Every so often, I hear from someone who says that I shouldn’t talk about money so openly, as they believe it is rude, distasteful, vulgar… I could go on and on.
Sadly, many people think that talking about money is tacky and even more taboo than talking about politics or even sex.
For someone like me who is comfortable talking about how much I earn, the amount I save, and more, I make a lot of people uncomfortable, haha.
But, that’s not what I’m trying to do.
I’m not trying to show off, make people feel less than they are, be rude, or anything like that.
Instead, I believe that being more open about money is better for everyone!
However, I regularly see people being shamed for talking about money, and I see it more and more on social media.
Recently on Facebook, someone I know asked their friends and family how much money they were saving on a monthly basis. It seemed like a pretty harmless question, and I was happy to see someone I know in real life openly talk about money.
Their reasoning was that they just began saving and they simply wanted to talk with others about saving money. They were looking for motivation and support – they weren’t trying to do any harm.
Then, someone commented with something like, “Sharing actual numbers is disgusting. Use percentages, if you must.”
The conversation continued, others chimed in, and it became clear that openly talking about money made some people quite angry. There was an overwhelming amount of people who said the whole conversation was tacky and that money should not be discussed, EVER.
Why does talking about money have to be so secretive?
Is it really that tacky?
Having a financial blog means I get some interesting emails about this sort of thing, some from people who think it’s crazy that I publish income reports and talk about money so openly.
So, I’m very aware of the stigma that comes from talking about money.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by Ally Bank, 70% of Americans think that it’s rude to talk about money. Respondents said they were more likely to disclose their income (39%) over savings (30%) or debt (29%) to family and friends.
And, it doesn’t end there. People don’t like to talk about how much they pay in rent, their monthly mortgage payment, or even how much they spend on internet service.
I don’t get it – why does the amount you pay for internet each month have to be a secret?
Talking about money is even seen as taboo among close family members, even among married couples. According to a survey done by Fidelity, 43% of respondents don’t know how much their partner earns, and 36% are unaware of the amount they have invested.
Here’s one last interesting study that I’d like to bring up, University College London found that people were seven times more likely to talk to a stranger about sex, affairs, and sexually transmitted diseases than discussing their salary.
You’d tell a stranger that you have an STD rather than tell them how much you make?
That is just crazy!
I think we should all be more open about money. Money is a topic that influences all of our lives, whether we want to believe it or not.
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4 powerful reasons why you should talk about money more often and openly.
1. Being open about finances can help everyone.
This is one thing that I really believe – talking about money can help others.
If you are someone that feels money talk is taboo, this may be difficult to understand how openly talking about money can really help you out. But, the problem is that without money talks, many people don’t know:
- What salary to negotiate for.
- The average selling price for houses.
- What you should be paying in rent.
- Whether or not your expenses (utilities, phone, insurance, etc.) are normal or unusually high.
Without talking about money, it would also be hard to realize that you need to improve your financial situation.
Many people don’t like talking about money because their issues become “too real.” They may even feel shame about their financial mistakes, or they may feel that they aren’t doing as well as others.
Well, you’re never going to do any better if you aren’t aware of your financial situation.
Being in the dark isn’t going to help anyone. It might actually hold you back because you’re just taking a random guess at everything.
However, if you know things like the average salary for a person in your position, you’ll be able to use that information to your advantage. It can help you negotiate a raise so you are paid fairly for your work and can start earning more.
Also, by knowing how much a person is paying for rent or even car insurance, you’ll know if you are paying too much. This can help you make changes that will allow you to start saving more money.
The list of reasons for how talking about money can help everyone goes on and on.
Knowledge is power, and knowing more about money will help you!
2. Being aware of your own finances is important.
If you take anything out of this article, it should be that fully understanding your family’s financial situation is a must.
There are many financial horror stories where one spouse doesn’t realize the other has hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Or, one spouse thinks the family is financially sound, when in reality, the truth is the exact opposite.
I’ve heard so many people say that they have no idea what their monthly mortgage or rent payment is, they don’t know how much they are putting towards retirement, and so on.
Many people don’t even like talking to their partner about money!
Even more shocking, some are completely unaware of what their household debt is and can’t even estimate what they might owe. Or, if they do make a guess, their spouse blurts out how wrong they are.
Sadly, this is surprisingly common.
Talking about money in relationships is an important part of a financially sound partnership. A family who has regular money talks and budget meetings is more likely to be financially successful and happier than a family that doesn’t.
There are many ways for these talks to help you and your family.
- You can work together and succeed. If you and your partner are both putting effort towards your financial goals, you can tackle them as a team and are much more likely to have a positive outcome.
- A lack of money communication can lead to financial infidelity. According to an article on Forbes, 20% of those in the U.S. keep financial secrets, and 7% of people between the ages of 18-49 have a secret bank account or a secret credit card they keep from their partner.
- Knowing your financial situation will help you keep a budget. Understanding your financial situation means you can create and keep a budget that works for you. You will know more about the amount of money you are spending, whether you are living paycheck to paycheck, and more.
- Being aware of your finances may prevent everything from falling on one person. Everyone in a partnership should be aware of their financial situation. It’s not fair for one person to manage it all, and you would be in for a rude awakening if something were to happen to that person.
- Being involved can help you with your family’s goals. It would be quite difficult for a person to work towards their family’s financial goals if they weren’t aware of their financial situation. You need to know the issues that are keeping you from reaching those goals so you know how to overcome them. Also, being involved is motivating to both you and your partner.
- Regular money talks can lead to less fighting. When you are open about money in your relationship, you are less likely to have financial surprises and money fights. This is because conducting regular money talks and budget meetings means you will both be aware of what’s going on.
Recommended for talking about finances in a relationship: Family Budget Meetings – Yes, You Need To Have Them
3. Talking about money teaches your children valuable lessons.
Even though I don’t have kids, I remember being one and how my parents handled money. My dad taught me many valuable lessons about money and I think that’s why I’ve become good at managing it in my adult life. He taught me the value of using credit cards responsibly, the power of frugal living, and more.
Sadly, many parents are scared to talk to their kids about money. In fact, according to a 2017 T. Rowe Price study, 69% of parents are hesitant to talk to their children about money.
When you avoid talking to kids about money, you are teaching them that money talks are taboo, and I’ve already explained how beneficial it is to talk about money. Talking about money is teaching them good financial values and setting them up for future success.
Here are some basics from ChildMind.org for talking to kids about money:
- Start teaching your kids about money from a young age so they can develop positive habits. But, it’s never too late to start.
- Involving them in small daily conversations is very important. You can talk to your kids about why you’re cooking dinner at home instead of going out to eat.
- Model good behavior – your habits, good or bad, teach your kids a lot.
- Allowance should be something they earn, not an expected weekly gift.
- A savings account can teach children about budgeting, saving for big purchases, delayed gratification, and more.
- Some parents teach their kids to break down their money into three different categories – spending, saving, and donating – to teach their kids about money and their place in the world.
- It’s okay for your child to make financial mistakes. Trial and error is how we all learn, and learning those lessons early on are a part of future financial success.
4. It doesn’t have to be rude or awkward to talk about money.
The example in the beginning of the article where my friend asked about money on Facebook was something I was happy to see because I know how important it is to talk about money. And like I said, they were just looking for motivation and support. They were also excited that they were finally starting to save.
But, many of the responses made them feel like they were doing something wrong.
This makes me so sad, because talking about money can be something that helps so many people. Personal finance can be really confusing. There are complicated financial terms, commonly misunderstood information, myths, and more.
You can teach someone so much valuable information when you talk about money. We go to our close friends and family for things like relationship advice, why wouldn’t we trust them with financial topics?
Saying “let’s talk about money” is letting them know that they can trust you for motivation, guidance, support, etc. You can lift each other up and help others reach their goals.
It doesn’t have to be awkward, and you can talk about money in a way that helps everyone.
Here are a few suggestions for talking about money with your family and friends:
- Talk about your financial goals and why you want to reach them.
- Share how much debt you have and how you’re trying to change it.
- If you know a great way to save money, share it with others.
- Brainstorm ideas for making more money.
There are many ways you can start talking about money with others in your life, and it can really help out everyone involved.
Do you think that people who talk about money are distasteful? Why do you think people don’t like to talk about money?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
It’s interesting how it varies so much from culture to culture.
I wish more people talked about money, growing up my family was financially stable and religious, I believed I was a good person and we were good people. But imagine going to church and hearing things like “money is the root of all evil”
Such statements make good, honesty hard working people feel bad for having money, thinking of money and even just wanting more money.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Yes, I wish more people talked about money as well.
I’ve just started really talking about money, especially with a life coach who has helped me immensely. Just bringing my awareness to the fact that I felt controlled by my debt and bills, but I can actually take control and reign it all in. I’ve cut some monthly fees I didn’t need to be paying, reduced the interest rate on all of my debt, and I have a plan going forward as to how I’m going to pay it all off. It feels liberating! I finally feel powerful around money. It’s not going to control me anymore.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Wow, great to hear!
Mr Fundamental says
I don’t think talking about money is distasteful. I think that people confuse how much money they make/have with their self-worth. Having or making a lot of money does NOT make you a better person than anyone else.
People with money perhaps don’t want to feel like they are bragging or don’t want to make people without feel bad.
People without money perhaps don’t want to feel embarrassed/shamed for not making as much as someone else.
Wouldn’t it be great if people stopped competing about how much stuff and fancy things they have? Stop thinking that spending a bunch of money that you don’t actually have makes you superior. 🙂
Another great post! Hopefully I didn’t rant too much.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I definitely think there’s a lot of reasons for why many people don’t like talking about money.
Laura Benjamin says
Sometimes people have funny ideas about what will get you sued. For example, I was once told that paying off my mortgage early was a bad idea because if it got out that I had, someone would be more likely to sue me.
Maybe it’s paranoid but people who have money often work to hide the fact, lest they be victimized.
I don’t have that problem. I don’t like talking about not having money for this or that so I keep my mouth shut when acquaintances talk matter-of-factly about their two condos, thirty-foot yachts, and hiring a contractor to landscape their summer camps.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Yeah, I’ve heard this as well. It’s weird!
I totally agree that we should be having more conversations about money! Talking more openly about money can help everyone involved. I once talked to a roommate about car insurance, and found I was paying about twice what I needed to. I got right to work finding a better deal after finding out that information!
You hit on a good point about many people feeling embarrassed about their own personal financial situation. While financial mistakes or irresponsibility happen, it’s an awesome opportunity to acknowledge these situations and have someone help you with resolving them.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Yes, this is exactly what I mean! Without talking about it, it’d be impossible to know if you’re overpaying for something like car insurance.
In my Asian culture, it is still taboo to talk about money although I would like for that to change. Money or your material assets are used to measure your social status and because of that, most of us shy away from the subject to avoid judgement.
It’s an arcade form of thinking especially when money topic can used for positive means such as your inspiring income reports.
It’s always important to have a close relationship with money, not obsessing over it but understanding the ins and outs of its movement so we can control it better. Understand the problem first before deriving a solution… good ol math.
Yes! I totally agree with this! And I’m so shocked at the statistic you shared that 43% of couples have no idea what their partners earn.
Although, I will admit that I myself have only been more open to talk details and specifics about money in the last couple of years. While my husband and I have openly discussed money for some time now (casually or during family budget meetings), I haven’t been as comfortable sharing how much I earned with friends and family, and how much student loan debt had. It wasn’t that I found it taboo, but I was more ashamed of our situation – both that we were buried in debt and that we didn’t “make much.”
In the recent years, I decided to open up about it starting with my family, letting them know how much in the hole we were and what it costed us every month. Also, I developed a friendship with someone who I just felt so comfortable with and was able to openly discuss money with her. It was so comforting and eye-opening to hear someone else’s situation and perspective. We’d exchanged specifics and tactics related to money and our family. And just having a sounding board to validate that what I was doing was sound or maybe I needed to rethink something has been invaluable.
I’ve even decided to share our debt payoff journey as a way to hold myself accountable, keep track and making progress, and share what I’ve learned. I’ve found it to be so motivating and it helps me reflect along the way.
These have in a way felt liberating to me. We still have debt to pay, but we are half-way. But openly discussing it has made it feel lighter, in that it didn’t feel like that hidden secret, like you mentioned.
I also hope that others read this and take note of this advice and reconsider discussing the topic more openly if they felt otherwise.
Anne Moss says
That third reason is the most important one to me. Our boys are now 16 and 18 and we make a point of discussing our finances with them at home. This is the best way to prepare them for the real world. Thanks for a great post!
This is interesting. I was just debating how much to share from my aggressive debt free journey we’re about to go on. My first time around I paid off $180k student debt in 3 years. I thought people would benefit from my journey (plus the accountability didn’t hurt!). So I blogged about it sharing my spending and everything. I got quite a few emails that mainly judged my income (which was 6-figures at the time) and some of my spending lol. It has me a little reluctant to share again (we’re planning to pay off our house). I just feel like the more transparent you are, the more you can help others. I don’t know…something for me to continue thinking about. Thanks for this!