‘Broke Millennial’ Author Erin Lowry Shares the 4 Money Conversations You Need To Be Having
Erin Lowry is the author of the bestselling three-part “Broke Millennial” series of books. She specializes in helping millennials navigate through their financial journeys through her writing, presentations, worksheets and courses.
Recognized by GOBankingRates as one of Money’s Most Influential, here she shares the money conversations every millennial needs to have, why couples don’t always have to compromise when it comes to financial fights and why self-reflection is an essential part of your financial journey.
Why is money such a taboo topic?
Money is a taboo topic because we fear judgment from loved ones and people we respect. Talking about your financial situation or even asking questions about money can risk the chance that you’ll be judged. Oftentimes this is more in our own heads than anything, but it’s a very real emotion. It’s part of the reason people are seemingly more comfortable opening up to total strangers than those they’re closest to.
The only way to break [this taboo] is to normalize having these conversations, which is a huge goal of my latest book, “Broke Millennial Talks Money: Scripts, Stories and Advice to Navigate Awkward Financial Conversations.” Having actual scripts as guidance can help make an awkward conversation easier to initiate.
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What are some examples of important money conversations everyone should be having?
At work: You should learn how to ask co-workers, or people who do similar jobs, how much they make so you can learn if you’re underpaid. This is particularly important for freelancers and self-employed folks.
With friends: You need to learn how to set healthy boundaries about how much you’re comfortable spending on situations like group dinners and trips. Your social life shouldn’t put your financial life in jeopardy, but it’s hard to advocate for yourself when you’re worried that people will think you’re broke (even if you are).
With family: You need to know if you are your parents’ retirement plan. It’s critical to know early if you’ll need to financially support a family member so that you can start to plan for it.
With romantic partners: It’s critical to be able to talk about your financial goals as individuals and as a team, as well as to have healthy fights about money. You’re going to disagree at times, but it’s critical you learn how to navigate these fights effectively.
What’s the best advice or insight you’ve received during a money conversation in your own life?
One of my favorite takeaways from the book was that couples don’t always have to compromise, but that sometimes one person can take the win. For example, if you want a $3,000 couch and your spouse wants a $1,000 couch, then it doesn’t have to be a $2,000 couch. One of you can get your way. However, if one person does that, it’s critical the other is able to release any animosity — especially if it’s a recurring cost, like rent or a mortgage.
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In addition to talking openly about money, what’s the one thing every millennial should be doing for their financial wellness?
Figure out for yourself what you value. It’s really easy to get messaging from others and to allow other people to spend our money. It’s critical that you are self-reflective and figure out what it is you actually value so you can spend, save and invest in alignment with your financial goals.
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Jaime Catmull contributed to the reporting for this article.
Last updated: April 26, 2021