Money is always a tricky subject.
When I graduated and started searching for a job, I honestly didn’t know how much money I should expect from the get go. Every industry is different and I wasn’t sure how much to ask for or when to request for more. Interestingly, in my HR interview for my current job I asked for a salary significantly less than the position typically pays. The HR person said that with my experience I should typically ask or expect a certain range that I was surprised by (but delighted by none the less!).
As a result, I started talking with my friends about salaries and benefits of the jobs we interviewed for, or jobs we had recently started. Interestingly, when I spoke with different friends there was a sharp contrast in responses. At the first signs of a discussion around money, some immediately shied away or felt incredibly uncomfortable. Meanwhile, other friends were much more open about their monetary situation. Obviously we weren’t delving deep into the topic, but discussions about rent prices or how much their new job pays were discussed. I think whenever I spoke about money with closer friends, it was a way to understand our industries, not a competition of who earns more. Since we all work in very different industries it doesn’t feel like a direct comparison or competition but instead extra knowledge.
At the end of the day, knowledge is power and I think that talking about money has been very beneficial to my friendships. Whether its a discussion about benefits or how much we spend on our apartments, I think that talking amongst friends has given us a better frame of reference. For instance, recently my sorority little Melissa asked me about my rent before she started looking for a place on the Upper West Side. I did the same exact thing with my friend Alex who lives in the same neighborhood I was planning to move into (and now currently live!). It was helpful to get a frame of reference for what my range should be and how much I should expect to spend on utilities/wifi etc. Talking to Melissa, I felt like I was passing the torch and helping out a friend to better understand what to expect in NYC real estate.
I think that money can be very uncomfortable to talk about at first, but so important especially for us recent post grads. It is not only helpful for an understanding of rent and living expenses but also our careers in the long run. I have read countless articles about millennials (and surprisingly generations much older) not realizing that they were being paid significantly less then their friends in the same industry, because they never discussed money! I find myself constantly reading articles on The Financial Diet and the daily LearnVest email newsletter that help make sense or provide advice on finances. Money has become such a taboo subject, but I think if we were all a little more open we would recognize the benefits.
I am not saying we should tell our friends every itty bitty detail about our salary or how we spend it. However, I think there is a middle ground where talking about money can be beneficial for everyone involved in the conversation. Every friendship is different, but I think being new to the working world has made my friends and I much more open to discussing this adjustment and money.
Have you ever talked to your friends about money? Do you find it uncomfortable to talk about money? Is there a way we can become more open to talking about our finances?