Most people are more willing to talk about sex, politics, and religion than about money. Why is personal finance such a taboo subject?
Your parents probably gave you the “birds and the bees” talk but did they ever talk to you about money? A lot of parents don’t and that seems to carry over into our adult lives. That personal finance is so taboo is handicapping a lot of us when it comes to knowing how to manage our money.
It’s not polite to flash money around and to brag about how much you make or spend but it shouldn’t be shameful to discuss the opposite problem, how little money you have or, more importantly, how little you know about money. Imagine being illiterate and not asking for help learning to read. What a disadvantage you would be at in every area of life. Being financially illiterate is no less devastating and if no one knows, no one can help you.
There’s more openess now because of the internet and the anonymity it affords us but for a lot of people, money matters can be such a shameful thing. It’s hard to admit that you’re drowning in debt or that you can’t fully take care of your family. It’s also hard not to feel judged. Everyone wants to compare themselves and if you tell someone who is a banker that you’re a janitor, it takes a superhuman sense of self worth not to feel looked down on.
It can work the other way too. Maybe you’re rolling in it. But you don’t tell people because you’re afraid they’ll hit you up for money or that they will feel judged and lacking. Or maybe you think people will resent you.
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But not talking about money can mean you lose money. Especially in the workplace. If you don’t know what others in your industry and especially, what your colleagues are making, how do you know if you’re being fairly compensated? You don’t and that’s what employers want. Some even go so far as to tell employees they are forbidden to disclose their salaries. This is not true, in fact it is illegal. Now I don’t suggest you post a spread sheet of what everyone makes on the bathroom wall because they’ll find another reason to fire you. But it’s important information that you have a right to know.
Next time you’re out with friends or colleagues, gently bring the subject around to money. If you’re honest about where you are and your short comings, others might be willing to share their stories too. If you have something to teach, teach it. If you have something to learn, be willing to learn it. You can talk about your sex life at the next outing.
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