“Ugh, my face is so dry this winter. What moisturizer do you use?” I posed this question in a message to Rebecca, my dear friend
I expected her to just name a couple of brands. Instead, she asked for more details: What type of skin do I have? Is it always this dry? And so on.
I answered all of them. “I don’t know… there’s this one patch of skin that’s dry and flaky, and almost scaly,” I responded.
About that “dry patch” of skin…
Only then did Rebecca oh-so-kindly mention something I hadn’t even considered. W
Apparently it’s pretty common to get an overgrowth of candida or other delightful microflora on the face — especially on or around the lips. And once this infection sets in, it can cause a lot of the same symptoms I had. And treating it like dry skin won’t get rid of it.
I fought the immediate urge to go light my face on fire. Luckily, Rebecca shared much-needed advice on how to care for my dry skin. And she suggested some home remedies for my potential facial fungus (link included for the curious).
With her advice, my skin cleared up in a week. Without it, I very well could have tried a bunch of things that would have only made it worse.
Everyone needs a kind-but-brutally-honest loved one
This happened a
“Everyone needs a friend like that — someone who will tell you that you have a face fungus.”
In other words, someone who knows what they’re talking
Interestingly, however, we seem much less comfortable seeking advice and feedback on our money than almost anything else. I’ll discuss almost any choice with friends, be it skincare or when to potty train my kids. But I can count on one hand the number of people I feel comfortable honestly and openly discussing my finances with.
Even so, I do have loved ones I can turn to when I need to talk about my money. This support has made a huge difference in my ability to make good money choices. It was even more important when I was just starting my journey of learning about money and improving my finances.
The advice, encouragement, and even brutal honesty friends can provide at these crucial times can help us get much-needed clarity. They can point out our blind spots and help us find the best path forward.
What to look for in a financial confidant
Talking things out can be key to working through options, exploring possibilities, and getting clarity. It’s especially important if you’re a verbal or external processor, like me. Sometimes I truly need to talk through different options and concerns to figure out what to do.
Of course, there are reasons we don’t talk about finances with a lot of people. It can be awkward, it can invite judgment, and if a money conversation goes poorly it can even harm the relationship.
Because of this, we should be choosy about the friends and family members we open up to about our finances. And we should be even pickier about the financial advice we listen to and choose to follow.
Even so, I can attest to the magic of talking about money with a friend who just “gets it.” (I shared one such convo in this post about my career break.) And I’ve noticed these money confidants tend to share some crucial traits.
They’re financially knowledgeable
There’s a reason I went to Rebecca with my skincare questions. She knows more about beauty and health products than anyone I know. Likewise, my friends occasionally put financial questions or conundrums to me — because they know I have a background in financial writing.
Before starting a convo about your money, make sure it with a friend who can actually help. It’s probably not helpful to talk
Rebecca didn’t just assume she knew what was going on with my skin “issue”. She asked questions and got curious, then raised a possibility.
A worthy financial confidant will do the same with money topics: ask clarifying questions, skip assumptions and suspend judgments, and listen to what you’re really saying. They won’t rush you toward a solution, but seek to understand the issue at hand. They won’t tell you what to do, but rather help you figure out the best option for yourself.
They speak hard truths
When brutal honesty is needed, a financial confidant delivers it — with as much kindness and tact as possible. It’s the money equivalent of, “Hey, maybe you have a face fungus?”
It could be the friend that points out that you’re going to a bar yet again … despite setting a goal to spend less on outings. Or it could be answering the question, “Why am I struggling with debt?” by gently reminding you of the vacation you charged to your credit card, rather than saving for. They might tell you that your spending is fine, but it’s time to work on raising your income.
They give their honest opinions and thoughts, even when it could be hard to hear, because they want to see you doing your best. And they know to do that, you need to be aware of and dealing with the reality of your finances.
They cover your blindspots
A money confidant will point out things you might be missing, and raise questions or concerns you might not have considered. They help you turn an item over to make sure you’ve looked at it from all angles. And they don’t just point out what you’re missing about the problem, but also potential solutions you could be overlooking.
They believe in
If you’re ever feeling bad or getting down on yourself about your finances, they’ll be there to encourage you.
To remind you that not setback or failure is permanent. To give you space to feel frustrated, but then get back on track once you’re done. To keep believing you can do the hard things, even when you’re doubting yourself.
And they’ll be there to celebrate your money wins with you, too — because they knew you had it in you, all along.
Wherever you are in your financial journey, it can help to have these kinds of friends. Look for these people in your life, and work to build relationships that can support these kinds of conversations. Having financial confidants is important for your finances, but it also helps you be a better friend.