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3 Easy Tips to Boost Your Confidence When Talking About Money with Friends

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The cost-of-living squeeze and the strain on budgets have made people more inclined to open up to friends and loved ones about money matters, according to new research from Virgin Money.

Nearly two-fifths (38%) of people believe we are better at talking about money now than we were in 2019, before the cost-of-living crisis began. Additionally, more than half (56%) feel comfortable discussing money with their friends.

Understandably, with living costs putting a squeeze on budgets, household bills (53%) and the cost of everyday essentials (53%) are the topics people are most open to discussing. In fact, the research finds that for those who do feel comfortable talking to friends about money, the main reason is that cost-of-living pressures have made it an unavoidable topic (45%).

Wages are the third most popular topic, with nearly a third (32%) of people surveyed saying they are open to chatting about their pay. While around a third think it’s appropriate to talk about their salary with friends, only one in six (16%) would openly share or post about their salary on social media.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll in March, also reveals that over eight in 10 (82%) people think that salary should be clearly stated on job adverts. The Gen-Z generation feels the most comfortable talking about money, with nearly seven in 10 (68%) of 18 to 24-year-olds feeling fine about chatting about money with friends.

Being more open about money with friends can have its advantages. Some people think that being able to talk freely about money helps them say no to social situations without feeling embarrassed or pressured to attend (32%), perhaps helped by the “loud budgeting” social media trend where people are vocal about their financial priorities. Others feel that talking openly can help reduce anxiety about money (32%) and make it more likely for people to be in control of and realistic about their finances (31%).

Chatting with friends about money can also help people stay ahead of scams. Discussing a suspicious text or email with friends could help prevent someone from falling for a similar message.

Graeme Sands, head of personal banking at Virgin Money, says, “The subject of personal finance has leapt up the news agenda in the last five years, and it’s positive to see that with a backdrop of cost-of-living pressures, most people now feel more comfortable discussing their finances with friends. We need to continue to challenge the notion that money is a taboo subject or that it’s rude or bad manners to discuss money in your social circles. In fact, it’s hugely important to be open and honest about money with loved ones to improve our collective relationship with money.”

Despite the overall comfort in discussing money, nearly a fifth (19%) admit they feel uncomfortable doing so. The research also indicates that women feel less comfortable discussing money with friends than men, with 49% of women feeling comfortable versus 64% of men. For those who aren’t comfortable talking about money with friends, 43% say it’s because they are embarrassed about their finances and 42% say they have been told it’s taboo or bad manners to discuss money with friends.

Alina Jaffer, a money expert at Virgin Money, offers some tips on how to build confidence in talking about money:

Keep the Conversation Positive and Judgment-Free: “Instead of focusing on the negatives, start by discussing the positives—what you’re currently saving for, what you’re looking forward to spending money on, and what the best thing you bought last month was. This can help create a valuable, judgment-free conversation around money.”

Set Financial Boundaries: “Set some boundaries around which areas you are and aren’t willing to discuss. This keeps the conversation focused on ‘safe’ topics and helps avoid awkward situations.”

Don’t Feel Pressured to Keep Up with Others: “It can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself to others, but it can also be dangerous. Focus on your own financial goals and priorities.”