Why Don't You Like to Talk About Money?
There are real legitimate reasons why you don't like to talk about money.
How much did you make last year?
Do you have credit card balances?
How much have you saved for retirement?
Did any of these questions make you squirm? Did your pulse quicken? You are not alone. Many Americans feel uncomfortable talking about money.
Some people come from families who do not talk about money.
Maybe your family was comfortable financially and they thought that it was gauche to discuss finances. After all, there was always enough money, and you did not want to sound like you were bragging if you talked about how much things were worth. Or maybe you were raised in a family with less means where frequently there was “more month than money.” You may have been raised by parents who did not want to talk about money because it was stressful topic. They might not have wanted to share their worries with their children so they said nothing at all. My parents didn’t discuss money with me either. I remember one time when I was young my mother said to me, “You do not know the value of a dollar!” I don’t remember what I was asking to buy, but I do remember thinking, “What is the value of a dollar?” Maybe that is part of the reason why I became a financial educator.
Money is a loaded topic for Americans.
We are a consumerist society after all. Many of us want the bright new shiny objects that are out there in the marketplace, and it takes money to buy them (or credit, but don’t get me started on that topic right now). You have heard of “keeping up with the Jones's” or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? Those are real things, my friends, and social media sharing doesn’t help. “Look at my wonderful vacation pics!” “View my new apartment!” “Take a peek at my latest restaurant meal!” Ugh. I have turned off some social media feeds to avoid these “they are doing better than me” and “they are having fun without me” traps. After all, who wants to feel like they are the only one in their social group who can’t truly enjoy the pleasures of life? And if I am working so hard, why don’t I have what they have?
You feel like you can’t maintain the lifestyle that your social group has because you are doing something wrong.
Another reason why we don’t like to talk about money is the shame of feeling that the reason why we don’t have the big house or the new car is because we suck with money. And that feeling is far and wide. If I had a dollar every time I heard from a new acquaintance “Oh, you are a financial educator? I really could use your help!” (insert uncomfortable laughter here) I could fund my vacation account! Maybe that feeling of shame arises from the combined effects of a) not having parents that talked to you about money (see above) and b) not learning about personal finance in high school. I contend that if we need to take driver’s education in order to get behind the wheel, then we should be taking a personal finance course before we are given free license (no pun intended) to manage our own checking, savings and credit card accounts.
So what do we do about all this not talking about money? We’ve got to get this topic out into the open, plain and simple. But how, with all this bad manners and feeling left out and shame that we are doing it wrong? Check back for the next blog post to learn how to talk about money. It will transform your financial life.