There are certain topics many of us would rather avoid discussing, like our weight, or perhaps our respective dating histories. But if there's one item Americans are loath to chat about, it's money. In a new study from Capital Group, U.S. adults say they'd be more apt to talk about marital conflicts, mental illness, drug addiction, politics, and religion before broaching the topic of money. In fact, only 35% of Americans talk about money with their friends and peers.
The problem, however, is that by not talking about money, we all risk making mistakes in managing it. In the aforementioned study, nearly 90% of respondents agreed that they needed to start doing a better job of saving and investing for the future. But by banning money-related discussions, we put ourselves in a position where we're not privy to each other's successes and struggles, and as such, can't learn from them.
If you've been hush-hush about money thus far, it's time to consider making it a topic of conversation. Here's how to start.
1. Open up to family
Whether you're struggling financially at present or have concerns that you're going to fall short on targets like retirement or college down the line, you won't end up doing yourself any favors by keeping those thoughts bottled up. On the other hand, if you come clean to loved ones about the money issues you're grappling with, they might offer advice, or even step in and bail you out of an otherwise dire financial situation.
Imagine you're struggling to keep up with your bills, and you confide in a sibling or parent that you're at risk of racking up serious credit card debt. That family member might, in turn, offer you a temporary home so you can save money on rent and get back on your feet. But if you don't loop your loved ones in, they won't be in a position to help.
2. Compare notes with trusted friends and colleagues
Maybe you don't want your friends and coworkers knowing how much you make or what your savings account balance looks like. But that doesn't mean you can't discuss money-related strategies and concerns. For example, if you have a college buddy or colleague whose kids are the same age as yours, you might ask what he or she is doing to amass some funds for tuition down the road. If you and a peer at work are both in the market for a new home, you might swap tactics for boosting your savings to swing your respective down payments. Talking about money doesn't have to mean divulging your financial history; it can mean seeking and getting advice from others in a similar boat.
3. Seek advice from a trusted financial advisor
Maybe you're not all that eager to talk money with your family members, colleagues, or friends. But if there's one person you should be comfortable having those conversations with, it's a professional who manages money for a living. If you've been winging it on your own, it may be time to enlist the help of a financial advisor. Doing so will give you an outsider's perspective on how you're doing financially, and from there, that person will be able to give you advice on how to better manage your cash flow and save for key goals. One of the best ways to find a trustworthy advisor is to seek out recommendations from satisfied clients, so to that end, reach out to people whose opinions you value and ask for names.
Given that Americans are generally willing to share their lives on social media, you'd think they'd have an easier time discussing something that impacts them on a daily basis -- namely, money. There's much to be gained by talking about financial matters, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you'll be in a good position to get valuable advice and help.