Summer is a busy time for everyone; it seems like every other weekend, it’s another festival, hen do, stag do, birthday party, or wedding – and while we love spending time with friends and family, many of us end up feeling as if our finances are taking a heavy hit.
Taking about money is a sensitive topic for many of us, which can lead to difficulty turning down or saying no to plans that could affect our bank balance. A survey recently commissioned by Moneyboat revealed that Brits lose £540 a year by not telling people they can’t afford social plans.
Moneyboat wanted to reveal why we struggle to say no to plans and have teamed up with Elizabeth Richie, a therapist from St Andrews Healthcare, to reveal why we struggle to say no to plans.
Why do we feel as if we can’t say no to plans? Even if we know they could negatively impact our financial situation. Elizabeth explains: “Expectations from friends and family can blur the lines when we want to say no! This may include fear of being judged, fear of being selfish. In these instances, it is crucial to set boundaries and be mindful of the fact that we cannot control other people’s responses to us. It is therefore important that we allow other people to experience and process their feelings without making it your responsibility. This is a key competency when thinking of saying no to something.
The ability or inability to say no often stems from our childhood. We will struggle to say no when we are constantly seeking approval; we will find it easier to say no when we have experienced healthy attachments in early life and have acquired a healthy identity from our early caregivers.”
Saying no really isn’t as easy as we think and does take a lot of “confidence,” Elizabeth believes. “When we have this, it can be very empowering and liberating and can also be very beneficial to our work–life balance. This form of self-care can mitigate the potential to become overwhelmed or overloaded.”
There are a number of questions we need to ask ourselves when deciding if we want to say yes or no to plans, Elizabeth explains. “Will saying yes or no align with my value system? Will saying yes or no give me the outcome that I desire? Will it be financially costly or even compromising? Will saying yes prevent me from doing something more important to me? Will saying no make me feel guilty and affect my well-being? It is particularly important to say no to people if you think that saying yes will be bad for your mental health and stress levels.
Ultimately being able to say no at the right time reduces stress levels, and gives you time to prioritise what is important for you and to be more discerning about your own needs and self-care without feeling bad.”
While showing up for friends and family is important, it’s equally as important to look after yourself and your finances – which is why Moneyboat believes it’s important that we become more confident talking about money with loved ones. Teaming up with Rettie, Moneyboat have revealed some expert tips to find talking about money easier, listed below.
Be more transparent about your pay cheque
Being more transparent about how much we get paid would help to close the gender pay gap, help people who are struggling financially to feel less alone (because millions of us don’t have savings and are in debt, too), and will help you to understand financial products better, saving you money and time.
Money is a sensitive topic, and many people feel embarrassed or ashamed about their financial situation. Show your friend or family member that you care about them and that you’re there to support them, not judge them.
Practise discussing money with your loved ones to build confidence
Practise discussing your finances with loved ones, to help you feel more confident, and use the internet to find out more about complex financial subjects. Be honest about your financial situation and don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones questions about their own finances (but expect them to feel uncomfortable at first).
Frame conversations around your financial goals to give them a positive outlook
Rather than focussing on the negative aspects of finances, frame the conversation around your financial goals and what you’re doing to achieve them. This can help shift the discussion from one of shame to one of empowerment.
Look for expert advice
Start to follow financial experts and bloggers on social media – many personal finance bloggers online give solid financial guidance for free. Make your financial health as much a priority as your mental and physical health.
If you or your friend are struggling with debt, budgeting, or other financial issues, don’t be afraid to reach out to a financial advisor, debt counsellor, or another qualified professional who can provide guidance and support.
More information on Moneyboat’s study around talking about money can be found here.