In today’s world, information is at our fingertips. We can look up almost anything about a celebrity, a politician, a friend or even a stranger with just a few clicks. We discuss how much income the latest movie raked in, how Oprah just made another few millions with a new show, criticize the government for making poor financing decisions and after all those pay deductions, where do our taxes really go? These topics about money, wealth and income are all too common but why is it taboo to discuss your own income and finances with your friends, family and colleagues?
We’ve been taught asking how much others make and spend is inappropriate and much too personal. Most people would rather avoid the tension and the uncomfortable feelings than continue the question about their paycheques, car finances, school loans and more. According to a Wells Fargo survey released in 2014, 44% of Americans surveyed say that finance is the most challenging conversation. Even more challenging than death (38%), politics (35%), religion (32%), taxes (21%) and personal health (20%). In another Wells Fargo survey of 2013, more than half said debt is their biggest financial concern currently. If discussion and seeking advice is the way to a better life, what makes these topics so challenging and taboo to discuss?
Reasons Behind The Challenge:
- Money Reveals Personal Traits and Capabilities
The moment you say the magic number, your pay and debt that is, it automatically opens up a treasure chest of your personal traits, skills, knowledge, expertise, will power and abilities. How much do you make? Are you owing much? It’s embedded in us to avoid these questions, because in our cultural upbringing our income is considered private and confidential, discussion of which is limited to the Human Resources department and maybe your spouse. What’s unveiled behind this secretive belief is that income is an indication of how far we’ve gone with our will, capabilities and determination. These are often subject to judgement and comparison. People generally want to avoid being judged or compared to. Debt brings up stereotypes of “out of control” spending, lack of will power etc. We rather not reveal how much we’ve spent or what amounts we owe, because it speaks to our will power, responsibility, weaknesses and may open up the door to insecurity, and no one wants to open that door.
- Money Is a Reflection of Status
We live in a society where status counts, and status is continuously shown through money and how it’s spent. Spending is an indication of self-control. A lot can be said with how you choose to spend your money and where you allow your money to take you. There’s investment spending, which indicates long term thinking and possibility of gain. There’s impulsive buying, which triggers self control and short term thinking. Saving money is a great indication of staying conservative and having personal goals and the future in mind. As they say, money talks!
- How Talking Money May Benefit You
Overcoming the above challenges may help you discuss money in a lighter way and reach a higher potential in your personal finances. We discuss cars, clothes, dating, family, kids and learn through each others’ experiences, it’s the same thing with money. Having an open dialogue may help you better at managing your finances, stay in control rather than in the dark. You will find that many people are going through the same challenges as you are. If you don’t talk about it you will never know.
Discussion is the best way to formulate challenges and come up with solutions and alternatives to the challenge. You may get asked questions you’ve never thought of, which will make you think and gain greater insight. You may see your challenge or success from a different view. People often have different understanding of finances and budgeting, sharing these viewpoints may help you tweak your budgeting strategy to a better way. Discussing income and payroll may put things in a better perspective for you, it may encourage you to go further with your career. It’s the “if he can do it, I can do it” attitude that aids your confidence and will to achieve more and make more money.
With financial challenges, taking accountability is the first step to having a solution. There are different ways to bring up the topic. There are different phrases and words that you can use which makes the discussion lighter and easier. For example, instead of saying “we’re broke” you can say “cash flow is a currently a challenge” or instead of saying “we’re in so much debt” say “we’d like to be debt free”. Stay positive in the conversation. Optimism is the key to success and reaching the next step up!