July 21, 2024

You mustn’t talk about…

It’s kind of interesting that we are taught not to talk or ask questions about someone’s financial position – it’s not polite or even rude isn’t it?

When Covid 19 first hit Australia’s shores in early 2020 I was just about to move in to a new apartment sharing with another girl who I didn’t know from a bar of soap. In fact I moved in with the new roomie on March 7th 2020 to be exact. She worked at a bank in leverage finance or something I had never heard of. Some clever investment job. 

I lost my new job working in events on March 17th and we were in full lockdown by March 31st. This was a very strange time and as you can imagine we both spent a lot of time at home. Naturally we ended up chatting about our lives, families and …our financial position. You see roomie spent all day looking at numbers and understanding finance so as I was about one year and a bit into my financial journey I was pretty open to talking about my situation. Pretty soon this became our favourite topic. 

We covered everything – our debt number, our financial goals, our attitudes towards money, our families attitudes towards money… the list went on. And it inspired me. We would share our money wins and talk about things we had read or something new we had learned. And I learned so much from our conversations and discussions. And to think – we shouldn’t really have been discussing this topic. 

By the time I had moved out from this share house I had purchased my first apartment, cleared all my debt and remained debt free (still to this day) and roomie was well on her way to having saved a hefty house deposit. I firmly believe it was our money conversations and our learning from one another that helped me move to my next stage of the financial journey. 

So that has taught me a couple of things. 

 

  1. It’s very important to surround yourself with like minded people who want what you want – or even better who know more about it than you do.  

 

  1. Talk about money with others who are comfortable to talk about it with you. 

 

For example: Say you start a new job. How will you know what is the correct level of pay to negotiate for? If you know of others in a similar job – you can ask around for what is the expected amount for your years of experience, level of education etc. 

The next job I got myself after I lost the events job during first lockdown I was just so grateful to have a job offer that I didn’t even negotiate a higher base salary. After a short time in the new role – one of my newer colleagues asked me what base I was on. I was under the impression we were all on the same base salary as we all had the same job (in the sales team). Turns out – we weren’t. I had shared my base salary with this colleague who had asked me in private and he had admitted to me that he was on the same as me but that there were others within our team – who were younger and had arguably less experience than myself and this colleague who were getting a higher base of around $10K per year. 

Now you may think – “That’s not a huge amount” or “I’m sure you would have been promoted at some point” or any other shrug off you can think of. But actually – that $10K a year affects your super contributions, your next pay discussion and it works out to be over $800 a month before tax. 

What did I do with this information? I confirmed it with my other colleagues and then I used it as leverage to get myself a pay rise. So did my colleague. 

The point to the story is firstly – always negotiate. Never ever accept the first offer when it comes to pay. They can always say no. But the more you practice – the better at it you will get. 

And the second is – ask others what they think. Especially as a female chances are you are going to be offered or paid less than your male counterpart. It definitely helps you to know the status quo of what the industry is paying right now. Know what you are worth and it helps to sound this out with trusted work friends. 

So recently I was at a party. I met a person who I started chatting to and I asked some pretty stock standard questions – Where do you live? How are you finding it? And the conversation that followed was quite a revealing one.

This new acquaintance was living in a pretty posh area in Sydney. I made a comment around it being quite good value for money in terms of rentals in that suburb (in comparison to other fancy suburbs in Sydney) and he agreed. This person was a little older than me (I guessed) and I asked if he was looking to buy eventually. He said something along the lines of I wasn’t born here and so won’t be able to afford to buy anything here. 

As we delved deeper into this subject he also added that obviously visa issues took him a while to become a Permanent Resident in Australia and so that was also a factor but I was quite amazed at the story that he had told himself. That he wasn’t going to be able to afford anything here. 

Now I don’t know his financial position or lots of other factors but what amazed me was the narrative of I’m not from here therefore it is out of reach for me if I wanted it. I pointed out that the person who’s party we were at had saved up a house deposit and was looking to buy and that my partner had also bought property having not been from Australia either. This person promptly decided he might find someone else at the party to talk to. 

Now – maybe I shouldn’t have brought up this topic or even continued it with someone I had just met. But honestly I was fascinated at the justifications we tell ourselves sometimes. I have been there as well. 

But what I also found interesting was that he didn’t want to continue the conversation with me when I had a different view on this subject of money. It can be hard to hear a different point of view and perhaps this person will never change his mind – seeking only to speak to people of the same view. 

So find others like you who want to be smart with financial decisions and talk to each other about it.  

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