at an entry level position as I re-enter the workforce and work my way up).

    Monthly Budget $2,400.00 (we live in the 4th most expensive state)
    -Rent: $900
    -Food: $910
    -Transportation: $250; 2 cars worth $2,500 each (shout out to hardy toyotas!)
    -Medical/Dental/Vision: $300 taken from paycheck
    -Phone/Internet: $120
    -Gym: $100
    -Fun/Netflix: $60
    -Remittance to husband’s family $60

    Emergency Savings $6,000.00 (hoping to build it up to 3 months expenses)

    Health Savings: $2,800.00 to cover our deductible

    Retirement: $99.00 (we just started contributing 1% this fall- you’ve got to start somewhere!)

    Savings goals:
    -put extra money (tax refunds, gifts, overtime etc) towards retirement to take advantage of compound interest early on while living on one income
    -put 10% of income into retirement when I return to work part time when kid(s) are school age; also travel every year to husband’s country of origin (my expected part time income: $20,000-25,000)
    -help out both sets of parents as they get older
    -save for down payment on small house and pay it off early (return to work full time at empty nest)
    -save to help pay for half of kid’s higher education; also save for our retirement so they don’t have to worry about us… and teach them how to manage money.

    Principles we try to live by
    -Live within means and be grateful for what you’ve got (monthly expenses are mostly need-based and equal to or less than monthly income no matter what that amount is)- we both grew up under the poverty line and know that having a fridge full of healthy food and a full tank of gas is such a luxury!
    -Put aside money for retirement (for when we might no longer have an income stream)
    -Put all extra money into a lump sum
    -Prioritize that money based on these categories: periodic expenses, (medical, car/house repair, gifts, etc) long term goals, short term goals, and fun (road trips, going out to eat, clothes, concerts). The older I get, the more I realize that I want to put more money towards having meaningful experiences with the people I love, even if that means my long term goals might take way longer to happen. We do stay financially free, however, by always putting needs before wants and seeing wants as treats. Even when it comes to needs, remembering what a privilege it is to have clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe and access to a great education and quality health care makes all the difference in my perspective and makes me feel so rich.

  10. Dev says...

    A friend’s father recommended The One-Page Financial Plan to me. This book is amazing. For anyone looking for some realistic advise for any financial situation, this book is a must. It encouraged me to actually look at my student loans, the various interest rates, etc. for the first time and start paying them down rationally (instead of just minimum payments every month). I read the book a year ago and my student debt (undergrad and grad school — given I worked through most of grad school) was at 35k. After a year, even with a ton of unexpected emergency expenses this year, it’s down by 10k (will be down another 7k by February if all goes to plan). I make good money, but I live in an expensive city, so it’s hard to save (rent is crazy), but without giving up things I like, my husband and I have been able to save quite a lot, open a Roth IRA, monitor our 401k. I know we’re a bit behind in terms of Roth and pension savings, but it’s all about being “woke” and continuing the progress. I talk to my mom about this (in specifics), but it’s a bit more challenging to talk to my friends. We talk occasionally, but not in specifics.

    I will also add that our travel is almost completely taken care of through mileage points and credit card sign up bonuses. If you have no problem paying off your credit cards every month, setting credit cards up for automatic payment, etc., there’s no reason you shouldn’t get into credit card mileage programs. There’s also a big myth about how opening credit cards hurts your credit score. Basically, the rule of thumb is that if you’re looking to buy a house, don’t open new cards for a year or so around that, but otherwise, you are fine opening and closing cards (with in reason) — also, you have to be paying them off every month. These points have paid for flights and hotels…to the point that in 3 years I’ve gone on 5 vacations (ranging from weekend trips in the US to several overseas 2 week vacations) without paying for hotels or flights.

  11. Meg says...

    I am overly obsessed with financial planning. For me, it’s a question of wanting to feel safe and secure, and ultimately free to make the life choices I want to make. I’m right now in the process of looking for a financial planner. I’m hoping if I can get some professional advice, I’ll obsess less. It’s something I think about every single day, multiple times.

  12. Allison says...

    I love this! I try to be relatively transparent with my friends about money, and that’s made easier by the fact that I’m in grad school right now and so many of my friends and I just don’t have much money. I worry a lot, though, about whether I’m “doing it right” with money, and am self-conscious about my shopping and coffee-buying habits — are all my friends constantly judging me for spending too much? Am I actually spending more than them, or not? Is it okay? Eager to talk about these questions and more!

  13. Jessica says...

    Maybe this has already been mentioned, but I think it would be really interesting to read stories like those in the ‘beauty uniform’ series, but about people’s budgets and financial situation (how much they make, how much they really spend on housing/food/clothes/travel/etc). I’m always curious to know how people can afford (or not, maybe they really have a ton of debt!) things in general (eating out a ton, expensive clothes, home decorating, extravagant vacations…)

    • carmen says...

      i second this!

    • Sarah says...

      Check out Refinery 29’s Money Diaries. I think you’d like them.

    • Julie says...

      Yesssss! Please do this! (if people are willing to talk about it, that is..)

    • Nina says...

      I would be intersted in this too!

    • Caitlin says...

      Love this idea!

    • Ellie says...

      We need a like button here. :)

  14. 70 percent of Americans might think it’s rude to talk about money in a social setting, but I think Americans are talking about their wealth socially when they wear obviously luxury-branded clothes/shoes/purses, wear ostentatious jewelry, talk about eating at expensive restaurants or taking expensive trips, brag about their new car or huge wedding, etc. It is very weird to me that people who have no problem wearing a handbag that says a luxury brand name on it in 2-inch letters would say it is uncomfortable to discuss money socially, because what is a purse like that doing other than screaming “MONEY!!!” at everyone?

    I think that if we did talk about people’s money problems more openly, it could help us all to live more communally and more happily. I have a family member, for example, who I only recently found out gave up on trying to have a child because she and her husband couldn’t afford in vitro. I know that if we had known at the time, the members of our (very large) family could easily have come up with the money to help them out. And wouldn’t we all be happier if we had used our money to help bring joy to our family rather than spending it on restaurants or shoes or whatever? I can understand why my family member would have felt awkward about asking for money (plus she’d have to discuss her fertility with us, so double awkward), but man do I wish I had known at the time.

  15. Tori says...

    I guess I’m a rarity, but my girlfriends and I talk about finances a ton! I know almost exactly how much each of my friends makes, we talk about consolidating student loan debt, rolling over 401ks, how often we manage our funds, which websites we use to invest, 529 college savings programs and tax savings, credit card perks, charitable giving, how finances have affected our life choices (weddings, babies, daycare v. nannies, house buying v. renting, splitting the debt burdens with our spouses) – the whole gamut. The key is TALK, don’t judge. SHARE INFORMATION, don’t advise. You’d be surprised how eager people are to learn from each other about these things and how empowering it is to discuss.

  16. Anonymous says...

    I’m 24 and just paid off my student loans this past year. It took me around 22 months to pay off my 4 years of debt. In this same time frame, my boyfriend and I put down a 20% downpayment on a house.

    What changed the game for me was taking Dave Ramsey’s approach. My boyfriend, who is an Accountant now, was obsessed with Dave while we were in college. My boyfriend’s biggest passion in the world is debt free living. Over time he slowly got me to listen to Dave, read his book, and take a Financial Peace class with him. This lit a newfound fire beneath me.

    We worked as a team during the process of getting debt free. We talked regularly about finances and numbers. I cut up my one and only credit card. We had budget meetings and signed our budgets like they were contracts. This was tough for me since I am I a creative person by nature and numbers make my head swirl. However, we talked equally as much about our dreams and goals for the future (which really appealed to me – the creative dreamer). I realized financial security and freedom were major factors in achieving our dreams, reaching our goals, and living the life we saw for ourselves.

    For 22 months we were laser focused. We lived off of less than half of our income and became frugal in most matters. We threw any extra money toward our debts (bonuses, raises, birthday money, Christmas money, etc). We downgraded our living situation temporarily while getting out of debt and cut cable from our life. We adhered to a strict grocery budget, ate in regularly, and took our lunches more often. We carpooled when possible. We rarely bought any new clothes, shoes, or accessories. We still did so many fun things during this time – weekend trips, nights out, charitable giving, etc. However, we mostly just had to exercise careful planning and lots of patience.

    Nowadays, I can’t quit talking to my friends about finances! Debt free living has become something I’ve now become very passionate about. I always want to be an encouraging and non-judgmental person in a friend’s life, especially when it comes to finances. We typically talk about approaches to debt free living vs actual numbers. Sometimes they have specific questions and I do my best to provide an answer. It’s been great to break down that awkward barrier and turn that conversation into something positive. Every situation is different and it’s been very unique to see so many different friends thrive financially or become inspired to take control of their financial situation!

    • Brooke says...

      Thanks so much for your insight! I spent all weekend reading about Dave Ramsey’s approach and listening to his podcasts. I’m feeling super inspired to pay off my car loans ASAP and go through his Baby Steps.

      And thank you COJ for this post! I felt anxious when I first read the comments because I was comparing myself to others, but I’ve learned a ton from all these awesome women. I would love to see more money posts in the future!

  17. Linda says...

    Here are some of the ways my husband and I have dealt with money and done well with our investments. We believe everything you spend is an investment in something, whether it’s a home, fun, your looks, your health, the future, helping others, etc. We always consider what the return on the investment will be.

    1. In college, I worked my tail of to get an academic scholarship to pay for my room and board. My tuition was at a college my parents could afford and had saved up for. My husband did online courses at a minimal cost and did a program his employer offered for his Masters degree. He now works at the same place, same managerial type position as a friend who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments and loans at an Ivy League. I think student loans are one of the biggest killers of financial health in America today, and education can be done without them or keeping them to a minimum.

    2. When we first married, We honeymooned on a short road trip and stayed at a friend’s condo. We lived in an inexpensive apartment that met our needs, not our wants. We bought used furniture on Craigslist and saved up enough cash to buy used cars. We did the “envelope” system, allotting a certain amount for food, clothes, entertainment, etc. every month… when it was gone, it was gone. We lived on my husband’s salary only, and saved mine for a house downpayment. We bought a townhome as soon as we could, to build equity for our next home. We always gave money to church and charities. We invested my teaching annuity into mutual funds.

    3. We were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars by a “friend” that my husband worked for. We learned the very valuable lesson that “business is business” and to put everything in writing. We were glad we had some savings set aside so that we didn’t lose our home. We continued to be grateful and thankful, despite this awful situation, and had the opportunity to watch over the years as God restored our losses.

    4. As our kids have grown up, we have taught them the same principles and put away college funds for them little by little. We’ve saved up enough to pay a moderate tuition for my son next year. However, we have also taught him that working hard and going above and beyond and looking for opportunities is just as valuable, if not more so, than a college education. At 17, he is working as a second photographer doing professional wedding photography. He has also volunteered for charities and for events at an international corporation. He already has offers for internships at the international business when he becomes a legal adult. We have always told him that we believe in his abilities, that he is a capable young man, and have helped him with his giftings. It’s amazing what young people can do, when they are encouraged to rise to the challenge of adulthood.

    I hope these tips can help someone out!!

    • Luna says...

      Enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing.

  18. H says...

    Related to this discussion, one thing I find interesting is how American culture dictates that discussing salaries is taboo. Not just among friends, but coworkers. Why is this so? Other countries do not hold this stigma. In the end, who is this lack of transparency benefitting? This is particularly harmful to women who are still making 77 cents on the man’s dollar. According to the World Economic Forum, there are only 7 countries in the world that have a larger gender pay gap than the United States. If we were more open about finances, we could help advocate for each other.

    • Luna says...

      This attitude isn’t exclusive to America. I live in Australia and I have never been asked about my finances. Even though I’m Polynesian, I have lived with Australians of every other racial background but my own for over 28 years. Not one of them ever openly discussed their financial situation. The same for my own people. It’s only ever discussed with immediate family.

  19. Caroline says...

    I have a solid group of friends from growing up and all 6 of us are on a text chain where we talk daily (we’re 29/30 years old). This past week was all about new jobs, negotiating salaries and raises, as well as the stress of debt for many of us. We are all in different phases of our lives – one owns a home with her new husband but has always been the frugal one so go her! Another has a husband with a fantastic job but he carries a ton of student loan debt and she battles with the fact that she makes probably 7x less than him. A couple of us aren’t married, living in a $$ city but make decent salaries (yet still carry some debt!) so the struggles are different. The list could go on and on but we are all pretty open with each other and it makes me feel less alone navigating a world that shockingly none of our upper middle class parents prepped us for. UGH! Also WHY IS PERSONAL FINANCES NOT A REQUIRED COURSE IN COLLEGE!?

  20. So many commenters cite student loan debt as the bane of their financial situation. Starting a college fund for a new baby should be part of the cost of having children. We didn’t do a college fund per se, but we did set aside money for our sons’ education in a stock market fund. That fund grew to $800K by the time they were college age. We not only fully funded their private liberal arts college costs, but vacationed in Europe as a family throughout high school and college to augment their education. It was great fun and we ended up with money to spare! (Our vacations when the boys were little were camping trips, we rarely ate out, made our own coffee, and brought our lunch to work daily, drove our cars for 10+ years before replacing, and eschewed fancy clothes and accessories.)

    • Andrea says...

      Ah! A time machine would so have helped my current financial situation. With that, I could have gone back in time so:

      1. My father wouldn’t have gone crazy, leaving my mother to divorce him (a woman’s income declines 75%, on average, with divorce);
      2. Somehow force my father to pay for child support so my grandfather didn’t have to give us money to supplement my mother cleaning houses;
      3. Fiddle with higher academic economics so the sticker price of education didn’t soar in my lifetime;
      4. EFFECTIVELY beg my 7 Sister School to stop cutting my aid each year, because it all came out of my pocket (I begged, it did no good, I never give money to them);
      5. Give my parents this sage advice about investing as responsible parenting.

      Wow! That and magic fairy dust really helps! Thanks!

    • L says...

      Lol Andrea. This does seem like odd advice, as if we are supposed to go back in time and change our parent’s actions. Maybe anonymous meant it as advice to future parents (if they can afford it, of course).

    • B says...

      My (now toddler aged) children will be the first generation in our family to have their education fully paid for. Inspiring to hear stories of it paying off while we are still in the brown bagging/coffee from home phase. Especially when the payoff includes parents getting to go on European vacations too!

    • Luna says...

      Anonymous, have you ever thought other Parents have tried to invest their savings for their children’s futures but instead of a return of $800K they may have made losses?

      That’s a great outcome for your family but Investment can go the other way too.

  21. Andrea says...

    I don’t talk money with my friends. Most are in a different place (much more money, not working themselves, have families who give them a lot of cash), so this ends up being just a frustration (I regularly have to bat down conversations with a friend when she wants to worry over her planned early retirement=–not in the cards for me).

    BUT, I do talk about money a lot to my niece and my husband’s nieces. They are all in their 20s and I’ve given them Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, and send along personal finance information. I’m transparent with them about how much money we make and how we spend it (we follow Sethi’s advice on paring back all the nonessentials to spend our money on what makes our lives feel rich). Sethi’s book is the best in actually making PF actionable at any income level and gives you 8 steps to automate your financial life.

    Talking with your friends about money is just a pitfall. Talking with your younger family members actually may help them.

  22. Lauren says...

    This is an interesting post, and I’ll say I have not read all the comments, but I sometimes feel like maybe I shouldn’t be reading this blog, because I struggle so much with financial insecurity as a single woman in her mid-thirties. I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle by any means, but my rent cost alone eats up most of my pay. I worry by the middle of the month how I’ll have money for the rest of the month and food, yet I also make too much to qualify for any types of assistance. I used to work a part time job in addition to my full time job, but mentally and emotionally, it became too much with some other life situations I was enduring. I think about going back and adding that part time position again, but feel surges of anxiety every time I think about it. I don’t mean to insult this blog in any way, it just often feels like for someone in my position, it’s often not relatable. The posts that are relatable to me are worth it, though.

    • Em says...

      It certainly makes those who struggle feel like an anomaly. I am not working my a** off and struggling b/c I bought $250 boots. I am working my tail off and not buying more fresh fruit, because I can’t afford it.

      I certainly have found in my years (I am almost 40) that the biggest difference I find between people with security to travel freely eat out and buy clothing outside of Old Navy and those of us that struggle dates back to if we come from wealth. Unlike many of my friends, I was not given a college degree or a big check to buy a home. If I calculated the loan payments my husband and I have paid over the past 10+ years it is well over 100k. That is a game changer between haves and have-nots.

      But we are NOT alone. Always good to surround ourselves w/ all sorts of people w/ all sorts of histories–it’s a good way to show us how big and different and beautiful the world is. Keep swimming Nemo!

    • Brooke says...

      I feel you! It was hard reading through some of these comments because the numbers are so much higher than what me and my partner make. But I did enjoy the comments about budgeting resources and platforms. I also freelance on the side of my full-time job and even though it’s a lot of extra work/time, the supplement money is worth it. But I definitely understand your anxiety and feel it all the time <3

    • Laura says...

      Yes I agree. After reading the amounts of salaries here I feel like an anomaly! I do believe too that if you don’t come from money growing up or don’t have parents to help out it is an uphill struggle. I find my friends make similar salaries but they have family helping them out where I don’t. That does make a big difference!!

    • Throwing half of your paycheck towards housing makes me sad. I certainly don’t know your situation, but as drastic as it sounds, have you explored other options for cheaper rent? I’m lucky enough to live in Kansas City where housing is dirt cheap compared to some cities like LA or NYC.
      MrMoneyMustache can be quite extreme, but he helped me out a ton and opened up my eyes to the way of frugality.

    • Malory says...

      FF PHARM D – I love mr. money mustache too! No doubt parents/background can screw people over financially but MMM makes SO many logical points!!! Like DON’T choose to live in a place that you cannot afford to live in. Seems so obvious but his blog has put me in an awesome place financially. I reference him when making lots of life decisions lol

  23. Gully says...

    Now I’m in my late twenties in a well paying job, I feel totally on top of my finances. What worries me is potentially moving in with my boyfriend. How do you decide who should pay what? Especially if one of you earns more than the other, one of you owns the house and so on…

    • Raissomat says...

      Moving in together is usually good for your finances.
      There are different ways, you have to work out what feels natural and fair to you.
      You could calculate in %how much more money one makes, and that person pays the same %more, in shared fix costs. Or, as my friend does it, just decide how to divide rent, and for the rest just freestyle it. Or as another friend, put all your income into one account and make a budget from there. Or calculate your fixed costs and both put half of it in an account used for your bills. If I haden’t moved in with my boyfriend I would have much less money. He always made more money than me, but I wanted to pay exactly half of our rent and fix costs (internet, grocery budget, insurance) and also kept paying for my personal expenses (health care, phone, transportation). It worked for me as my paycheck at the beginnig just about covered it, and over time I was able to save regularly.
      We kept everything separate and 50/50 until this fall, as I stopped working due baby.
      He saved up almost double of what I saved, and with that money pooled we now look for a home to purchase.

    • Lisa says...

      When my husband and I were dating and first moved in together, we opened a bank account together, separate from our personal accounts. We’d take turns putting money in the account and would use the debit cards for that account whenever we did anything together. We’d split rent normally but sometimes I’d help out with an extra payment or offer to get rent when he was struggling with money. It was nice to have the account pretty much 50/50 so we weren’t worried about who would buy dinner and who is going to pay for groceries.

  24. Amanda says...

    What a relevant post! I am almost 30 and about 2 years ago moved from San Francisco, where I was fortunate to have a cushy tech salary, to Madrid, Spain where salaries are shockingly low. Although the original plan was to return to California after a year, I met a boy worth staying for. I now experience a rather constant internal battle with myself over what I value more: utter financial freedom or having a simpler, nearly stress-free life but without the ability to see my family or friends as often as I would like because of international travel costs. Whereas money was never a worry for me previously, the constant social pressure I felt to be successful in San Francisco has been replaced by “can I afford to see my parents once a year?” Bringing it back to the post, I would love to see more posts around finance, including how to reconcile having a significant other with a vastly different spending philosophy, how spending habits differ across the world, tips and tricks, etc.

  25. I work for the City of Chicago, which posts all of our salaries online. It’s actually nice to know what everyone makes and for them to know what I make. Talking about money among friends at work is easy because the information is already out there and its nice to be able to talk through things like affordable childcare, housing, and planning for the future. I am able to get input from friends on these topics where I don’t think I would otherwise. But it also makes me wonder why talking about income and money is so taboo. We talk about it all the time and it’s no big thing (still, I never talk about it with my non-work friends).

    • A.H. says...

      I work for the City of San Francisco which does the same. I’ve found it really helpful, particularly as a woman, that our salaries are really not negotiable outside of some very narrow cases. I agree that it also takes away the stress of not being sure what your peers are making and if you’re under valuing yourself.

  26. Jessica says...

    What a great topic that I’d love to see delved into deeper on all levels. 401k investments, how to invest in stocks, what exactly are good salaries in various industries, etc.
    I have always vaguely discussed money with friends- it’s important and relevant especially when living in an expensive city (LA) while navigating life’s ebbs and flows (such as working very full time to save money in order to take a couple years off work to be at home with my kids while they are young) It’s fascinating too as you get older to see how friends spend money. I’m in my mid-thirties and while my husband and I do discuss money with close friends (such a relief to say you need to cut back to save for a house improvement or holiday to hear them empathetically say the same) it’s always intriguing to speculate how acquaintances are paying for lavish lifestyles that they splash over social media. People are fascinating. It’s SO easy to compare, but so important not to.

  27. Susie says...

    Thank you for this post. I have long suspected that one driver of the gender wage gap is that women rarely speak to each other about how much they earn. Men do it much more often.

    This is important because the only factor that research shows reliably results in women negotiating equal pay to men is when women have benchmark data.

    Here’s hoping women start talking more and more about the specific amounts they earn.

    • Nicole says...

      This is such a good point. My husband and his friends often talk about their salaries, how they neogotiate for raises, etc. It seems show-off-y to me, (and it feels rude to discuss with my friends), but I do wonder if it is holding us women back.

  28. Excellent post! My wife and I are in the exact same boat. We recently became “financially woke,” and the topic of money has been brought up a few times among our group of close friends. When we talk about our goal to retire by the time we’re 40 (we’re 30 now), they seem very skeptical and confused. With hard work and discipline, I really feel it can be done. We’re on schedule to be debt free by this December! Feel free to follow me on our journey!

    • Congrats, Chris! That is quite an accomplishment.

  29. Leigh says...

    My dad gave me this book: https://www.amazon.com/Bogleheads-Guide-Investing-Taylor-Larimore-ebook/dp/B00JUV01RW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1508454679&sr=1-1&keywords=bogleheads+guide+to+investing. It gave me piece of mind having a simple strategy for investing and retirement. I don’t have to continually research how stocks are performing etc. He also gave me to a great piece of advice 1: the best brand is “paid for”. Which I thought was so dump as a teenager when I would complain about wanting some frivolous thing that I didn’t need. Now as an adult with a good salary, budget, and financial goals, I have to agree with Papa Bear on that one.

    • Daisy says...

      In our household, my husband is the one who takes care of finances and he is completely into Bogleheads and we try to practice what they preach even though some aspects might not be applicable for someone living in Southern California. We are immigrants and we were forever confused about whether returning back to our homeland or settling down here and so we postponed house buying and invested in properties back home. When we finally decided to buy a home, we only had 10% for down payment and also had to take a Heloc due to the home prices here. This went against everything that Boglehead teaches but we make more than 300k/ year and we’re able to pay additional 10% in a year.

      One thing that I have always noticed around me is that, people and that too college grads/fresh out of college kids who are in so much in debt, spend so much eating out. If just this one expense is redirected towards 401k and imagine how much the compounding effect can do to the Principal, these young kids will end up saving so much by the time they are in the thirties.

      We spend so much time learning so many complicated stuff in school, I wish we are taught basic financial/investment lessons in schools.

  30. Emma says...

    I live in San Francisco, and it feels like everyone here talks about money all the time because it’s just so darn expensive. For those of us who live here just because we love it and not because of a cushy tech job, the day-to-day struggle of paying rent is a bonding experience.

  31. B says...

    I do not talk about finances with friends. The area I live has notoriously low wages, especially considering the rapidly rising cost of living. My husband and I started a business together 8 years ago that was luckily very successful right off the bat. We have consistently made more than $200k annually since it started, but never spent more than $75-80k (which still made our lifestyle as comfortable as the majority of our friends). Since meeting some financial goals regarding loan repayment, retirement goals, diversification of income etc. We have started to allow ourselves to spend a little more.
    I feel like such a fraud when my close friends who I talk about everything with comment on the fact that I have lost weight and I don’t mention that I pay to have a babysitter to come watch my toddler while I work out with a personal trainer or that yes my bathrooms are always sparkling because I pay someone to do it.
    I don’t expect them to “keep up” or want money to affect our friendships negatively but I also feel judged whenever I make a comment on spending money on something frivolous or being able to go to SE Asia for a month each winter because we can work remotely.

  32. A says...

    I would love a post or a few posts on how to save for retirement and how to invest! I feel so lost at 31, and while I am saving for retirement, a how-to on investing would be fabulous!

    • Hi A! My wife and I are both 30, and earlier this year we both entered the financial world of investing. Definitely confusing at first, but the more I researched it the more I was sucked into it. I started a blog to document our journey to financial independence and to help others become financially woke! Please feel free to check it out!

    • Megan says...

      There are so many resources available for this! You don’t have to wait for Cup of Jo!

    • Nalena says...

      I would recommend the book “The Simple Path to Wealth.” I think everyone’s money’s should be working for them in the stock market, if it isn’t invested it’s actually losing value.

  33. Whitney says...

    My sister’s and SIL’s have a running group text about just this kind of stuff. While we think it is rude for people to be too specific about they’re money talk (let’s not brag) we all ask questions so that we can learn from one another. We all understand we are doing our best and there is no judgment so we feel at ease having money discussions. Also, in case it needs to be said out loud, you discuss finances with your spouse, forever and frequently.

  34. Erika says...

    As a woman of a certain age (almost 40!!), I can say with utmost certainty that talking money is a must. The first day of my “real” job out of college, my dad told me to start contributing to my 401K. Did I listen? Of course not. It took me three years to finally get my act together, and considering my company matched, that was definitely money lost. These days, most of my friends are married with kids and dual-incomes, and we talk about finances quite a bit. We trade thoughts on retirement and investing, offer advice about college funds, talk importance of wills and trusts, and contemplate upping things like life insurance. The one thing my friends and I don’t talk about though, are exact salaries. I don’t really know why, except that maybe they don’t matter to anyone but our own families? We’re all pretty open when we can’t swing a dinner out or vacation, so maybe specifics aren’t important beyond that understanding. The one thing that does burn me though is not talking salaries with coworkers. I wish this wasn’t so taboo, because I am POSITIVE it behooves the company. I have been at my job for 12 years and hold a pretty important position, yet I just recently discovered that junior level employee brought on last year makes $20K more than me. As they say, knowledge is power, and I plan to use it. Also wish I’d have more of it when I was younger (stupid 401K).

    • Erika says...

      *had more of it (stupid grammar).

    • Anne says...

      Oh my gosh! Erika, I am furious on your behalf. That is absurd, and I hope the situation is rectified immediately – and if not, I hope you bring your skills to a company that values them.

    • Erika says...

      Anne, thank you for making me feel less crazy! I honestly felt like crying. I’m at this strange point in my career where I feel equal parts valuable (based on years of industry experience) and expendable (based on the possibility of replacement by a lesser-paid recent college grad). It’s an odd feeling compounded by the fact that my company makes people feel lucky to keep their positions amid layoffs. Flexibility and a serious amount of vacation time have kept me here this long in case you’re wondering. Lol.

    • Ester says...

      Same here! I traded some money for flexibility and time off when my children were first born but the past 4 years have been struggling to move into a more senior level position with a better salary. I’ve been with my company for over 11 years and have done consistently good, reliable work. When I asked for a raise I was denied. Shortly after that I got my first (ever!) bad performance review. I definitely cried. I’ve been looking for a new job but actually really like what I do. It’s tough.

  35. Anyone click the “usual topics” link? LOLOLOL

    • Alice says...

      I did!! Perked up my morning :)

  36. A says...

    Salaries (at least ballpark salaries) aren’t at all taboo among my friends (all early 30s, some just out of grad school, some have been working through their 20s). Ditto student loans–the folks who have them are very open about it. Family money is a bit more taboo, but it’s still fairly clear who has it. The thing that no one talks about is actual money habits. I have friends who really prioritize saving, and friends who don’t save anything, and everyone kind of assumes that everyone else is doing what they’re doing. In grad school, where we all made the same salary (although amounts of debt and other resources differed), some of my friends knew exactly what day our paychecks came through, and other friends would let the paychecks stack up in their mailbox, because they had enough in the bank not to think about it. Both groups thought the other group was crazy.

    • Luna says...

      Lol @ Both groups thought the other group was crazy.

  37. I’m currently reading an AWESOME book: “You are a Badass at Making Money” by the hilarious and smart Jen Sincero. I will admit I checked it out from the library with the cover face down but I’m a little over halfway through and it’s been rather life-changing. She helps us deconstruct subconscious beliefs that feed our negative relationship with money and reveals how we can harness the power of Universal Intelligence to work in our favor.

    “The thoughts, beliefs, and emotions we don’t consciously reject, we unconsciously accept.”
    “Worrying is praying for stuff you don’t want.”

    Just a couple of BOOM quotes for me. I love that it’s not a step by step guide to getting rich by any means but focused on peeling away that layer of shame that seems to cover so many of us when we think or talk about money. It’s definitely put me in a better mindset at a time when I feel like the topic of money seems like a secret competition among my friends.

    • Catie says...

      I’m reading this too, Katie! Highly recommend and feel like it has also helped me to shift my perspective on my own limiting beliefs about money and my self-worth!

  38. Emily says...

    I only ever talk about it with my closest friends, who overall are very open in similar ways to me, and my boyfriend, who I don’t think talks about it with anyone else. I wish we’d all talk about it more. My friend recently started a new job (we are recent grads) and has alluded to ‘good pay’ but is not the type to share details about what that means, even a ballpark. It’s actually kinda irritating because good pay means something really different in my (underpaid arts) field than in hers, and using the same vague descriptor across fields doesn’t make sense!!

    • Hannah says...

      this is so interesting, I have found myself in the same situation. When someone says “good pay” what is that exactly???

  39. Angela says...

    I really like Refinery29’s Money Diary series (http://www.refinery29.com/money-diary-new-york-ny-writer-salary)

    I talk to a some friends about general numbers of how much we make now that some are thinking of buying a house. We’ve all come to the conclusion that we need help from our parents or are moving away. We live in the Bay Area, which is SO expensive.

    It helps that we now generally all make the same amount +/- 20k and are financially comfortable. It was difficult in the first years out of college when I was making less than 40k and my friends started out at 80k. They were aware I made much less (public salaries are available online in California) so it made planning trips or even going out sometimes awkward when I couldn’t join them or wanted to choose a more affordable destination/restaurant. People treated me out, which I love to reciprocate now for my friends going back to school or unemployed.

    My boyfriend and I are very open with how much we spend, save and make. He helped me make a budget (eep) where I can put more money aside and knows what I make to the cent and vice versa.

  40. Shira says...

    “How is everyone on Instagram always brunching?” !! I have to say, I feel that a lot when I read my blogs, even this one! All of the links of amazing things to buy always seem to be out of my price range (but are still fun to look at, I guess). My mom always tells me “you can’t count other people’s money,” meaning that when I complain that so-and-so is going on an amazing vacation, I don’t know what they’ve cut back on to afford it. I try to remember that, but it’s hard!!

    • Laura says...

      I always feel that way too, including about this blog, but then again I just take it with a grain of salt. Like, I’m used to reading magazines where they show $2,000 shirts or whatever. That doesn’t mean I want to buy them or feel bad that I can’t. It’s still fun to look at, and is good inspiration. I guess I’m just used to being in the lower end of the money spectrum, I grew up sort of lower middle class and now I don’t make all that much. I’m pretty frugal though so it feels like I’m doing okay, at least to my standards.

  41. Lauren says...

    Has anyone else become mildly obsessed with reading the money diaries on Refinary29? It’s so interesting to see how other people spend money based on a wide range of incomes and locations – I highly recommend checking out this series!

    I have found that money conversations have become more open in our social circle as friends start to buy homes and have children but the taboo subject still seems to be salary. We seem more open to talking about how much things costs than how much we make. I am all for transparency here as a way to get a true picture of how people are able to make things work. However, I also strive to keep the saying “don’t count other people’s money” in mind!

    • Jessica says...

      I’m obsessed with Money Diaries! I’m currently working on my own right now. It really is fascinating to see how other people spend their money, and super helpful to write down my spending habits every day so I can really see where my money is going.

    • Melanie says...

      Thanks to whoever first mentioned the money diaries on Refinery 29. I’ve gone down a rabbit hole, and I’m sure I’ll be spending all evening reading each and every post!

    • Amy says...

      I love money diaries!

    • OK definitely obsessed with Money Diaries now! Love getting tips here on the comments section :)

  42. Gaby says...

    I love this subject! The level of comfort I feel talking to my friends about finances depends on the topic and their situation. There’s only a couple of friends in our friend group (late 20s-early 30s) that we can discuss retirement plans with, but it’s easy enough to talk about car loans and interest rates with the rest of the group. A lot of our friends make half or less than what my husband makes so that can bring some discomfort and we never mention his salary outright. Another cause for discomfort is that I generally don’t feel we have a strong understanding of a lot of the subject yet. But! I just signed up for a Personal Finance course through Gale courses (for free through my library), so I will hopefully become much more literate at this in the coming weeks.

  43. Leah says...

    Re friends: When I first started working, I felt like I had to buy drinks / dinner / gas for road trips / etc. for my friends when they weren’t yet employed. When we all had our first jobs, we complained about how we weren’t making enough. Now that we all have jobs and have moved up a level or two, it hasn’t come up.

    Re relationships: My boyfriend and I live together in Cambridge and are very open about spending and saving. He makes more than 2x my salary, so he pays just over 2x more in rent. He got me to sign up for a local bank (Leader Bank, for anyone who is interested) that offers 2% interest on savings accounts if you meet certain requirements, and mint.com (which tracks spending and allows you to create budgets, but it’s owned by Intuit which is a semi-evil company and we’ve since switched to YNAB). We keep a Google Spreadsheet for expenses and split everything in it down the middle. Because I grew up on a farm, supporting local farmers was really important to me when I moved up here. To help with the cost of buying local, we do meal planning and go to the farmers’ market every Sunday to get our produce and meat. This ends up costing way less than even shopping at the grocery store where I always end up with impulse purchases!

    Re coworkers: I haven’t told them my salary because I found out that I make 10% less than my male colleague with the same position and don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. However, I have been supportive of all of my coworkers who expressed interest in the 401K option. Since graduating college, I have contributed 25% of my salary to my 401K and have been a supporter of saving for retirement, although this leaves me with no short-term savings. Today I helped walk coworkers through enrolling in the employee stock options and 4/5 of them did! It was nice because we talked in percentages rather than in dollar numbers so no one felt guarded.

    • It sounds like you have a really wise setup and great communication with your boyfriend! Only I think it wouldbe TOTALLY ok to complain that you make 10% less than an equal coworker!

  44. What a great subject to bring up for discussion! Thank you, Stella! I just recently began discussing finances (income still feels very taboo) with two friends and have so many thoughts on this subject. However, I think the most important thing I can contribute to the CoJ community is recommending the podcast “HerMoney with Jean Chatsky”.

    It is a truly enjoyable (I would have been the biggest disbeliever!) and empowering resource for anyone who is willing to take ownership of her/his personal finances. I have already forwarded it to my mom, sister, and many other women I love. Listening to this podcast makes me feel a part of a community of women committed to personal and collective growth — much like the CoJ community :)

    • Lisa says...

      I second that podcast. It’s fantastic. Also, the Wall Street Journal just started a podcast, Secrets of Wealthy Women, and the first episode was great.

  45. Dawn says...

    Money is definitely a taboo subject here in NY among my close friends. I really enjoy listening to WNYC’s podcast, Death, Sex, and Money. Many financial topics are covered there.

  46. E says...

    I may have left this comment twice, but oh well.

    One thing that’s made me more insecure about money is Zillow. Although their estimates are often wrong, now all of our friends can see how much each other’s homes cost. I do it too, and it makes me feel odd like, “Oh did we spend too much,” or “well if they spent that, they must earn that.” It feels sort of dirty to guess at people’s salaries, but I do it ALL the time.

    Everyone wonders about money, it seems. I’m an aggressive saver and very anti-debt, so that drives my financial decisions, and I know that’s not true for everyone. But it is tough not to compare, especially on social media.

    One thing I like to remember is that people usually prioritize in categories. Housing is important to me, a new car is not. I often assume that everyone is spending in EVERY category but that isn’t true. Unless they’re a celebrity or mega blogger and if so, I should stop comparing myself to them :)

    • Alexia says...

      Just going to throw out there that the Zillow estimates are can be so off… yes, you can also see what someone spent, but when you buy a house you can chose for that information not to be made public!

    • Rachael says...

      Totally agree on the categories thing. We also choose to spend on our house, not new cars or designer clothes or tons of experiences (like Coachella, which a lot of our friends went to this last year). None of our friends discuss salaries, at least not with us, and only a few of us own houses (late 20s, early 30s, living in expensive Los Angeles).

  47. Anna says...

    I love that you’ve posted about this topic and the dialogue is fascinating. My family of 4 has only recently gone from me being the sole income earner (and two kids in daycare = more than our mortgage) to a dual-income household, and it is astonishing to me how removing the specter of insecure finances and living paycheck to paycheck has improved every single aspect of our lives. Not materially; that is minimal. But the happiness, health, relationships with the kids, relationship with each other – it is all better for not having that stress hanging over our heads.

    I also recently had a frank talk with a single mom (loose financial support from kiddo’s dad) friend about her finances, and she told me that she was so grateful to have a real conversation about her financial struggles that we committed to keeping the conversation going. It was such a relief to me to know that I’m not the only one struggling with “having it all” (good job, good partner, healthy kids, a home, etc.) and still struggling to make ends meet. Just having the conversation was uplifting and felt great.

  48. Emma says...

    I love talking money with friend and coworkers for two reasons:
    1. I worked as an accountant before I became a nurse and I love helping friends do budgets and discussing how compound interest works in a retirement account. I’ve helped many coworkers set up a budget and start saving and paying of debt and I think it’s important to bring these subjects to light.
    2. People refusing to discuss what they make only favors the employer because they can pay other people less. I share what I make with coworkers and they do the same and it encourages some people to ask for a raise.

  49. Maria says...

    I would highly recommend the book “Opposite of Spoiled” which about (among other things) raising kids with a good awareness of money. We’ve been using some of the suggestions with our kids and really like it.
    Like many others, I find the act of negotiating salary to be terrifying, so when I was recently offered a new job, I forced myself to think of it as taking a stand for women (who, as a group are horrible about negotiating salary) rather than just myself. That helped pysch my up enough to push for more (and it ended up coming to about $30K/year more than what was originally offered).

    • I am also a nervous wreck about negotiating salary and also think of it as taking a stand for women.

      You’re awesome, go you!

  50. Sarah says...

    I’d love to talk about how much being partnered can affect your finances, especially in the early years! I’m in my mid 30’s and have recently experienced a big change in my financial circumstances due to a new job (yay!). For the first time, I have been able to pay off some old debts, save money, and think about buying a house. At the same time, after being single for years, I met, fell in love and moved in with a wonderful man, and am contemplating how much this could affect the financial future in terms of combined salaries, buying a home, savings, etc. For years I’d been resigning myself to the reality that I’d have to do it all on my own while presuming I’d be earning 40-60k for most of my adult life. For my friends who met and got married in their 20’s, life is so different. They already have nice homes (most have upgraded from starter home to bigger family home) and newer cars and family vacations, paid off student loans and retirement accounts, etc. I thought the notion that a women needs a partner for financial security was old fashioned (obviously) yet I also didn’t set out looking for a career that would earn me lots of money on my own.
    I’m curious if any others have thoughts about being prepared to be financially independent or if most women just assumed (like I did) they will be two-income households or a spouse that earns lots more. What did you do if that didn’t pan out as you imagined?

    • AB says...

      Wait, I really relate to this. I’m 29, single and looking for a new job a) because I got laid off and b) I do feel (and deeply so) that I won’t be single forever and I will totally meet the right person — BUT, that being said, I am single, I don’t know when that is going to change and honestly, if I don’t make some more money, pay off some debt and start to save: Well, no one is going to do it for me. It’s kind of empowering. I was making like, $58,000 a year and I just don’t want to live paycheck-to-paycheck anymore (Student loans, etc). And NYC is expensive! I want some financial security and I’m unwilling to take a job that doesn’t pay me enough. My friends who met in college and are my age and married now also are on the cusp of buying homes, etc. I’m not at that point yet, but I am committed to getting there — whether it’s on my own or with a partner.

    • Rachel says...

      Thank you for your comment! As a single 31 year old woman, the possibility of supporting myself for the rest of myself is SCARY. I have a good job, make descent money and am saving for retirement. But I don’t have any emergency savings. It’s my next goal in life. Sometimes I do think it would be so nice to split rent/groceries/house bills/life stuff with a partner. Then I snap out of it and remind myself that’s not why I want to have a partner. Though it will be a nice perk :) It is really hard when (most) of my friends are married, have owned a house for 5+ years, are starting families, etc. and I’m still living in a 700 square foot apartment. Then again, we’re all on our own journeys.

    • samantha says...

      I was 29 when I met my boyfriend (I’m 35 now), and I have always worked in the nonprofit industry which means that I always just assumed that I’d never make enough money to buy a house in the city that I love. It’s a trade-off I was willing to make because my family has always been big on divorces and financial insecurity and I never wanted to count on anyone’s money but my own. Then I met my boyfriend who at the time was working at a job where he made $30k – $40k/year more than me and for a little while it was like “oh, this is what dual incomes are like! I understand!” But then his company folded and he decided to be an artist full time so now we’re supporting two people on my nonprofit income. All of which is to say, even having a partner is no guarantee of two incomes and financial stability. I still can’t afford a house or kids but I like our actual life more than the theory of a different one.

    • Sara says...

      Rachel, I love the phrase “we are all on our own journeys”! It is so easy to make a judgement about how much more amazing someone else’s life is…everyone has their challenges at some point.

    • Wendy says...

      i’m 39, never married and this is something I struggle with greatly. I work in higher education, the salary isn’t awesome and I live in an expensive state. Not gonna lie, it’s hard, financially and emotionally. Many of my friends have spouses with very well paying jobs and/or have a very well (6 figure) jobs themselves. Some are building super huge dream homes and I’m living in a cold, 2 bed apt (I used to own a townhouse though when living in a different state). Two incomes makes a huge difference. For me, I found the best strategy is to be open with my friends. If they are going to judge me for my apt, then they are crappy friends. You can also decide what is most important. While i’d like a slightly better apt, I don’t actually want a huge house filled with stuff (moving 6 states away will really curb the urge to own stuff!) Travel is important to me and spending money on my Pure Barre membership, so I got a part time job to allow me to save more for those things.

    • Sarah says...

      Thanks so much, I love all of these responses! As Rachel says, we are all on our own journeys—it’s pointless to be envious of others who seem to be better off! We all are doing the best we can, and the thing that has helped me most over the years is to reflect on how lucky I’ve been and all the cool adventures I’ve had, rather than dwell on what someone else has. However, I’ve had to reality check the timeline of when (and even if) I’ll reach milestones like home ownership on a single, not very impressive, income. Perhaps I could already have that if I had really buckled down and scrimped but I chose to travel and lived in different cities around the world, and I don’t regret those choices either.

  51. Karen says...

    I have lived over half a century and have learned it’s best not to talk about your money or financial situation with anyone except for your spouse or significant other. It is nobody’s business, how much you earn, where your money comes from(e.g. windfall, child support), how you’re able to afford something, how much you paid for something, how much is in your bank account. It’s best to keep people guessing. I LOVE the idea of being wealthy but not appearing wealthy.

    • Emma says...

      I LOVE the idea of being thrifty when secretly you are quite wealthy! I’m a single Mom but am in very strong financial position. Since everyone assumes that I’m struggling I don’t feel the pressure to do expensive activities or ‘keep up with the Jones’. It suits me perfectly, I can continue to be thrifty and grow my wealth simultaneously.

    • Rachael says...

      Agree with this. Talking money with other people (outside of spouse/significant other) can breed jealousy and or resentment on either part and it’s best not to do that, in my opinion.

  52. Kiki says...

    I’ve always loved reading about personal finance – never been that great at it- however I could tell you about a billion different saving and investing strategies ;) – which has lead me to become super open about my finances. I’m at an age (22) where none of my friends nor my boyfriend have a lot of money, so it’s become fun to complain or come up with low cost versions of activities. I just started my first career 2 months ago and I’m not really in a position to be able to put a lot of money towards savings as most of it is going towards debt, but being able to talk with my friends about how we’re all handling our money makes me feel less alone and practically eliminates any shame associated with my finances.

    I also used to work in a bank, and I found it was almost always the people who were very nicely dressed & wearing expensive watches the ones with the least amount of money in their bank accounts ;)

    • Emma says...

      That is too funny! I think the opposite is true as well. A few months ago I walked into the bank looking a hot mess (just worked out, still gross etc) and the teller was visibly shocked when she saw how much was in my accounts! You really just never know

    • Raissomat says...

      Lol I always feel the need to dress well for my meetings at the bank..you know, make sure I iron my dress, wear some lip tint and no hair falling in my face..wich is ridiculous, since THEY are working for ME and not the opposite!

  53. Anonymous says...

    I’m struggling with the concept of living within my means in a new marriage. I have always lived well beneath my means – a lesson from my parents, and in combining finances, NYC rent, some recent medical bills and a different definition of living with means by my husband, it’s all starting to feel a little too tight for me.

    A very wealthy (and wise) person once told me, wealth is the difference between what you make and what you spend. Our income seems fairly set for the time being, so the way to increase wealth is to find ways here and there to spend a little less.

  54. Amy says...

    I have a vivid memory of, as a kid (probably 12-14 years old), asking my Dad how much he “makes” – and he told me that was none of my business, and that it’s rude to ask people that. In hindsight, I think he thought I was going to make it public information to all of my friends, but in reality – I just wanted to know b/c I had NO idea. So – based on that experience – talking about finances (and also mixing friends & business) are things that I shy away from.

    BUT – even though specifics were off limits – I was taught the importance of both saving (in general), NOT relying on credit and investing in a retirement fund as soon as I was able to. Another helpful lesson was that the first piece of plastic I got (in college) was a debit card – so it was easy to learn, you only spend what you can afford.

    I’m very thankful that my parents instilled those basic rules in me. And I’m also fortunate because I found a partner who has the same principles about saving and spending.

  55. L says...

    Yes I do. At the moment I am a student, but I was working for 1 years before that and always used to talk to my close friends about finances. I’ve been lucky enough to never have to worry about money in a serious way, but have been taught from an early age that I have to earn my money before I spend it. So no loans unless it’s for something big like education or housing. I bought my first apartment a couple of months ago (with the help of my father even if I’m 30 years old) as the bank wouldn’t let me have such a huge loan on my own. Since I’m studying all my friends know how much money I’m getting each month (I’m Swedish and 99% of my class get she same amount as it’s money from the government) so it’s no problem staying things like “I’ll join you after dinner as I need to save money” or suggesting we meet for a walk instead of expensive hipster coffee and cake. I also have very generous friends and family, so the ones working don’t hesitate to (sometimes!) buy me a coffee knowing it’s the end of the month.. I did the same when I was the one working.

  56. Vee says...

    I come from a culture were discussing salaries and expenses is not taboo, and never understood why my American friends were so quiet about it. I feel like its good to know where you stand, especially if you have jobs in the same industry. Its difficult to know if you’re underpaid or if you can negotiate harder at the new job, if you dont have any salary information. I’m all about being open. I make $72k/year as a Healthcare Data Analyst. I carry our family’s healthinsurance plan and that costs $450/month. Our household income is $185k, we spend $1800/month on daycare, $2k/month for the mortgage& taxes, $600/month for two cars. Also there are utilities, groceries, etc. Never feels like we’re saving enough. I max out my employer’s match for my 401k plan, but I know I should be contributing more.

    • Sunny says...

      I totally second coming from a culture where money discussions are very matter of fact and that transparency amongst friends, especially women about salaries, can only be a good thing.

      Because of my comfort discussing money, I feel that I negotiate my salary better from pretty early on in my career, and with my close friends, we do share our salaries. I do make more money than most of my friends, but I strongly encourage them to negotiate for themselves and all other women so that they can catch up financially.

      Also, as a woman in tech, I make it a point to discuss the fact that the industry pays women less for the same role, and that I would like to be compensated for my skills fairly. This always seems to help my salary negotiations :).

  57. When I left NYC about 4 years ago, I was finally able to talk a bit about finances with my close friends. I told them the truth–I was okay financially but if one thing went wrong, I wouldn’t be. That helped open the conversation a bit because it was obvious that they had quite a bit more income than I did. I made saving money a priority, forced myself to take on the uncomfortable life changes it required, and now I’m good.
    These days, I share interesting articles I read on blogs like The Financial Diet (really good one for you ladies in your 20s. I’m older but still pick up some ideas) and Financial Panther. Britt and the Benjamins has some good information about the home buying process. I use apps like Mint to track spending, Acorns to invest a little and one called Jobspotter that pays me for taking pictures of help wanted signs.

  58. S says...

    I would LOVE if there were more openness when it comes to discussing finances! I have a few close friends who I do share with, but not all. I’m in a unique situation right now, I have a very high paying job ($300K plus annually), and my husband is stay at home dad to our son. This causes a lot of strain in our relationship- he’s not at all comfortable that I pay for everything. I say that we are fortunate to be in this position, and that if the roles were reversed, it wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation! I anticipate lots of interesting conversations as our son gets older and my husband goes back to work- it’s not likely that he will ever have a salary that’s close to mine, so I just hope it doesn’t create issues down the road. At the same time, I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked and where my career has taken me!!

  59. Alastair says...

    Here in the UK (which admittedly is far more “class conscious” than in the US) income is almost never discussed – probably because no-one wants to find out where on the ladder they are! I can’t comment on discussions between the wealthy, where letting others know how well you’re doing may be more prevalent, but among everyone I know, all of whom are “ordinary” workers and almost certainly not far from the “average” income of around £28,000-30,000 before tax, the subject just isn’t mentioned. I’d go as far as saying its one of the last taboos!

  60. J says...

    I wish I had time to read all these comments. They’re so great! And I agree with everyone, this should be an on-going topic!

    So from my end, my friends and I do talk about money in more vague terms. I think we all kinda know how much all of us are making and some are more forthcoming about their finances than others. I often ask them like how much do they pay for their gas bill, are they re-financing their mortgage, stuff like that.

    What I find fascinating is the dynamics of finances among couples. Some couples do it together, some keep separate finances and I have friends who have no idea about their finances. I’m in that corner, although it’s my husband who has no idea about our finances. I manage the money in our household. Probably because I have an interest in it while my husband does not. Why that’s the case, well, that’s another story.

    A few things I would add. Wealth is passed down. I see it among my friends. However, not all parents are willing to help financially even when they have the financial wealth to do so. S

    I highly recommend getting a financial advisor. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to advise on. We went to one when we had our first child. Mostly so that if anything should happen to either of us, we would be financially secured. We set up our life insurance, our will, and since we’re also self employed, we set up disability insurance in the case if one of us stops working and most importantly, we were able to establish financial goals, retirement, home ownership, college fund, emergency fund etc…

    • Alex says...

      Yes! So fascinated in how other couples manage their money. After we got married, my husband and I got joint bank accounts, credit cards, etc. That’s how my parents did it and how my husband’s parents did it, and just something I assumed most people were doing. Finding out that other couples did things differently–had separate accounts, split bills, paid each other BACK for things!–was completely mind-blowing to me. I want to know more!

  61. Emilie says...

    This discussion is particularly timely to my current situation, and that of a lot of my peers at the moment. I graduated from law school in 2015 with $120,000+ student debt. While articling (the first 1-1.5 years out of law school here in Canada) my salary was very low, and the banks recognize that by not requiring repayment of the principal for that time period. I am finished articling and will be making six figures in January BUT even with that salary my loans are overwhelming. I have also racked up credit card debt due to some family emergencies and am feeling very much under water. I get so dismayed hearing from peers who are
    making strides with retirement savings, putting huge down payments on houses, and investing in big portfolios when I know I will be living paycheck to paycheck for at least another 10 years (I am 29 now) just trying to pay down this mountain of debt. I know I have made my fair share of over-spending decisions, but as much as I love my job, it makes it hard to feel like going into so much debt for law school was not worth it. I would love some advice as to how to pay down my loans while maintaining some semblance of a social life. I just need to feel like somehow I can make it through – the anxiety it causes me now is getting progressively worse, and I know the same is true of other friends who paid for all post-secondary education themselves.

    • Lisa says...

      I recommend You Need A Budget (YNAB). I don’t work for them; I just found it very helpful for proactively budgeting for my basic needs, wants, rainy-day expenses, and savings as someone living on a very small graduate stipend. Although seeing the numbers laid bare initially can be scary, I think it could help with your anxiety because you can actually budget for both your debt and your social life, and that allows you to spend without feeling guilty or anxious about where the money is coming from. It might also help you make the most out of that upcoming salary increase so that it doesn’t all disappear with lifestyle inflation. Good luck!

    • Emilie says...

      Thank you, Lisa! It means so much to have a response from one of the wonderful women on this thread, I have already downloaded YNAB :) Will report back how it goes!

    • Kate says...

      I’m a 2015 call who graduated with $85K in debt and after my last paycheque, it’s down to less than $10k left in 2.5 years. It gets a LOT easier once you have an associate’s salary. I lived at home while I articled which helped a lot, but even still, with what I imagine is the same six salary you’re looking at, I’ve paid off $2-3k per month on average with additional chunks here and there after tax returns or raises. Just wanted to send you a note to say I remember how overwhelming it felt at first but if you keep focus on paying it off it will go away relatively quickly! Life is long and long-term, this will be a blip and hopefully, your decision to go to law school will be a good one long after your debt is paid. xo

    • Georgia says...

      MD here (still in residency) with over $200k in debt, most of which is principal. It’s such a balancing act and gives me so much anxiety but I’m thankful to have a spouse who is financially savvy. We’ve had to pick and choose what’s important to us, which means we eat in more, don’t shop and live in a crummy apartment so we can afford to both pay off big chunks of my debt every year and still travel to see his family (they live overseas.) If you can prioritize and make a few sacrifices I’m sure you can pay off your debt. You’re not alone in this struggle. <3

  62. K says...

    Between my husband and I we make 110k living outside DC and it’s frustrating that between daycare payments (1300 a month for 3 days a week) and combined student loan payments (around 1000) and living super frugally we always seem to come up short. I think the hardest conversations are when friends ask if we are thinking of having another child and it’s just so hard to be honest and say we just can’t afford it although we’d really love to. And honestly it feels like such a sad reason to not have another child.

  63. Nikky says...

    This is so interesting for me to read. I did not relate to anything!!! I grow up in America and lived there until I was 18.

    I now live in the Middle East.

    We all talk about money – always! Its not a taboo subject at all. It is a socailized here and everyone pretty much makes the same and has the same struggles. Income taxes here is 45% so it evens everyone out.

    Its more taboo to speak about how much education you have – because that is not something everyone is privledgled to have.

  64. Danielle says...

    It seems like the prevalence of debt has really skewed perspectives on what’s “affordable”. Generally speaking if we can’t pay for it outright we can’t afford it. The exception being something like a car loan. We eloped last year and so many people gave us a hard time about it. Why didn’t we have a wedding, when were we gonna have a party, etc. I appreciate that people genuinely want to celebrate with us but I after trying to deflect so many questions I was finally frank. We are almost 40 years old in a super expensive city. We have just finally gotten to a place where we are able to save money. Our parents do not have money to pitch in on wedding expenses. We cannot blow our savings on a party and we are not willing to go into debt for it. It boiled down to: we couldn’t afford it. Fifty years ago if you couldn’t afford a wedding or a second car you didn’t have one. There are things in life that you feel obligated to spend money on but it’s important to remember that those things are often not even close to a necessity.

    • Anne says...

      THIS! We had a very casual (but I tried to dress it up as much as I could) wedding that, unlike most of my friends, wasn’t submitted to a magazine/blog. It was one day. I got to wear a dress and have a party with many people I like. There are just sooooo many other things I’d rather spend a significant amount of money on.

    • C says...

      Preach!

    • Catherine says...

      Completely agree! I regret all the money my parents spent on my wedding; it was a waste. Now I don’t go to other people’s wedding for money reasons: 4 plane tickets 4 fancy or wedding-appropriate outfits, an expensive gift…

    • Summer says...

      Totally agree! My husband and I got married a year ago (we have been together for 11 years). We did everything backwards….bought the house, had two kids and then got married. We did not have a wedding, we had a justice of the peace marry us on our back deck (just the three of us!). Weddings are beautiful, but we just didn’t have the money to do it. We chose to buy the house instead of a wedding. And that was OK with us.

  65. My sister—an actress and a huge finance nerd—read an article recently about how few women feel comfortable talking about finances, and how this can affect their financial literacy later in life. Because of this, she’s starting a group called WTF (Women Talk Finance) in order to shake the taboo. Can’t wait to be part of it!

  66. Maelle says...

    I am a teacher in France and i find myself talking much more about my salary than my friends who work in the private sector! I guess mostly because it’s not a secret, we are all paid the same depending on how long we’ve been teaching (2 years for me) and everyone can google it and know exactly what i earn – 1700 euros/month at the moment, which is about
    $ 20,000 a year. Not much, so i’m trying to budget my expenses, especially food!
    Also, i’m curious: i don’t know exactly how much my friends earn but i will know roughly if they earn more or less than me; and we have this thing that the person who earns more money will sometimes offer to pay more: like, i will buy a drink for my friend who is a student because i know she is broke or pay for her coffee instead of splitting the bill in two, and my friends who are doctors will do that for me. So this is not something we discuss outloud but we somehow take it into account in our relationship. Do others experience this as well? Or do you always split the bill evenly?

    • Nikky says...

      This seems to be an American issue. Me and my friends talk about money.

      Most of my friends are from the EU and Middle East. We all roughly know each others finacail statuse.

      Maybe because one American can have a very very different pay check then the next; and with us it is all pretty much the same?

    • Anne says...

      I think it depends on the person, and probably the region (I live in the southern part of the US). I know for me and my friends, we definitely do this (or even if you just know someone has had a lot of expenses lately, salary aside). That said, I have met a few people that will split down to the last cent no matter what.

    • Melissa says...

      Wow – I just have to comment to you Maelle that my husband and I have three boys. We didn’t find out what we were having for each pregnancy. Our girl name, from the time we were engaged was Maelle. During the Winter Olympics we saw a Canadian snowboarder with the name and literally agreed right then and there that if we ever had a daughter that would be her name. Sigh, we never had the chance to use it (not to take anything away from my three healthy boys). But I still always dream about that daughter and the most beautiful name I never got to use. xx

    • Capucine says...

      I wanted to speak to your comment! The US is radically different when it comes to how people are paid; in France it is totally true that you can know exactly what many people make if you know their job. In the US, this is not the case. If I say ‘teacher’ you’ll know I’m not earning a ton, but I certainly may be making more than the teacher in the next classroom, town, or state. There is a tacit lack of precise dollar amounts in the air, a veil between – we never really know how much anyone makes. There is also the ambiguous background of large student loans (not a thing in France typically), or quiet family affluence making housing, cars, or education itself easier. So yes, friends will pay for both coffees, but it’s on a friend-by-friend basis not centering on their job because you can’t really know what their finances truly are, it’s just impossible to know. Perhaps they pay to appear financially comfortable sometimes too! Anyway, married to a French guy, I had a hard time learning not to say ‘What do you do for work?’ at parties in France because it is tantamount to saying ‘How much money do you earn?’. (In the US, it’s a common neutral question to ask strangers at a party, precisely because it is impossible to know roughly what people make. A teacher without $300k student loans can be better off than a doctor!)

    • jess says...

      Yes! I do have a couple friends that I know make less than me and are frankly barely surviving paycheck to paycheck, so I treat them and their kids when we go out…we’re old friends so it feels like family. Most of my other friends I assume make similar salaries based on what I know about them, so we usually just take turns paying or for something pricey will split the bill evenly.

    • Agnes says...

      When I lived in the UK I often paid for friends who were students, etc. and me and my friends would treat each other here and there. Back in North America, my friends are way more surprised when I offer to pay sometimes. They seem to feel it’s an obligation that they have to pay me back later, or else they react to my offer in an uncomfortable way. I find it a little sad and less communal than the British way. So I always split the bill now.

    • Catherine says...

      Yes, I’m a teacher in France too, for more than 20 years and I make 2300 euros a month. My friends make a lot more than me and some do what you say, but I find it hard to accept. Also, when you go on holiday with friends and we don’t have an identical budget, it can be awkward and you have to say no to a lot ot things whereas they are willing to go out more and do more shopping or drag you to expensive stores (where you can’t afford anything) and that’s not a lot of fun. I’ve experienced this regularly with an American friend of mine who makes 5 times at least what I make and has super rich parents on top of that. But she’s very very generous . Yet you end up feeling embarrassed after a while. And your reluctance to spend money can hurt your friendship…

  67. I take (minor) issue with your phrase ‘the wild world of investing’. People and especially women are so afraid of investing. Let’s talk about that. As a woman who is much older than all of you, I am going to give you 2 bits of advice (same advice Warren Buffet would give you).
    1. Tackle your debt.
    2. Open an account at an Etrade or Questrade or whatever. Buy a LOW COST INDEX ETF (like Vanguard S&P 500). Set up an automatic contribution to that account from every paycheque. Buy that ETF on the regular. No I do not work for Vanguard.

    Your older self will thank you! Ps. DO NOT leave this stuff up to your men – it’s so important for us sisters do it for ourselves!

    • Karen says...

      Thanks for the advice! After reading your comment it pushed me to open up a brokerage account and invest in index funds. I’ve always wanted to open one, but kept putting it off because I didn’t know how it worked. I’m just going to learn by doing. I figure it won’t hurt, I can learn how it works with small amounts of money and then when I’ve learned more and feel more comfortable add more money.

    • Yes, yes, yes! I totally agree Jen – don’t leave this to your men, we have to do the research and be in charge of and have a say in our financial futures.

      And yes, Index funds through Vanguard all the way (I also do not work for Vanguard haha).

      There are some awesome books + blogs out there if anyone is interested. My favs are Mr. Money Moustache (absolute fav, hideous site, tons of good info though), Go Curry Cracker (retire early, travel the world), John Bogle (founder of Vangaurd), Retire by 40 (look up FIRE), Dave Ramsey (great for tackling debt/saving), JL Collins, Warren Buffet, Mad Fientist, etc.

      Definitely tackling your debt is a must – treat it like your hair is on fire! Good info on debt and why you should get rid of it here: https://financiallyfreepharmd.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/make-it-rain/

      I love this post, we should definitely keep the dialogue going about money. It is certainly mysterious (and uncomfortable at times (am I making what I’m worth, what is someone doing the same job as me making, how do I invest, etc.) but talking about it is only going to ease the conversation.

  68. Lynn-Holly Wielenga says...

    I have noticed a shift recently with people my age talking about money, and I really like it! We talk about apps we use- like Robinhood (definitely worth checking out!) and Acorns, and our savings goals. Another portfolio management platform worth checking out is Ellevest- founded by a woman (Sallie Krawcheck) specifically for women.

    I would love to see more posts about this in the future! Posts about savings goals, about what different investment terms mean, and a post about how to get started. It’s important for people to feel like they have the power over the finances, and knowledge is power.

  69. Emily says...

    I’ve always been super open with my friends about money, but I think that it helps that I’ve known most of my closest friends since high school. We’ve been discussing money since we first started babysitting and were figuring out the going rate. Twelve years in to most of our friendships, it seems normal to talk about student loan interest rates and the which is better for our budgets, buying or leasing a new car.

    Lately, I’ve been struggling to curb my credit card spending, I was too quick to reach for it over my debit card when I had the money in the bank to spend. So, since I don’t live close to my parents and I’m not in a super serious relationship, I asked my best friend (who lives 30 minutes from me) to hold on to my credit card for me. She knows that if I have an emergency she can give it back to me, but otherwise, it is off limits. And it has been an incredible help to me! It’s out of sight, out of mind, but I know that if I need it for something serious then I still have access.

    At first I felt pretty embarrassed about needing help to get this under control, but then I decided that we have each other to lean on for a reason, she’s basically a sister to me and has passed zero judgement.

    • Kay says...

      Your comment about your friend being like a sister and someone to lean on really resonated with me. Just last night I got into a massive argument with my best friend about my finances. I’m a 22 year old graduate student in medical school and am exceptionally broke, there’s a loans from my last degree and I’m also paying for my current one with the help of my parents plus all living expenses, admittedly in a relatively cheap UK city. Money is definitely tight, but I’ve reached beans on toast and fish fingers level tight in the past week thanks to purchasing several gifts and needing to travel quite a bit between cities due to family visiting.

      My friend found out the other night, despite my determination not to tell her anything about it (although we are usually very open about these things) – there was an event I need to RSVP for and they wanted a small donation which I couldn’t contribute to because frankly I’d rather eat this week. When my friend realised this she flipped out – I realised quickly it was because I hadn’t told either her or my other close friend or asked them to help me out until my money for the month came through in a few days. I think she felt genuinely hurt I hadn’t confided in her and she feels if it was the reverse she would have asked me in a heartbeat. I feel deeply grateful to have friends like this, truly, but I feel extremely conscious of not taking advantage of their kindness which is why I would honestly rather just deal with a week or so of less than optimum diet. My other issue is that I have so many expenses, it would be so easy for me to de-prioritise paying her back to the bottom of the list whereas I know anytime she’s borrowed from me she’s payed me back relatively quickly (probably because she knows I’ll need it for my next tuition instalment or my flights home haha)

      With respect to discussing money with friends, we’re very transparent because we’re students and have so little of it, although some of us are definitely doing better than others. However with my two closest friends, we’re very aware of what financial position the others are in – whether there has been a recent emergency or they’re currently not working etc. and there is a tacit agreement that whichever of us is doing better will cover the bill. The end result is that with the three of us, we rarely worry about not affording an activity because we just find a way to balance it out between us to work around our finances.

      I do wonder how this will all change once we’re all in relationships/have children and our finances are no longer merely our own.

  70. Anonymous says...

    I would LOVE to see (even anonymous) posts about how people make this all work. My husband and I make ~$225K (combined, pretax). We both max out pre-tax retirement contributions (~$18K/year each), dependent care and health savings accounts (~$7K/year), and contribute $1K/month for our children’s 529s (they’re 18 months and 4 years old). Daycare costs ~2K/month, our mortgage is ~$2500, and we have one car payment (~$600/mo). We are VERY privileged in having the luxury of setting aside “discretionary” income each month (~$1K/mo). Even with all of this, I still have NO idea how everyone around me seems to be doing all the “fun” things we can’t. Vacations every few months, tons of remodeling, brand new (multiple) cars and $700K+ homes. Am I terrible at budgeting? Or is no one else saving?

    • Liz says...

      seems like you do a lot more saving than most people (and that’s a great thing!)

    • I think you’re right, a lot of people aren’t saving. Wasn’t there a survey published that asked people if they could pay for an unexpected $400 expense without charging it and a crazy high number couldn’t do it?

      I’m someone who travels a bit more than the average person. I can say for certain that without the Southwest Companion pass, there’s no way we could afford it. It’s basically buy one/get one. We put everything on that card to earn the points that get the pass.

    • J says...

      You’d be surprised how wealth is passed down.

    • Melissa says...

      No one else is saving. We have the same issue. My husband and I both do very well for ourselves. But we still have the smallest house in our wealthy town, don’t drive the nicest car and while we can on a whim go out to dinner when we want or buy a new pair of shoes when I want, there is no way we are taking the kind of vacations that our peers are or have the kinds of houses (and decor) that they all do. My husband and I talk about this all the time. Is everyone really making that much more than us or are all of them living above their means? We tend to believe it’s the latter.

    • Gwen says...

      Really simple, no one else is saving.

    • karen says...

      No one else is saving. You are pretty much a rockstar. Seriously. $1K a month for your kids 529s & maxing out on retirement? Take some of that retirement $$ and do a fun thing.

    • Kathleen says...

      You seem pretty good at budgeting – my guess is everyone else isn’t saving as diligently as you are for retirement and your kids’ education.

    • e.claire says...

      yes! Like a mash up between motherhood around the world and refinery29’s money diaries. Then have a professional ( Ellevest?) kinda go over the “diary”/log and give some tips.

    • Capucine says...

      They have debt, or background money you don’t have from an unstated source. Their level of general life anxiety will tell you which usually. I don’t think many people do the savings you are doing, either. I live in the Silicon Valley, and when we had two incomes we earned what you do. Now I don’t earn, we’re fine on $170k. We don’t have car payments or childcare costs. Our cars aren’t shiny, I shop twice a year, and that is simple living in our world. We save toward our overseas trip to grandparents each month and use a mileage credit card to get there. We have enough savings for six months living expenses. We own 1/4 of our house. There is no background money anywhere. We can’t remodel or go to Hawaii, either! And I’m proud of what we’ve been able to save. People are crazy with the debt, you just haven’t had someone open their paper trail to you yet!

    • Anonymous says...

      I second this – would love to see everyone anonymously posting income / spending. So interesting!

    • jess says...

      Ya I kinda assume they aren’t saving, or have somehow gotten amazing deals on things like housing or paid off cars. I’m in a different income bracket than you, but proportionally have similar costs and yes, I cant keep up with my friends in the same income range as me either. I have to assume that either savings or debt is making up the difference. I hope that helps you feel better that you are probably pretty standard. I will also add that sometimes ppl play up their good times on social media too…I know some folks that frankly live in pretty run-down places but they never post anything about that, they kinda have to be out and about the town for social interactions because they don’t want to bring anyone to their home.

    • Anonymous says...

      I’m totally with you! My family’s income is almost identical to you as are our savings habits and expenses. Reading your post is like looking at my own budget spreadsheet! My friends are more open about talking about money so I know how they afford this stuff (many on lower salaries) – either they have family money or they’re not saving/saving WAY less. When you’ve been given your children’s college funds at their birth that frees up a lot of cash each year for travel etc.

    • Sasha F says...

      Hi there! I’d like to recommend the blog The Billfold (“everything you wanted to know about money but were too polite to ask”) — I do not work for them but have followed over the years.

      They routinely profile individuals and their financial situations – aka – “How an Illustrator in Dallas Does Money” or “How a Goal-Oriented Saver in Lansing Does Money.” My favorite: “How a Nun Does Money: what the vow of poverty really means.”

      I’ve found it really fascinating to see the ACTUAL numbers attached to what people consider an extravagant purchase, their strategies for saving, their concerns around taking care of their parents, etc.

      For the more intense, Mr. Money Mustache has an intense perspective on living way below your means. He retired from an engineering career in his 30s (now flips property ad hoc for supplemental income). Lots of great advice on cutting down consumption overall, like choosing to exchange favors within your community, bike as transportation, etc. His tone often crosses over into “if you’re not doing this, get with the program, capitalist dummy” … not my favorite, but lots of great stuff there too. Spoiler: it includes a breakdown of the cost of oats from Costco. Ha!

      So encouraged to see everyone talking about finances… economic independence is a foundational element of women’s true power. <3

    • Kelly says...

      totally agree with anonymous! i’ve learned that while most people don’t talk about it, so many people in the expensive neighborhood i live in have help from their families. Down payments on house, kids education paid for, family vacations paid for by the grandparents. No need to save your money when someone else can cover you big ticket items and you can count on an inheritance to cover your retirement, so their monthly spending power is that much more too!

      And, many people who don’t have family money, don’t save! You identify above $55K in annual savings that you guys set aside, imagine the remodeling you could do with that!

      I’ve never had that kind of family help and thus have always slogged away saving like you. I have to say, I’m in my mid-40’s now and it’s added up, I’m so grateful to young me for getting me to this point! Now I have to coach myself sometimes to live a little and enjoy the money now instead of frantically saving

    • Bvv says...

      I think atleast in major cities (NYC, San Fran for example), people would be shocked how much some people earn. People in Finance, Law, Tech (esp successful start ups) can earn completely absurd sums of money. But then ofcourse proportional expenses (housing, daycare, private school etc) are also much higher in some of those places. But by an large, I think most people are either a) not savings anywhere close to what you are (kudos to you) or b) have family money.

    • K says...

      No one else is saving. At his last job, my husband managed 700+ people. Only 2 were enrolled in the TSP (federal employee version of a 401K). These were people with decent paychecks who lived in a low cost area with great benefits (like free healthcare). Absolute insanity.

    • Anonymous says...

      I’ve had the same thought over the past couple of years as I was saving for a down payment on a house. I’m 35 and it took me a number of years on my ~$50-55k salary to save up the $10k down payment on my house. I see these new grads buying up the houses around me and wonder how they’re doing it. Where are they getting the down payment money?

      I get that some people buy houses beyond their means by putting just a little bit of money down, but how do they afford the monthly mortgage payment?

    • Claire says...

      Yes, I too am curious about how others afford what they do. We live in a very affluent town; within the top 75 wealthiest in the US. We fall below the median income for our community, yet eons above what most people make. Even still, I’m certain that it’s true- the more money you make, the more money you spend. The fancy homes, cars, country club memberships- people can’t possibly be socking away money at the rate they’re spending it!

    • You’re right, most people absolutely are not saving for retirement. That, and everything is just swiped onto credit cards and then the debt is pushed to the back burner.
      I think if more people realized retiring early is definitely possible (decades before turning 65), they would have a concrete goal to motivate themselves towards. How much do you actually need to have invested in order to retire? Annual spending multiplied by 25. Aka the 4% rule.

    • Anonymous says...

      Hey anon, we have similar stats except I am not great with money. You’re doing great! For comparisons sake, my 401ks aren’t maxed, he isn’t offered one and I’m on a pension plan. We max our our IRAs but need to do better with regard to retirement. It keeps me up at night. We don’t do HSAs or dependent care and are finally free of daycare expenses! Mortgage is 2200 a month and we have two new cars (not planned, one was paid off and got flooded… we keep our cars until past their death so these will be around a while) but payments are 1200. What gets us is 2k in child support for our girls who we have half time and overspending on food and eating out. I’m a full time employee and a full time student, I try to manage our money (it falls solely on me because my parents have taught me more than his taught him so even though I have a lot to learn and it’s a burden, I’m more on top of it ..not ideal but that’s ok). Anyway all this to say, your discretionary spending much be lower than mine in order to stock away everything you do. You’re doing great and I can learn a great deal from you! :)

    • Pie says...

      I second the comment above: there is a lot of wealth passed on from generations. A recent report stated that that trillions of dollars will be passed on from boomers to millennials in the next twenty years (I think the report was from one of the major consulting firms). Even if they don’t have the money now lots of people assume they will inherent money. This is why income inequality is such an important issue it continues through the generations.

  71. Jean ann says...

    I’m old but with young friends. its easier to take a long view about money. Like “we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. More downs than ups. When a down is imminent, I’ve learned to slash faster and deeper. The down may take longer to pass than you think.”

  72. I talk about money with my friends, but most of us are young and either new to careers or still struggling to find work in our career fields and just piecing it all together until then. I grew up in a house where we didn’t really talk about money and I have been up front with my partner and friends because of that experience when I can’t go out because I’m either saving or struggling, how I’m doing with loans, or things like that. Someone made the comment of how their working class friends and family talk about money but their middle class friends do not, and I definitely can understand that. I find that my friends who have either gone through a struggle of feeling stable with money or are still struggling are more open to discuss it.

    Mostly friends my age are open to discussing student loans, talking about how to save/the difference in accounts/telling others about deals-especially for traveling inexpensively/discussing credit cards/and rent is totally on the table. Salaries are less talked about, but it seems easier to discuss if it’s not too high. I feel as if once a certain threshold is hit, friends don’t want to discuss due to not wanting to make others feel bad. And still some people won’t ever feel comfortable and that is totally fine. We just don’t go to that topic when we hang out and it’s okay!

    Lastly, I follow the Yes and Yes blog (https://www.yesandyes.org) and Sarah has been a fantastic resource for learning how to talk about money, how to travel on a budget, and I joined her money and happiness group which I love!

    • Emily says...

      I definitely agree that my friends who have also struggled with money, or grew up working class, like me, are far more willing and open to discuss it. Money is just a fact of life and why not gather as much support and as many resources as possible!

    • Capucine says...

      Yeah to this! Once you aren’t struggling anymore, the great Dome Of Silence descends. I only talk about not-enough-money moments these days, not about how I’m working with enough-if-I-try-hard money. Socially, we’re all self effacing about financial success, no?

    • C says...

      I am a big fan of Yes and Yes and the associated facebook page Money & Happy (https://www.facebook.com/groups/moneyandhappy/). It is a good space to have an open conversation about money with people you don’t know and won’t judge you.

      I only have a few friends I talk about money with, but I do make a point of talking to people who are starting out in my field about salaries and the benefits they should get. I work in international development, and there is a huge range of what non-profits will offer as a salary and benefits package, and many people feel bad asking for more from a non-profit. I did not have the reference points to know what to ask for in salary negotiations for my first position, so I was not making what I should have been when I started.

  73. Lindsay Miller says...

    I started talking about money with a friend in the last 1.5 years. We had been through so much together – a stillborn baby, marriage crisis, and more – yet we still hadn’t talked about money. When we started discussing tips, tricks, investment strategies, and even actual numbers, it brought us even closer. Money affects so many aspects of our lives and it’s only rude to discuss if you’re making someone feel uncomfortable. It’s freeing and educational to swap ideas and learn from each others’ failures.

  74. Maybe my friends and I are weird, or maybe it’s a millenial thing because SO MANY are in debt, but I definitely talk finances with friends! Not always real numbers (though sometimes) but definitely in theory and about raises and generally how we’re all doing!

  75. Kate says...

    My husband and I are trying to spend less on food to pay down our debt. One of our new ‘rules’ is only eating out on Saturdays. It’s easy to say no when friends ask to meet us out but we never feel guilty for eating out or making plans on Saturdays! Having a strict rule makes it easy when we want to stop for coffee or lunch during the work week, if it’s not Saturday the answer is no. The food we eat on Saturdays tend to taste even better when you’ve been craving sushi for four straight days!

  76. MA says...

    I keep coming back and reading the comments – so fascinating! One trend I notice is the “my partner and I have a good combined income, but still live paycheck to paycheck because of debt/healthcare/childcare/student loan/retirement, etc”. I’m a US citizen and I recently had the opportunity to live in Norway for 6 weeks and was struck by how well off my colleagues there seemed. It was super common to have a summer and/or winter cabin! And food was so expensive! I was surprised to learn their salaries were actually quite a bit lower than mine. I assume because of the government-provided healthcare, pension, early childcare and university tuition that their salaries were likely equal or perhaps bigger than mine as a result.

  77. leah says...

    I am definitely interested in more finance content! One particular topic of interest is purchasing a house (how to know what you can afford, what percentage of your savings you should use for the down payment, etc). Thanks for the great content as usual!

    • A says...

      UGH, yes, this. Especially for those of us without anyone to help with that first down payment. My husband and I are in our thirties and are starting to think about buying something, but we’re also trying to be smart. We won’t be getting any checks from relatives, nor do we have random stocks we were gifted to sell, nor any one of the countless things most of the people we know seemed to receive (and these are mostly very middle class people. No one is throwing around money, but an extra $5k or $10k is HUGE on that first property). With the cost of housing continually rising, both on the buying and renting sides, who on earth is able to save anywhere close to 20%?! Any and alllllll help would be appreciated!

    • Lisa says...

      Leah and A,
      I bought my first condo in Boston alone on a salary of 60k at the time. My first piece of advice is to find a property in your price range, not your friend’s price range. I must have gone to 40 open houses until I found the right one. The way I came up with the $50k down payment was I lived with roommates to keep my costs low when I was renting. I wanted to live alone so badly – it was a good motivator to keep saving. Then I took side gigs and put all of that money away. I tutored a lot of students at night, and I took adjunct teaching positions at a community college. I was able to buy my place without having to pay PMI. Seven years later, a Whole Foods moved into my neighborhood and the price of my condo sky rocketed (sad for the community), but I sold it and had a nice amount of equity to put down on my next condo. Final advice: don’t make yourself house poor – don’t be afraid to buy in an up-and-coming neighborhood versus a flashy neighborhood. Good luck!

  78. Laura says...

    Even reading all the comments it’s funny people still don’t use specifics! I stay at home now but before that I started making $30,000 a year at a nonprofit. After 8 years I was making around $42,000. My husband makes around $225,000 but we know where every single dollar goes.
    I think you actually posted a link in one of your Friday roundups of an article about 3 different people, all different incomes. The gist of it was if you make a lot of money you know where your money goes. That’s definitely true for my husband and I.
    Anyway, I’m nosey so I’ll ask my friends what they make. Some will tell me, others won’t. I don’t care… just curious!

  79. Three of my girlfriends all work at the same place I do, and money is a constant subject of conversation for us. None of us make what we should, and all of us have tons of student debt. The combination makes us feel like we’re never going to see a brighter side of money, but the conversation at least makes us feel we’re not alone. That being said, I have found it difficult to talk about when something positive with money happens. When my husband got a fairly significant raise, and my co-worker was talking about how little money her and her husband had, I felt really uncomfortable telling her that now we were doing a little better. It felt like bragging. And sometimes, if we do something that costs money, like take a vacation or go to Disneyland for the day, I feel like I have to explain how we were able to do it (“oh, my in-laws gave us a gift card”, “we’ve been saving for two years”, etc). I feel like I have to come up with reasons on how I can spend that kind of money when I talk about not having money all the time. Does anyone else feel that way? I’ve actually kind of stopped talking about it in general, though I don’t have an issue with saying I need to lie low for a couple days for money reasons. That’s a pretty universal experience among people my age, I think. We all have student debt, we live in an expensive city, and that pretty much eats a lot of our money. At least we’re all on the same page there.

  80. Anja says...

    This is such a great topic to bring up because values around money, I believe, are changing (for some people). Especially with the rise of mindfulness practices and minimalism.

    However, I will say that this post doesn’t acknowledge the privileges embedded in opinions on money. Lately, posts have felt less representative of all women.

  81. C says...

    Anyone have apps or other tools they like to use for budgeting/saving/tracking spending? I currently use Mint, but am curious to know what else is out there.

    • Rachel says...

      Google has a new monthly budget sheet (available through Google sheets). You can set what you’d like to spend each month in a given category and then enter individual daily expenses. My husband and I enter our credit/banking purchases (and savings, when there are any!) every week so we can try to stay on track. Sort of like calorie counting, I think just being cognizant of what you’re spending goes a LONG way.

    • C says...

      Rachel thank you – I’ll check it out!

    • Sasha F says...

      Mint for me. Also I started using Digit, a tool that basically studies your transaction history then pulls small sums into a savings account when you’re least likely to miss it.

      Don’t worry, it’s FDIC insured. I’ve been using this for a few months in addition to regular savings, and it’s nice to see it’s pulled together a nice little vacation fund for me from $6 and $28 increments. :)

    • Jacqueline says...

      You should also check out You Need A Budget (YNAB). I use it and it’s completely transformed how I use and track my money.

    • C says...

      Thanks for the ideas! I think one reason I am frustrated with Mint is that I continually go over my budget and then just blow it all – obviously my problem, not Mint’s! I’m going to work on setting more realistic budgets so that I am more likely to keep to them. It’s really helped me understand what ‘living below my means’ actually looks like and forced me to be realistic about some more frivolous expenses.

    • Georgia says...

      My spouse and I just use a plain old excel spreadsheet :) I’d be wary of using an online spreadsheet like google but I guess it’s not like putting private account details online, so it’s probably safe…?

  82. In the DC area, I feel like people are talking about money constantly, but mostly in vague terms. I especially notice it now that I’m a parent. We talk about how we can’t buy as much house as we’d like with the money we have, and how day care costs are breaking us. Pretty much everyone I know talks about whether to escape to other cities and imagine we might live better in lower cost of living areas. With my close friends we’ve disclosed the details of looming student loans and trade offs we feel like we are making to stay on top of finances, due to the high cost of living.

    I am much more interested in reading about people saving huge chunks of their income than looking at instagram and seeing all the spending. My husband and I also spend very little on luxuries so I do also have a curiosity about other people’s spending habits. I’d love to see some conversations on money featured on your site and would be willing to be a guinea pig or part of the dialogue!

  83. Growing up my parents were never forth coming with money talk. I was left to figure out how a credit card worked on my own and spent my savings instead of understanding the importance of putting money away.
    I’m now married to a man who’s father was a banker – he grew up with a terrific teacher and there was always an open dialogue about money and investing. I’ve been so eager to soak up any information available and it’s given me so much more confidence dealing with my financial situation and communicating with the bank and our financial adviser. I know friends who were in a similar position to me, and I only wish it was more comfortable of a discussion topic! I’d love to share what I’ve learned.

  84. Talking about money with a partner is an absolute must! Being on the same page as my husband with finances obviously takes a lot of stress out of day to day life. I think talking with friends is unnecessary but maybe that’s because I’m completely comfortable with my situation…I know how much I make, I know how much I spend, I know how much I should be saving for retirement, etc. I’d like to know some time saving tips like “what are the best financial planning tools?” or “should I still be doing my own taxes or just hire someone?”.

  85. Kaitlin says...

    I wish women would talk more about money. We live in a capitalist society and the way that we approach conversations about money is another example of how women get left behind in the patriarchy. I would love to see better examples in the media of women talking about finances – on TV and in movies but also on blogs. It would be wonderful if Cup of Jo did this! I was just looking for posts on here yesterday about ‘budgeting’ and there was one, directly related to taxes. Wouldn’t it be interesting and powerful to have a series about how women around the world manage their finances? Stella is 100% right – money effects so much our lives. COJ is a huge media leader and influencer. If we’re talking about beauty uniforms and motherhood, surely we can talk about the benjamins!

    • Kara says...

      Amen!

    • Georgia says...

      YES. Especially helpful if it comes from women successfully managing their budgets at different jobs, walks of life and incomes.

  86. Amanda says...

    Stella, I love your writing. I talk to my friends about some aspects of finances – including choosing 401k and retirement plans, and about saving for a down payment. We also talk about rent and housing costs a lot because we live in a crazy competitive market so it’s a hot topic! But I never discuss salary with my friends. My husband knows the salaries of his friends and he thinks it’s weird that my friends and I don’t discuss our salaries, but I think HE’S the weird one!

  87. Melanie says...

    I’m finding the comments on this post to be fascinating! I’ll be refreshing the page all day to read new comments.

    A couple of thoughts:
    A few years ago the blog Ask a Manager ran a post asking people to (anonymously) tell how much money they made, along with some additional data like job title and geographic location. At the time I was living in DC and felt like I made SO MUCH LESS than everyone else. This post was comforting because I learned that, while there were tons of people making more than me, there were also many people making about what I did.

    I recently bought a house, and oddly, I feel so much more financially vulnerable. With all of the natural disasters that have been happening around the country and the world I keep thinking about what would happen if an earthquake (the most likely natural disaster where I live) were to destroy my house? Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover earthquake damage and earthquake insurance is insanely expensive. If I were still renting and my home were destroyed, I’d still have all my money in the bank. I love my house and feel so lucky to have been able to comfortably move into home ownership…but it does make me worry about some things more.

  88. lizzy says...

    Several years ago I was talking to a friend (an ex-boyfriend, actually) on the phone.. He was feeling depressed and started naming all the reasons he SHOULD be happy, one of those being that he had a good job and $60,000 in the bank. … I was like OH SHIT. I had mayyyybe $2,000 and would buy silly things like ceiling lamps for my (rented) apartment.

    I now have over $100,000 saved, thanks to his passing remark. Needless to say, I am a HUGE supporter of talking about money. I find other people’s money management methods fascinating!

    • Kara says...

      Totally agree that I LOVE hearing about how people manage their money, their savings goals, etc. I was fairly irresponsible with saving for most of my twenties and I truly believe that part of it was because absolutely no one was talking about their money. As I approached 30 and realized I didn’t have much money in the bank and was potentially getting engaged soon, I righted that ship and am now super focused but I continue to pour over personal finance articles, etc. I don’t understand why it’s people still don’t talk about this more freely!

    • n.b. says...

      If you have that much money just sitting in a savings account, you should really look into how to make that money work for you. You could be earning passive income by investing in a low risk way. I encourage you to seek out a financial planner or do some reading on your own.

    • Lizzy says...

      Thanks N.B. Don’t worry, I’m averaging about 6% interest on that money right now! Another amazing thing about saving money is that IT MULTIPLIES

    • Congrats Lizzy! Compound interest is a magical thing!
      For anyone thinking about getting a financial advisor or planner, I would be super cautious. They have to make money somehow also, and usually it’ll be at your expense. If an advisor recommends you invest in American Funds, that should be your cue to take your money and run… crazy high fees for each investment contribution (aka front load 5.75%), as well as ongoing management fees (aka expense ratio 1% yearly)! 6 or 7% may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things but realize this: you can retire when you can live off 4% of your investments annually!
      I completely agree with the other several comments mentioning Vanguard. Create and manage your own account from their website, invest in the US total stock market index for the long term (VTSAX, front load 0%, expense ratio 0.04%).
      I learned the hard way in regards to having a financial advisor playing me for a fool, thankfully I didn’t lose too much time/money!

  89. Val says...

    I love the Profit Boss Podcast with Hilary Hendershott. She does a great job of talking in a real way about finances and wealth management.

  90. Em says...

    My friends and I are all in our mid-20s to early 30s, and I’ve noticed there doesn’t seem to be a “norm” when it comes to finances in this age group. I have friends who are sleeping on couches and spending all their cash on alcohol. I have friends with babies, who are struggling to pay their mortgage. And I have friends who put on a fancy suit each morning and go off to earn six figures.

    And then there’s me who doesn’t really fall into any of those groups.

    Depending on which friend I’m talking to, I can easily sound like I’m bragging about my income, I can sound like an entitled brat with disposable cash, or I can sound like a total slacker. {What do you MEAN you don’t have a 401K!?!)

    Since there doesn’t seem to be a comfortable place to talk about money without offending someone, or embarrassing myself, I try to avoid money talk at all costs.

  91. Ali says...

    As far as friends go, I’ve noticed this trend: In your early 20’s, you’re making pasta all the time, the cheapest meal on the planet. Then in your later 20’s, you’re all getting better jobs and it feels fun to spend some money! So you’ll buy a round of drinks, put the cabin rental fee on your credit card! And then you start buying houses and having kids, and the pendulum swings back around and you start wondering, “how long are we all going to keep chipping in $30 for group birthday gifts, aren’t we getting old for this?!”

    • E says...

      haha I love this. For me, it’s the book club — okay, I’m over spending $25 on a new, hardcover book that half the group doesn’t even read.

      And I can never do the library b/c we always pick new, popular books with never-ending waitlists.

      Yes, I can technically afford it, but I don’t want to spend it. I’m having a hard time coming up with rationale — I don’t want to sound judgey to my friends who do spend this money monthly, but I also want to say no.

      That’s a small example, but I feel that way a lot — how do you say “No thanks, I don’t want to do brunch again, I don’t want to spend money on that,” without your friend hearing “I’m cheap,” or, worse, “YOU shouldn’t spend your money like that.”

    • Emma says...

      @E have you looked into your public library or a local bookstore? My public library has book club kits with 10+ copies of books + guides. Same for a great independent bookstore (who hosts a lot of book clubs). A lot were newer books too. You could also suggest a new rule for book club – has to be available in paperback.

  92. erin says...

    So i think being open in terms of what you do with your budget is super helpful. Not necessarily talking about how much money one makes, but sharing ideas as to how each family budgets is really helpful. Like for instance, a friend asked me how much we spend on groceries a month for myself and my husband. I said about $400. she balked because she spent over $700 and that was just for one person. She realized right then and there she needed to get that in check.

    I have been open with my closest friends in regards to whether my parents are helping me financially. For instance, my parents really wanted me to have a new car with all the safety features. For their peace of mind, we came to an agreement, they’d make payments on the car until our other payment’s done. Then we’ll take over. Otherwise we would’ve never gotten the car. I also didn’t want my friends to think that we were living large because we’re super budget conscious. These same friends are friends who we travel with, we usually agree on what we can and are willing to spend on a trip.

  93. Ali says...

    I’ve gotten better, but even the thought of logging into my online bank accounts used to give me anxiety. I’ve never been a frivolous spender on big-ticket items, I’ve just never particularly enjoyed facing the facts. (which is the worst approach to take when it comes to money :) My husband, on the other hand put together an excel spreadsheet which has a space to input everything from our mortgage and credit card balances, to our car payments and stock holdings. It takes all of our info and calculates our total worth. He updates this weekly, which I am so thankful for. I tell him he should teach college kids to do this, it’s exactly what those of us with a timid relationship with money need!

  94. Andrea says...

    I used to never talk about money, and then my husband and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I find that my friends are endlessly fascinated by the part of the program that suggests you use only cash , portioned out into envelopes rather than spending on a debit or credit card. We’ve also been paying down debt the way the program suggests and are nearly debt-free apart from our mortgage. I don’t think I’ve changed anyone else’s perspective, but the course certainly changed mine!

    • Lindsay Miller says...

      Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University changed our lives, seriously. We had no idea what to do with money before we read his book, and now we have avoided debt and are well on our way to accomplishing our savings goals!

    • Regina says...

      It’s interesting to see Dave Ramsey mentioned on COJ. I just started following him in Instagram and the testimonials of people that have transformed their lives as a result of his program are stunning. Why do you guys think the program resonated so much with you? My husband and I are pretty overwhelmed with managing our finances, and I am curious about DR.

  95. Lydia says...

    I grew up in Switzerland, in a house with pretty much full transparency when it came to finances. I knew how we spent, how much money both my parents made, still do now. My father would let me watch him do the taxes, which gave me an oversight into the financial life. Still today, I’m now 27 and my sister 30 we have family conversations (despite divorced parents) about the family money life, that is seen as a shared resource needing to serve everyone best. My parents were both teachers and artists – we were comfortable but not care free. My father was incredibly resourceful and smart with how he managed the money. Looking back I’m really grateful to have had this experience, because I feel comfortable managing my money and enjoy it.
    I use mint as my financial software and like to be able to oversee the big picture. I have a mutual fund that I put a bit of money into every month, hoping it can serve as my retirement down the road (I’m a dancer and freelance teacher). I have never been big on budgets but starting with 12 or so had the philosophy that at the end of the month I should have more than the beginning of the month. That has mostly held through – with exceptions when I travel and large expenses. (I don’t have kids so that might change budgeting needs).
    I moved to NYC 5 years to pursue my dance career. Money is very scarce in that world and pay to dancers so minimal. Sadly I think there is still sometimes a romanticism put on being poor in the art scene. My friends and I always had a very open conversation about how much (or how little) money we make, like how to get by on 1.5K a month and pay rent in NYC.
    It’s been amazing to see how though over the past 2 years we all found ways to make some more money, be able to go out for dinner, alongside our dancing (or other the art forms). I love being able to talk about this and think it’s super important to share resources and talk about how to be financially stable.

  96. Lesley says...

    I totally agree with the suggestion of talking about money in terms of percentages if you’re uncomfortable with the hard numbers. One of the most helpful conversations I had with my group of friends was right before moving in with my partner; I was trying to figure out if and how to combine finances with him, and brought it up at a happy hour. The four friends there had all used different techniques to combine finances (or not) with their partners, and it was so so helpful to hear pros and cons of their different methods.

  97. Celeste says...

    I just went to dinner with a good friend and she shared her salary, I shared the cost of my used Kia since she’s thinking of getting one.

  98. Jane says...

    I got 34% pay raise this year and I accidentally told one of my siblings. The very next day she called asking to borrow money. THAT is probably why people don’t like to talk about their finances. I’m extremely careful with my money, whereas she spends it like it’s burning a hole in her pocket (we’re taking Michael Scott with his multiple magic sets type bad). I did not lend her the money and I never will. A touchy subject best avoided.

  99. Rebecca says...

    My working class friends and family talk about money a lot. My middle class friends do not.

    • Meghan says...

      True ^

    • jules says...

      I said something similar in another reply. My friends that grew up blue collar (whether they are or are not today) and I talk very frankly.

  100. Christine says...

    I would love some advice on budgeting for mat leave and adding a baby to the family!

  101. AJ says...

    Ditto on what many others have said – this is such an interesting and helpful topic to read about. Love reading the Money Diaries.
    I do find it’s an awkward subject with friends though, for lots of reasons, but also depends what stage of life you’re in.
    I find with money, it’s almost like we have this conflicting sense of competitive while also needing to seem humble. I think there can be shame and guilt in both poverty and wealth, in a way. One really good thing about getting older though: we all respect when somebody says, ‘I can’t join you for this, money is tight’. I spent so much of my 20s being absolutely broke due to peer pressure!

  102. London says...

    We have started talking about money a lot- we are young lawyers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. As a result, we decided that we aren’t buying a home, drive junky cars, and aren’t having kids while all of our friends do. We both make good money so we talk about it preemptively to make sure our friends aren’t surprised or disappointed when we can’t go on a fun trip or expensive outings. We will have all the fun when we kick out Sally Mae!

  103. Laura says...

    This is fascinating to me, because my husband has on online investment company and they have basically resigned themselves to the fact that their investors will be overwhelmingly male. They have tried all sorts of ways to reach women and nothing works. And when you look at a company like Ellevest, they are very effective at social media outreach and publicity and tell a good story, but their actual ability to turn women into investors (the number of women using their platform) is negligible. I’d love to able to argue that women are interested in investment but I truly don’t know that they are…

    • Sasha F says...

      That’s really interesting. I think it’s probably a combination of lifelong socialization not to take control of money (for all, but especially for girls/young women) and the fact that it’s a really tricky subject anyway. Nailing a strategy and tone that isn’t condescending, but explains really clearly for super-beginners, is difficult.

      For many, especially mothers or other earning heads of households balancing a lot, I’m sure there isn’t a great time to confront this holistically – aka hand to mouth. A massive portion of women are in this position, and the no-latte advice goes nowhere… while even a $500 minimum investment may not be feasible. Just some ideas.

      Personally, I cannot stop advocating for women taking charge of their finances. F— you funds for bad jobs, a change of pace, hurtful relationships, and all that. :)

    • Ashley says...

      Laura- I was really fascinated by your comment, as I feel this “conundrum” myself. I work in a male-dominated, financial field and even I have reservations… my gut reaction is, “I don’t have enough money to be taken seriously” which I am sure is probably dead wrong. I’d love to continue this conversation if you had any interest in e-mailing (I swear that’s genuine and not creepy in any way)…

  104. JR says...

    I love this post and would love to see more posts about budgeting, smart money moves and building wealth. My husband and I are pretty high earners and live in a pretty affordable big city (when compared to those like NYC and CHI). However, we live on a tight-ish budget: emergency fund, saving for a down payment, saving for eventually replacing our 10 year old car, and maxing out both of our 401ks, and pushing for early retirement. It adds up! As such, we’re living day-to-day much tighter than our careers would suggest. Sometimes I struggle with understanding how my friends (who I’m pretty certain make less than we do) possibly can buy homes, decorate them so beautifully, buy new cars, have multiple kids and take luxurious vacations. I want to do those things too! Are they in debt, have help from families or do they just manage their money better than we do? I’m not sure… but I’d never ask! I’ve decided people just value different things, have different plans, and save and spend in different ways, and I should just focus on my own goals. But I’d love to understand more about what other people are doing with their finances, how they make smart money moves, etc.

    • Sasha F says...

      Personally, I think many overspend and hide a debt on cards, family help, etc. No one wants to appear as though they didn’t manage to do it all on their own (it’s our national narrative, after all…).

      Curious where you are, since CHI is fairly affordable, as big cities go!! :)

  105. Heather says...

    Even harder than talking about money with my friends was talking about money with my husband. It seemed like such a source of angst in our relationship that I eventually decided we needed a referee, an outsider who could tell us what to do with our money, or at least help us understand where we stood and help us prioritize financial goals, so that I wasn’t the one driving the conversation. We talked to a few different firms, but ultimately hired a small shop out of Brooklyn, StashWealth, and WE LOVE THEM. I think you should interview Priya Malani. She really seems, to me, to understand the particular financial pressures of people our age, and how we feel about money – e.g., wanting to balance living in the present and fully enjoying life with being practical about the future, and investing our money in a socially responsible way.

  106. Melissa says...

    I have one friend who I talk about money with–or I used to when we were in the same financial situation. We are both stay at home moms and we were both buying houses at the same time on a similar budget…but now my family’s finances have expanded while hers haven’t, so I don’t feel as free to discuss it anymore! It feels like bragging, when I’m really just dealing with different struggles now.

  107. Sara says...

    I definitely talk about money with my sister (best friend) and a couple other close friends. Not always specific amounts, but just in general where our money is going, how much we spend eating out (!!) etc. My husband just got a bonus recently and we paid our credit cards down to $10. I don’t think I have ever been so relieved. Now we just have to not use them…

  108. Liv says...

    Yes!!!! So looking forward to hear more about this subject!

  109. Sue says...

    I have severe guilt around money. I chose to be SAHM to my two children when my husband earned a very low income and we moved a lot for his work which basically meant I could make many long term girlfriends. They were very hard years and I remember scrimping and saving just so I could stay home. Now my kids are school age and I don’t need to stay home to care for them. My husband now earns a lot more (5x more ) and we are financially very comfortable. I still live like before ( force of habit ) and feel extreme guilt when I do buy something nice. My girlfriends have seen me only in this new phase of life and think I have it so easy. Lots of money , no need to work. I get a lot of snide comments and have to steel myself every time i go out with them . They are all working and earning well , but in my opinion they spend an awful lot too ( vacations, nice cars, large homes etc ). I NEED friends and for the most part they are wonderful but I hate the thought of people thinking I somehow won the lottery.
    So basically every conversation I have about money with my friends is peppered with huge dose of guilt and over explanation. If someone compliments my furniture I go into a huge run around about how its thrifted, which it always is and costs 50 bucks that I painted in my garage. If they compliment my clothes, I explain to them the how I got it from Thred Up, vintage etc.
    All this to say, I am content and happy with my life decisions but always worry about alienating my friends with frank money talk.

    • pickle says...

      It took me a long time to learn that when someone pays you a compliment, take it. All you have to say is “Thank you.”

  110. Kim says...

    I would LOVE if Cup of Jo started a Finance feature, with tips for both single women and women navigating combining incomes with a partner. I’ve never talked about income and financial goals until I met my boyfriend. It’s new to me, but great to be on the same page. My student loans overwhelm me *a lot* of the time, so maybe a feature on that would be amazing! Great post, per usual! :)

  111. I LOVE this and am so excited cojo will be covering money matters. As a twenty something female it can definitely feel like such a daunting part of adulthood.

    A friend of a friend started this company – it’s run by women and is geared towards “millenials” (hate that label) who are looking for simple and effective financial advice. I haven’t tried it yet but heard great things!

    https://financialgym.com/#personal

    • Laura says...

      Big fan of Shannon McLay – love her Martinis and your money podcast. She would be a good fit to be interviewed for cup of jo.

  112. Can’t wait to read more about this! I only talk about money with a few of my friends, one of whom is amazing at budgeting and has no problem suggesting we stay in with a bottle of wine when she’s gone over her budget and can’t afford a night out. My other friend and I are in similar credit card debt situations and talking about it openly with each other helps us keep each other accountable.