Tell us if this has happened to you: your friends invite you to go away on vacation. Cruise tickets? $1,500. You don’t want them to think you don’t have the money to pay for it, so you charge it on your credit card and worry about it later.
Or maybe you hear a rumor that your colleague is making more money than you for the same job. You freak out and complain to your boss. Then you realize that maybe, that wasn’t the best strategy to get what you want.
Talking about our money and how much we make can be seriously awkward. It brings up all kinds of issues because, well, there’s no handbook for how to have the tough financial conversation with friends, coworkers, and even our families.
On this episode of Teach Me How to Money, Lindsey Stanberry*, the work and money editor of Refinery29 and author of “Money Diaries: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Your Finances… and Everyone Else’s”, tells how to stop feeling embarrassed about our salaries and start being real (upfront about our finances). Watch the video below and keep reading for tips directly from our conversation.
1. Be comfortable admitting that money is an uncomfortable subject.
“I think [talking about money] is really uncomfortable. I even don’t like to have those conversations with my friends. It can be awkward…for women especially, if we make a healthy salary, there’s a guilt that maybe our friends will judge us for making a lot [more than them. Or, if we don’t make enough, there’s this concern that we’re not keeping up. There can be a lot of feelings and emotions around it.”
2. The taboo of talking about money is baked into our cultural DNA.
“We’ve created this fake taboo. I actually think that women really do want to talk about [money] and that’s why Money Diaries is so successful.
It’s because we are all holding in this anxiety about money, and then we want to talk about it. And we’ve all been socialized to believe we’re not supposed to—I think that my parents are very supportive of my career, but I think it kind of freaks them out a little bit that I sit around and talk about other people’s money all day.”
3. Maintaining the taboo pays off—mostly for employers.
“It makes sense that a company doesn’t want you to share your salary. When you begin to share that information, you gain [insight], and that’s really intimidating for companies.
It’s really tricky deciding whether or not you tell your coworkers your salary. You’ve got to weigh the pros and cons of that really carefully. And I say [you should] never, ever go to your boss and say, ‘Hey, I know that they make less than me and that’s not fair.’ Because that [can backfire].”
4. Getting a clearer financial picture can be a motivator
[Finding out you’re getting paid less than your peers] can feel really bad. But, I think it can be good motivation to find a new job. I know that’s not necessarily popular advice, but sometimes you’re out of place and it’s never gonna get better.
That’s why knowing salaries can be really important—when you go out and you’re looking for that next job, you can make sure that you are being paid fairly.”
5. If you want a raise, look for an advocate
“Find a great advocate.
I think for women—and this is really unfair—but for women of color also, there tend to be negative reactions to asking for raises. So, find a person who’s gonna help you. And that includes finding a male ally. It’s not always easy, but they are out there. Get them to help you advocate for yourself.
And, like I said, maybe it’s just time to find a new job…A new job can offer a huge pay bump.”
6. When asking for more money, timing is key.
“Timing is everything.
You really have to think about what’s going on in your industry, what’s going on at your company, and even down to whether or not your boss is in a good mood. If they’re having a bad morning, it’s probably not the day to bring up the raise.
Then, really prepare. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Have a sheet [of paper] with all of your notes [about your accomplishments] to really prove that you’re worth it.”
7. Don’t let your employer make you feel like you should be grateful for the opportunity, and stiff you on a raise.
“Stop being grateful [for a job]. Grateful doesn’t pay the rent.”