8 Financial Tips From Season 2: Friends Who Talk About Money

This year, I was determined to make talking about money less taboo. With the launch of my new book, Ladies Get Paid, and as the host of John Hancock’s podcast, Friends Who Talk About Money, I am committed to making financial conversations something to celebrate, not fear. This year on Friends Who Talk About Money, a lot happened. From becoming a stay-at-home dad, to bridging the cultural (and generational) divide, to losing it all, our guests came from all walks of life facing all different financial challenges. The one thing in common? Their willingness to talk about money. We compiled a list of a few of our favorite takeaways, courtesy of our guest experts. As you gear up for the new year, use these tips as a starting point for your own financial resolutions and money goals.

Shoot your shot

Long-time friends Carena and Dorothy, have stayed close, despite the different twists and turns their careers have taken. In episode 1, they talk about how their frequent and candid financial conversations have influenced their careers, relationships and lives. Our expert was Caryanne Keenan, career and professional development coach and founder of LifeWorkSource, which educates, supports, and empowers people to pursue meaningful careers and lives.

Takeaway: Financial literacy is a language like any other, and no one is born knowing it. Find people with whom you feel comfortable and seek their support, use them as a sounding board, ask them for feedback. Allow yourself to be vulnerable; there is no shame in asking for help.

Check-in with your financial values and goals

In episode 2, Bob, Gari, and their two grown children, Leslie and Jack discuss the highs and lows of family finances, including how their upbringing affected their financial literacy and values. (They also talk about whether they’re too old to be on their parent’s cell phone plan.) Our expert was Priya Malani, a millennial money expert and Founder and CEO of Stash Wealth, a financial firm for HENRYs™ [High Earners, Not Rich Yet].

Takeaway: Once a year, just telling yourself that you need to be responsible with your money is not going to make you more responsible with your money. A great place to start is by sitting down with yourself and spending time really digging into your values, priorities, and goals, including what you want to spend your money on. Once you have these things in mind that you want to spend your money on, it’s going to be easier to build the behaviors needed to be on track for those goals.

Visualize retired you

Julie and Tammy have been best friends ever since meeting on a moonlit bike ride. They’ve stood by each other through marriage, divorce, career changes, personal loss, and now…retirement. In episode 3, they talk about how their financial mindsets have shifted over the years and the impact “the ‘Rona” has on their retirement plans and perspectives. Our expert was Patrick Murphy, CEO of Retirement Plan Services at John Hancock. 30 years of experience in the retirement services industry and is proud to lead the team at John Hancock, one of the largest full-service retirement plan providers in America.

Takeaway: Before you start planning, you have to know what to plan for. A great way to begin is visualizing what retirement will look like. Does it include a lot of travel? Is it living in a state with high tax rates? Retiring is another chance to live the life you have always imagined. It also costs money..so start saving now! It’s better to save a little over many years, then feel like you’re in a time crunch as you get closer to retirement.

Create a sinking funds account

Going from two steady household incomes to one is difficult and, let’s face it, costly. Throw in two small children and a pandemic, and it’s even more complicated. In episode 4, Holly and Jamie discuss their decision to have Jamie become a stay-at-home dad and how they’ve navigated financial stability, emotional fulfillment and adjusting goals in this time of great change. Our expert was Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, financial therapist, author, and Founder of Mind Money Balance, which helps couples and individuals navigate financial wellness.

Takeaway: Financial anxiety weighs heavily on a lot of us, and for couples, it’s no different. Unexpected expenses should, well, be expected. Separate from an emergency fund which should be saved for things that are true emergencies (medical needs for example), create a “sinking funds account” or an irregular expenses account. This is a little less restricted and reserved for things we know are going to happen; we just don’t know when. This could include things that might need to be repaired or replaced such as a broken-down car or a new air conditioner.

Have “the talk” with your parents before it’s too late

As parents, you’re responsible for your child’s well-being, financial and otherwise. But what happens when you’re sandwiched between caring for your child and your parents? In episode 6, ”financial soulmates” Molly and Cameron, discuss the realities of raising a toddler while also looking out for both sets of aging parents. Our expert was Cameron Huddleston, award-winning personal finance journalist and author of “Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations with Your Parents About Their Finances.”

Takeaway: As your parents get older, it’s imperative that you discuss how they envision the future and what end of life care will look like. That includes money. This can be an emotional conversation so let them know that you’re looking out for their best interest and you want to be able to help them as they get older, just as they were there for you when you were growing up and how they helped you. Start by asking something general, and then ease into specifics such as their savings, social security benefits, and estate planning.

Explore your family’s money history

Cultural and generational differences play a big role in the financial relationship between parents and their adult children. In episode 9, Ornella and Didi reflect on how following in her mom’s footsteps to open a restaurant allowed them to have a more open conversation around money, despite Didi coming from a culture where finance isn’t discussed. Our expert was Dr. Brad Klontz, Certified Financial Planner, financial psychology professor, and Founder of the Financial Psychology Institute.

Takeaway: Our relationship with money is influenced by the generations before us. As you reflect on your past experience with money and how it impacts your mindset now, open up a dialogue with your parents. Asking questions like, “What was it like for you growing up around money?” will help you better understand their financial beliefs.

Plan ahead

Anna, a mother of four, and Tiana, who’s expecting her first child, have been friends for over a decade. In that time, they’ve talked about anything and everything, with one notable exception: money. In episode 10, they have a candid conversation about what Tiana needs to know about the financial realities of parenthood. Our expert was Carly Leahy, Cofounder of Modern Fertility, a women’s health company designed to make fertility information more accessible for women.

Takeaway: In Modern Fertility’s recent survey, Modern State of Fertility 2020, 75% of people said they view childcare costs as the biggest financial burden. Before growing your family, consider how you will adjust your financial plan to care for a child while still keeping up with your household finances. 77% or survey respondents dipped into their savings accounts or 401(k) to cover fertility costs. To avoid competing priorities, create a financial plan that secures your family for all of life’s stages.

Save money based on each goal

Linda and Jim were living large with millions in real estate equity, thinking it’d be smooth sailing towards retirement …until the recession took the wind out of their sails. After the crash of 2008, they were at sea, with no stock, no property and an empty savings account. In episode 12, Linda and Jim discuss how those drastic changes have impacted their lifestyle (which includes living on a 44-foot sailboat!) Our expert was Zach Ciampa, a Financial Planner at John Hancock. Zach weighs in on the changing retirement landscape, advice for people starting fresh financially and the benefits of getting professional financial help.

Takeaway: Have multiple accounts. It’s wise to have separate accounts for separate savings goals: one as an emergency fund, one as a retirement account and one for short or mid-term goals.

Thank you to John Hancock for sponsoring this post.

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