Talk about personal finances, respectfully
Talking about money can be hard. Understandably since, for many of us, our savings, salaries and inheritances reflect our innermost desires, insecurities, and stories that are often too personal to share.
However, as I have recently realised, conversations about personal finances are unavoidable sometimes. Maybe you need advice, have to get something off your chest or maybe you are the one giving said advice.
In times like these, it is crucial to know how to broach this sensitive topic in discourses so that it's easy on you and everyone else involved.
Have a neutral tone
What is a meagre amount of money to you, can be life-changing to someone else, and vice versa. Do not dismiss any amount as insignificant unless it's your own issue and politely clarify that it's simply your opinion. If you're talking about someone else's money, never shame them for poor choices or actions on their part that adversely affected them financially. This will only add to their distress and make them less likely to open up and seek help from anyone regarding their finances later on.
This also includes pushing people to behave a certain way or do things a certain way because it worked for you, or someone you know. The same approaches may not work for everyone, and pushing people to do this only perpetuates a culture of shame.
The adjective "personal" is actually universal
While your money is personal to you, someone else's money is personal to them as well. Although it sounds like common sense, many people often forget this fact and end up asking questions that are obviously meant to extort some information for gossip.
Thus, to not come across as prying, avoid asking invasive questions and let the other person tell their stories according to their level of comfort. If you sense that you're being pushed for unnecessary details, feel free to put a stop to the discussion and move on. On the other hand, tempting as it might be, never speak on another person's financial status, especially if your remarks aren't going to be necessarily nice and invasive.
It is not a competition
Please, never compare financial successes and woes. Of all the things I have learned from our neighbouring and school aunties, this deserves an honourable mention.
If someone is celebrating a financial milestone, celebrate with them. Do not try to one up them with a similar or better story of fortune and do not let anyone do that to you either. Likewise, if your intention is to inspire someone who is not feeling secure in their economic condition with a story of someone turning around financially, choose your words carefully so that you don't end up saying or implying they could've had it much worse.
Lastly, talking about personal finances is bound to give rise to some anxiety and awkwardness but like most other difficult conversations, an open mind and some empathy will take you a long way.
Fabiha is secretly a Lannister noblewoman and a Slytherin alum. Pledge your allegiance and soul to her at: [email protected]