This Is Your Life When You're Not Afraid to Talk About Money

There's a word for people who can't stop talking about their money: jerks. Nobody wants to put up with constant humblebragging about how much someone makes, how much they spend, and how much they plan to buy. That presents a conundrum, though — because we'd all be a lot better off if we were a little less scared of talking to each other about money.

Kristin Wong, writing for the New York Times, has been thinking about this a lot. In a society that demands success at any cost, we're never really sure how to measure success, or figure out when we've achieved it. We also wrestle with shame and stigma when the topic comes up; it's rude, for instance, to ask direct questions about income or rent uninvited. Wong also writes that "43 percent of Americans don't know how much money their spouse makes, yet fighting about money is a top predictor of divorce." That's even more troubling when research shows that for most people, their partner is their biggest financial influence.

The way forward is to give yourself structure and a clear way of communicating about money with those you value. This can mean setting up money meetings with a significant other or finding an online forum or in-person group to practice talking through the subject. You don't have to go big, especially right away. And leading by example can have a ripple effect in your social circle. As it turns out, one of the best ways to curb overspending is to see what your friends' budgets look like.

Sure, it'll feel awkward at first. But once you get the hang of it, talking about money will help you figure out making your money work best for you.