Get Comfortable Talking About Money

First pic of 2017, our street

First pic of 2017, our street

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today. Let’s talk about money.

We have been blogging for exactly 4 years today. Mostly Mr. 1500, but I pop in from time to time to share my views or ask a question.

Our life has changed substantially in those 4 years. We downsized our house, joined the Double Comma Club, fell out of the Double Comma Club, bounced in and out of it for a while – and will probably continue to do so. I got my current job as a direct result of this blog.

We’ve met a lot of like-minded people who are involved in Personal Finance through this blog.

We talk about money.

We share tips on saving money. It isn’t taboo to ask financial questions.

Then I switch back to real life, where it is taboo.

I was visiting Jim Collins at a lake house in Wisconsin over the summer. Jim is part of this open-financial discussion life I lead, and mentioned to me that his brother in law invested in real estate, and suggested we chat.

I talked to him, and in the beginning it was a bit awkward. I asked probing financial questions, and immediately realized I stepped over the line by his reaction. Because he’s a normal person who plays by society’s rules. You don’t discuss money.

He eventually realized I wasn’t there to pry into his finances on a personal level, that I was truly just interested in the real estate deals. He’s a commercial guy, I’m residential.

It was a very informative, interesting conversation, and I am happy we had it. I learned a TON from him, just in our short discussion.

But I felt bad for making him uncomfortable. In the last 4 years, I’ve become at ease with financial conversations, and frequently ask probing questions when people ask me for advice. I’m not necessarily looking for them to answer me, but to think about the answer themselves.

What is the majority of your debt? Retail? Medical? Student Loans?

How much debt do you have?

Do you have an emergency fund?

Have you ever read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover?

Do you track your spending?

Do you have a budget?

Why do you not have any money?

When was the last time you talked about money with your significant other? Never?

In Lauren Greutman’s book, The Recovering Spender, she talks about hiding purchases from her husband. She finally overcame the crushing guilt she felt for all their debt, and laid all the bills out on the bed to show him just how far in debt they were. They started talking about money, and their money problems eased.

I have an acquaintance who routinely lies to her husband about how much things cost. She told me once, “I usually tell him it cost less than half of what it actually cost.” I think my horrified face betrayed me… She hasn’t admitted anything else to me since, but has admitted plenty to another neighbor. They’re currently in danger of losing their house.

You’re here at 1500 Days because you want to fix your finances. Or because you want to go down the path to financial independence. Or you just want a better life.

Get used to talking about money.

Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger.

We just started a closed Facebook Group to start talking about money. Feel free to ask questions, share recipes and get tips. Join here: facebook.com/groups/1500days

Start the conversation.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.

*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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38 Responses to Get Comfortable Talking About Money

  1. I help facilitate a Dave Ramsey course at my church and in the beginning people are horrified to open up and talk about their finances. As the weeks pass by they start to open up and it’s amazing how quickly the transformation in their lives occur when they’re willing to open up and share.

    Thanks for doing all that you’ve done over these four years and I hope you and your family have a great 2017!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…My 2016 Year In ReviewMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      This is so true. Just like everything else, it gets easier the more you do it. The more you talk about money – including those “embarrassing” money issues, the easier it is to figure the problems out – and see the triggers that cause the issues in the first place.

      May your 2017 go exactly as planned.

  2. Mrs. BITA says:

    I hear you. I have to watch myself nowadays, in real life. If you, like me, spend enough time on reddit, the rockstar finance forums, on personal finance blogs etc., sometimes IRL the lines blur and you forget what is considered ‘normal’. It is hard sometimes though. I really care about this stuff and I am so excited about our journey. Not being able to discuss it at will in real life is a real pain in the ass.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…The Evolution of our Plan for 2017My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      HAHAHA!

      Yeah. My job is similar. We delve into the nitty gritty, so that doesn’t help with those blurred lines, either. I find myself typing things in, then deleting because you can’t ask someone what they make in real life.

  3. In the US culturally having financial discussions does seem to be a bit taboo. I wonder how much it contributes to people’s overall poor financial decisions. If we were more comfortable talking about these things would people be better prepared for these situations? Happy 2017.

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      And Full Time Finance brings out the big guns. I certainly am much more conscious of how much everything costs, and much more aware of what I’m spending since we started talking about it.

      I would think, at the very least, if you were comfortable talking about money and came up on a difficult money situation, you could ask other people what they would do, and maybe come up with some creative solutions.

  4. In the US culturally having financial discussions does seem to be a bit taboo. I wonder how much it contributes to people’s overall poor financial decisions. If we were more comfortable talking about these things would people be better prepared for these situations? Happy 2017 and bestof luck in 2017.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story Mrs. 1500. There are so many women at my office that regularly talk about how they hide their spending from their husbands. It blows my mind. In most cases, it seems, they are the ones that pay the credit card bills, so it is easy to “hide” their indiscretions.

    I’m a little old school, I guess and my wife and I openly discuss all of our expenses. I’m not sure how you make it work any other way. Unless you are very wealthy and the extra spending is just a rounding error. Not the case for us.

    It always made me wonder. If they are hiding expenses and lying about them, what else are they keeping from their spouse?
    Jon @ Be Net Worthy recently posted…Three Career Resolutions to Make You MillionsMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Thanks for reading, Jon.

      So when I got married, I married for love and forever. So since I’m in it for the long haul, it would never occur to me to try to hide purchases. At least not significant purchases. I may not always tell Mr. 1500 that I stopped for coffee on the way to work, or bought a new shirt at the thrift store, but I do call him before I buy anything over about $20. Except groceries, I just buy what we need and he’s fine with that. For the most part. That’s another story for another day.

      I am absolutely shocked at how many people outright lie to their spouses – or deceive in some way.

  6. I wonder if Europeans are even less likely to talk about money than Americans are. We’re a bunch that seems to like to air our entire lives for the world to see, including conspicuous consumption a la the Kardashians and the like. I agree that more openness would likely improve many people’s finances on a personal level.

  7. I couldn’t imagine not sharing every bit of financial information with Mrs. Need2Save. Luckily we’ve always been on the same page regarding our financial goals and thoughts on money.

    Money discussions with others are a bit more delicate. I the past, I knew my parents had credit card debt and I think they are out of that now – but I should just ask. I also think they are just about done paying off their mortgage – but again, I should just ask. They are getting up there in years and soon my sister and I will likely need to become more involved in their affairs. It would be better to know their financial situation sooner rather than later.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…What Will FIRE Look Like?My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Hi Mr. Need2Save. Looks like you need to get more comfortable talking about money with your parents.

      (Says the girl who has not had this conversation, either.)

      While we are firmly on the don’t-pay-it-off-early side of mortgages, at their age, it should be paid off. We will be mortgage free in 2028, and I’m fine with not running right out and signing back up for a big loan at that time. But I’m not paying anything early either.

      This would be a great question in the (shameless plug) Brand New 1500 Days Facebook Group! How do I start talking about money with my parents?

  8. Not long ago I volunteered for an event with a bunch of young college scholarship recipients to have a discussion about basic personal finance issues pertinent to their situation (new college students). For an extremely smart group of young people, it was astounding how little they knew about the topic. We need to overcome some of these taboos and do a better job educating people about the topic. Fortunately – you and Mr. 1500 have been doing a great job of this over the last 4 years. I know I have benefited a lot and I hope my own blog can do even a little of the same.
    Freedom 40 Guy recently posted…2017 Goals – Big Job Change in the Works?My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Freedom 40 Guy!

      College students can get themselves into SO MUCH TROUBLE and are so ill prepared to deal with it. It should be the first class, mandatory for all, and you must pass the final exam with 100% or retake until you do. It is so so so important. And we don’t talk about it at all.

  9. We talk about everything money related – and so does most of my family. I do have a brother who is getting divorced – 6 figures in debt, who spends like crazy. His soon to be ex-wife was more frugal, but just bought a new car that cost about what she makes in a year. We talk openly about money in front of them – but until they are ready to listen, it is pretty much a moot point. We won’t stop though – their kids need to hear a different take on spending, saving and investing.
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…Can an Hour on a Jet Ski Help Him Make Smarter Spending Decisions?My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Thanks for sharing, Vicki.

      I don’t see my brother very often, but I know he has money issues. His wife never met a bargain she didn’t want. I don’t know what their children think of money. How do you even bring that up with a child?

      You make a great point, kids in adverse scenarios need to see a different perspective. I’m going to think about how to bring it up for the next time I see them.

  10. It’s somehow easier to talk about finances from behind the facade of the internet. But the second you talk about it in person, people become uncomfortable and defensive. And that goes doubly so if you’re doing something drastically different than them, like saving 50% of your income. I usually have to lie and complain about bills with people just so they won’t shun me. It’s completely stupid, but I guess the desire to fit in is in our nature.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What’s For Dinner?My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I have come to realize that I am a frugal weirdo. I’ve also figured out that I’m not going to change anyone’s mind who isn’t already thinking in this direction. The neighbor who lies to her husband? We never talk about money. I tend to come off preachy when I talk about money mistakes.

      Sometimes, you see someone making such an obvious, massive mistake and it’s hard to keep a neutral face.

  11. Jacq says:

    I talked to my friend about finance stuff the other night, concepts and upping 401k percents, not detailed figures, but it inspired her to square away some loose ends before the end of the year.
    She changed careers and during the transition and after, money was tight. With experience in her field, come raises, and she mentioned she is finally not paycheck to paycheck and saving for the inevitable new (to her at least) car, as her current one is aging and acting up. It could go at any time, or last a few more years, which just means more in the car fund and less payment needed when the time comes.
    She in turn inspired me to do mobile check deposit. Win-win..
    I do mention my 10 year goal to FI to friends. Especially because my company had layoffs recently, and it is common in my industry, I talk of it more as a safety net. I am hoping to get people to start thinking of it so it’s not a shock once I realize my goal. I want to be FI enough to negotiate for the type of work (possibly something that doesn’t pay well for weatlth building phase, but is a livable wage) or schedule I want (part time or remote). I don’t like commuting, being in the office fewer days, or flexibility to be in a lower cost of living area also factors into my final target. I have learned detailed plans rarely work out like you think they will so these are my targets fo now. 🙂

    Have a very happy new year!

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I completely agree. Plans rarely work out like you think they will. We’ve already come up against one pretty big change… More to come.

  12. Nice to see a post from Mrs. 1500!

    Can’t agree more about how talking about money is important. Mrs. Tako and I have always been really open about money. We talked about money and investing after just a couple dates together!

    I think that openness was a huge asset, and it helped us into the double comma club fairly quickly.

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Wow. You talked about money after just a couple of dates??? Impressive.

      We did not ever talk about money, but it was pretty obvious how we viewed it, given our spending habits. We still should have had that talk, though.

  13. Team CF says:

    Talking about money is critical for most people, especially if you are in a relationship. There is such a large number of relationships/marriages that fail because people are not on the same page financially. It’s sad actually.
    Good to see you lend a helping hand Mrs. 1500.
    Team CF recently posted…Real Estate Report – December 2016 and 2017 ForecastMy Profile

  14. Amanda S says:

    Great post! Yes, it definitely is awkward for me to talk to others about finance. And it seems the minute I start talking so giddy about it all, everyone looks at me as though I’m the alien in the room. Yes, it might have to do something with my age (mid 20’s) that everyone thinks that dinners out are the it thing to do, but for me a fun night of scrabble and a full Roth are more up my road. Hopefully though, things start turning around soon, and the more comfortable we become, the more we are able to discuss all the good parts!
    Amanda S recently posted…When Temptation Strikes…My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I’d much rather have that fully funded Roth over a dinner out. That dinner won’t last, but if you’re in your 20s, and you’re fully funding your Roth now, you’re well on your way.

  15. I have two local speaking events schedule over the first three months of 2017. I’m hoping that this will start the conversation for those that attend.

    It’s been critical for our family of five. We talk about it openly now and our children are better prepared for their financial lives because of it!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…2016 Recap and Goals for the New YearMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Remember all those times your parents sat you down and discussed money with you? Yeah, me neither.

      Congratulations on the speaking gigs. Any near Denver?

  16. My parents met with their financial advisor a few weeks ago and I gently tried to ask my mom if he was really putting them in investments that were in their best interest instead of in his. I know that a lot of their money is invested in funds with a 5% upfront load fee.

    But I could tell that she was feeling defensive really quickly so I decided not to push it. It’s not the difference between being broke or not for them, just a matter of getting to keep more of their money on the margin.

    I do wish that I could speak frankly with them about money, but they aren’t very open to hearing advice from their young adult daughter on anything except smartphone apps.
    Ellie @ The Chedda recently posted…Graph Your Net Worth Using RMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      OMG, are you my sister? Because I have that same mom!

      She actually said to me once, “I’m not going to take your advice, because I’m older than you and I know more.”

      Not kidding.

      I do love when she calls me up to ask me why Facebook is doing something different. I don’t work at Facebook…

  17. TJ says:

    What type of job did you get through this blog? That is awesome!

    I went through a phase of talking to my parents about their investments. I quickly stopped.
    TJ recently posted…2016 Financial Year in ReviewMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I got a writing job through writing for this blog. It was a confluence of a lifetime of experience, plus writing, plus being in the right place at the right time. Literally the best job I have ever had. And my favorite.

  18. Mr SSC says:

    I used to find it awkward to talk about money, but now, not so much. Sure, I can get some weird looks and the occasional, “Must be nice to be you”, BUT I also have had 3 different colleagues repeatedly come by and ask questions about everything from starting a Vanguard portfolio, is PMI worth it, 401k distributions/investments, etc… That’s been awesome.

    One person wanted to up their 401k contribution, and wanted advice on how much and I said, take the max, divide by your salary, and contribute that % each month. She was like, “That’s a lot, I can’t afford to lose that much each check!” I said, “Yeah, good point, but what if you staged it? Increase by 2% this month, then 2 months later, go another 2%, etc.. until you get there. You won’t notice that as much.” She loved the idea and is over halfway to hitting her max. Woohoo!

    It’s nice when things work out well with those conversations, but yeah, it is way more taboo it seems to talk openly about finances. I’ll have to check out that Facebook group, thanks for starting it!
    Mr SSC recently posted…Wedding/Christmas Gumbo: How I Met Mrs. SSC’s ParentsMy Profile

  19. Mrs. 1500,
    This is one of the areas I have to restrain myself when speaking with the “uninitiated”. As much as I enjoy talking about finances and opening up about everything as far as my finances are concerned (how much I earn, how much I have, etc.), the reality is that 90% of people feel awkward and close right down when the topic comes up. I have to be careful with probing too heavily when discussing the subject with others.
    Although I am genuinely interested and not simply being nosey, it is easy to be perceived as just that.
    Take care!
    – Ryan

  20. Jason says:

    Here, here. And I think the younger we start the better. It is amazing to me how many of my students don’t know anything about money. All they know is that they get a paycheck and spend it. They aren’t even cognizant of the debt they have, except they might have a lot. Judgments about those experiences go in one ear and out the other. Which is why I think colleges and universities should be instituting mandatory literacy classes (or at least high school) on potentially finance.

  21. Lisa says:

    Totally agree – people need to not be afraid to talk about their money. Even I catch myself feeling uncomfortable talking about money once in a while. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s something that I need to face head on. Avoiding the subject doesn’t solve any problems.

  22. ALTCP says:

    This line definitely struck a chord, “Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger.” Is there anyone here who has experienced engaging their parents in this kind of conversation a.k.a “the talk”? Well, I did. Now, I believe things I’ve read before that older adults don’t like to talk about their finances. Obviously, this will become a problem over time if not addressed right away. People are growing older, and they now have higher chances of requiring custodial care, which is very expensive. I want to help my folks as much as I can so I’ll try harder this year. I’ll share this with my folks, and I’m hoping for the best results. Thanks for this!
    ALTCP recently posted…Long Term Care Planning Series: Wives and Mothers Need It MostMy Profile

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