Money. Such a touchy subject! It’s a well-known fact that money is one of the top causes of stress. In addition, it consistently ranks among the most often cited reasons for divorce. It’s no wonder that no one wants to talk about it and it always makes the short list of topics that are totally taboo. Or does it? I spent a bit of time scrolling around on the internet and getting a feel for what experts, writers, and the general public think when it comes to discussing money. I discovered that everyone is talking about why it’s bad that we’re not talking about money! I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I think we should talk about money more, with spouses and with friends. Here’s why:
With your Spouse – Do you know how much money your spouse makes? A 2015 survey by Fidelity says you don’t. My favorite quote from the summary was this, “When asked how much they will need to save to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement, nearly half (48 percent) have “no idea”—and 47 percent are in disagreement about the amount needed. This level of disagreement is highest among those who are closest to retirement—Baby Boomers (born 1946-64).” What’s most alarming about that figure is that the Baby Boomer generation is the one that is entering retirement on a daily basis as we speak! How can you plan for a future together when you’re not sure what you want and what it’s going to require financially to achieve it? We know and accept that money is a foundational factor in our relationships with our spouses and partners. It permeates almost every element of our lives and it’s completely unavoidable. So embrace it! Talk about what money means to you, what emotions it makes you feel, and what you believe good money management habits can do for you. Talk about your goals for your family, short-term and long-term, and the financial sacrifices you’re willing to make. Talk about your strengths and shortfalls when it comes to money management skills. Lean on each other for support and work together!
With your Friends – We talk about the most deeply personal subjects with our friends. We disclose intimate details of our lives and look for love and support from friends. We share our frustrations about our marriages, our inability to get the scale to budge, and our concerns about our children. It is from friends that we often learn about new ideas, or tips and tricks to improve some element of our lives. And yet, so many of us stop short of talking about money, even in the most casual of terms. I’m not suggesting that a conversation about salary or bonuses is an appropriate topic, but I believe that friends can be an excellent sounding board when it comes to money. I can easily imagine, for example, the great ideas that can be shared about how couples manage money together, what online tools they use to keep track of their budget, or how they’re working with their children to learn good money habits. In a small group, or a one-on-one setting, sharing money stories may be a wonderful way to gain insight and ideas.
Talking about money is taboo? I don’t think so! It’s time to liberate conversations about money between spouses, family, and friends for a more enlightened, money-smart community!
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