Talking about finances is about as fun as… going to the dentist, mowing the lawn, doing the laundry… you catch my drift. Few people actually want to sit down and talk about their finances. As if that weren’t bad enough, many might even feel ashamed or embarrassed to do so. If your finances aren’t in the best shape, then it’s so easy to judge yourself and assume others will do the same.
However, so many of us love to read blog posts to figure out ways to optimize our financial situation – whether it be from a new angle on budgeting, finding ways to cut costs, or staying up to date on legal changes which can help. What does that mean? It means that deep down we do want to gather and share information with each other. As the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one”. So why are we only willing to do so behind the screen of the internet?
That’s not a tough answer. Finances are deeply personal and emotional – they’re not just numbers on a page. And it’s a lot easier for me to write down on this blog what I feel about my finances than it is to sit down with my mom or best friend and have the same chat. There’s a taboo on sharing this information with those closest to us and it’s hurting ourselves, our economy, and future generations. Here’s my take on why we should break down this taboo and get talking about our finances.
1) Talking is Therapeutic
Have you ever hid from your mail? Kept credit card statements unopened because you really didn’t want to know your balance or how much you owe? We’ve all been there. If your financial situation is less than perfect – as nearly all of ours is – then sometimes you might want to push it to the side. If I don’t see you, you’re not here, right? Right?
Wrong. Ignoring a problem only guarantees that it will get worse. Confronting your finances can be terrifying, but if you take it to the next step of actually making a plan of action then it can quickly become empowering. The same goes with talking about it out loud. The very act of keeping your situation secret can create a burden that you might not even realize you’re carrying until you get rid of it. So unload that burden and admit it to someone you trust. Pretty soon you might have a whole new perspective.
2) We Can All Help Each Other
No matter what you’re working on improving in your finances, there is no one way to fix the problem. There is never just one way to fix the problem. We bloggers can give out advice until our hands fall off but at the end of the day you have to decide what’s best for you in your specific situation.
You might think that’s exactly why you shouldn’t talk about your finances with others: the fear that they’ll want to give advice that you don’t want or won’t work for you. But here’s why this is the exact reason you should talk about your finances with others – other people close to you might have a solution that you haven’t thought of that is perfect for you.
Think about other advice you’ve been given by friends and family – say for your career, your relationship, and etc. Ever have a situation that had you banging your head against the wall, hopeless, only to have someone take one look and know exactly what to do? That’s what makes having close friends and family so wonderful. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves – and that can sure come in handy if you need some fresh solutions in your finances.
3) We NEED to Teach the Next Generation
No matter how you feel about talking about your own finances, it’s time that we break down the taboo for the next generation. Too many of us have credit card debt that we don’t understand how to pay off, student loan debt that is way more than we can handle, and no understanding of how to prepare for retirement. So how can we prevent our children and grandchildren from having the same problem?
Talk to them. Teach them about how to avoid credit cards, how to make a budget that doesn’t feel restrictive, how to prepare for retirement – even if they never have a job that offers it to them. The fact is we have no idea what the economy will look like 5, 10 or 30 years from now. The only thing we can do for sure is give the next generation the tools they need to survive no matter what the health of the economy looks like.
No, talking about finances isn’t easy. Yes, it can be worth it in many ways. If you’re still not sure, try it – just once – with someone you really trust. I’m willing to bet that you’ll be glad you did!