I detested math class in high school, especially calculus. In fact, I understood more of what was going on in my Mandarin class than my math class. I used to sit at the desk in my room doing homework and bury my head in my textbook. I’d yell and throw a pencil at frustration at the floor. No matter how many times I read the formulas and explanations or studied the notes I took in class, I just couldn’t seem to grasp how to translate the information into something my brain wanted to understand. But when a teacher or peer took the time to walk through a problem step-by-step, it suddenly made sense.
Personal finance is no different.
For plenty of people, dealing with money is their calculus class. Reading about personal finance can only do so much. They need to talk about it, hear aspects of finance broken down into digestible, actionable pieces.
Yesterday, I had the great privilege of giving a presentation and then speaking on a panel at NYU. The talented and wonderful Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods were the other members of the panel. (Yeah, that’s right. I know what they look like!)
The Frugalwoods covered the early retirement sector while I gave a presentation on learning to love personal finance and actionable ways to pay down debt.
Regular readers know I’ve never personally carried debt, so giving a presentation on handling debt may seem a bit odd. Thanks to my work at MagnifyMoney, I’ve become something of an expert on understanding consumer debt and have expanded my knowledge on personal loans.
I’ve had a few opportunities over the last couple of years to speak to groups and individuals about personal finance, but there was something unique about this experience.
For one, everyone in the room stayed incredibly engaged. Students ranged from sophomores to seniors and clearly were thirsty for information on handling debt, understanding credit scores and figuring out how financial independence is a viable option.
But most of all, I was inspired by watching the flashes of inspiration and understanding happening throughout the room during our conversations. You could see it on a person’s face when a realization about compound interest, or living frugally, or paying down debt or switching banks to earn more interest or building a credit score or opening a retirement account suddenly just clicked.
Opening a dialogue about debt, spending intentionally, living frugally, financial empowerment, picking the best financial products, saving for retirement (and all other personal finance topics) is simply better in spoken word. Reading provides a great foundation, but a conversation with the ability to ask follow up questions does so much more.
After our presentations and Q&A panel session, the Frugalwoods and I were both surrounded by students asking more questions. It not only made me want to do a personal finance nerd happy dance, but gave me so much hope that 19 to 21-year-old college students wanted to take control of their financial lives early.
One woman shared with me that she’d saved up $13,000 in college working odd jobs and already received a job offer for after graduation. This woman saved more in college than plenty of American households with two earners currently have to their names. But she couldn’t seem to relish her accomplishments because they were eclipsed by panic she felt about her student loan debt.
Sitting on $13,000 dollars with a job set for after graduation, and this intelligent woman was crippled about what to do next.
This is why talking about personal finance is so important.
Talking through options, weighing scenarios and feeling the motivated to make a move does so much more than reading personal finance books, blogs or even listening to radio shows, podcasts and watching TV programs.
It’s the reason life coaches exist as a career option. Talking it out is important.
So, I have a challenge.
I challenge you to take some time this week to talk about money with someone in your life. If you’re struggling with money, try to book time to speak with a professional or a less expensive resource you feel can offer guidance.
Even the most hardcore personal finance enthusiast can gain important perspectives from talking about money. I certainly took a lot away from the Frugalwood’s presentation (and our subsequent conversation) on early retirement and spending your money intentionally.
27 responses to “Why We Need to TALK About Money”
Sounds like it was a great discussion! Wish I could have been there. 🙂 And, challenge accepted!
Ah, I wish I could’ve sat in and watched! Love this. This is what it’s all about.
It felt so good to be having the discussion as well, especially with an engaged crowd.
As I’ve gotten closer and closer to student loan freedom (April 10th!) I’m more confident to share what I’ve learned. With such an accomplishment on the horizon, it gives me justification for having it on my mind. I just want to talk about it! I also feel like it gives me instant cred that I should have some idea of what I’m talking about.
I’ve had a couple people come to me already with questions and I get so excited that they are opening their eyes to money. Yay financial awareness!
I might be coming to you with questions then! I never carried student loans, so I don’t have personal experience with it, but Peach (the boyfriend) will be dealing with them as he finishes his masters, so I’ll have lots of questions.
I wish I could have had the same panel come to my university and give us all basic information on personal finance, retirement, and debt repayment! It’s great to hear that students are interested and also planning ahead for those days that follow graduation. Like the young woman you described above, I too feel crippled by our student loan debt, but reading blogs and discussing goals with my husband does help.
I’m so glad you’re taking the steps to feel empowered instead of continuing to feel beaten down by your loans. I’m sure having a supportive spouse helps a lot too.
Great post and update! And what Good timing–just yesterday I was trying to gently speak with a co worker about thrift, savings, and credit card debt.
It’s awesome you’re getting the word out. Just start slowly and eventually people will flock to you with questions!
Holy crap you know what Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods look like in person? Do they have cupcakes covering their faces in real person? 😉 :p
Mrs. T and I talk about money and personal finance quite regularly. I also talk about money with my parents somewhat regularly when growing up. It’s always good to have this discussion.
Haha, luckily there were not real cupcakes cover their faces. It’s good to hear you and Mrs. T talk about personal finances and especially great to hear it was a topic of discussion growing up. Always help to sow those seeds young.
It’s good that there’s someone who is expert in this field and can help us with our finance journey. I have experienced talking with an expert who did have an impact of where I am now today. It is really different and can give you many opportunities for solution and perspectives.
Experts do make a huge difference!
I LOVE that you did this and totally agree that we need to talk about money more. My college never provided any type of financial education and even now, I have reached out to them to create something and it’s as though they have no idea how to handle it because it’s not in their curriculum. We need to change the curriculum.
We 100% need to change curriculum. My college required all graduating seniors to sit through a financial literacy seminar, and it was great, but it also needed to be a full-blown required class.
That sounds like an amazing experience. It’s great to hear that the students were so interested and engaged in what you all had to say.
Thanks, Kayla. It did give me hope that so many college kids (some not even seniors) were that interested in finding out how to better their financial lives.
We had such a wonderful time meeting you as well! I learned so much from you and your presentation–you have a real gift for teaching people about this stuff! I agree on the importance of actually talking about money. Our society does itself such a disservice by making money taboo and preventing us from having useful, informative conversations about it.
Looking forward to our paths crossing again!
Can’t wait to see you both again at FinCon (or maybe I’ll find myself going up to Boston!).
I’ve recently shared my experiences with refinancing my private student loans with one of my co-workers and some of my friends that I went to school with. My co-worker was recently approved and got his interest rates down from around 9% all the way to 5%. I think it’s a lot easier to relate when they see that it really did help someone in a similar situation.
Like you said there’s only so much you can learn from just reading, depending on the type of type of learner you are. A tangible example or personal experience can help so much!
That’s awesome that you sharing your experiences motivated someone else to make a change. And 4% drop in interest?! That’s big money.
I hate how taboo the topic of money is in our society. People refuse to help others because “it’s none of my business,” and people refuse to seek for help because “it’s none of your business.”
I’m not big into sharing net worth because it’s nobody’s business, BUT I’m all for talking about money and getting the conversation going. Maybe that makes me a bit of a hypocrite, but I do ask for help when I need it as well.
I couldn’t agree more. Talking about this stuff is important. For those of us that are passionate about personal finance and have knowledge that others do not, it is our responsibility to share our experiences and what we have learned to try and help guide/influence others. Even if we only help one person save, that’s all that matters.
What’s fun about the conversation as well is that it will hopefully bring up new was for us to save and improve our financial position. Maybe X person uses X website, Y person uses Y website, or Z person sells Z on ebay to make some extra cash on the side? of ocurse these are hypothetical situations, but conversations can generate some great ideas for all of those involved. If we don’t start the conversation, we will never find out!
Great article and I am glad to read that so many students were impacted by your presentation. Keep motivating others and see how many people you can influence to improve the life and financial position.
Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats
Thanks! And I definitely agree about how sharing can lead to more opportunities to grow our wealth (or help people dig out of debt). I’m with you that just helping one person is incredibly gratifying.
Solid advice. Took me a while to find this post but I have accepted the challenge.
I managed to speak to two relatives and a friend. We’ll see whether the chats made any difference in due course.