Women will talk about any and everything with one another. We will share details of work, family, friends, and even our romantic lives with our closest friends. We’re candid about our inner most thoughts and feelings and rarely hesitate to voice our opinions. We host book clubs, wine nights, girls nights out, lunches and shopping trips to boast our gift of gab and update each other on our lives with friendly games of gossip. However, there is one thing that women seem not to discuss—our money.
A few weeks ago one of my best friends called me in a bind. She needed a little help making her rent so I offered to deposit money into her bank account the next day. While filling out the deposit slip, I began to wonder why she never really spoke about her financial situation. After all, I knew everything about her. I knew of every guy she dated, who she was currently dating and who she needed to dismiss. I knew about her family, her friends and how she was dieting to drop a few pounds. I even knew about her emotions and how she hated her job and was desperately looking for a change. What I didn’t know about was how much she was struggling financially.
Many of us grew up being told that talking about money was tacky, whether we grew up with it or not. It’s never been my place to ask about my friends’ pocketbooks and bank accounts, and it’s certainly not something I’d willingly share either. Over the years, I’ve learned more about the penis size of my friends’ lovers than the size of their savings. I’ve learned more about their sexual risks than their financial risks. I’ve even known their sex number, but never their FICO score. Yet, despite knowing even the dirtiest details about our friends, why is it that money remains such a secret?
I brought up my conundrum with another friend, as I was curious to know why we won’t talk about the things we don’t talk about. Before poking around with my questions, my friend jumped right in to telling me about the crazy sex she had the previous night with her boyfriend, how they knocked the mattress off of the bed, how her kitty queefed, and how humiliated she was but obviously not enough to forgo the biggest “O” of her life. We both exhaled, and I gave her a high-five through the phone upon venturing into a less climatic series of stories.
When asked about why women don’t really talk to each other about our finances, my friend blatantly admitted that it’s no one’s business. I retorted with a reminder of how only a few moments ago she shared openly about her nunu noises. She laughed but held her ground. “Money is just more personal,” she said. “It’s a part of our identity.”
Money does determine where we live, what we drive, what we wear, what we eat, and the list goes on, but is it that big a part of our identity? My gut reaction would have me quickly shout out no, that money does not define who I am. Thinking more about it, however, I’d have to agree that money often defines what I can do, and it is also a determining factor of how I feel about myself—with it, I feel accomplished and secure. I’m aware that money won’t keep me warm at night, but a nice cozy comforter and roof over my head will. If money is a part of our identity, why won’t we share that aspect of it with our nearest, dearest friends? Perhaps if we spoke more openly about money with our closest friends—apart from the deal we got on our outfits—we would be able to share our successes and strategies and help each other strengthen our individual financial security.