One thing I don’t understand is the money taboo that’s currently going on.
I can talk to people about politics, religion, sex, about practically everything. I’m a naturally curious person, who never got of the ‘Why?’ phase.
But whenever I start talking about money, people get uncomfortable.
My friends are very used to me talking about money, so they will reply. However, an elaborate discussion about salary is not something they’re up for.
Despite that, my parents raised me to not talk about politics and religion when I’m in circles outside of my friends.
When I’m at that business lunch these subjects are best avoided to prevent making people uncomfortable or getting in an argument. Besides that, money discussion should also be avoided in this setting.
Apparently, money is one of the hardest things to talk about – little did I know before I entered the working force.
We’re discouraged to talk about money too often, but if you want to learn things about money and get your financial situation straight, talking about money is necessary.
Last week I visited my parents for the weekend. When we were having dinner Sunday evening, we were talking about how good the housing market was currently and how low the interest rates of mortgages currently are.
I asked my mom, “how much mortgage do you still have on the house, the biggest chunk is paid off, right? How much do you pay per month?” My mom responded, “I’d rather not say”. I was surprised, to say the least.
I told her, “Uhm what? You’re my mom, you raised me, you know my exact finances until the year I started working, but you would rather not say?”.
I continued, “I can tell you all my financials if you want to hear them: rent, salary, bonus, what do you want to know?”.
After I told her that, she answered one of my two questions.
Afterward, I was wondering, why is it so uncomfortable for her to talk about this? I’m not even asking her for her salary or her monthly income, I’m asking about how much do you pay for the house.
That’s the moment I realized that the money taboo is still very real.
We’re discouraged from talking about money, but I’m of the opinion that that’s where we can learn most!
So many people don’t have enough reference points to see that where they are currently standing is a normal situation. That’s where you can seek support or feel relief to know that others are in the same situation.
So I’ve made five advantages to break the money taboo and talk about money in public and private situations. I’ve worked hard on my money mindset over the last years through money affirmations and meditation, and want to share my lessons with you.
5 Reasons To Break The Money Taboo
1. It Helps You Grow
Breaking the money taboo helps you grow.
Firstly, it’s important to also know how to have hard conversations. To know how to break the ice, keep the conversation going, and not make it awkward for the other party.
Many of us want to talk about money – do it! It will only teach you skills on how to talk about money better in the future.
If you’re a freelancer, you might want to know what other freelancers providing similar services are asking and why. If you’re an employee, you might want to know how much salary would be average for your position.
Do you want to save, invest, or repay your debt? You can discuss what options are best for your specific financial and personal situation.
Learning how to ask these types of questions will get you a lot of practical advice that will help you grow.
Why? Because people love to help! They have all this knowledge around money, but they’re not allowed to share it with anyone.
I mean, if someone in my personal life would ask me how to invest, I would probably not stop talking for at least 10 minutes.
I have recommended my friends to start investing from my own initiative, but they’re not yet in the mental space to start.
It’s okay, I will help them when they feel confident enough to take the step!
2. It Helps Your Wallet
That brings me to my next point – breaking the money taboo for sure helps your wallet!
If talking about money is taboo and you’re avoiding the subject, you will forever stay in the dark.
When you don’t talk about money, you may now know:
- How much raise is fair to ask for
- What salary is average for the market
- How much a house in your area would cost
- What to charge to your clients if you’re freelancing
- How high the average rent is
When you ask other people these types of questions, you get a reference point.
I discuss my salary with my friends, which means that I found out when I was being underpaid for my education level and position. So I got a promotion and got a 21% salary raise after starting my
Now I’m very happy with my salary.
That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped asking. I’m still asking my friends how much they earn, but it has become less of an issue to me since now I’m happy with my salary.
3. It Strengthens Your Relationships
I ran into data from Fidelity, which states that 43% of American couples failed to identify how much their partner makes. 10% of that got it wrong by more than $25,000.
That’s insane! Especially when you consider that the top predictor of divorce is couples who fight about money.
So people don’t know what their partner is making due to the money taboo, I can imagine fights will come up due to that!
I’ve heard about worse cases, where one spouse does not realize the other is not sharing all the money. Or, one spouse goes deep into debt without the other realizing for months.
Don’t be that person, talk about money with your family!
When you do talk about money, it strengthens your relationships.
It enables you to find common ground, you can talk about what you have learned from your situation, and you can help each other out in figuring out financial management.
4. It Changes Your Money Attitude
It’s important to talk about money, but what’s also important is how you talk about money.
If you are saying things to yourself like ‘I’ll always be broke’ or ‘I can’t afford to retire’, you have to be careful about that.
Changing your negative talk about money into positive talk will change your money attitude. Your money attitude can, and will, affect your money decisions.
5. Be The First
When no one is talking about money and people around you are considering talking about money taboo, it might be hard to break this in the beginning.
What can you do to break the initial money taboo? Go first!
What I found is that once you start talking about money, others would love to share with you whatever you want to know. They will share their struggles, ask you questions, and it will keep the door open to future financial conversations.
Some quick tips about breaking the ice for giving financial advice, because now you know you should!
Be Understanding And Helpful
When someone is having negative financial self-talk, it’s important to show the other that you understand. When someone shows empathy, it’s easier to receive their advice.
If they are not able to stay positive, you can do it for them. Give
Even better: give them options on how they can tackle their problems. Probably the how is what they need the most help with – offer that help.
Don’t Overdo It
You might be a very good personal finance blogger or someone who is passionate about finance for a long time, that doesn’t mean that you know everything. Some situations need expert advice.
Of course, you can help as much as you can, by giving them your knowledge and sharing your experience. Where you’re not sure anymore, don’t be hesitant to point the other person towards a professional.
They Are Making The Decisions
Ultimately, it’s their decision.
If they want to continue down the same road, despite the advice given to them, that’s their choice. I know it’s hard to watch, but the hard lessons you learn yourself are the lessons that stick.
Talking with friends and family about finances and giving them advice can be uncomfortable. But, when you go through that initial phase, the results will be amazing.
There are a million ways you can start making money a topic of discussion, it will help everyone involved in the end. Breaking the money taboo one conversation at a time!
How do you experience talking about money? Are you trying to break the money taboo?
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.