While Beyonce is advising women that “the best revenge is your paper,” the rest of us are still conditioned to feel like talking about our finances is taboo. Men are traditionally considered “bread winners” and top earners, so for them, talking about money is as natural as breathing. Men rarely give it a second thought, and why should they? But for women, money is the number one conversational no-no. As Dayna Evans writes for NY Mag, “Money replaced sex as the thing women allegedly never talk about...Women talking about money? Oh no, my virgin ears! We don’t make money! We don’t poop!”
Given that only 14.6 percent of American women are employed in executive positions, dollar bills are still very much a man’s world. That leads to a messy standard of socialization for women -- in a world where men are overwhelmingly in charge of who to hire and how much to pay them, women are constantly undervaluing themselves in a rigged system. And then there’s that horrendous wage gap to contend with. With women increasingly gaining financial independence, we’re looking for a way to reconcile having those conversations with a culture that’s repeatedly told us not to have them.
In 2015, Fidelity Investments undertook a study which found that 92 percent of women interviewed were interested in financial planning and that 83 percent wanted to take more active control over their finances. But the study also found that 80 percent of women weren’t talking about money with family and friends. So it’s not that women don’t want to talk about money -- it’s that they feel uncomfortable in doing so. Here are some ways you can break the silence around money and womanhood and start the conversation you’ve been itching to have.
1. Start a financial group
It can be a buddy or a small group of women, but finding someone (or a bunch of someones!) who are interested in learning more about their finances can make the process less daunting. We’re stronger together, after all. Get your friends and make a list of all the financial concerns and blind spots you have. Then work together to figure them out. You can even bring in a financial expert to advise you as a group.
2. Get online
You know that thing you’re reading this on? It’s got another thing on it called Google which you can use to type literally anything about anything. Get online and seek answers! There’s a wealth of knowledge literally at your fingertips. If you feel like you don’t even know enough about your finances to even start a conversation, school yourself first -- let Google answer your basic questions, and once you’re equipped with the information, you’ll feel more comfortable going out into the world and actually discussing it.
3. Make an appointment with an expert
It can be hard to broach a topic you’ve never talked about with your social circle, so it may be easier for you to just start with a financial expert. Think of it as therapy, but for your money. If you can, try and locate a female financial advisor or accountant and go see them with all your questions about money. Work with a fiduciary, someone who has you and your money as priority, so that you know you're always getting the best service. Oftentimes, financial advisors earn commissions on the products they sell to you, so beware of non-fiduciary investor advisors: They don't work for you, they work for the banks. You can find an enormous selection of advisors here.
4. Subscribe to a financial magazine
Google isn’t the only resource for self-schooling. Subscribe to a financial magazine and you’ll have a weekly or monthly reminder to do some reading on your finances. You can then also give your old copies, or cut out articles, for friends and family -- which is a great way to jog a conversation, opening up dialogue without you having to find a way to insert a topic into your catch up coffee. Kiplinger's and Money both offer no-nonsense financial advice in plain language. But if you find those to be too heady, The Week offers the best take on all things newsy, but especially their business and money department.
5. Just eff all that noise about taboos
Change your attitude. Remember: You don’t have to listen to prevailing social attitudes when they’re oppressive. If 80 percent of women want to talk money, that means the only reason they’re not is because of those invisible patriarchal rules that are designed to reductively divide us. If you want to talk about money, talk about money. Hell, stand on the roof and shout about money. It’s something you think about and deal with every single day, so eff any notion that it’s not okay for you to discuss it.