Why do we find talking about money so embarrassing? With family and friends we can generally talk fairly easily about sex, death, religion, politics – all the ‘big ones’ except money! It’s incredible to think that something as straightforward as money is arguably the last remaining taboo in modern society.
But there’s no doubt, we don’t like talking about how much we earn and we don’t like talking about how much we have – it’s just all too awkward (take a look at this survey). And that’s a problem.
If you don’t discuss money with your partner you’re storing up a whole heap of trouble. If you don’t discuss money with your kids, not only is the taboo of fear and worry around money passed on to them, but how (and where) will they ever learn good money habits?
In the wider world the stigma around talking about money has no doubt led to unfair pay gaps – of many varieties – and the reticence of companies to publicise salaries, even internally, only serves to reinforce pay inequality. In saying that, companies also realise that there are both motivating and demotivating effects of learning co-workers’ salaries so progress towards greater transparency is slow.
In the world of personal finance, the stigma of money, exacerbated by a general lack of financial education, works against those who need help and advice (from any quarter) with money and debt management – research clearly shows that speaking openly about money can lead to better financial knowledge and outcomes.
However there is good news. Millennials are much more relaxed about discussing money issues than previous generations. Their awareness of money management is being helped by online resources and a willingness to share financial experiences.
But for those of us who remain ‘pre-millennial’ here are a few tips …
- Talk to your partner about each other’s financial issues and goals.
- Have regular money conversations with your kids.
- Have casual chats about money with friends and colleagues.
- Don’t be afraid to openly discuss family inheritance plans.
- Look for free online help.
Remember, when it comes to money, it pays to talk!