In the four years my family has lived off a budget, our lives have been completely transformed. We paid off all of our student loans, started retirement funds, bought a house, and are now piling money into saving for emergencies, vacations, new cars, and home remodels. Above all else, the way we think about money and spending has drastically changed.
In all of this amazing success and transformation we’ve experienced, we really want to share our story and help others experience the same joy and freedom we have! I think it’s natural to want to help others and share your wisdom with them. However, we’ve found it’s not always that easy and just because it’s life changing for us, doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear what we have to say. Others might not be ready and willing to change. In this post, I want to share some tips on how to talk to others about budgeting without overstepping.
When we first solidified our financial goals, we created a budget to help us meet them as quickly as possible. For us, our primary goal was paying off our student loans in five years. We limited our travel, grocery spending, entertainment costs, and stopped going out to eat.
Overall, we made pretty drastic changes and as a result we saw pretty immediate success. It was exhilarating and we were so excited that we wanted to share our budget with everyone we knew and loved. After all, if it worked for us, it would surely work for our friends and family, and when you’re passionate about something, it’s natural to talk about it a lot, which we did. Long story short, it didn’t go that great. Let me explain why.
Pay Attention to How People Respond to You
Not everyone is at the same stage of their financial journey as we were. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place and ready to make serious changes. We found out that not everyone else is in that place, even if they are struggling financially. If you are sharing your financial successes with friends or family, remember to read their body language and enthusiasm. Their body language and enthusiasm will tell you loads about how open and perceptive they are to hearing your message.
It will also allow you to read if they are hesitant to changing their budget and lifestyle. If you sense hesitation, don’t keep talking and talking and talking about how awesome your budget is or how much success you’ve achieved. The truth is, they are probably really excited for you, but it might be extremely overwhelming to them. If you truly want someone to make serious lifestyle changes, overloading them with ideas and ways to change might be a lot more harm than good, even if you have their best interests at heart.
Don’t Push Them Unless They Want to Hear More
If you run into hesitation or you sense that your friends aren’t ready to adopt a new budget, or change their spending habits, back off! Remember, you’re not a car salesman trying to move a product; if they don’t want to start a budget, don’t try to force it on them. This ties in closely with their body language and reading the situation. If you pay attention, it will be easy to pick up on.
We noticed that some friends and family got that glossed over look in their eyes when we talked about our budget, a tell tale sign that they didn’t want to hear another story about our budget or another suggestion of how they could improve their finances. Be sensitive to their financial journey because even sharing small successes can make others feel insecure about their own financial choices and situation. The last thing you want is to create tension with close friends or family.
Also, not everyone is in a place to confront their finances. No matter how bad you perceive someone’s finances to be, it’s not your job to “fix it” or get them to change. People only change on their own terms, when they’re ready. And since it’s unlikely that you know the ins and outs of their financial situation, let them be the judge of what is best for them.
Sometimes even talking about budgeting makes people feel stressed because the idea of looking intensely at their finances is overwhelming. More importantly, don’t tell people how to budget or spend their money. Even with the best intentions in the world, you will most likely create strain and tension in your relationship with them. Let people come to their own conclusions and make their own decisions.
Share What You Do and Wait For Them to Ask Questions
The most success I’ve had talking with people about budgeting has been through a patient approach. In general, a lot of people are curious about how our budget actually works and how we plan for expenses. But if we constantly preach to them or try to shove our ideas in their face, they will never want to hear what we have to say. The best money conversations happen when I wait for people to ask me questions.
Writing a blog has really helped share my ideas with a lot of people, and as a result, my wife and I get asked a lot of questions about our budget and finances. It’s generally friends and coworkers we get the most questions from, and now that I’m blogging, I’m getting more questions from this awesome community too.
Their questions allow us to talk in depth on a more personal level about our budgeting success and the freedom it brings to our lives. And the fun part is, they are truly interested in hearing more and they ask a ton of questions! This is exactly why I write this blog! I want families to experience financial freedom from all forms of debt. In order for that to happen, people need to want to change and come to that conclusion on their own.
Wrapping it Up
Just because you’ve had negative experiences talking about money, doesn’t mean you should stop. If you love talking about money and offering hope and financial freedom to families in debt, keep doing it. Keep budgeting, keep making smart financial decisions, and be patient. When people are ready to make a change, they know where to find you with their questions.
Let Me Know in the Comments
What other tips do you have for talking about budgeting? What turns you off to listening to money advice?