I think we can all agree that money is not a fun subject to talk about, especially with your peers. No one wants to think about savings accounts, retirement funds, and credit while you’re out with friends and trying to have a fun time. Gaby Dunn, the host of the financial podcast, Bad With Money, makes talking about money less of a taboo topic and more of a relatable one. Nicole Sam, a Digital Product Manager at Simon & Schuster, shares the 5 thats she learned from BAD WITH MONEY.
I’ve been a fan of Gaby Dunn for awhile now, so when I found out she was turning her hilarious and relevant podcast Bad with Money into a book, I knew I would be first in line for a copy. I was lucky enough to meet and chat with Gaby on a few occasions (at a queer adult camp called A-Camp and at an event held at Simon & Schuster offices) and one thing was abundantly clear: This woman brings an honest, real, and funny outlook to subjects many people shy away from. On her podcast, Gaby talks about money in a way that I think we all wish we could. Her book is no different. Here are 5 things I learned while reading Bad With Money.
- Our families play a large role in how we view money and finances.
Chances are, if you think about your relationship with money, you’ll be able to track the source of those feelings back to your parents or other members of your family (blood or otherwise) who played an influential role in your development. So many of my friends have told me the reason they have credit card debt is because they watched their parents spend beyond their means on vacations and private schools and the like.
From Bad with Money: “In order to start deconstructing and fixing your own ways of thinking about money, you need to dig into the past and see what you were taught–consciously and subconsciously. … Figuring out what messages you received and why can help you decide if you like or agree with those messages, and what you can do to change them.”
- Education is tied directly to money (and socioeconomic status).
Spoiler alert: College is expensive! If you want what society has deemed to be a “good” education, then you obviously need to go to the “best” schools. Well, guess what? Those schools are the most expensive. And who can afford the most expensive schools? The middle to upper classes. So that leaves the vast majority of us, who don’t have the ability to pay outright for the education we need to get the jobs we want, to take out student loans.
Gaby hilariously refers to student loan debt as “the neck tattoo of the financial world,” because taking them out is a decision you make when you’re probably too young to appreciate the consequences of that action. And although many Americans take out loans, their effects are felt differently depending on your socioeconomic status. For example, Gaby notes: “In 2016, Forbes reported that black, college-educated middle- to upper-class parents with more than one child with student debt are most often the ones paying back their children’s loans.” However, not all is lost!! She goes on to say: “There are ways to get forgiveness if your debt is so huge and inconceivable that you feel that you could never afford to pay it all.” And also: “Knowing you’re not alone in your misery should eliminate some stigma and galvanize you to work toward national student loan forgiveness policy and a better future for all students.”
- It’s okay (and actually a good idea) to talk to your peers about money.
What’s your annual salary? Now, raise your hand if just thinking of answering that question made you uncomfortable. Chances are, most of you reading this raised your hand. That’s because money has been stigmatized so much that we are afraid to talk about it. Gaby said something at an event that really resonated with me. She said that we have the best information about our finances. When we keep that information to ourselves, we do a disservice to ourselves and our peers.
“Be open about your money foibles with your friends your own age… Tell them the errors of your (and society’s) ways. They are learning from our mistakes–and we can learn new money techniques from them too.”
- Ask questions and do your research.
This was huge for me. Not only is money itself stigmatized, but not knowing about money also comes with a stigma of its own. The best way to get this information is to just ask. Go to your bank and ask what certain parts of your statement mean. Ask your manager or HR what it means when portions of your salary are taken out for health insurance and taxes.
And when it comes to getting credit cards, it’s important to do your own research in addition to asking questions so you can understand exactly what all that tiny print means. As Gaby writes in the book: “Scour reviews for cards, just as you would for buying a car or a mattress or a video game console.”
- The problem just might be the system, not us.
In her chapter on “The System,” Gaby points out an all-too-true catch-22: “How can I make sure I have what I need to exist and succeed within a broken system without supporting that system?” How, indeed?! Here’s the thing about the system: It is inherently stacked against us. Uplifting, right? But the good news is we can take steps to more easily exist within that broken system. The first step is to start to understand the system. That will arm you with the necessary information to get your money life right.”
Gaby says: “If we’re all so ‘bad with money,’ maybe the problem isn’t us. Maybe it’s the confusing and inaccessible system of how money and power are organized. Maybe it’s the dark history integral to our country’s financial system. Probably it’s both.”
Figure out more easy ways to save in BAD WITH MONEY by Gaby Dunn!
For more on Tips on Life & Love: What’s Your Money Personality?: The 4 Types of Spenders
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