Let’s talk about money


One of the things I’ve noticed about the entrepreneurial world is that you never really know how other people are doing in their business. We all want to come off as busy and “successful” and full of clients and thriving in the businesses that we’re building from the ground up because anything less than those things means we’re struggling.  

But when it comes down to it, we really have no idea what reality looks like for other people working for themselves. And I’m not just talking about life outside of the ‘gram. Even in-person there’s a weird thing that happens when entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, get asked how life is for them. It’s like they start dancing around what they really want to say and get hyper-aware of the words they choose to describe how great it is working for themselves.

“It’s great. It’s hard and a lot of work, but I feel so lucky to get to be doing what I love.”

“I’m good, busy, it’s a lot of work, but I’m good.”

“Working for myself is great. There’s a lot of learning and it’s definitely challenging but I love it.”

They’ll casually throw in the word “hard” or “challenging” or mention how much work it is because those are the things we expect to hear, and they’ll finish it off with how much they love what they’re doing. But it’s rare (so rare, in fact, that I’ve never actually heard it) that you hear someone say,

“It’s really freaking hard. I’m struggling financially and I have no idea how I’m going to fill my car with gas, buy groceries, pay my rent and cover my bills. I love the work I’m doing but I’m so stressed by the lack of money in my life right now.” 

And I think there are a few reasons why we don’t hear that. 

1. We’re taught right from the get go that talking about money is a taboo.

Growing up, if you heard your parents talking about finances at all, it was probably in hushed voices and in other rooms. It wasn’t something for the kids to worry about. But when those kids turn into adults we have no idea what the heck to do. And in all fairness our parents probably didn’t have any idea either, hence the hushed voices that probably included a few swear words thrown in. But how the heck can we be expected to know how to talk about money as grown ups if it’s not only been kept from us our whole lives but it’s been made to seem like a big scary overwhelming thing? 

2. Being broke is isolating.

We live in an expensive, material world and not having money means we can’t participate in “normal” life. Socializing revolves so heavily around food, drinks, and entertainment, all of which require money. Going for coffee, grabbing drinks after work, going shopping, enjoying mocktails on a patio, a Friday night dinner out all become things we can’t do when we don’t have money. But rather than say we don’t have the funds, we tell people we’re busy becaaaaaause…

3. Not having money is a source of shame.

This is probably the biggest reason we don’t hear people talking about their lack of money. In our society, success is based heavily on how much money we’re making in whatever job we have. Even if we’re working a job we hate and are making a swack ton of cash, we’re deemed “successful.” If, however, we’re pouring our hearts into things we love and are being fuelled by the things we’re putting out into the world but making pennies doing it, we’re not successful and we’d better figure out how we’re going to turn things around.

Well I’m done with all of those. It’s time to open up a dialogue around money so that people feel like it’s something they can talk about if they choose to. And in making it something we talk about maybe it’ll make people feel less isolated. It’ll give us a better understanding of where we’re all at so that we’ll be more willing to find ways to connect over things that don’t require a card or some cash. And then, when people feel like they’re seen and loved even when they aren’t rolling in it, the shame associated with not having an overflowing bank account will dissipate. Heck, eventually a new standard of success might even emerge!

It’s a sensitive subject. I know. I cried about it multiple times this month. But not talking about it to avoid the discomfort certainly doesn’t help desensitize it. So let’s just start talking more about money, shall we?

Emily Johnson