Shattering Taboos

Taboo

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ta·boo

-adjective

1.  proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable: taboo words.

There is a societal prohibition against talking about money, especially actual money.  Talking about a deal, or the hypothetical bundle you lost on the Super Bowl is  ok, but discussing how much money you make, or how much you have saved for retirement is almost as bad as talking about sex.  In many social circles, it’s far worse.

Money is one of the primary causes of divorce, second only to infidelity.   It can cause myriad problems, including anxiety, depression, paranoia, impotence, impulse spending, gambling, social isolation, suicide,  and murder.   Yet even therapists hesitate to discuss finance with their patients.

Occasionally to the chagrin of my family and friends, I’ve almost completely destroyed that taboo in myself.   After spending a year and a half writing about everything I do financially, I’ve found myself with very little hesitation to talk about my finances in real life.   I don’t mind discussing my credit card debt, my projections on paying off my mortgage, or almost anything else, with the exception of my salary.   I’ve never seen anything good come from coworkers comparing paystubs.   Somebody always gets hurt feelings.

Aside from that one exception, I think it’s healthy to talk about money.  How many kids launch into adulthood financially clueless because their parents wouldn’t talk about money?    How many marriages could be saved if couples would talk about their financial problems before they became financial disasters?

How can you go about breaking down the mental barrier to talking about money? Starting a personal finance blog and writing three to four times per week for a couple of years isn’t a practical solution for everyone.

Start small.

Mention the fact that you have a credit card balance(assuming you do) when you are talking to a friend.   Suggest a coworker appeal his property taxes, or offer a couple of tips to help your cousin negotiate her rent.

Most importantly, start having these conversations with your spouse/significant other/life partner.   If you can plan to spend the rest of your life with someone, you can certainly plan to discuss one of the most important topics in your life with her.   If you can’t, are you really a good fit?

Try it.  Break down that taboo. Your life will be better for it.

Are you afraid to talk about money?

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  • 3 comments

    Comments

    1. 9/11/2001 caused me to break my money talk taboos with my kids. After that day I realized that if my spouse and I both kicked the bucket the (grown) kids would have a terrible mess figuring out our estate.

      We have also started annual family meetings with the kids and their families to talk about family finances and other things as well.

    2. People’s financial status is part of their private life. Talking about money matters within the family is perfectly healthy. Making your all the members aware of the finances of the family can be beneficial. It can make them full aware that money is valuable, giving them responsibility to spend wisely at the early stage of their lives. Teaching them how to save money for the betterment of their future.

      On the other hand, talking about finances to other people or publicly is another thing. Not as a taboo,but it can exploit the possibility of being discriminated. Everyone have problems with money, even to rich ones. If there will be no discrimination on social classes, I think talking about money matters is not a taboo anymore.

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