People Are Funny About Money: Part 1 of 2
Yesterday, I came home from work and ate leftovers for dinner, while watching an old episode of Sex and the City. As per usual, the scene had all four ladies sitting around a table, gabbing and gossiping about their lives. I quickly realized that Carrie and Aidan must have just broken up, since she was worrying about how to come up with a down payment to buy her apartment back from him. After Miranda and Samantha both offered to lend Carrie whatever amount she needed, Charlotte chimed in with one of her classic, conservative comments.
Ch: “I’m uncomfortable with this situation. We shouldn’t be talking about money.”
S: “Why not? We talk about everything else.”
M: “People are funny about money.”
I can’t explain how automatic my reaction was to pause, rewind and replay those few sentences. This is an episode I’ve probably seen half a dozen times, over the years, and have never felt any one way about it. But now, perhaps because I talk about money everyday or because I’ve finally come clean with family and friends about my past financial mistakes and situation, it made me question why more people aren’t talking about their own personal finances.
As Samantha said, these four women are willing to talk about every other topic under the sun. From bad dates to detailed sexual encounters, nothing is off-limits. And other than watching them comfortably spend hundreds of dollars on shoes, very rarely is there a roundtable conversation about their personal finances. Sure, we know what Carrie charges per word that she writes for Vogue and that Miranda was able to buy her own apartment, but where are the surprise credit card bills and savings accounts?
The examples I’ve given are probably not that uncommon in most friendships and relationships. We love sharing our financial successes (a raise at work or a good sale price) but avoid telling people how desperately we needed that raise just to get by or why we put that sale item on 1 of 3 credit cards. The reason for this calculated interaction is simple: money is the last taboo subject. And anything else we can judge each other on (clothes, hair, etc.) is visible but credit card statements are easy to hide.
I can’t say I remember any other episodes where the ladies of Sex and the City addressed their personal finances in a way that made them seem real. Charlotte’s divorce got her an apartment, Miranda bought a second home, Samantha moved into a beach house in California and Carrie magically bought her apartment back at a higher price than she sold it for, after her non-wedding to Big (and who knows what that cost).
While it’s no surprise that this showcases a lifestyle the Average Jane could never afford, this particular episode raised an important question:
If we can’t talk to our best friends about money, who can we talk to?