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Financial Literacy

  • 7 mins

Money Talks: Unlocking the Benefits of Open Financial Conversations

Cam Mulvey

April 29, 2024

There are essentially two levers you can pull when it comes to finances: money in and money out. If you’re in a challenging financial situation, you can either increase your income or cut your spending.

Unfortunately, there are very few skills that can improve your skills at both of these levers. You can be the world’s greatest budgeter, tracking your expenses down to the penny, and still be stuck in a low-paying job with limited prospects. At the same time, plenty of people seem to waste their entire paycheck and end up broke despite making six figures in their twenties. 

Understanding how to talk about money is one of the few skills that transcends both of these levers. If you’re willing and able to talk about money, you open countless doors to increase your income and can learn all the strategies for more thoughtful spending. 

Why does this matter? Across the board, higher financial literacy results in reduced stress. It makes you four times less likely to have difficulty making ends meet. It makes you three times less likely to be debt-constrained and three times less likely to spend at least 10 hours a week coping with issues related to personal finances. 

Trying to navigate life without financial literacy is like someone giving you the keys to a car when you never went to Driver's Ed, and your drive is through rush hour on the 405 in downtown Los Angeles. But oh wait - it’s actually even worse because literally every single person has to go through this. Dealing with personal finances is an essential life experience. 

Pile up on the 405! 

But that’s ok. Let’s talk about it: 

Why Talking About Money is Beneficial 

Effectively discussing money is an essential skill that can help in various aspects of life, from personal finance management to professional growth. 

Parents & Family 

57% of parents are reluctant to discuss financial matters with their kids, and 37% do not like to talk to their children about money. If you’re like most people, you don’t talk about money at home. But this is backward. The conversation about money should start at home. 

Education often comes first in the home setting, especially when starting at a young age. You won't have to worry about fear of judgment from family. Instead, these discussions allow you to learn in a supportive environment built on trust.

Families also tend to set collective financial goals, like saving up for a big vacation together. Openly discussing money as a family unit ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards shared objectives.

For many young adults, student loans are an unavoidable financial reality. Keeping an open dialogue with parents can guide on choosing the right loan products, budgeting for payments, and understanding the long-term impacts.

Financial preparedness is another critical reason to talk about money with family. Emergencies, whether job loss, medical bills, or other unexpected costs, often impact the whole family unit. Having those conversations ahead of time leads to better preparation and coordination if challenges arise.

At the end of the day, you're quite literally all in this together when it comes to family finances. Opening up the discussion around money, spending habits, budgeting strategies, and more can benefit every member of the family unit. There's no need for secrecy or avoidance of the topic.

Romantic Partners 

Even if marriage or starting a family feels far off, having open money conversations with romantic partners is important. You likely share some financial goals already, even if they seem small right now - like being able to afford fun date nights out or taking a vacation together someday.

Discussing budgets and spending habits helps ensure you're both on the same page about expectations. That dinner date doesn't have to be super pricey if money is tight for one or both of you. But you'll never know if you don't talk about it! Good communication prevents resentment from brewing over financial issues.

As the relationship progresses, you may start thinking about major life events that come with bigger price tags—an engagement ring, a wedding, or buying your first home together. While these seem far off for many Gen Zers, they require planning and coordination as a couple when the time comes.

More immediately, having open discussions about debt management (like student loans), budgeting for rent/bills, or even just your spending personality can set boundaries and expectations. Is one person a saver and the other a spender? Getting on the same page early in the relationship can prevent conflicts down the road.

The key is being open about your financial situation and not letting money stress or resentment fester. By developing the skill of money conversation now, you'll be much more prepared for those huge life expenses.


Your friend group can be an invaluable resource when discussing money. For starters, they can provide a great way to gather information and perspectives you may lack.

Do you know what a good starting salary is for your desired career path? Your industry veteran friends can provide that insider knowledge. Are you trying to benchmark appropriate rent costs for an apartment? Your friends who've already made the leap can share their experiences.

With major financial hurdles like student loans impacting millions in this generation, you're definitely not alone. In fact, around 43.4 million Americans currently have federal student loan debt. Having open discussions helps navigate this shared challenge together. Your friend might have some tips about how to get over the impact of your loan payments. Or maybe, you have the tips, and they could really help your friends out! 

Even more broadly, 56% of Gen Z and Millennial investors are members of online money communities or forums. Whether IRL or internet-based, your friends can open up new avenues for financial education and money conversations.

Don't be afraid to use your friend network, both for their direct experiences and insights and as a sounding board for your own money situations and decisions. A problem shared is a problem halved, as the saying goes. With money being such a unifying factor, your friends are a built-in support system when you need it most.


While having open money conversations with others is important, you must recognize the importance of your own internal money dialogue. How you talk to yourself about finances has a significant impact.

Self-talk is crucial for developing and maintaining a positive money mindset, especially when facing challenges. Make sure your internal money scripts are pumping you up, not putting you down. Remind yourself that a number in your bank account doesn't define your worth.

There are many types of "wealth" in this world—some people are rich in family, friends, experiences, and opportunity. Don't beat yourself up over past money mistakes. Use positive self-talk to reframe those not as failures but as lessons on your financial journey.

Checking in with yourself, goals, attitudes, and habits around money keep you grounded and focused on what's important. If you need to reset, try techniques like gratitude journaling about the financial positives in your life.

At the end of the day, the only money judge who truly matters is the one inside your head. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would a friend. Celebrate money wins, but also show yourself grace during financially difficult times. Stay motivated through positive self-money talk.

How To Get Better At It 

Talking more openly about money is a skill; like any other skill, it takes practice to improve. Try implementing these tips to become more comfortable and proficient:

Money is not a measure of your self-worth.

One of the biggest hurdles to discussing finances is the taboo or embarrassment surrounding the topic. We tend to tie money too closely to our identity and self-worth. Remind yourself that your monetary situation, good or bad, does not define you as a person. 

Many types of "wealth" have nothing to do with your bank account balance. Someone with little income but rich relationships, strong values, and a breadth of experiences is genuinely wealthy in the ways that matter most. Don't let your net worth cloud your self-worth.

Don't try to win, you'll lose.

Money conversations shouldn't be debates or competitions. Going in with the attitude of trying to "win" an argument or prove you're more financially responsible is counterproductive. It just breeds resentment and shuts down open communication.

Instead, approach with humility. The goal is to share perspectives, not claim total superiority on the topic. Ask questions, listen actively, and engage in respectful back-and-forth dialogue. You'll learn much more this way.

Listen more than you speak.

Speaking of listening, that's a critical part of improving your money talk skills. We often get so caught up waiting our turn to speak that we fail to fully absorb what others say.

Be present when engaging in a money discussion, whether with a parent, partner, friend, or your own internal monologue. Listen with the intent of understanding, not just responding. Ask follow-up questions to ensure comprehension. You'll gain much richer insights this way.

Learn more!

The more you educate yourself on personal finance fundamentals through books, blogs, podcasts, courses, and other resources, the more confident you'll become in holding money conversations. Build up your financial literacy first.

Having a base knowledge of concepts like budgeting, investing, taxes, debt management, and more gives you the foundation to have substantive money talks. You'll ask more thoughtful questions and understand advice through a more transparent lens.

Join a community.

Finding a built-in group of people to talk money with can accelerate your growth. Connecting with others in a Sute community, in financial book clubs, meetup groups, online forums, or social media communities can help you overcome those initial awkward hurdles.

You'll quickly become more comfortable discussing even complex money matters in a passionate, like-minded space. Plus, you benefit from the collective knowledge and varying perspectives within the group.

Bring it up & spread the word.

Getting the money conversation rolling is often the hardest first step. Once you do it, it becomes infinitely easier going forward. Don't wait for someone else to initiate—be the voice sparking dialogue about financial topics with your loved ones or peers.

Then, keep that momentum going by championing the importance of money literacy in your circles. Share key takeaways from your discussions. Encourage others to have open money talks, too. Spread the awareness that this is an essential conversation we should all participate in.

Set clear goals

Finally, setting clear financial goals for yourself provides focus and structure for these discussions. Are you saving for your first home? Paying down student loans? Planning an upcoming vacation? Identifying concrete objectives gives you active conversation drivers.

What challenges are you facing? What has worked or not worked so far? What knowledge gaps need to be filled? Having the goal vision keeps your money talks productive and purposeful as you work towards financial self-improvement.