How Should We Talk About Money

Money is taboo. Or so we’re supposed to believe.

Radical transparency is something I’m buying into as I learn and engage with more people. I enjoy talking about money because it helps fine tune the machine. Even with us saving half our income, we know there are areas we can continue to improve so we benefit from being transparent.

When someone asks me a money related question, I have one of two responses.

I first gauge to see how sincere the question is. Often times I’m out with friends and we’re drinking so money might be brought up. A passing comment isn’t necessarily pause to make a comment, so I pass up the conversation.

When someone is interested in say one of the ways we saved over $50K last year, then I’m happy to dive into details.

Aaron Lowry recently said on our podcast, “Don’t give feedback unless you’re asked.”

You can check out more of the podcast episode here:

This answer is great, especially considering many people don’t feel comfortable discussing money.

Additionally, when we give unwarranted advice, we often put the listener on the defensive and they might not enjoy the advice. In an effort to share an idea you may leave them hammering home their old idea as they fight to defend their reasoning and rationale.

Another great answer came during a Camp Mustache podcast where someone asked, “How do I bring someone on board with Financial Independence?”

The response from Pete aka Mr. Money Mustache:

You probably can’t. People don’t really listen to you that much in real life, I find. But you can just model the behavior and make sure you’re having a good time of it.

And then, your curious friends, which are, in the long run, the ones that are worth keeping, they are going to ask you themselves. And if they see good results, they’re going to naturally want to follow it.

In either case, the old saying holds true, “The teacher will appear when the student is ready.”

So, what is the right answer?

How should we talk about money?


5 comments… add one
  • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap Mar 20, 2017, 4:28 am

    I agree with you (and therefore, Mr Money Mustache) if they don’t ask, don’t share. I was guilty of that when I first became a Mustachian and felt that the world just needed to know what smart things I was doing to cut spending etc. Yeahhhhhh, let’s just say that I learnt pretty quickly than no one likes a preacher lol.

    How should we talk about money? Quietly and with those who are genuinely interested I reckon.

  • The Grounded Engineer Mar 20, 2017, 7:32 am

    I like to talk about ideas, not necessarily things that I implement. I bring up these ideas as conversation starters to ease into discussing personal finance topics. I’ve notice that people either have NO interest or they are really interested and they open up about the topic.

    However, for me, it is difficult not to push personal finance in a conversation. I get so fired up about debt and all of the other topics out there that I want to spread the word. I want to say, “There are ways to get out of debt and take control of your finances!!” But usually, I hold back…

  • ReachingTheCrest Mar 20, 2017, 6:41 pm

    What i have noticed that it is much more acceptable for people to complain about their finances than it is for people to rejoice about theirs. I mean, why can’t i come in to work shouting for joy that i’m saving half my paycheck or closing in on paying off the house. That would seem ‘weird’ or unacceptable. But its very normal for me to hear at work people complaining about being underwater on their home or not having enough in savings to be able to retire. Its this weird backwards acceptability we have. Most of the quiet successful high savers are being, well, quiet about it all. I wish we were all more open about it.

  • Brad - Mar 21, 2017, 4:27 pm

    I say lead by example and – hopefully – at some point those around you will realize the mess they are in when they view your (our) situation as compared to theirs. When they reach that “fed up” point hopefully they’ll ask for help… and make changes to improve their financial situation.

  • Ryan @ Just Another Dollar Mar 22, 2017, 10:14 am

    I hope that one day it will be okay to be fully transparent with money everywhere rather than just our weird, financially-minded corner of the internet. I think the problem stems from the lack of financial education, which causes people to behave badly with money and feel like “the system” is rigged against them. Then there’s the widespread belief that wealthy people are somehow bad and cheating the system and taking advantage of the poor.

    For now, I’m just gonna focus on my own situation and share my advice with anyone who seeks it out.

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