Bring up the topic of money to your friends and family and you might get strange looks or someone telling you to mind your own business. It’s a topic many don’t feel comfortable talking about especially if it’s their own personal finances. Then there are those who feel money is a dirty word, with talks of it associated negatively. Whatever the reason we don’t talk about money is, I think it hurts us.
THE DEMOGRAPHIC THAT HURTS THE MOST
If it’s never talked about how do we improve or learn? I think there’s one huge demographic that is hurting most by not talking about money; our kids.
Growing up money was never talked about in my house, only that toys or junk food was too expensive and we couldn’t afford it. I never learned of taxes, income, assets and liabilities, interest, etc. unless it was a quick conversation when I saw my parents filling out their tax forms or on a trip to the bank.
I think if money wasn’t such a taboo topic parents would themselves learn a little more about money and pass on that knowledge to their kids. School is certainly not helping, it’s the responsibility of parents and guardians to teach their kids about money.
WE NEVER LEARN IF WE DON’T TALK
It’s been very recently that I started to teach myself about personal finance, thanks to awesome blogs like Financial Samurai and Retire by 40 I have learned a lot once I made it less of an awkward topic. I really have my wife to thank, she created a monster and got the ball rolling as she had a far better relationship with money than I had. It took not thinking it was taboo to start this monster though, which is why I think it’s holding us back.
There’s No Reflection
Until I was around 30 years old I had a terrible relationship with money. I consumed, consumed, consumed. I had no savings, no investments, no assets, only liabilities. I never even knew what a Roth IRA was, or even the difference between a liability or asset. Cash flow? Nope. All I knew about cash flow was it came in and went out, usually paycheck to paycheck with nothing but liabilities to show for it. I think if it were still a taboo subject for me, I would still have my head in the sand and still continue to be in the rat race; go to work, make money, spend spend spend. Now there’s less spending and more saving, looking for assets to gather.
It Ends Up Hurting Us Professionally
Are you comfortable talking about money? What about when you have to negotiate your salary or talk with a potential business partner about money arrangements? These things still make me uncomfortable and I have a long way to come to shake off the taboo feeling of money. We might be leaving money on the table by not being comfortable with these conversations.
It Doesn’t Help With Debt
Americans debt levels just reached an all-time high with $12.84 Trillion in household debt. Whoa. I think we should talk about it. I have over $100K in student debt at an average of 6.95% interest rate. Making minimum payments means I won’t start paying off some of the loans until 2022. Wish I would have started talking about money before signing those dotted lines. I think talking about it will help you build a support system, as well as help you find alternatives with lower interest rates. Once I started talking about money and my student loan debt many people have recommended student loan refinance options for me, saving me thousands in interest. Debt itself is a taboo topic, but if we talk about it I think it’ll help. Once you recognize or admit the problem you can fix it, right?
WHAT WE CAN DO
Talk. Learn about money at great sites like Investopedia or personal finance blogs. Teach yourself and your kids about money so it’s less of a taboo subject for you and you’ll start to have a healthier relationship with money. Tell your debt story to your kids, how interest impacts payments and paying off the debt. It could save them in the future. Start reflecting on how you spend, consume, and use money. You’d be surprised how being comfortable with money can help.