While growing up, it’s imperative to know the importance of money and savings, but not just your own. Having conversations around money in the household, whether it be with your spouse, your parents, or your own children can start a stream of education about spending habits, bonds, and even pending generational wealth and college funds for younger family members. We can all agree that having those conversations can be more than uncomfortable because we want to keep certain areas of our lives, such as how many commas are in our account, to ourselves. Luckily, finance systems expert Nicole Barham demystifies all of the negative connotations around “telling our business” when it comes to money in the home.
“Finances have always been talked about in the home but mostly in a negative light. Phrases like ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ or ‘we cannot even afford to pay attention”’ is a financial staple in a lot of black households – at least when I was growing up,” Barham explained to ESSENCE. The self-proclaimed “Not Your Granddaddy’s Finance Person” expert further explained how talking positively around money in your home will disrupt the negative narratives around it, as well as preparing the next generation to have a better relationship with money. “It’s important that we teach our children that you don’t have to have tons of money and be able to afford everything to talk positively about it.”
Ahead, Barham gives ESSENCE readers tips and tricks on starting the hard – but necessary – conversation around money, breaking the silence within your own family, and if there’s too early of an age to start talking about finances.
Best Practices To Opening Up The Floor:
It can be difficult to get people to speak about money. One way I help individuals get more comfortable talking about money is to make this heavy subject light. In fact, I actually created a private group called Diva Money Club where we talk about money daily. I often open up to this group about the struggles I’ve had with money, which gives them permission to talk about it, too.
I also infuse humor into my conversations or posts about money struggles or challenges that individuals might be facing. That helps bring some lightness and laughter to money talk. A client once told me that after following me on social media for a while, I made her feel like talking about and looking at her money could be something other than horrible. It’s definitely a challenge and requires the right approach – but talking about money consistently and adding humor to it is a great way to get more comfortable with it and create a positive money mindset.
Reasons Why People Are Secretive About Spending Habits:
When people feel shame around spending money they tend to be secretive. They feel like others will judge them for “wasting” money on things that others deem frivolous or if they’ve had a past history of struggling with money. Being secretive also goes back to how we were raised. Talking about money has been taboo in most societies so we just don’t talk about how much we make or spend.
Think about how we were raised. Very few of us knew how much money our parents made or how much was being spent. This secrecy has been generational, but that’s why I’m so passionate about normalizing conversations about earning, spending and bookkeeping. In fact, my daughter knows exactly how much money I make!
Why Black Folks Aren’t As Open About Money:
Black communities have a history of not having a lot of money and when you have generations of poverty, it’s difficult to pass on positive money and spending habits. No one wants to reveal their negative money/spending habits. That’s why I’m determined to help as many black women—and women everywhere—rewrite these money stories. I created my 5 Minute Money suite of products specifically to help them see that managing your finances can not only be done in 5 minutes a day, but it can actually be FUN. That’s the money story I want to pass on to the next generation.
It’s Never Too Early To Have The ‘Money Talk’:
I think that the earlier families can talk about money and involve their children in those conversations, the better. Teaching them the importance of valuing their skills so they can be paid what their work is worth – that money is good and having/making lots of money can give us more choices – sets the next generation on a trajectory to change our community’s money story.
How These Talks Can Promote Healthier Money Habits:
Open and honest conversations about money can improve spending and saving habits because it all goes from being a big secret to a collaborative effort. Everyone gets to weigh in on a shared strategy that fosters positive money habits. In my household, we talk about saving first. As soon as our income hits our bank account, 10% goes to saving. These are habits that we are passing on to our teen daughter who works with me in my business. So as soon as she gets paid, she automatically saves 10% of her income.
How Does Generational Wealth Relate To Money And Spending Conversations?
Because generational wealth is a fairly new concept in the black community, conversations around wealth and money were almost non-existent. It’s very difficult to even have these conversations when you’re focusing all your attention on survival. However, I see this changing more and more. We now believe that we can build wealth for ourselves and future generations – and we’re talking about it more than we previously did. But, it’s still not a conversation we’re having enough in the Black community. I’m determined to keep talking about our finances, empowering more individuals to set up money dates for themselves and get in the habit of looking at their money, instead of avoiding it, and ultimately, design and build their own wealth. It’s way past time we do so.