Talking about money is considered taboo by a majority of Americans. We’re more open to talking about sex, politics, or religion than we are to discussing personal money matters. Unfortunately, not talking about it keeps many Americans financially illiterate and ignorant of what it takes to become financially healthy.
Money is a very intimate subject. Don’t believe me? Next time you get together with your friends or family ask the following questions and see how willing they are to answer them.
- How much are you currently saving each month?
- How much debt do you have right now?
- What’s your yearly income?
- How much is your rent/mortgage payment?
- How much is your mobile phone, internet, or cable bill?
- Are you saving enough for college or retirement?
Be prepared for some negative reactions and maybe even a potential, “mind your own business pall!”
We have a resistance to talking openly about our money. A survey by Ally Bank found that 70 percent of Americans say they think it’s rude or inappropriate to discuss personal money matters in social settings. Now, I understand the need for privacy, but it’s not the sharing of bank account numbers and online usernames and passwords we’re talking about here!
Why we don’t like to talk about money
Money is more than money
Money is deeply personal because it impacts us at an emotional/heart level. Whether we realize it or not, we sometimes use money to relieve our deepest fears and insecurities. Dave Ramsey said, “we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been guilty of buying things to impress others. What Dave’s saying is that we sometimes make financial choices not because they are the best choices for us, but because we hope the things we buy will make us more likable, more acceptable, and more lovable.
I’m the only one that can’t figure this out
When it comes to money, admitting to someone else that we don’t have it all figured out is scary. Most of us who have experienced financial problems believe we’re the only ones who don’t know how to manage money well and we don’t want anyone else to know it. We’re afraid of being laughed at if others find out how messed up we are.
The ongoing lack of personal finance education means a majority of us have struggled or will struggle financially. Statistics like, 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and 57% have less than $1000 in savings, further prove that money problems is not an issue of the minority, but of the majority. You’re not alone! The sooner you open up and talk about it the sooner you’ll realize how common this issue is and what you can do to get help.
Ego, pride, being a man
Soon after I recognized that our finances were a mess I stumbled upon a daily radio program devoted to teaching personal finances. I listened to this 30-minute program every day, and every day the host would share about the resources he had developed to help people just like me. Do you know how long it took me to make the call and ask for those resources? ONE YEAR!!!
Pride, self-reliance, stubbornness, and the fear of admitting to someone else that I didn’t know what I was doing kept me from getting help sooner. Don’t let that happen to you. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Women are generally more willing to talk about money and ask for help, not so for men. Pride is the number one reason men refuse to talk openly and honestly about money. In my experience, when a couple needs financial counseling the woman will make the call to initiate the process 70% of the time.
There are two reasons men don’t like to talk about money, especially to other men. 1) We believe this is a problem we should be able to fix on our own, we just need more time. 2) What can someone else tell me that I don’t already know?
Unfortunately, if you continue doing the same thing you’re going to get the same results and more time won’t solve your problem. Regardless of what you know, there’s a good chance that talking with someone will give you a perspective or resources that you don’t have, which will make all the difference.
It’s time to flip the script on this wrong belief that talking about money is rude or inappropriate. I hope for the day when talking about money will not only be widely accepted but encouraged. I believe that generation and the ones that follow will be much better for it.