Where do you go when you need to talk about money? Do you have a money mentor in your life? A trusted source who can listen to your financial questions and provide you with monetary guidance.
It doesn’t matter if you are financially savvy or have no idea how to manage your money. We all need a way to bounce ideas around with someone willing to listen. A money mentor allows us to talk about money matters and financial decisions without judgment or worry.
What is a Money Mentor?
What is a money mentor? A money mentor is a friend, family member, or coworker who openly talks about money—a financial companion who shares ideas about money management, budgeting, spending, and saving.
A money mentor shares their knowledge and experience. They help us think through complex financial topics and questions. By learning about financial experiences, we can make better, more informed decisions.
A money mentor can act as a sounding board for questions like:
- Does it make sense to save for retirement while paying off my student loans?
- How much should I save for a downpayment on my first house?
- What is the best way to ask for a raise?
Money mentors are not trained financial advisors. They do not charge fees. They are simply close friends, companions, and financial enthusiasts who allow us to think through money matters with ease.
Finding a Money Mentor
Very few of us feel 100% confident and comfortable with our financial decisions. We worry about spending, saving, debt, and retirement, but we rarely discuss our financial concerns. As long as money remains a taboo topic, most of us continue to stay silent about financial matters.
Unfortunately, closing the door on financial conversations forces us to make vital decisions in the dark. We take our best guesses rather than openly discussing our thoughts and ideas with those who can guide us.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk to a trusted source about our financial concerns? Wouldn’t it make more sense to find a money mentor?
Easing Financial Anxieties with a Money Mentor
Why don’t we openly talk about money? Why is money still a taboo topic? Discussing financial issues can be extremely difficult, downright scary, or anxiety-inducing. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people equate net worth with self-worth.
This can lead many of us to feel embarrassed by debt, low salaries, or bad financial decisions we’ve made. When we discuss financial figures, we open ourselves up for comparison. We worry that others will view us as less important or less capable.
But it is this shame and embarrassment that leads us to make financial mistakes in the first place. When we are ashamed to speak up, we cannot learn, grow, or do better.
When we don’t talk about money, we allow ourselves to create unnecessary mistakes. We make bad choices. We fail to negotiate our salary before starting a job or fail to ask for a raise we deserve. Perhaps we’ve spent money on toys we didn’t need or feel guilty for wanting to quit a high-paying job.
Talking about money benefits everyone involved. We often think we are the only one who doesn’t know the answers, but there are many others who are also confused.
Feeling Vulnerable and Exposed
If you’ve never talked about money before, it can be challenging to muster up the strength to discuss your finances openly. It helps to begin with an honest conversation.
A friend of mine recently reached out to say, “I’m feeling anxious about money right now.” Using the word “anxious” helped us tread into financial discussions slowly and cautiously.
My friend wanted a money mentor who could support her concerns and not pass judgment on the financial mistakes she’d already made. More than anything, she was feeling embarrassed by her debt. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings so we can move past them.
When we allow ourselves to feel down and embarrassed, we can end up wallowing in our emotions rather than looking at ways to make things better.
This is why a money mentor can be so valuable. They can help us see that our value is not just measured in our bottom line. They can act as emotional support when we are struggling.
Sitting in silence wasn’t helping, and I commended my friend for speaking up and asking for help when she needed it. I sent her link after link of debt blogs to help her see that she was not alone.
Those links provided proof of others who felt burdened by debt. I encouraged her to read as many success stories as she could find and even reach out to bloggers for guidance.
How Money Mentors Can Improve our Financial Success
We need to share our wisdom and feel free to ask questions that can help us improve our financial success. This is especially true for women and minorities.
When we discuss money, we can find out if we are underpaid and under-appreciated. We can learn the true value of the work we perform on a day-to-day basis.
When we talk about money, we can learn from other perspectives. We can gain the knowledge to overcome bad habits and ultimately forge a better financial path.
Money Mentors Help Us Talk About Money
Money is still a taboo topic in much of America, but a trusted money mentor can help us step through big financial decisions. When we talk about money, we open the floodgates for financial success.
Here is an example from my real life. Two of my friends were interested in buying new houses. The first friend immediately told me the price range for the home she wanted to buy. The second friend left out the price entirely.
The first friend felt comfortable talking about money. While the second friend purposefully left this information out of the conversation. Why?
- Was she worried that I would judge her decision?
- Does she think no one needs to know?
- Does she think it’s a taboo topic that we shouldn’t discuss?
Maybe that friend knows everything she needs to about buying a house. Perhaps she is well versed in mortgage options and financing decisions. I don’t know.
How One Financial Conversation Turned Into Many
I do know that my other friend and I openly discussed the differences between thirty and fifteen-year loans. I sent her mortgage calculators, ran the numbers, and evaluated different purchasing scenarios.
We discussed her desire to avoid PMI (primary mortgage insurance) and the value of saving up for a larger downpayment to prevent extra costs. I also talked about my own experience with buying homes and refinancing them.
My friend and I didn’t create a formal money mentor relationship. We just started talking about money and financial decisions. That one conversation turned into many more over the years. Since that first talk, my friend and I have discussed wedding expenses, buying a second property, and early retirement.
Money Lessons From Money Mentors
A money mentor is not a specific title or job. You don’t need to tell anyone that you want to be a money mentor or need one. It would help if you simply started talking about money with someone you trust. Once you open the door, other questions and conversations are sure to follow.
One day my husband mentioned the power of compound interest with a group of twenty-year-old coworkers. He ran a few simple calculations and quickly demonstrated the power of saving when you are young.
Ever since that conversation, his coworkers now turn to him with financial questions. In the past few years, his teammates have asked:
- What type of health insurance should I buy?
- How much should I save?
- What should I do with excess money I don’t need?
If you have financial knowledge, share it with those who are younger than you. If you are younger and looking for advice, ask a trusted friend or companion for guidance.
Avoiding Specific Facts and Figures
When searching for a money mentor, you don’t have to ask about specific financial facts and figures. In the example above, my friend didn’t need to talk about the purchase price. We could have discussed financing matters without discussing specific numbers.
If your money mentor is older than you, simply ask, “What do you wish you knew about money when you were my age?” Other helpful questions include:
- What is the best decision you’ve made in your career?
- Have you ever negotiated a higher salary or raise?
- Do you have plans to retire at an early age?
- What was the best or worst financial decision you’ve ever made?
- How have you continued to grow in your career?
- Did you have a money mentor to guide you in making big decisions?
- Did anyone help you make financial decisions when you were younger?
We can talk a lot about money without providing specific financial details. The goal is to talk about money as though you are talking about the weather. You want to create an open, relaxed atmosphere to discuss money matters without judging or feeling judged.
Finding a Financial Mentor
You don’t have to limit yourself to one financial mentor. I suggest seeking help from many different people. Your peers can be a great sounding board for financial questions since they may be going through similar life experiences simultaneously.
Older friends, coworkers, and family members can also act as money mentors. They will talk about their own life experiences, specifically what worked, what didn’t, and what they wish they had done differently.
Treasure their knowledge. You can avoid some of their financial and career mistakes if you pay close attention to their words.
Finding the Right Money Mentor
Finding a financial mentor isn’t as simple as looking at someone’s house, cars or toys. Salary and work titles are not always a good indication of someone who is successful with their money.
Remember that just because a person makes a lot of money doesn’t mean that person is good at managing it. Finding someone with fancy gadgets, big houses, and expensive cars won’t necessarily help you learn about money. People who look like they have a lot of money may have very little. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck or deep in debt.
Search for a person who has goals similar to your own. If you want to become an entrepreneur, seek advice from someone who has created their own company. If you’re going to dabble in real estate, speak with rental managers and those who have owned multiple homes.
Talk about general financial topics with anyone who will listen, and eventually, you will find the right match.
Discuss Financial Goals with Your Money Mentor
If you have specific goals in mind, talk about them with your money mentor. If you feel open to discussing your budget, do that too, but don’t share any financial figures that make you uncomfortable.
You can provide a range of numbers if it feels necessary. You can say you make “roughly” sixty-thousand or that your rent is roughly $2,000.
But, remember that you don’t need to include specific financial figures to gain better money mastery. The general principles of money management apply no matter how much you earn.
As a financial mentor, my goal is not to pass judgment. It simply to talk about the options available and see how my friend can improve her finances from this point forward.
If you have a close relationship with your money mentor, ask them to keep you accountable for the changes you need to make. A friend recently asked me to check in with her regularly and to ask specific questions like:
- How much have you put toward your debt?
- Did you buy anything you didn’t need this month?
Money Mentors in the Age of the Internet
The Internet has drastically changed the landscape of financial conversations. If not in the real world, at least in the virtual one. When I started writing this blog way back in 2006, most personal finance bloggers were anonymous.
Without a name or face in this online world, I found my home among money nerds. I could openly discuss money in a way I had never experienced in real life. This little blog opened the floodgates for financial conversations.
If you cannot find a money mentor in real life, search for help online. You can post specific questions to Reddit Personal Finance or search for personal finance blogs to guide you.
Covert Money Mentors: Inadvertently Talking About Money
You don’t need to declare someone your financial mentor. Simply ask questions and covertly learn their ways.
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly talking about issues and items related to money. When we meet someone, we immediately ask, “What do you do,” which inherently implies all sorts of things about that person’s success and salary. We discuss vacation plans and what we did over the weekend. We inadvertently talk about what people buy and how they spend their money.
So while we may not talk about facts and figures, we spend a ton of time talking about money in a roundabout way. A money mentor will allow us to move beyond these simple conversations to learn more and do better with the money we make.