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7 ‘Taboo’ Money Topics We Should Be Openly Discussing - Money Psychology 
7 ‘Taboo’ Money Topics We Should Be Openly Discussing - Money Psychology 
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Money Psychology

7 ‘Taboo’ Money Topics We Should Be Openly Discussing - Money Psychology 

Money254
Njenga Hakeenah
November 15, 2021

Talking about money has always been a taboo subject for years across generations and cultures. 

What someone earns, spends, saves and so on, is often guarded as a private secret that even many couples would go to great lengths to avoid disclosing such details to one another. 

Depending on how we are socialised, we become what has been impressed upon us over time. That explains why the reluctance to engage each other on money-related topics is pervasive to date. 

A taboo is something that is culturally or religiously considered off-limits. It is however, not expressly stated but rather it is implicit as part of unwritten cultural norm against what would be deemed excessively repulsive. 

Historically, the discussion of personal finances has been viewed by the upper classes as unsophisticated and socially awkward. These attitudes towards money still pervade our society today.

Why Should We Be Talking About Money?

The reason people avoid discussing money is the pretext of good manners but in reality, there are many reasons including keeping financial details private not to appear showy or feel guilty because of having more than peers. Others will avoid the money subject to cover up their economic fragility while also trying to appear independent.

Sociologist Frederick Wherry says there is a difference in how people speak about money based on race. This notwithstanding, the working-class is more likely to openly discuss the challenges they face under difficult economic conditions.

Discussing the taboo money topics empowers people to learn about themselves and others and also how to handle money. Treating money as a taboo means that the inequalities at the family level and in society keep growing. 

Information is power and when people arm themselves with this, then it becomes easier to build a healthy money mindset and lifestyle thereafter.

Did you know that not discussing money makes you prone to predatory lending practices or pay discrimination at work?.

What are Some Taboo Money Topics/Subjects?

1.       Your Financial Goals

Who wants to be told what to do with their money?

If for example, you happen to be in a relationship, it is important to know your partner is on the same page with you financially. 

This is not always easy given the fact that many people grapple with financial goal setting, hold their financial goals too close to heart to share with others for the fear of embarrassment, derailment or being ‘robbed’. 

The discomfort that may come with letting oneself to be vulnerable and reveal the plan for their income and investment returns could make conversations strained or postponed by the underlying tendency to avoid ‘intrusion’. This could make money a taboo subject among couples. 

It is important to openly discuss both your attitudes and beliefs regarding money.

This may sound trivial but imagine the unlikely scenario of winning a lottery and both of you can’t agree on what to do with the money and then breaking up because of that. 

By discussing your goals, you both carry less emotional weight regarding money. Tackling this topic in advance helps you prepare yourself for when you have to make a major financial decision.

2.      Your Retirement Plans

Who wants to know my retirement plans and why? Well, it is good to be accountable to someone if you are to progress here.

To better action a retirement plan, or even embark on one, you would benefit much from discussing it with like-minded peers.

Retirement seems far away for many people until you blink and you’re packing your stuff out of the corner office.

Since saving for retirement does not come in a one-size-fits-all package, it is one thing not many people understand fully and they end up putting it off longer than necessary.

Speaking openly about saving practices and how much one has saved for their retirement enlightens others on long-term financial goals.

3.      Living in Debt

In keeping up with the Joneses, life can deal us different blows among them being unplanned debt. It is often difficult for many to discuss their debt be it a student loan, car loan, or credit cards.

Even though this is an uncomfortable topic, keeping it to oneself may be the easiest way to stay stuck in debt. Whether you are in default or have an ongoing ability to repay, debt is often complex and there is always more to learn to improve your relationship with debt. 

People who have gone through indebtedness and overcome bad borrowing habits, can be a good resource to ‘learn from the mistakes of others’

Equally helpful are conversations with people who have prudently used debt to fuel their financial dreams and increase their net worth. 

Downplaying your debt only gives false relief while the reality of living beyond one’s means remains.

4.      How Much Do You Earn?

If someone close to you asked you this question, would you flip? While many people would not want to discuss their income, having such conversations can open opportunities for betterment that otherwise could have been lost. 

There is really nothing to lose in discussing your  income with your peers and other people in your profession to get a good picture of where you stand and what needs to be done to take you to the next level. 

Having discussions on your income will not only help you feel good (or bad), but it will also open up your world to compare your compensation with what others are making in a similar role.

Also, the more information you have improves your confidence at negotiating your salary with your employer or a new one.

Beyond the context of salaries, understanding the incomes of others in your trade, commissions in other industries or regions, the competitive advantages that are giving your peers an edge and the many dynamics of business, freelance or contracting income can help you re-strategise and make more. 

Even the mere emotional effect of learning what others are making could (and should) potentially give you the impetus to take strategic steps to improving your current financial situation. 

5.      Spending and Budgeting

Just like with other taboo subjects, we tend to keep covered the basics of our finances. This makes it difficult to gauge your financial decision making in relation to others. 

It also denies one the opportunity to learn better spending habits and principles as well as the chance to be part of a community that encourages each other to continue on a positive path towards personal financial goals. 

By talking about money with your friends, it makes it easier to set and keep realistic expectations with your budget and a spending plan.

In discussing budgets, you’ll be surprised that social media pressures are unnecessary. Of course, the fact that discussing our budgeting and spending patterns is encouraged, you want to choose right-minded money buddies who do not rob you of the privacy you would want. 

6.      What Will Happen if You Die?

No one is ever really prepared for death but this does not mean that we should not plan our finances with it in mind.

Death as a subject is in itself a taboo to some so it is outrageous mixing money and death, right? Wrong!

It is good financial planning to discuss what happens to your wealth in the event of death. 

It is not the most cheerful discussion to have but planning ahead for your death will definitely make things so much easier for the ones you leave behind.

There is no shortage of drama and in some cases crimes that are associated with breadwinners dying without a will or disclosure of properties etc. owned. 

Apart from leaving a will, it makes good sense to ensure that your dependents (children, spouse etc.) are well taken care of in case you pass on by, among other things, taking a life insurance policy and longer-term investments that they can reap dividends from. 

What Are The Benefits of Talking About Money?

Better Understanding of Finances

By discussing money, we will gain a better understanding of who we are and where we are financially.

We do not discuss money because we do not know much about it. Our knowledge may be blurry on savings or retirement. Instead of not wanting to talk about what we do not understand, we get knowledge by opening ourselves to acquiring it.

Talk with your friends and family about how they manage their finances and make budgets. What banking methods, mobile apps, and other tools do they use? How do they balance their income and expenditure?

Find out how they manage their cash, as well as whether they have a financial advisor or not. What are their strategies for paying off debt? And many other money matters. You may find out how you are doing it wrong, whether you are on the right path or not, and decide to adopt some ideas for yourself.

Most especially, that will help you be more knowledgeable and gain a better understanding of financial matters - and sharing your ideas will profit them as well.

Not Fearing Being Judged

Easily talking about money shows confidence and even in cases of wild comparisons, you will still stand for what you know.

Instead of being afraid of being judged, or being treated differently by others because of our finances, we keep afloat because we understand what we’re talking about.

Breaking Traditional Barriers

People have broken away from traditions and can now easily discuss intimacy, politics and religion among other touchy subjects but not so finance.

By normalising discussions about money, we will break traditional barriers to financial freedom including savings and investments.

Changed Perceptions

In discussing money, we change perceptions and beliefs around money. Biases we have towards money will change with healthy discussions of money leading us to a place where money is nothing else but an enabler.

Candid money conversations guarantee a free flow of knowledge and conversation that will almost always benefit the individuals concerned. The more you talk about money, the more you will be able to open doors for others to do that too. 

This will then build a chain of open-mindedness and change behaviour, attitude and perceptions towards money within you and others.

WRAPPING UP

Money taboos are often always a hindrance to financial well being than an enabler. The fact that one might have grown up in a setting where money conversations were few and far between does not mean they have to lead the rest of their lives in the same manner.

While opening yourself up to discussing personal finances is great, care must be taken before deciding what money tips should be adopted. It is very possible that you could inherit negative money myths that are harmful to your financial health even from well-meaning people, or being deliberately misled by someone.

Ultimately, the realisation of some money taboo topics that may be affecting you is to a large extent a call to action to actively seek financial knowledge from credible sources as an ongoing concern and engaging with people who are knowledgeable and you can determine are acting in good faith. 


Njenga has over 8 years experience in multimedia and business journalism both as a writer, editor and producer. He has over 5 years of experience in radio broadcasting as a news reader, reporter and presenter. He is also a 2012 Earth Journalism Network-EJN Fellow.

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