Personal Finance

The Money Taboo

Recently I went out to dinner with a group of friends to celebrate a new job offer for a friend.  One friend asked what her new salary is because she was also thinking of working the same field.  But there was no response, just a disgusted look that she was even asked the question.  The conversation quickly moved on to another topic.

Surprisingly research carried out by Portafina found that:

  • 57% of those in long term relationships don’t openly discuss their finances with their other half
  • 81% of UK adults don’t discuss money with their siblings
  • 72% don’t even discuss money with their parents.

In fact, discussing money is seen to be worse than discussing religion of politics.

Why don’t we talk about money?

A number of years ago I had taken a new job with a higher salary.  I was out shopping with my best friend and seen a pair of shorts that I loved but they were £30.  This didn’t fit in with my budget and I decided not to buy them.  My friend said ‘why do you care so much about how much they cost?  You’ve got more money now so you can afford them’.  I track my expenses and felt as though I was being judged for that and thought of as ‘cheap’.  Personal experiences such as these have resulted in me opening up about my finances less and less.

There are many reasons for not discussing money:

  • People can be judgemental of those in debt
  • Some get envious of those with savings and want what you have
  • Others may even feel entitled to your money
  • Some people fear offending others
  • Those with debt could be ashamed and embarrassed

I am sure you have your own reason and personal experiences that have led to you not talking about money.

Who do I talk to about money?

 I choose to talk to my family and friends about money, but how much detail I go into varies greatly depending on who I am talking to.  Around colleagues I avoid the topic completely.

Partner: I am completely open and honest with my partner about my finances, I think it is important if you are planning a future together.  We have long term goals that would require money and it would be more difficult to reach these goals if we weren’t aware of our circumstances as a whole.

Immediate family:  With my parents and siblings we all know what each other earn and help one another where possible.  I want to know how my mum and dad are doing financially to ensure they have provisions and viable plans in place for their retirement.  This helps me plan my own finances as I know whether or not I would need to help them in the future.  It gives me peace of mind.  If anyone of us needed help we are not afraid of asking one another, although we try to avoid it.

Friends: I don’t tell friends how much I earn or the level of savings that I have.  The only time I mention personal finance is if they ask a question or say they do not understand something.  I help where I can but never provide unsolicited advice or tell them about my own finances.


Why should we talk about money

We could all learn something from each other.  I learnt about living expenses and how much it costs to run a household from my sister.  I learnt how to be frugal from my parents.  I learnt about investing from my brother.  I’ve worked in retail banking now for a number of years so I am able to offer my siblings and parents suggestions in that respect.

When families don’t talk about money, some people end up being embarrassed or afraid to ask for help and may end up making the wrong decisions.  I believe we should be able to trust those we are closest to and I sympathise with those that are not able to.  It is surprising how people are able to openly discuss their financial situation with internet strangers on forums, but not with loved ones.  But sometimes those in need of help only ask when it gets too bad, when little can be done and the damage is already caused.

This is partly the reason for starting this blog, I want to help others manage their finances better.  I want to be open with how I am making money on the side, including the failures and successes, so that I can learn from as well as help others.

How about you?  Do you talk about money with friends and family?

8 thoughts on “The Money Taboo

  1. Its difficult isn’t it especially when money is such an emotive issue. People also have this massive assumption (I admit that I can be guilty of this) that money brings happiness. I have to admit that I feel embarrassed about having less money that other people in my family at times, that’s a lot of the reason why people dont discuss it Ii think. I also think its fair to say that there has always been a taboo, however I do think people are talk more openly about how they save money these days, for instance people talk about cash back, loyalty cards etc. Dont think there is an easy answer tbh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, it’s a very difficult subject and a very personal one. I just think that people should feel comfortable asking for help when they need it, rather than ignoring the issue and burying their head in the sand. The problem will likely get worse rather than disappear. I completely understand when people find it difficult to ask for help from family/friends. I wish people would have the confidence to approach charities and other organisations that offer help and advice. It’s great that we have internet forums people are willing to seek advice on.


  2. Thats a really interesting subject. I talk about money with my partner and my kids, they know what I earn. Although the kids seem to think they’re entitled to it, I’m trying to change that! I would never talk about how much I earn with work colleagues, that’s taboo. I don’t think my friends know what I earn, it never really comes up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the majority of people are simply not happy with their financial situation, so don’t want to talk about it. This isn’t helped by the likes of social media where many portray a false life and leave you feeling like you’re the only one with the problems.

    The one that get’s me is salaries. It’s absolute taboo to compare salaries with your colleagues in the UK. In my opinion if you’re not happy to disclose, you probably think you’re earning too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Social media definitely influences people’s spending habits, especially those that are young and impressionable.

      I think you’re absolutely right that most people are not happy with their finances.


  4. This article has really got me thinking, thank you for raising the issues. I try to talk to my kids about saving money and not wasting it but have never discussed it with the older generations in my family. Something to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great that you talk to your kids about it. Schools don’t teach financial literacy and a lot of people grow up without their parents teaching them, this makes things really difficult for people.


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