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A podcast about how money messes with your life

Marketplace Staff Jun 13, 2019
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"This Is Uncomfortable" host Reema Khrais.

There are big, romantic ideas out there about how our financial lives should unfold — and then there’s reality.

Marketplace’s newest podcast, “This Is Uncomfortable,” is all about life and how money messes with it. Every week, host Reema Khrais will dig into how money affects relationships, shapes identities and often defines what it means to be an adult.

The first episode is out today, and we sat down with Reema to ask some uncomfortable questions of our own.

Why do we need to talk about money if it’s so uncomfortable?

So we can make it feel not uncomfortable! I’m the queen of getting weird when it comes to talking about money stuff with friends and family, which is honestly a big reason why I wanted to do this podcast. I realized that in my personal life, it was rare for me to have intimate, real conversations with friends and family about money, which is absurd.

Money is at the heart of so many of the decisions we make — it often influences the jobs we take on, where we live or even the communities we create. Also the more we talk about it, the more likely we can make smarter, more thoughtful decisions. For example, it might be weird to tell a co-worker how much you make, but odds are it can help them (especially if they’re younger, a woman or POC).

What kinds of stories are you going to tell?

I’m super interested in the emotional side of money. Whenever we talk about money, it’s usually in the context of how to save or invest or ask for a raise, which are all valuable things, but this is a podcast that explores how money makes us feel. How does it impact our relationships, how we see ourselves and the choices we make?

And when I say money, I’m thinking about all the things it represents, too. So you’ll also hear stories that explore our relationship to jobs and ideas of success, worth and opportunity. Stories from how money complicates our friendships to the phenomenon of “sudden wealth syndrome” to the different ways women’s careers get derailed.

How would you describe your relationship with money?

Not great. I could probably cut down on Postmates orders and random Amazon purchases — like, I don’t know why I bought a laser projector for $49.99 yesterday. My parents describe my relationship with money as “reckless,” but I don’t think it’s that bad. I just don’t think I’m intentional enough with saving and thinking ahead. But I’m trying to change that. Just upped my retirement contribution last week!

Congrats. But what’s a “laser projector”?

It’s basically this thing that projects the galaxy and clouds onto your wall or entire room. I saw it at a friend’s apartment and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

What’s surprised you the most making this show so far?

I think I underestimated just how hard it would be to get people to open up about money. Obviously there are people out there who are happy putting their lives on blast (thank God for them). But when it comes to pretty intimate topics, like how money ruined a family relationship or what it’s like to receive a big windfall, it can be hard to find people who will talk openly and vulnerably. Money is something that can bring out a lot of ugly and difficult feelings, like resentment, guilt and envy. 

How did you end up here? What were you doing before the show?

Before this podcast, I was a general assignment reporter for Marketplace, covering everything from company earnings to the economic impacts of immigrant communities. And before Marketplace, I was a Kroc Fellow at NPR and eventually an education reporter for WUNC. 

I pitched this podcast to Marketplace because I really wanted to create something that would resonate with people my age or really anyone who’s still trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. There are big, romantic ideas out there about how our financial lives should unfold, but the reality is actually really messy — and those are the stories I want to share.

What do you want people to take away from the show?

On a basic level, I hope they find the stories entertaining and relatable. But I also hope they challenge people to think more deeply about their own relationship with money. There’s a tendency to be polite and diplomatic when it comes to certain topics around money and jobs. I mean, I definitely feel that. And I hope after listening to this podcast, that all starts to feel a little less taboo.

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