By Tyler C. Gilley, CFP®, AIF®, Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

“Yes! But…” These two words help capture my thoughts on this question; I’d like to see more open conversations about money taking place in our culture – but we all need to cultivate a keen awareness of the tendency to fall into some common traps.

Before I go any further, I need to make a confession: I am a millennial. And yes, I’m a big fan of avocados although I draw the line at paying $15 to see it on a piece of toast! It’s no surprise that there are many disagreements among generations over topics ranging from preferences in food to political affiliations to the topic of money. Recently, my colleague Julia Pham addressed several of these aspects in 5 Generational Money Taboos That Must Die.

With these insights in mind, I believe we often overlook our peers as a valuable source of wisdom.

So, should you talk to your friends about money?

Yes!

Ok, maybe I’m a little biased, but I have personally experienced two core truths. These truths have helped me grow in my own financial knowledge and have given me better tools in helping friends and colleagues address their dreams, goals, and fears related to money:

  • There is a direct relationship between insecurities about money and the size of the stigma around money conversations.

From a young age, I developed the mindset that any discussion involving money was inherently negative. This was encouraged through various cues from authority figures. Even those messages that were meant to teach me positive lessons – like the importance of good savings habits – seemed to be built on fear and anxiety.

I’ve come to believe that only by normalizing these topics can we begin to whittle away at the discomfort that many of us tend to feel when they arise. Fortunately, friends tend to support non-threatening environments in which we are free to ask questions and gain valuable feedback in a more casual setting.

  • There is always more to learn!

I’m currently pursuing my MBA degree and it’s incredibly challenging and rewarding. The single greatest aspect of the program has been the opportunity to gain new perspectives from a network of peers representing different industries and backgrounds. I’m benefitting from an environment in which it’s expected – and encouraged – to seek out advice and bring our insecurities to light. No matter the level of formal education each person brings to the table, we’re all learning from one another’s experiences and areas of expertise.

But…

Unfortunately, we often become numb to the fact that money can have a profound impact on our perceptions of others as well as our own self-image. Therefore, it’s important to exercise our own self-awareness by asking the following questions:

  • Am I motivated to talk about money for the wrong reasons?

It’s not uncommon for people to attach their own sense of self-worth to the size of their paychecks or bank accounts. This can quickly lead to a need to validate their own standing by comparing their lifestyle and financial goals against those of their peers.

While it can be useful to get feedback on such things, using our (successful) friends as a benchmark for success is bound to leave us always dissatisfied with our own accomplishments.

  • Do I have an established, shared level of trust with my friends?

Trust is an essential part of any friendship, and it’s especially important when it comes to money. You need to trust that your friends will provide an open, judgment-free environment and that they have your best interest at heart. Once this trust is achieved, your friends can help hold you accountable to making wise financial decisions and addressing potentially uncomfortable conversations.

“Yes… but” may not inspire much confidence – and it probably shouldn’t! These can be intimidating and uncomfortable questions when they’re left unanswered. Yet exploring and eliminating the “buts” is the surest way to reframe the way you think about the original question to make your answer an absolute “YES.”

Period.

Disclaimer:

Halbert Hargrove Global Advisors, LLC (“HH”) is an SEC registered investment adviser located in Long Beach, California. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about HH, including our registration status, fees, and services can be found at www.halberthargrove.com. This blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as personalized investment advice. It should not be construed as a solicitation to offer personal securities transactions or provide personalized investment advice. The information provided does not constitute any legal, tax or accounting advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney and accountant. All opinions or views reflect the judgment of the author as of the publication date and are subject to change without notice.

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