“End of financial year” is a phrase that carries a different meaning and weight for everyone.
For small children, it is nothing more than a confusing term that is screamed at them via television advertisements, telling them that “everything must go”. For teenagers and university students, it indicates a generous tax refund. For some blue and white collar professionals it’s stressful and for others it’s an excuse for a piss up.
But, despite the vast differences between what “end of financial year” means to people, it seems that every year when June rolls around, we are bombarded with the same generic media about how we can “get organised this tax time” and forced to have the same conversations about what our are goals are for next year, without really getting the chance to understand the position we are currently in.
So, this year, instead of having clinical conversations borne out of necessity, we want to delve into why money and finance can be so hard to talk about so that we can continue to have meaningful conversations throughout the entire year.
Outlined below are three reasons why it can be uncomfortable or difficult to discuss finances and how we can all work to change the way we think about money, so that when next June rolls around we can have better, more significant conversations rather than obligatory ones.
It is no secret that we treat money like it is a secret. In fact, many of us are raised to believe that it is rude to discuss money. However, shrouding it in mystery only perpetuates the incorrect and damaging idea that some people are just “bad with money” and others are “just diligent savers” and that there are no other forces at work.
The easiest way to combat this is to have frank conversations with those close to you. That doesn’t mean sending your payslips to your entire friendship group but it does mean that you should talk openly about what you are working toward and any setbacks that you have had along the way. Allowing people a window into your financial journey and vice versa, promotes more empathy and understanding when it comes to the financial positions we find ourselves in.
Another complicating factor when it comes to money is that there are no clear benchmarks for what position you should be in at any given age. So, it can be surprising when you suddenly find out that people around you are about to buy a house when you thought they were spending all their money on the same things you do.
But, instead of attempting to keep up with the rat race, it is important to take a breath and understand why you feel competitive about money. Do you actually want to buy a house or are you just concerned about what others will think of you if you spend all your money on travelling instead?
At the end of the day you are the only person who will have to live with your financial decisions, so make sure that they align with your goals.
When it comes to finance, pride is often a huge barrier to growth because it often stops you asking for assistance or explanation which can lead to uninformed financial decisions.
The only way to stop it from preventing open and honest conversations is to allow ourselves and others the space to admit that we are wrong or need help. This means not taking financial advice in the form of off-hand comments from people that we perceive to be in a better financial position than us and it definitely means taking the time to consult an expert.
Overall, money is not a cut and dry subject, in fact it is actually loaded with emotion because it is underpinned by our past experiences. These barriers to talking openly about money exist because everyone is starting from a different place of knowledge, literacy and privilege and they will continue to do so unless we actively change the way we think about money.