money talk - close the gender pay gap

How much money do you make?

How many student loans do you still have?

How much do you charge for a blog post?

Did these two questions make you cringe? Well it also made me cringe a little thinking about asking you personally how much money you make. This is no surprise because we’ve been raised that talking about money is taboo. But secrecy is the easiest way to ignore inequality. We’ll never close the gap if we can’t talk about money or finances – comfortably and without judgment.

Remember that partner I asked you to tag in this 3 day challenge? One way to become more comfortable about talking about money is having a go to person. I would recommend level setting expectations if this if your first time asking your friends about money. Feel free to begin the conversation with “Our conversation about money will be without judgment about our worth. We are talking about money is to empower us, to break down pay secrecy, and to encourage us to be more comfortable asking for our value” – or something along those lines.

Here are some sets of questions you can work through with your partner to become more comfortable talking about money in your life:gender pay gap campaign - UW grad student project


Money Topic #1: The Warm Up with the First Job

What was your first job and how much money did you make? Why did you choose that first job? What did you spend your first few paychecks on (if you remember)?

Money Topic #2: Life & Financial Goals

What type of lifestyle do you want to live? What are your life and financial goals? (buying home, having a big wedding, going back to grad school etc)

Money Topic #3: Debt, a Budget Diary, Savings Goals (Rich Bitch)

If you and your friend want to take your conversation about money to the next level, I highly recommend reading Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin. She does such a great job introducing and diving into financial literacy!  The three topics from the book I would recommend having a conversation about are: Debt, Budget diaries, and Savings Goals.

Personal Exercise: Prioritize your Debt

You should prioritize your debt in order of interest rates:

  1. Credit Cards – Your credit card interest rates can be upwards of 18%. You should work to first pay off all your credit card debt.
  2. Car Loans – After credit cards, pay your car loans next. *Know that a car is a depreciating asset. The moment youdrive a brand new car off the lot, it immediately depreciates.
  3. Loans – Federal student loans have the lowest interest rates out of all these four things. *Stafford loans are currently at 3.76% – but the Treasury Department is raising them to 4.45% (still lower than that credit card interest rate). Parent PLUS loan is currently at 6.31% and is being raised to 7%.It is up to you how you choose to see your overall and your student loan debt.
    4. Mortgage – whether you have a home or not, Nicole Lapin recommends that after the three items above, you should make payments on this asset.

Partner Exercise: How have you prioritize your debt in your life? Are you aware of all the interest rates of your debt?

Personal Exercise: Create and share your Budget Diary 

What is a Budget Diary/Journal?
A budget diary or journal is where you identify your income and you expenses. It’s important you create one after graduating and getting a job so you know where your money is going. If you feel like you’re constantly broke, try this exercise:

Either pull out a piece of paper or pen – or – an excel spread sheet.


INCOME: (here would be your income, any cash, investments)

Less EXPENSES (Monthly):

–         RENT:


–         UTLITIES:

–         CAR PAYMENTS:

–         CAR INSURANCE:


–         GROCERIES:

–         SAVINGS:

–          FUN MONEY (Amount spent on going out to eat or
–      ETC.

Remaining Amount: $$$

Now reflect, how much money are you spending on fun vs. how much money are you saving?

Partner Exercise: Are you spending what you expected on your expenses? Are you spending what you expected for fun money?


Personal Exercise: Create Savings Goals

Now that you and your partner have started a budget diary or journal, let’s discuss creating savings goals. At some point in your post grad life, you may want to go on a big vacation, buy a new car, or throw a down payment on a house. Unless you have tons of discretionary income after you pay your rent, bills, and other obligations, you have to save for these items. I recommend making short term and long term savings goals:

Year 1: (Short Term) Save for trip to Thailand ($2,000)

Year 2: (Long Term) Start saving for grad school ($5,000)

Year 3: (Long Term) Start saving for grad school ($5,000)

Year 4: (Long Term) Start saving for a down payment ($10,000)…

Whatever your goals may be, add them to your budget diary or journal so you actually put the money away to save for those items. Remember your goals and circumstances can also change! The point of writing down these goals is just so you know what general direction you’d like to take your life and finances in.

Partner exercise: Share with your friend your short term and long term savings goals.


Money Topic #4: Talk about money with both the women and men in your life

money - gender pay gap - include men

We can’t close the gap unless we all (men and women) recognize the gender pay gap and acknowledge that pay secrecy and discomfort about money has to be worked out. I’m not asking you to write your salary on a sign around your neck, but I am asking you to not self select the men out of your money conversations.

We all have boyfriends, dads, uncles, best guy friends, and male co-workers in our lives. We have to include them in our conversations and provide them the opportunity to step up even if it makes us uncomfortable. Pick one of these topics and see if the men in your lives have made savings plans or asked to negotiate pay in their last promotion.

What are your tips to help others be comfortable talking about money? What other pieces advice would you share to help close the gender pay gap?

Thank you for reading and participating with the Close the Gap Campaign! Here is Day 1: The Gender Pay Gap is NOT a Myth and Day 2: Believe, Know, and Ask for Your Value.