Talking about Money
Let’s talk about money…. Money can often be a sensitive conversation, especially where the stakes are high, and you are yet to get to know those you live with.
You may have just moved in with a group of housemates that you don’t know all that well (yet). You may not feel comfortable about speaking to people about money issues, but it is an important conversation to have.
Prices are increasing and this may have an impact on you, your day-to-day activities and your home environment. But the last thing that anyone would want is for there to be a problem with paying your household bills. It is so important to communicate as a house, plan ahead and budget for the unexpected.
Talking About Money can be Awkward
Talking about financial issues in an open, honest, and frank way is not easy.
Many people have tried to come up with theories and reasons as to why it’s hard to talk about money. Some ideas have included:
- Money can be a taboo subject. Particularly, in the UK, you may have been raised to avoid conversations about money, especially if it is a source of stress or concern around the home.
- Some people feel that their finances are their business, and they may not want to share this with others.
- For some, having money in the bank (or a lack thereof) is a measurement of success and sharing this information with others may feel exposing.
- Some may feel that they do not have the financial resources that others do and don’t want to draw attention to any subtle or stark differences in financial support.
- On the other hand, some may be concerned about expectations to cover shortfalls in bills and rent should they be exposed as the highest earner or ‘most comfortable’ in the house.
However, despite the points listed above, talking about money with your housemates can be essential.
Some students may be supported by student finance, parents, carers or sponsors. Others may receive bursaries or undertake regular paid work to stay afloat. Some may be self-funding. These are all valid ways to fund your studies, and everyone’s circumstances are unique.
How to Start the Conversation
When speaking about money, we would encourage you to:
- Avoid the assumption that everyone is in the same financial situation or guessing the wealth of others.
- Create a safe space in which you can speak openly about money. Establish ground rules around impartiality, non-judgemental and balanced conversation. Make sure that every participant understands these rules.
- Plan the meeting in advance and give your housemates notice that you intend to talk about money. This gives them an opportunity to prepare for the meeting and think about what they would like to say (if at all).
- Agree on expectations. What are your priorities in the house and what are you budgeting for bills? How can you use energy efficiently in the house and are there any ways that you can save money as a group?
Try and broach the topic sensitively with your housemates and understand that they may be reluctant to share personal information. Think about the barriers that we mention above and how these may influence participation in these conversations.
What to Think About
- Who are your utility providers? As a household there are many things that you could do to ensure that you are getting the most out of your money. Shop around for the best deals, don’t be afraid to change energy provider with your landlord’s permission and be mindful of your energy usage.
- How often to talk about money - Having regular meetings to discuss bills and the household budget is a good idea as this will give you the opportunity to review budgets and discuss any concerns that you have. You don’t need to have a money-meeting every week, but it may be good to speak about bills every so often so that everyone in the house has an opportunity to raise any concerns. Noting that prices are rising at the moment, we would encourage you to be open to suggestions, particularly if someone is struggling financially.
- What services do you need? Budget only for the necessary items, it would not be fair to include for example, a sports subscription in your TV package if everyone is not agreeable. Remember, if it is everyone’s money that you are spending, then everyone needs to be on board.
- Be kind to others and avoid conflict - Unfortunately, it is often common for disputes to arise between housemates, especially about financial matters. Minor disagreements can escalate if you have different expectations of each other. If you are having problems, it is a good idea to address them early and talk to your housemate(s) before things go too far. If you feel that things are starting to escalate, have a look at some of our restorative advice suggestions on our housemate disputes webpage.
Above all else remember that you are all trying to achieve the same thing, paying the bills but making your money go as far as it can:
- Listen to each other.
- Share ideas.
- Do some research.
- Access support if you need it.
We have some information on bills and council tax, emergency money and student funding which you can find by following these links. However, if you would like to speak to one of our advisers about your circumstances, please contact Student Advice.
Contact Student Advice
029 2078 1410