It’s the number one thing my partner and I don’t talk about. Well, I shouldn’t say we don’t talk about it. He tries; I break out into a cold sweat and my left eye starts twitching. We’ve been together for seven years, and still the thought of discussing money (clutches pearls, gasps) or — god forbid — joining our bank accounts makes me want to curl up in a ball and cover my ears. We almost break up every year around tax time.
Not having conversations about money is a privilege many people can’t afford (TBH, I can’t afford to avoid it either), and ignoring the fact that we all buy, spend, save, don’t save, stress about, or break out in hives over money isn’t the solution for finance-phobic people like me. I blame my general money anxiety on my lack of math skills and my parents’ divorce. What’s your excuse?
Everyone has their own wealth woes and sharing in someone else’s experience can either be comforting or infuriating. Enter: Refinery29’s Money Diaries. Money Diaries was launched by our U.S. edition in 2016 to encourage people — especially women — to talk about money in our everyday lives. The very first Money Diary was by a graphic designer making $65,000 in Brooklyn, who (like everyone) stressed about work and ate avocado toast and (maybe not like everyone) wrote about doing coke on a date. Earlier this year, we launched the series on Refinery29 Canada with regular entries from across the country, starting with a 24-year-old Toronto diarist, who’s making $40,000 a year while trying to pay off a $32,000 student loan.
On top of its own book and podcast, the Money Diaries franchise has sparked heated debates, inspired viral outrage, and garnered a loyal following of passionate readers and commenters who have a lot of opinions on how much other people make and what they choose to do with that income. As The New Yorker wrote in a piece about R29’s Money Diaries, “money may be the last arena in which we’re allowed to judge others openly.” There’s truth there, but Money Diaries isn’t about judging anyone else’s spending habits. It’s about creating a community where people are more mindful of their spending habits and are having empowered, informed conversations about their money. In 2017, we put it like this: “talking about money makes us smarter, stronger, and more powerful."
In Canada, millennials are earning more than our parents, but we’re in more debt and inflation has basically left us all broke and bothered. In recent survey, 52% of millennial women said that money is their number one cause of anxiety. On average, Canadian women make 84 cents for every $1 earned by men. And of course, we know that stat is even lower and more disconcerting when it comes to women of colour. Those numbers don’t change if we don’t know they exist. Talking about money keeps us informed and armed with the knowledge to know better and do better. It may be tempting to dismiss Money Diaries as a voyeuristic column where you get to spy on your neighbour’s questionable habits (it’s that too), but it’s mostly a space where discussing money is as normal as checking your horoscope.
We want you to share. We want you to get over this idea that money is a taboo subject. Maybe along the way, I’ll figure out how to take a deep breath, take control of my financial literacy, and maybe, finally, realize the world won’t end if my dude and I share a — exhale — monthly budget.