Did you know more Americans (44 percent) find it difficult to talk about personal finances than death (38 percent), politics (35 percent), religion (32 percent) or their health (20 percent)? Little wonder then that money management consistently ranks as one of the top stressors in Americans’ lives — many are just not comfortable talking about it.
There’s often an unfortunate sense in families and social groups that money is “out of bounds” or “taboo” as far as discussion topics go. Meanwhile even as people are constantly thinking about money, there’s no healthy outlet for discussing it.
Well, the first step toward change is recognizing this phenomenon and identifying the factors fueling it. Here are three reasons we should all talk about money more.
#1: Financial Knowledge Is Power
As a leading wealth advice expert notes for NBC News, knowledge is power when it comes to personal finances — and talking with others can help people “demystify the subject of money.”
A perfect example? Women facing a gender pay gap are only able to take actions toward closing it if certain information gets shared — like the amount and pervasiveness of that pay gap within their companies and in general. Sharing information related to salaries and experience can help employees advocate for themselves when it comes time to negotiate.
#2: Financial Silence Can Fuel Negative Feelings Like Shame
A feeling many borrowers associate with guilt is shame — and this feeling of shame can stop us from seeking help when we should; be it from a professional (like a credit counselor) or from a loved one.
The less we talk about debt — which is actually very common in America — the more space we give feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment to flourish. As NerdWallet outlines, feeling shame about owing money or dealing with financial issues can make borrowers want to hide from their problems rather than face them head on.
Having people with whom you can honestly discuss money and debt may help chip away at some of these counterproductive negative feelings, helping borrowers feel more ready to acknowledge and tackle them productively.
Imagine the feeling of being able to talk about your debt struggles with your best friend — or with a trained credit counselor — after years of trying to minimize them. It would feel freeing, right? Breaking down the stigma of owing money and facing other financial challenges starts with being able to have these worthwhile conversations.
#3: Other People Are a Treasure Trove of Advice & Experiences
When you start talking about money, you may even be surprised to learn people you know and admire have been in your shoes. Other people are a veritable treasure trove full of advice and firsthand experiences, whether it’s explaining how debt settlement works, discussing how they negotiated a raise at work or sharing homegrown budgeting tips for beginners.
The ability to talk about personal finances opens us up to a new world in which we can learn from others’ mistakes and victories. In other words, openly discussing money can help us boost our financial literacy as we learn to admit and discuss mistakes, as well as share advice and observations with others in similar situations.
The pervasive silence around money hurts us all. It reinforces the shame around money-related mistakes and carrying debts. It keeps us from looking at our problems from new angles and exchanging valuable advice. It upholds old systems that require teamwork to change. These are just a handful of the major reasons we can all benefit from talking about money more.