How to Talk About Money with Everyone in Your Life

By Ellevest Team

At Ellevest, we believe the more that we talk about money together, the better. When we’re transparent about our spending, budgeting, negotiating, earning, and investing with those closest to us, we equip each other with the knowledge to be our best financial selves.

To be clear: You don’t have to tell everyone about all your financial business. But if we don’t compare experiences with other women, we don’t learn what’s worked for other women (or learn from what hasn’t). If we don’t talk about money with our partners when we’re dating or when we’re married (or engaged), we’re keeping ourselves in the dark about our financial futures. Same if we avoid the money talk with our parents. And if we don’t talk about money with our children, we aren’t giving them the tools to do better with money. 

Talking about money doesn’t just set us all up for success. Having honest money conversations can help enrich our relationships, too. It can bring us closer together by identifying shared values and by allowing us to be more mindful of accommodating each other and our financial situations — and of the influences we may have on them.

It’s clear that there are so many benefits to pushing past this taboo and normalizing talking about money. But … how do you start? Try these prompts to break the ice about it with just about everyone in your personal life. 


How to talk about money with friends

When we polled the Ellevest community about how comfortable they felt having money talks with their friends, 53% of them said not so much. We get why. Personal finance can be a deeply personal topic that can trigger big emotions. But it’s only that way because society tells us to keep it to ourselves … so we keep it to ourselves. Who better to practice breaking our silence with than our friends — the people who we trust won’t judge us or put us down? You also may not realize it, but you’re probably already doing it (and causing zero drama):  

  • Talk about money by talking about life. Planning a vacation. Moving apartments. Hosting a dinner party. Really wanting that fancy candle. Money is at the center of all these fairly typical topics. So it should feel doable to take the conversation from here to there with a casual question like, “Did you use points to book anything?” Or, “Is the budget tonight more shrimp-cocktail-and-martinis or split-a-pizza?” 

  • Talk about money by sharing in the group chat. If you’re saving social posts, reading articles, bookmarking links, and streaming podcasts about money, why not share them, too? The stakes are so low for a move that could spark an insightful discussion. Similarly, if you’re scratching your head about financial questions, hit up your friends for help: “Who’s tried budgeting apps? What do you like?” Or, “SOS it’s performance review time. Who else is making a case for a raise? Whatcha got?”

  • Talk about money by “loud budgeting.” This viral money trend encourages people to be upfront and shame-free about their financial boundaries. And while it’s veiled in LOL, it gets people to talk about money in a really freeing, give-no-f*cks way that embraces living life on your own terms. From a financial planning POV, that’s exactly why budgets exist: They enable us to spend how we want to, not restrict us from it. If “loud budgeting” is the gateway to learning a powerful financial habit — to be emotionally honest about what financial tradeoffs you’re willing to make (and which ones you’re not) — by all means, grab your friends and get loud.

How to talk about money with parents

In one study, 54% of adults said they’d rather talk to their kids about sex than their parents about money. But since nearly a third of adult children provide some sort of financial support for parents — and the Great Wealth Transfer from Boomers to the next generations is officially underway — you need to talk about money with your parents. Now. No matter what age you or your parents are. No matter how defensive your parents may be or how protective they are of you. No matter how much it may feel like you’re overstepping or prying. A “really uncomfortable conversation” is still a better option than “they really can’t afford retirement” or “you don’t have access to documents during a time of crisis.”

  • Talk about money by asking for advice. You’re both used to this dynamic, so this might be the least awkward approach to get them to open up about how they’ve handled their finances. Don’t set aside a special time (they might feel ambushed) or wait for a holiday (they might feel more stressed). Ask for their guidance whenever you’d normally ask them for it: on your weekly phone call, at a catch-up dinner, watching a movie or sports, running errands. And keep it casual. “It seems like all my financial accounts are asking me to update my passwords at the same time, which is driving me nuts. Do you have a system to keep track of yours?” Or, “I never really considered life insurance … but now that I’m getting married, I guess it’s time. If you were me, what kind of coverage would you get?”

  • Talk about money by bringing up a neutral(ish) headline. If your relationship with your parents is more reserved, forget the intimacy and throw out a headline — from a source that won’t trigger any overt biases or anxieties. Avoid breaking news or current events, and instead, seek out articles or survey / research results. Topics like “What living on $X budget looks like across America,” or “Studies show that younger generations aren’t investing,” or “How to start a financial wellness practice” can all eventually link back to their financial situation if you can keep the conversation moving in that direction.

  • Talk about money by being excited for them. Frankly, aging can be scary for everyone. You’re seeing your parents get older; they’re living through getting older. Of course, it’s important to square away finances before the inevitable. But using that (valid) reasoning can sound a lot like giving them an ultimatum, which will rarely yield the money conversation you’re after. Unless there’s a reason to be direct — an illness, etc — get them talking about what they’re excited for in their future. Their answers might tip you off as to how prepared (or not) they are to live their dream retirement or leave the legacy they imagined.

How to talk about money with your partner

Talking about money seems to make couples happier: 78% of couples who talk weekly about money say they're happy, compared to couples who talk about money less often. We believe every couple should be talking about money regularly — whether you just started dating or you’ve been happily married for decades — so you can be happy and do all you can to avoid negative surprises down the line. Because it’s true that women still default to their male partners to take care of joint finances. And it’s also true that financial infidelity is a thing and women are financially worse off after divorce. It’s time to view talking about money with your partner as a positive way to strengthen your relationship.  

  • Talk about money by sharing your core values. The best way to understand what makes you and your partner feel / think / act certain ways about money is to understand why. Whether we realize it or not, our core values influence every choice and action we make. And when each of you are clear on your top principles, the reasons for making your financial decisions also become clear — for everyone. Start this getting-to-know-you activity by listing the three to five core values that matter to you most. (They could be anything: achievement, adventure, authenticity, balance, family, growth, happiness, integrity, open-mindedness, security, and more. And there are no right or wrong answers.) Then, plan a date to share them with each other. 

  • Talk about money by setting joint goals. Think big, fun goal first, money roadmap for how to get there second. This way, there’s already a reward to look forward to before you even get started talking about money. But you will talk about money. Because hitting your goals — snagging a reservation at the trendiest restaurant in the city, or taking a weekend trip together, or getting married next year — is reliant on you two having the budget to make it happen.

  • Talk about money by talking with a financial planner. Even if money talks are happening easily and often, it’s a good idea to have a pro lead the discussion. If they’re a fiduciary, like our team of all-women financial planners at Ellevest, then it’s their literal job to put you and your financial well-being first. That means they can point out blind spots and challenge any money assumptions holding you back. It never hurts to lead with this stat: “I found a link to research showing that people with a financial plan have 2.7x the net worth of those who don't. I really want us to be set up like that. Maybe we can schedule a call with a financial planner to see how they could help us build our wealth better?” Another good link to share: Questions to ask a financial planner to find the right fit.

How to talk about money with kids

Kids have mostly formed their basic money concepts and habits by age 7. (Yep, seven.) But 41% of kids don’t get any financial education at all at school. Meanwhile, you can bet that our children are getting some pretty ridiculous ideas about money elsewhere — like from the media, whose messages about women and money are … not good. That means even though 66% of parents say it’s awkward to talk to their young kids about money, it’s on us to teach our kids financial literacy.

  • Talk about moneyby keeping emotions out of it. The way you react to money (and the language you use about it) can have deep and lasting effects on your kids’ money mindsets. If “everything’s always too expensive” or “it doesn’t matter how much it costs, we need it now,” then your financial biases (and their triggers) have a good chance of shaping how your kids view money. Try keeping money talk matter-of-fact and giving it a little context, like: “Cereal didn't cost this much a few years ago, so for now, instead of buying two, we’ll buy one this week and one the next. What flavor do you want most?”

  • Talk about money by including them in your financial routines. If you still take trips to the bank, bring your brood along. When you pay your credit card bill, involve them in it. If you invest, give them $5 to pick their own stock. When it’s tax time, explain what’s going on. The more familiar kids are with talking about and handling money, the more comfortable and confident they become in their relationship with money. 

  • Talk about money by holding kids to the same standards. It’s been shown that parents tend to (subconsciously, we’re sure) teach children different things about money depending on their gender identity. Sons are taught to invest, spend, and flex their financial power, while daughters are taught to keep their money in the bank, use coupons, and “be grateful for what you’re given.” You might help them address unhelpful stereotypes as they come up in life. Or even encourage them to *ahem, language* buy the blank-ing latte.

Discover how Ellevest can help you invest in all your big plans — and everything else life has to offer. Book a complimentary call with an Ellevest financial planner to get personalized recommendations for a 1:1 session.


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The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities, and should not be considered specific legal, investment, or tax advice. Nothing contained herein may be relied upon as a guarantee, promise, assurance or a representation as to the future.

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