When I started writing this newsletter a few months back, I asked for feedback on what you’d like to read about. I received a plethora of interesting answers across a number of topics. But despite the diversity of thoughts, one word kept popping up: personal.
That makes sense to me. Money talk can be fraught with judgment and shame. It’s considered taboo to ask people what they make or what they spend on certain things.
But people want to know: Am I doing it wrong? What am I missing? If she’s rich, I could be rich.
(Which is why our Real Money Talk series has been so popular. We all want a glimpse at the inner workings of someone else’s budget to see what we can glean, right?)
We talk about money all day long at Spaceship, naturally. We share articles on the latest travel cards, global debt disasters, and the future of banking, among others. We talk openly about sales, steals and deals. We have
furious spirited debates on the pros and cons of credit cards.
But if someone asked me how much my rent is, I would probably point to the sky and say, “Whoa, did you see that?” It’s far easier to distract people with the possibility of a flying saucer gliding across the Sydney skyline than it is to discuss Sydney rents.
Some might argue I’m doing it all wrong.
Some might say that not talking about money comes at a cost.
I was chatting with some of my Spaceship workmates about this. We realised we’d all lived through similar scenarios in our twenties and/or early thirties, where some friends earned more than others, and therefore probably had more disposable income.
I had a situation once where a group chat was opened up to make plans for New Year’s Eve. And I wanted to watch the fireworks from the park, while my buddies wanted to spend $600 to rent out a private yacht that allowed unobstructed views of the fireworks.
It felt shameful to tell them I couldn’t afford it. I still cringe a little.
In earlier years, I probably would have made an excuse about having other plans.
But I bit the bullet and my friends were really understanding. And then one particularly awesome friend actually paid for me to go on the yacht with the rest of them.
Obviously, I am not suggesting that by talking about money more openly, you’ll be able to also conjure up an all-expenses-paid yacht trip (sadly). But I am saying that perhaps the only way we can remove the taboo is to talk about money honestly and without guilt or embarrassment.
This philosophy extends beyond our personal lives too.
There’s a social media company in America called Buffer. Almost six years ago, Buffer made its pay information public. It offers a transparent salary calculator where you can see exactly how much you’d earn, in any role, if you worked for Buffer.
The practice has worked well for Buffer, for two reasons. Not only does it breed trust among the team (every salary is in a shared spreadsheet!) but it holds Buffer accountable to “paying people fairly, equitably, and without bias.” That can only be a good thing.
As we discussed this yesterday, one of my coworkers said he’d answer any questions I had about his finances. If his friends and family asked him, he’d answer their questions too. He’s a real gem, it seems, ready and willing to move the needle on transparency!
More of that, please!