Talking About Money

By Brandi Savitt – October 20, 2011

…And Knowing When Not To

In the middle of my first date with Sam, he brought up that he was in an “interesting situation” and wanted my opinion.  His ex-wife (who he was still friends with) had just asked him to co-sign a mortgage for her and her new husband.  Yep, I had never heard that one before…  And although I was a bit surprised that he wanted my opinion when we barely knew each other, I totally dove in, and we ended up having a really good conversation about it.  It crossed my mind that maybe he was trying to get me to think he was a good guy for considering lending them money, and in the end, that’s exactly how I felt.

On date two, he gave me a brief update that he had wisely decided not to co-sign the loan, and we went on to have a really good time.  But then on date number three, Sam revealed that before his ex remarried, he would often lend her money.  She had paid him back for some of the loans but not others, and there was one outstanding loan from three years ago that he really wanted back.  This conversation went on through most of dinner, and by the end of it, I realized there  may be a much bigger issue going on – one that I had no interest in exploring…

When Not to Talk About Personal Finances

While the whole spirit and message of Fab & Fru is to encourage people to talk more about money, there is a time and a place for everything.  Talking about your personal finances to people you don’t know well can be tricky, because our personal finances are just that – personal. And even if you’re comfortable sharing, if you don’t know your audience well, you may give off the wrong impression.

What Are You Really Saying?

Let’s take my situation with Sam.  At first I didn’t mind talking about the potential pitfalls of co-signing a loan for someone or how to ask for your money back from a loved one.  However, after several hours of talking about it just over the course of three dates, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of this was really about money at all.  Sam had unresolved issues with his ex wife.  Was he still in love with her?  Was this his way of staying connected to her or feeling in control?   Was it a power move, or did he need to feel needed?  It doesn’t really matter if any of my thoughts were true.  The result was, I started to question his intentions, and unfortunately, I started to analyze and judge.

How to Talk About Money

Now, I’m not saying that you MUST refrain from talking about all personal financial situations until you know someone super well, but learning how to talk about money is a skill worth exploring. Choose your topic carefully and don’t get too personal unless the conversation naturally takes you there.   And you don’t have to flat out ask someone how much they make to be offensive.  Someone who talks too much about their own fortune – or misfortune – can come off equally obnoxious.  Always respect others privacy and respect yourself.  Don’t turn someone off before they get to know the real you!

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2 Responses to “Talking About Money”

  1. Betsy says:

    “Money is the root of all evil” so therefore I guess talking about it constantly would cause problems too. It is a tricky subject and one has to be careful about such a conversation with someone they barely know. It is probably best to leave discussions about “money” issues to those you know well or family.

  2. Louie says:

    This is not date talk. At least if you want to continue seeing that individual. I believe, if memory serves me right, that dating involves getting to know someone to see if there is first, an attraction, then if you share common interests and lastly if you share the same values. Money advice should be confined to your financial advisor or trusted friend that you feel has expertise in that area. What you’ve described is not only boring but stupid. Hope you ran.

Any Thoughts?