Girlfriend, We Have to Talk. Really, We Do
We Talk about Fashion, Men, Kids and Everything Else, Why Not Money?
I remember in high school, before cell phones, texting and Snapchat, a group of us girls would call each other on the phone to talk about what we were going to wear to school the next day. Of course, this was before call waiting, so it was always a round robin of phone calls.
The conversation would inevitably turn into plans for the weekend, who was dating who and which teacher was giving us the hardest time that week. Saturday 5:00 Catholic Mass was more of a social event than anything else and another opportunity to talk about what we were going to wear that night. (I haven't attended Mass in decades, but that's a story for another time.)
As I got older, headed off to college and met a new group of girlfriends, the conversations didn't change all that much. We still talked about fashion, plans for the weekend, who was dating who and which professor was giving us the hardest time that week.
After college, many of us went our separate ways, some to grad school, some got married, some went back to our home towns to get that first adult job after all that hard work from the previous four years.
Through Thick and ThinIt warms my heart that many of those girlfriends from high school and college are still close friends all these decades later. While we haven't always kept in touch consistently, it's comforting knowing we can go months without talking and yet pick up right where we left off when we do.
For some of us, we are two marriages, several kids, a couple of careers and cross-country moves later.
Going through my divorce, my girlfriends were my rock. They were there to lend a shoulder when I needed to cry, scream or just talk until I was all talked out.
They were there to talk to when the kids were teething, potty-training, were sick and when every day as a new single mom seemed to blend into the next. And I was there for them in very much the same way. I remember staying on the phone for hours at a time when my dear sweet friend, Denise, was trying to navigate a divorce, health challenges and 3 kids all at the same time.
Here's What We Didn't Talk AboutThroughout the years, the one consistent thing we did not talk about was money. When I look back, I can see many reasons why. I don't know about you, but here are a few of mine.
I grew up in a household where we were literally told as kids that:
- children should be seen and not heard
- money is the root of all evil.
- nice girls don't talk about money.
Any of this sound familiar about your childhood?
Children should be seen and not heard:
I have (or had) an uncle (I haven't talked to him since the 80's so I have no idea if he's still alive) who would literally tell his kids (my cousins) to 'put their mouths in park' whenever they started speaking. Nice, huh? No, he wasn't a very nice man at all. As for me, my lesson was that children don't have a voice.
Money is the root of all evil:
Thank you, Catholic Sunday School for impressing upon me that money is bad. This is probably THE most misquoted verse of the Bible. Whether you believe in the Bible or not is irrelevant. The actual verse says, "For the love of money is the root of all evil." Big difference.
Nice girls don't talk about money and that's for the grownups to discuss:
The irony of it all is that I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. So, while I grew up learning a strong work ethic and how to make money, I never learned how to handle my money or how to even talk about it. It obviously wasn't a topic for discussion in our house.
Girlfriend, We Have to TalkWE HAVE TO TALK. Yes, about money. Our relationship with it, how it makes us feel, our security, insecurity, our habits, our power and everything else associated with it.
There was a time when many topics that are mainstream today simply weren't talked about such as divorce, sex and menstruation. As unbelievable as it seems today, there was a time when those topics were considered shameful. Crazy, I know.
Today, they are as common and mainstream as it gets. It didn't happen overnight, though. It took time and people willing to step up first, regardless of what anyone else thought, and start the conversations.
Girlfriend, we need to do the same thing about women and money. It needs to become a mainstream topic and the only way that's going to happen is when we start with ourselves first. We need to forgive ourselves for past financial mistakes, move beyond budgets and math toward love and hope.
We need to stop giving a crap about what other people are going to think when we have the crucial conversations we need to have about money. This is how we can lift each other up in the same way we do when we call our girlfriends about all those other conversations that matter.
This matters, you matter, I matter. I don't want to see another girlfriend in financial crisis or ruin because she was too afraid or ashamed to ask for help or reach out to a girlfriend.
So, let's start those conversations, OK? Will you join me?
Patty Gale, CFEI, is a Certified Financial Educator and Financial Recovery Counselor for smart, fearless midlife women who don't have million dollar retirement accounts. She is the creator of the financial program, Rediscover, Reignite and Reinvent, which is redefining financial wellness for women 40+.