It’s Not a Dirty Word After All
When I was young I distinctly remember being in the back of the car on the way home from a family gathering. I was listening to my parents talking about a relative. Apparently he had been talking, at the party, in front of people, about how much money he made and how much tax he paid. I don’t really remember the details, just the feeling that this was wrong and you shouldn’t talk about money… it wasn’t nice or polite. A bit tacky really.
For a lot of people talking about money is in the same category as politics, sex and religion… you just don’t do it in front of the kids or in polite company.
I think it’s time we stopped this nonsense and started to have honest conversations about money. What we know and don’t know about it. What our fears are. What our dreams are. After all, money is just energy and it’s a pretty fundamental part of our society. Why not talk about it?
“I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.”
Imagine for a moment, a world where it was perfectly ok to talk about money. You might find that:
Lots of people don’t understand how the stock market works (and that you aren’t a dummy after all!).
Most people aren’t sure how to navigate the tax system
It’s not uncommon for people not to open their superannuation (401K, annuity) statements because they don’t know how to read them
Other people have fears around not having enough money to retire
Some of your friends are struggling to make ends meet even though they are on a decent income
Maybe they are drowning in crippling debt just to keep up appearances
The majority of your friends couldn’t tell you what their lifestyle costs on an annual basis as they have never done a budget
… they don’t know how to do a budget or are scared of what they might find when they do
They have tons of money in the bank but are too scared to spend it for fear they will end up broke
Your partner has completely different views about money than you
Some people hold money secrets from their partner or even hide money from them
Nearly everyone has a major money mistake they aren’t so proud of!
People are afraid to admit how much they don’t know about managing money.
If you knew all that, would it make you feel a little better about your situation, knowing you aren’t alone in what you are going through?
In a 2017 study by Core-Data, 30% of Australians identified as suffering financial stress. 71% of them regularly lost sleep over it and 35% used drugs or alcohol as a means of coping. Whilst this was an Australian study, I imagine that the numbers would be similar in many countries. Given we are in the midst of a global pandemic and economic turmoil, I also imagine the number of people suffering financial stress right now is much higher than 30%.
We all know that stress is a major contributor to a number of health issues: heart disease, depression, stroke, high blood pressure and even cancer. We also know that financial stress is a significant source of conflict in relationships.
If money worries are so prevalent and causing damage to our relationships and our health, why aren’t we talking about this? Why aren’t people asking questions and educating themselves to help relieve this stress? The answer, often, is guilt, shame and embarrassment. Guilt and shame that we got ourselves into a financial predicament and embarrassment that we don’t know what to do about it.
I had a man, a University Professor, come to see me during the Global Financial Crisis. He was of retirement age but had been completely ripped off by an underhanded adviser. I outlined the action he could take to remedy the situation however he wouldn’t do it. He was embarrassed that he had “let it happen” when he was an intelligent man that “should have known better”. The truth is that his skills weren’t in finance and he had sought advice. He did nothing wrong but he was ashamed and didn’t want people to know. So he just copped a hefty loss on the chin, buried his head back in the sand and kept working to rebuild his financial base.
So let’s lift the lid on the money conversation. Let’s normalise talking about it. Let’s start admitting what we don’t know and seeking out advice and information to start learning.
Talk about your money mindset. The blocks that might be holding you back from learning about money or accepting money. We all have money blocks, we just have to uncover them. Common money blocks include the fear of not having enough… of poverty. Feeling unworthy of having money. Fear that having money will make you a bad person. Feeling like you are stupid for not being able to manage money. The list goes on.
I’ll let you in on a secret… Despite having worked in the money industry for over 20 years, I still have to remind myself of my own money blocks around working for money. I still fall prey to the idea that I need to work hard to make money. That it can’t be fun and easy. It needs to be a slog! Intellectually I know this isn’t the case but I still find the feeling creeping in from time to time.
Seek out a Money Mindset Coach or a Certified Financial Planner. Keep working until you have uncovered all your money blocks with the Money Coach. Ask questions of the Financial Adviser until you are comfortable you have an understanding of the financial system and how it works.
Don’t be put off if you hit the classic brick walls with friends… It’s tacky to talk about money. It’s boring. What would you know about money, you aren’t qualified…
It’s not tacky or boring: managing money is an essential part of being an adult. You may not be qualified to give financial advice, but it doesn’t mean you can’t start working on your own limiting money beliefs and educating yourself on how to manage and maximise your own money.
When you are next having a chat with a friend ask them this:
What’s important about money to you?
Then see where the conversation goes.