What’s Your Money Story?

Start with Beth and the tacos, followed by the conversation in the car

The idea of a money story came in handy for me on a road trip last summer.

My friend and I stopped for lunch in Napa and ordered a fish taco at the upscale market downtown. We discovered with a bump that each order consisted of a single taco, for which $8 felt a little steep. One thing led to another, and we had the seeds of our first little conflict of the trip.

Of course it wasn’t really about the money: $8 — or even $16 — was a pretty small sum in the context of a month-long trip. Instead, it was really a clash of stories and values. Was an $8 taco a vacation indulgence or a “bougie” affront to good sense that couldn’t be justified even in context?

A day and a half later, we began the next big stretch of driving, and a few hours of relatively desolate Nevada landscape presented the perfect opportunity to open a conversation about our money stories.

We probably spent 200 miles trading stories about our experiences and memories of growing up, noting the similarities and differences, and gaining new appreciation for parts of ourselves and each other that we had never really dealt with directly in a decade of friendship.

Money stories are complex and often taboo, but they are always at play in our interactions with ourselves, others, and the choices we face ($8 taco, anyone?). It might not be easy, but asking someone about their money story can be quite revealing and — done right — enriching for both of you.

Next time the universe offers you an $8 taco, what might you learn about yourself and the people you care about?