What do you like to talk about when you go to dinner with your best friends? Some topics are inevitable, such as the latest trend, how good the food is, the new purse you bought, or the last movie you saw at the theatre. But do you ever bring up the topic of money? No, I’m not just talking about “how amazing the sale was at Marshalls” (although you definitely should not keep those to yourself) but do you ever dive in deeper? Are the conversations that we have when we go out with our friends productive?
Anyone that knows me knows that I love to go out and be social. I value a night out with my friends, some cheap cocktails, and half-priced appetizers are always a plus. But when we sit there talking and gossiping, I can’t help but wonder if there is something else that we can be talking about. Can I share a new money-saving tip that I learned without putting a damper on the conversation? Will I make my friends feel awkward if I talk about the best way to handle their children’s student loan debt? I obviously welcome conversations about money since I work in the financial industry, but I realize many people feel uncomfortable when it comes to the topic of money and financial security. In fact, 70% of Americans don’t like talking about money!
I challenge you to start a healthy dialogue about money next time you are out socializing with your friends. Knowledge is power, so share that power with your friends! I bet they have information that is beneficial to you as well, but you will never learn it if you are not willing to bring greater depth to your conversations. What’s the worst that can happen? You are already friends with this person so they won’t be afraid to kindly tell you that they don’t want to discuss this. The best thing that can happen is that you bring up a topic that has been on your friend’s mind and you end up starting a conversation about something that can be really beneficial to them.
Imagine this: you’re sitting next to your best friend Stacy at a sports bar and an advertisement comes on for a local college during one of the commercial breaks on the television. You strike up a conversation about student loan debt and the best method you recently heard about to start tackling your debt. Stacy looks relieved when you say this, as she has been constantly thinking about how her oldest boy, Michael, will be graduating college this year with thousands of dollars of debt. By sharing this information with Stacy, you actually helped calm her racing thoughts and gave her a strategy that she can talk about with her son Michael when the time comes to pay off his debt!
Now, say you do not work in the financial industry and you are the one who is feeling overwhelmed about some financial situation, such as how to get the best loan for your new car, what’s a mortgage and how do you get one, what are the best resources for school loans, etc. At dinner, you could reach out for some valuable tips from your friends by opening up about what is on your mind. Your friends may be going through the same situation, or they may have just dealt with a similar problem. It may possibly even make you feel a sense of relief knowing there were other people out there in the same situation as you. They might have resources or recommendations for you that you would not have learned if you kept to yourself. If not, you may just open up a venting session about money with your friends, which may also momentarily help you clear your mind. The concept of talking about money at dinner is not that far-fetched, we just have to get past the sense of discomfort associated with it to see the positive benefits.
Who hasn’t had a question about money throughout their lifetime? Every new life stage comes with new money woes and throwing out some money questions while discussing smart money habits can cover a wide range of topics (i.e. buying your first home, where to save money, budgeting your money, where to shop and save money, etc.). If this topic is too uncomfortable to discuss at first, have another half-price cocktail, or strike up a fun money challenge like whoever gets the best coupon for the next outing doesn’t have to pay. Or, whoever saves the most on their outfit gets a free drink? The concept of talking about money at dinner is not that far-fetched once we get past the sense of discomfort associated with it to see the positive benefits.
I was recently out with a few friends eating some delicious sushi when I started to talk about money-saving strategies I use when I go out to eat, like groupon.com. Before you know it, everyone started talking about different sites they use to save money. Have you ever heard of localflavor.com? Well, neither did I before I brought up this topic with my friends. The conversation went from simple tips to save money when going out to eat to cheaper and more frequent trips to get coffee and sushi with my friends for over a year.
Start exchanging your knowledge with each other now to prevent those racing thoughts and help yourself and your friends save more for what really matters later: making more memories at dinner with your friends and family.