Ahh, money. That pesky subject that nobody seems to enjoy talking about. But like it or loathe it, money is a topic that affects us all.
We’ve listed some of the most common reasons why people don’t want to talk about their finances. But we’re also looking at why it is actually important to chat about money, and how to start the money conversation.
Why talking about money feels weird
Here in the UK, we don’t tend to speak about money — it’s often more taboo than our bedroom activities. And because it’s such a rarely discussed topic, when someone talks very openly to us about money, a whole range of questions spring up:
From “Wow, where is this coming from? Why is money on their mind — are they struggling?” to “Is this guy showing off? Doesn’t he know it’s icky to talk about money?”.
No one is born with an encyclopaedic knowledge of how finances work, and very few people seem to be talking about money in an open and empathetic way. So why are we all being so hard on ourselves and keeping silent about the big elephant in the room? Loqbox did some digging to find out why:
6 reasons why people don’t discuss money
We asked our Loqbox members what their main reasons were for avoiding talking about money, and the results are pretty interesting (but also very understandable, in our opinion):
1. "I don't want to be judged"
When talking about our finances, it’s easy to anticipate judgement on your income source, how much you earn, or not being able to clearly understand complex financial issues off the top of your head — and if you don’t work in a financial services role, or have had to deal with those issues in the past, you probably wouldn’t just know that stuff, anyway.
The truth is that no one deserves to be financially judged, because our circumstances and lives are all so different! Most of us are just trying our best, after all.
So if you prefer to reserve your financial story for compassionate ears, that’s absolutely fine to do so. And if, in the meantime, you’d like to build up your financial know-how, feel free to check out Loqbox Learn to help you feel more confident about all things money.
2. "It could be awkward"
Uncomfortable, embarrassing, difficult, shameful, hard-to-navigate. Take a pick of which adjective would best describe how awkward the conversation about money might feel. Culturally, we don’t tend to speak openly about money, so we’re typically out of practice with it.
There are certain situations in which we can expect to talk money and prepare ourselves beforehand. For instance, there’s a lot of job interview preparation to do for the question “So what are your salary expectations?” and even then it’s an “Argh” moment!
Without doing market research beforehand to see what others in your field are earning, you may prefer to involuntarily fold into a tiny origami stork and fly away, rather than negotiate that on the spot.
But what about when the conversation topic is a little less expected? That type of awkwardness will likely stem from either:
a) Being unprepared to answer financial questions, or
b) Causing yourself, or someone else, to experience that stomach-dropping feeling of judgement (see point 1).
Having a chat with a trusted friend or family member will be the best way to ‘feel out’ whether they're open to chat money, because you know them well enough to sense if a topic is out of their comfort zone or not. If they freeze and their shoulders lock up at their ears, then you know they aren’t open to talking about it… But they may seem willing to chat, so if they do, preparation is key.
Practice opening the line in a polite way that flatters the person you’re speaking to (something like “can I get your opinion on something?”, or “do you mind me asking…?”), and when you’re ready — go for it!
3. "It's no one else's business"
Totally — your money is your business, and we’re certainly not suggesting you spill the beans on information that you’re not comfortable disclosing. But there always seem to be those people who want to show you just how well they’re doing financially – regardless of whether you want to hear it or not. So if the reason why you’re feeling tight-lipped is because everyone else seems to be doing “better” than you, then try not to worry.
We live in a time when social media tends to warp our perception of wealth and how “well” everyone is doing — financially, romantically, etc. If you find yourself scratching your head wondering how that person you went to school with affords all these nights out, trips abroad, a new car, and designer clothes — you are not alone! It’s bewildering.
Try to remember that showing off on social media leaves big pieces of the puzzle out that you can’t see. Perhaps your old schoolmate is a hardcore saver. Or comes from significant generational wealth. Or they could be getting themselves into a large amount of debt. (Or maybe they sold their kidney – but if that’s the case, we wouldn’t advise following suit.)
Instead of getting distracted by what everyone else is doing, concentrate on your own version of wealth and aim for the happy place of being financially stable. You’ve got this!
4. "I was taught not to"
Chances are that a lot of the reasons on this list come from a core memory revolving around this one. Even if it wasn’t your parent or guardian teaching this etiquette, the media or society at large may have embedded it into your subconscious – and the old belief that you’re *not allowed* to openly discuss salary doesn’t help.
It may even be that you weren’t taught to talk about money, because the adults leading you still hadn’t figured it out by then, either.
Our money makes a difference to our emotional wellbeing, as well as our bank balance, and it can be managed with a little help and guidance. Check out Loqbox Coach for some simple steps to get started.
5. "It feels impolite"
If we’re being taught not to talk about money (see above), it’s only logical that we’d carry sentiments of it feeling really impolite to bring it up.
If you were taught it’s rude to talk about money as a child, that’s not your fault. The problem is that if you were taught it’s rude, and so was everyone else around you, how do we break down the barrier and create a safe space when we need a little help?
If you are feeling silenced by the way our society doesn’t let us talk openly about money, then it’s likely to assume that someone you know is feeling the same way. Test the waters with a trusted confidante, and together, you may both feel a bit better about your financial situations.
6. "It could offend someone"
We get it, the last thing you want is to start chatting to someone about their finances and upset them in the process. They may be under huge amounts of financial pressure, causing them to feel stressed or low.
That could also be a good reason to get that conversation started, though. If you think someone you know may be struggling with debts and need some help, you could kindly point them to MoneyHelper.org or StepChange for some free professional advice.
Why it’s important to talk about money
When was the last time you had an open and honest chat about your money situation? Without clear communication, problems could start to arise in your personal life. A study by Royal London found that nearly two thirds of adults argue with their partner about money. Nearly one in four believe their partner to be irresponsible with money.
By avoiding conversation topics like…
- Comparing both partner’s attitudes toward saving money
- Asking how your family members would manage debt
- Or checking your valued co-worker’s salary isn’t leaving them behind compared with everyone else on the team
…we also prevent ourselves from seeking the wellbeing support needed to live a financially happy and fulfilled life. Loqbox has said it before, and we’ll say it again: “money is emotional” — and it affects how we view ourselves, causing a ripple effect on our mental and physical health too.
How can I start the conversation?
We’re not well practiced at the art of open discussion when it comes to money. At least not in public. Behind the doors of your family or close friends’ homes, it may feel like a safer place to speak about it because they know you, you know them, and there’s mutual care for each other.Be brave, be polite and be open. It’s fine to take baby steps, and keep it within a close circle of friends, family or professional advisors. But if we can all do this — we’ll start to break down the stigma of money. Together, we may be able to shoo that big old elephant out of the room.