4 Things I Learned From ‘Broke Millennial Talks Money’

Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry is photographed against a brown table next to a pair of glasses and a yellow highlighter.
"Broke Millennial Talks Money" offers ways to talk to your significant other, your boss, your coworkers and your friends about money. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Many of us have been raised to believe that money and finances are not topics to bring up in polite company.

But frankly, I think it’s time we abandon that line of thinking.

Talking about money with others might feel uncomfortable or awkward, but it can be so beneficial. Financial expert Erin Lowry, the founder of the Broke Millennial series, focused her latest book — “Broke Millennial Talks Money” — on navigating tough financial talks.

I had the opportunity to read Lowry’s book and chat with her via Facebook Live. Here are my major takeaways.

4 Things I Learned from ‘Broke Millennial Talks Money’

If you’re looking for the solution to how to successfully talk to your coworkers, your manager, your significant other, your parents or your friends about money, “Broke Millennial Talks Money” is the book you’ll want to read.

Discussing money can be tricky. Even as someone who writes about finances for a living, I’ve struggled with this in my personal life.

While “Broke Millennial Talks Money” offers much advice you’ll want to bookmark, here are the top four things that resonated with me when reading this book.

1. Talking About Money Has Real Financial Impact

If you’ve gone most of your life avoiding tough money conversations, you may wonder what’s the big deal when it comes to talking about finances with others.

The thing is: Being able to successfully navigate money conversations can have a real impact on your bottom line.

The first chapter of the book leads with a great example. A negotiation expert poses this question: “How much are you willing to pay to avoid an awkward conversation?”

It’s a rhetorical question, but it really gets you thinking. By choosing not to have a conversation about money, you could end up losing out.

For example, if you don’t negotiate salary with your employer, you could wind up being underpaid. If you don’t discuss poor spending habits with your spouse, you might delay reaching big personal goals.

Lowry put it best during our live Q&A. “You can do everything right to build your financial house,” she said, “but if you cannot communicate effectively, if you can’t set healthy boundaries and if you do not know how to engage in these tough financial conversations, it’s going to start to slowly crumble the foundation that is your financial house.”

2. You Can Talk Money Without Giving Exact Dollar Amounts

Sharing how much money you make, how much debt you have or how much you have saved up for retirement puts you in a vulnerable position. The fear of being judged about those numbers is what makes many people reluctant to talk about finances altogether.

But there are ways to discuss money without mentioning any dollar figure. In the book, Lowry says chatting with friends about housing prices or child care costs can lead to bigger money talks in the future. Getting context clues about how a significant other spends money can be helpful to gauge whether you’re on the same page financially.

Another strategy Lowry discusses in the book is using the over/under method when asking someone about salary. Instead of requesting the exact figure, you can ask if they’re making over or under a certain amount.

Talking in percentages is an additional way to discuss money without going into specifics. For example, you can talk about retirement savings as a percentage of your salary.

3. Talking About Money Can Take Practice

Because talking about money can be awkward, you may think it’s better to rip off the Band-aid and put everything on the table in one conversation. However, Lowry says it’s fine to let money talks be something that evolves over time.

When talking to your parents about their retirement plans, for example, you might start off by asking what they’d like their retirement to look like. In later conversations, you can follow up by asking how much money they have saved up and whether they have the proper estate planning documents in place.

Keeping the conversation ongoing can help it feel less uncomfortable over time. If you’re not sure how to kick off a money discussion, Lowry includes dozens of sample scripts.

4. Having a Positive Money Mindset is Key

While it’s very useful to be able to talk about finances with the people in your life, it’s also important to have positive money talks with your inner self.

Negative self-talk can lead to issues like imposter syndrome and scarcity mindset, which can sabotage your pathway to financial success.

“Most people start to have their relationship with money coded between the ages of about 8 to 12… so it can be really hard to undo some of the mindset as you age,” Lowry shared during her virtual chat with The Penny Hoarder.

“It’s just really important for us to excavate all of our deep-rooted feelings about money so that we also can understand how and why we make the decisions that we often subconsciously are making about money.”

Having a healthy money mindset means we’ll make better decisions with our finances and may even feel more confident to discuss money with our loved ones.

Why I Recommend Reading ‘Broke Millennial Talks Money’

As much as I wish talking about money wasn’t so taboo, the fact of the matter is that too many of us simply avoid talking about money with the people in our lives.

We often pay for that avoidance. We rack up debt trying to keep up with friends. We work at companies for years never knowing about wide pay disparities. We get married without being on the same page financially with our significant other. And we wait until our parents are on their deathbeds to find out if they have a will or life insurance.

“Broke Millennial Talks Money” breaks down how to have these crucial conversations about finances. Almost everyone can relate to one of the situations discussed in this book. Best of all, it’s written from the perspective of someone who wants to help make these money conversations less awkward — and judgment-free.

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Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.