In Malaysia, we’re seeing a growing interest in personal finance. More bloggers, influencers, and websites are coming up to share their experiences and advice. Yet, many Malaysians are still reluctant to talk about money with friends. 

This situation might be caused by stigma and embarrassment surrounding it: having too little or too much. More importantly, some people worry about being preyed upon. However, conversations about how to earn and manage money are essential—not talking about money with friends or refusing to open up when necessary will lead to low financial education. 

Moreover, RinggitPlus’s Malaysian Financial Literacy survey shows that 2 out of 3 Malaysians don’t have enough savings to last them for three months. So, how do you start talking about money with friends?

  1. Start by Talking about Pain Points 

Sometimes, it’s easy to bond with others who have been through something similar. When you want to talk about money with friends, know what will interest both parties. You can start by addressing the pain points of your financial situation, such as children’s education, retirement, or moving into a new apartment.

  1. Set Financial Boundaries 

Having money boundaries will keep you from spending unnecessarily, meaning you must understand your budget, risk appetite, time horizon, and financial goals. Since external temptations are real, 27% of millennials find it difficult to say “no” when a friend proposes doing something they can’t afford. Worse, nearly three-quarters (73%) of millennials (39%) have taken on debt to keep up with their peers.

  1. See Friends as Resources for Advice 

It’s very easy to look up information regarding financial health online. If you’re unsure, you can talk about money with your more financially savvy friends. They can even guide you. Ask them how they learn about money—from the books they read, podcasts they listen to, or experts they follow.

  1. Set Financial Goals Together

In addition to how emotional support helps ease your worries, sharing your financial goals with a friend may increase your chances of reaching them. This method of talking about money with friends will be helpful for people who lack self-discipline. In Malaysia, 1 in 10 people confesses to being unable to manage their finances effectively.

  1. Avoid Comparing — and Don’t Count Other People’s Money!

The grass will always be greener on the other side, and so will one’s financial situation. When you talk about money with friends, it’s easy to compare your situation with theirs.

However, it’s important to remember that everything is not as it seems. Someone may not necessarily be better off than you just because they make more money or have access to nicer items. They can be living beyond their means, or they might be in severe debt.

  1. Keep Money Talk Judgement-Free

Many people think they need to be 100% transparent when talking about money with friends. The point of not passing judgment is that everyone’s situation will differ based on their backgrounds, earnings, lifestyles, and financial maturity.

Criticizing someone for their circumstances or decisions is the quickest way to put a stop to a fruitful financial discussion. Moreover, you wouldn’t like being treated that way, right?

  1. Do Ask Questions if You Don’t Know Something

Another good thing you can get from talking about money with friends is that you can ask them almost anything, especially if you’re worried about asking a stupid question. For subjects like wages, equal pay, and investments, a fruitful money talk with friends enables you to grasp finances from others’ perspectives.

We’re all on a learning curve. Some are further ahead, while others may start their journey. Having a network of supportive friends who can be there is crucial. They will help you stay on track with your financial objectives. That’s why talking about money with friends is the first step to exploring meaningful discussions that will lead to frank, constructive conversations about your finances.

Talking about money with friends is not about asking for handouts or charity; it’s an opportunity to learn from your friends’ wisdom and experience—or share your own.