Money isn't something we talk about easily. Studies have shown that people will even discuss their weight or sex life before sharing details about their finances. I get it, money is personal, and we often associate people mentioning it with flaunting wealth, rather than sharing advice and tips on how to get the most out of it.
Financial wellbeing is generally defined as having enough to cover day-to-day expenses, the resources to enjoy life, and the ability to cover unexpected costs that may pop up. A recent financial wellbeing study by ANZ showed that only 23 per cent of people have 'no worries' when it comes to money, and overall women have a lower financial wellbeing score than men (56 per cent vs 62 per cent).
There are a few significant things that have an impact on women's finances.
Women often live longer, are typically not paid as much, and are more likely to take a career break (which adds to the gender wage and retirement savings gaps). This means it's even more important to start talking about money, instead of sweeping it under the rug. There's a lot you can share without having to get into the specifics of your salary, or how much is still left to pay on your student loan.
Money is worth talking about! It's how we learn. If you were looking for a delicious new place to eat, you'd ask for a recommendation, and if you were going to see a movie, you'd quiz a friend who'd already seen it. Our experiences are personal, but we trust our friends' advice.
When it comes to money, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to getting what you want out of life. Only you will know where you're trying to go and the trade-offs you're willing to make to reach your goals, and only you will know what's practical or not.
For example, people often have a 'what could you buy instead with the money you spend on coffee each day?' approach to saving, but the reality is I love the break in the day that going out for coffee gives me.
Many times, I've been struggling to solve a problem, only to resolve it while standing in line for a coffee. To me, this is well worth the $4 I pay for a long black. I'm sure you'll have your equivalent 'treats' that you're not willing to let go. Understand what these are and go easy on yourself. Take time to enjoy the things that are important to you.
Talking is also how we share the load. Money has been found to be one of the biggest causes of stress. It's part of all of our lives, but most of us have a negative relationship with it, and it shouldn't be that way. By discussing things openly, we can help each other, rather than trying to keep up.
I love seeing my friends' travel photos on Instagram, and it's even more special when I know they spent months or years saving to get there. If we're open about our goals, we can support each other.
You really don't need heaps of money to achieve financial wellbeing. With money principles like compound interest (earning interest on your interest), the value comes from how early you start putting money away, not the upfront amount you put in. It's a matter of taking it one day at a time, understanding that small amounts add up.And it's not just all about saving – the same applies to investing. For example, with Sharesies, you can build an investment portfolio from as little as $5 at a time.
I can't help think our lack of openness about our finances is holding us back from feeling more confident and in control of our money. If we shared a bit more, we could learn from each other's wins, and feel less alone with what's troubling us.