Many details of one’s personal life were kept out of public view in the older generations from the 20th century. This ideal hasn’t been passed down as well to the current adult generations, who have the ability to be completely anonymous while speaking to people across the globe. Anything you want to share can easily be sent; your private thoughts and feelings can be shared with hundreds or thousands of people.
The one topic that has maintained its privacy to some degree is personal finances. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a phrase alluding to the act of spending exorbitant amounts of money in order to project the appearance of being well-off. Often, the money used is in the form of credit card charges or borrowing from lenders who charge interest. These big spenders are actually fast diggers, and they are burying their own grave quickly by living this lifestyle. Many in this position, however, are too afraid or embarrassed to admit the truth and start talking about their real finances.
This can be dangerous, especially between partners or students and their parents. If more than one person has a say or opinion that must be taken into consideration regarding a specific set of finances, then all parties must know what really is going on. You can’t hide growing debt from your partner, who may still be buying clothes and take out regularly. This will not only draw you further into debt, but cause trust issues once the truth is revealed.
Similarly, it’s important to tell your parents when you are struggling with finances if they help you often. It may be as simple as you needing help going over your budget to find weak areas or as difficult as asking them to help you contact a loan lender when you are behind on payments.
Your parents (or partner) are on your side and want to support you — not judge you. It is important to be open and honest with every person who is affected by your financial decisions.
With that being said, personal finances is extremely personal. It’s a concept that may seem to go against the advice laid out above (to be open and honest with others about your finances), but it does not. Keeping your personal finances personal refers to the fact that no matter who is involved in helping you with your finances, they are your finances and should reflect your life.
Even if your parents help you with your finances, they are not the people intimately connected with the money in discussion. They are not the ones who will be spending the money in the end, deciding if the Chinese take out is worth it or if it will be just enough to break the budget. Their habits and expenses are not the ones that should be reflected by the budget.
On the other hand, if you have a partner who contributes to the finances and uses the money to live with you, their habits should also be reflected in what happens to the money in question. This takes collaboration in order to make sure that your habits and their habits can co-exist within the same budget.
While your instinct may be to shy away from any discussion of your finances, this shouldn’t always be the case. Many people around you will be willing to support you and help in any way they can, but you must keep the idea in the back of your mind that your personal finances are personal to you and no one else.