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'Friends don't talk about money'
Let's change that.
“Money and friendship don’t mix.” — Charlotte York, Season 4 Episode 16, Sex and the City
Charlotte York said it first—why does it feel so awkward to talk about money with our friends? We all present ourselves in different ways socially when it comes to money: there’s the friend who never talks about her finances but seems to afford everything, the friend who is always sharing saving tips, the friend who splits bills to the exact cent despite being a trust fund baby, the friend who is always “broke” (their words), the friend that pretends to be anti-capitalist, the friend who definitely has their finances in order because she bought her home at 27, and the list goes on. But money is more than just a physical currency—it’s a social currency. It can buy you access to new activities and various forms of status, both things that are intricately linked to how we interact with our friends. So why don’t we talk about any of this with each other?
I sat down to talk about this with some of our Diem friends, Natasha Hoskins & Deana Burke over at Boy’s Club, a community designed to welcome women and non-binary individuals into web3. What is top of mind when they think about friendships and money?
Deana: When it comes to my personal relationships and money there are two things that come up immediately for me. One is the moments in my career when I was making a lot of money, and I would feel ashamed about how much I was making and not wanting to share the amount. Two, when it comes to friendships, there can be a sense of competition. I think—where am I stacking up compared to my friends or in my social circle? When it comes to my relationship with Natasha, I think because we’re in business together, that dynamic is different and we’re very much trying to figure it out together. There’s a lot of power in building that type of relationship where money conversations are normal.
Natasha: What’s helped me have more freedom in friendships is being able to show up as my full self. I think money, and talking about money, is something you leave out of convos with your closest friends even when it’s so present in our daily lives because it’s what we stress out about and optimize for. With Boy’s Club, it’s been refreshing because there is an opportunity for people to show up as their full selves when it comes to money. Before my relationship with Deana, I was never comfortable talking about how I’m highly motivated by money.
Deana: I think it can feel icky to acknowledge that I want to unlock financial freedom, invest in and build new things, and obviously, purchase everything at The Row. So I asked Natasha how she acknowledges being motivated by money socially. I feel strongly if we talk about it with our friends and acknowledge monetary ambitions, maybe it starts to feel more “normal” and less icky? But how do you do it? What works?
Natasha: Running a business and talking about money with Deana has bled into my other friendships. It’s built up that muscle for me. I was having dinner with friends the other night and without thinking I just said “So are you guys motivated by money?” and they were definitely so thrown off by the question. I was not really aware that this might be an intimate thing to be asking. But then slowly we had this whole conversation and it opened up a new part of our friendship. I think if you show up “comfortable” in the conversation then it makes a huge difference in your friendships.
We’re certainly socially conditioned to avoid discussing money—or our money motivations—in social circles. I also think it’s hard to talk honestly about money with friends because how we spend intimately reflects our values and priorities. We wrote the other week about how deep insecurities can show up as jealousy, and I think candid chats about money can evoke similar embarrassing feelings. For example, it feels very revealing to admit that you don’t have enough money to buy an $8 iced coffee but then go and impulsively buy a pair of gold knee-high boots in the same week.
On some level, a lot of our awkwardness around money stems from the fact that spending habits can signal status. While signaling status is a human behavior that has existed for centuries, social media has made it particularly performative, encouraging us to present a perfect life that we might not really be able to afford. Do we need to post about every vacation we take? Of course not! But a lot of us do to subliminally signal a certain status.
While it’s common for people of all genders to not talk about money, I do also think there’s a gendered aspect to personal finance. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that my guy friends are able to discuss money with more ease. Interesting. Also interesting—the current state of the economy has naturally improved money talks among my girlfriends. Natasha shared a similar experience in her friend groups:
“It’s gotten exponentially more expensive to live in New York and it feels almost untenable to live here. I’m looking around on the subway and I’m like, how is everyone ‘making’ it? And this is coming from a place where I have so much. I have tons of privilege, and yet I’m still feeling like I’m behind. Am I ever going to be able to own an apartment? I don’t even know what the path is to get to a point where it’s sustainable to live in this city. Because of this, I think it has started to become a much more open conversation in my friend group—everyone is talking about affordability.”
We want to hear from you. Do you talk about money with your friends? Are you motivated by money? Has talking about money with your friends made you more confident with money? How do we make it “normal” to talk about money with our friends? Join the conversation in Diem.
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