The Money Talk Taboo: 5 Reasons We Should Be Talking More About It

by Jessica Sommerfield · 2 comments


Whether at a family reunion or a business lunch, we all know to avoid topics like politics and religion if we want to stay out of arguments and avoid making people feel uncomfortable. Another taboo topic that can be even more uncomfortable for people to discuss is money – specifically, personal finances.

Americans consider money as one of the hardest topics to talk about with others. In many cases people think personal finance is even harder to talk about than death, politics and religion! Knowing how passionately we tend to feel about the rest of these topics hints at the emotions tied to the money we carry in our wallets and bank accounts.

And talking about money doesn’t get any easier inside our homes either. Although we could discuss the many reasons we have for avoiding money talk with family and close friends, let’s look, instead, at five advantages of talking about it more in both private and public circles.

1. Talking about money impacts our ability to enjoy a good relationship with our spouses and family members.
Too many people in our country avoids having a serious conversation about finances with their partner, as most people feel uncomfortable discussing their personal finances with their significant other.

Being unwilling to discuss something as important and integral to a partnership as finances, breeds distance or even distrust in any relationship. There may be hurdles and differences to reconcile (we all come from diverse backgrounds with different money values), but talking about finances can open doors to greater understanding — enabling couples and families to find compromises and common ground, learn from one another’s strengths, and help each other learn and grow in financial management.

2. It can help you find answers to questions and grow in financial knowledge and wisdom.
Even in the business or social world, being willing to speak up about money can help you succeed in life. Many of us have questions about our finances. For freelancers, it might be how much money to charge clients; for an employee, it might be how much salary we should ask for; in the investment, savings, and debt-repayment realms, it might be which options are best for our personal situation.

Being too timid or embarrassed to ask these types of questions holds us back from getting practical, valuable advice we can use to grow.

3. Vocalizing a more positive language around money can help you change your money attitudes.
Talking about money is one thing, but there’s also how we talk about money. Are you overly negative about your financial outlook, saying things like ‘I’ll never get out of debt,’ ‘I’m always broke,’ or ‘I’m going to have to work until I’m 90 because I can’t afford to retire’?

Not only talking about money, but purposing to talk about it more positively, can help you change your attitude. Your attitude, in turn, can directly affect the financial decisions you make and your ability to improve your financial situation.

4. Talking to our kids about money can help them develop good financial attitudes and habits.
Parents need to talk to their kids about money too. With limited financial education in schools, kids are left to learn by example – whether from you or from their peers. Hopefully you’re modeling good financial habits, but discussing your struggles, what you’ve learned, and just being real about money with your kids can make a huge impact on their ability to manage their own finances in the future.

5. Being the first to break the ice can make others feel more comfortable talking about money, too.
Just because no one else is talking about money doesn’t mean it’s taboo. Start talking about it, and you’ll be surprised at how relieved others are to be able to share their struggles as well. You could be the one who opens the door to financial growth for many others, so consider taking that first step.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • I think talking about finance in general is very positive. Talking details with a spouse or money coach is VERY important. Getting into details publicly or with a group though can sometimes have a negative effect. Perhaps because we, as a society, aren’t comfortable with the topic, but still… it can create discontent sharing details outside of close relationships.

  • freebird says:

    I think this is one area where you might want to try something in social media that is well-moderated and where the posters are in a similar situation to you with similar life goals. Unfortunately too many of us are not very knowledgeable on this topic and our behavior is usually not exemplary, so just getting input from random people around you may not give you what you need.

    Another benefit comes from online anonymity. So long as you treat your online persona at arm’s length, you can feel free to ask and suggest without fear of being judged. Even if you’re well-off I think it’s worth an occasional read because you’re likely to learn something that could prove to be useful.

    Of course the downside is most of the interaction involves using a keyboard and having to communicate effectively in writing, both of which most people would find to be inconvenient. But if you keep things short and simple and watch out to never share too many details that could identify you, it should be a good resource.

    My advice: from what I hear much of what appears on Facebook tends to push in the opposite direction to good financial behavior, so maybe ease out of that and instead tune into something like Dave Ramsey or personal finance blogs like this one.

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