The last person I fought with money about was…
- In my Experimental Art Collective
- In my Affinity Group
- In my co-op
- In my family
- In my damn house because they’re my roommate
- Someone who is all of the above
Why is money hard to talk about?
We know when we feel pressure to be silent on a topic, the status quo stays static. And yes, acknowledging how we’re different can be uncomfortable. But I think the first way money is hard is cuz no one tells or shows you how to do it well, and everyone is so freaking hype about it.
You’d think money would be ALL we talk about. We’re inundated with it, daily: working for it, making it, making more of it, others making or losing it, businesses asking for it, companies that make it in sketchy ways, family and friends using it in ways we do or don’t like…, and yet when it’s time to say “hey babe, can we split this bill” it can be like a BOOM — too loud, bad timing.
Why do we fight with people “on our side” about money?
As someone with time in movement spaces in and out of collectives and cooperatives I think about this a LOT. Why is money somehow extra hard ‘in the movement’?
I think – besides all the obvious market cultural conditioning stuff like mentioned above, and beyond the fact that folks in movement see/live how money is distributed and impacts people’s lives unjustly – is that: somehow movement isn’t ‘supposed to’ have to do with money. It’s ‘supposed to’ just…magically have some other economics available because that’s what we all want and are working for.
This belief gets amplified because there’s more quiet family money enabling no/low-income participation than people talk about in movement, for a few people, and that can make it LOOK like money isn’t needed or ok to discuss in any way but disparagingly.
This then gets supercharged because the culture-injustice-quiet resourcing soup creates a virtual hateball around money. It’s bad, it’s not needed, and fuck YOU if you think otherwise.
Critically, I think the lack of conversation about money as a basic resource we all need and deserve to figure out our shit around is genuinely damaging for folks without family money.
The awkward silence adds shame and confusion to the challenge of figuring out your cash flow and your life. It objectifies the reality of poor and working class peoples lives – getting money is about addressing generational wealth gaps, with outsized impacts on BIPOC folks – without offering the subjectivity of problem solving.
I figured this out when I was running my working-class queer femme performance tour. It was so hard to finagle schedules for folks to tour … because so few people we wanted to tour with had jobs that gave vacation, and folks couldn’t afford to get away. Those who could, were living the underpaid artist life that’s flexi but brings its own scary moments of freefall, which our little tour could only pad so much with our tiny budget and sliding-scale door fee revenue.
A literal show, from the experiences of diverse poor and working class folks, could barely tour 9 days without someone having to run back to one of their many, not-flexible enough jobs.
Of course we’re building other ways to live, this one can be so untenable and harsh.
I am a true believer there are multiple kinds of economics, that is, value exchange modalities. Not all of them require money, but all manage resources: time, personal energy, networks, spaces. And none of them supersede the everyday reality of market economics which we all live in.
We live in a hyper-corporate world that’s more expensive this year than last, with folks whose needs range from figuring out how to pay for burials for family members to how to donate stimmy checks that feel like extra. Everyone’s talking about how money’s messed up, giving or not asking for it is valorized, but not enough folks are talking about how it’s ok to have what you need and that’s gonna take some money around here.
So here we are again, with another WASPy value we need to cull.
Below are a few ways to get yourself into a practice of talking to yourself and others about money – from free videos and prompts to full blown multi-week paid courses. You can choose to pay or not to learn these skills – but please do your part to make movement and money less awkward bedfellows.
DIY: Self-guided Money Talk
If you want to get better at money talks, your task is to practice. Get a few workable scripts in your head, think about your story, and get out there staying curious. Check out:
[One of] My Awkward Money Stories – exactly assumptions about money can be hurtful, and an example of a sad moment for me that I turned around and did to someone else, which I share to help you avoid such moments for yourself
This video on how to get ready to talk about money [hint, just like in motorcycling, YOU have to be ready first]
The Partners + Money Toolkit, $159
The Toolkit is a four-step, self-guided series of videos and prompts for you and someone(s) you love — romantic or platonic! — to build:
- self-knowledge and ways to show up to conversations that may be challenging or just plain complex
- a practice of talking about things that lets you be be real, honest, and stay on the same page
- explicit plans and agreements, even when the plan is “we need to learn how to make our plan”
A Workbook to Talk About Money, $9
A 30-page digital PDF workbook that contains:
- 10 journaling + conversation prompt worksheets you can use today to understand yourself or with a loved one
- 60+ thoughtful questions you can ask to deepen your self-understanding on money
- 30+ conversation starters designed to build intimacy and honesty
- A guide to having brave conversations
- Real talk, inspiration, and a DIY self-coaching toolkit!