Survey Ranks Money Topics as “Most Taboo”
You’ve probably heard it said that you shouldn’t lend money to friends. But has that advice been interpreted as “don’t talk about money with friends” by some Americans? A recent study conducted by the Captial Group and reported on by The Motley Fool found that money-related matters were far more likely to be considered taboo than other controversial topics.
When asked about what topics they felt were forbidden to discuss with friends, 39% of respondents said that talk of salary or household incomes fell into that category. Similarly 38% found the size of your retirement savings to be taboo, while 32% said the same about disclosing the amount of debt you have. In each case women were more likely to shy away from these topics than men, with 45% of females finding salary discussions taboo compared to 33% of males.
Surprisingly these figures are well ahead of famously forbidden topics such as religion and politics. In fact only 19% of those surveyed found religion to be too taboo while, even in this divided country of ours, only 17% nixed the topic of politics in polite company. For the record, ranking as the most uncomfortable non-money topic with 20% was marital issues.
Ironically money has long been a source of marital strife. Furthermore a study conducted last year by Dave Ramsey’s Ramsey Solutions found that couples that regularly discussed money topics were more likely to be in happy relationships. In fact 94% of those who rated their marriages as “great” reported talking about money goals with their spouse. By contrast, only 45% of those who described their marriages as “okay” or “in crisis” held such discussions.
The good news is that are some money topics that individuals seem to be comfortable discussing with friends. Asked what topics they’ve talked about with friends in the past six months, 35% said that saving and investing came up. Moreover, in this case, it was women who were more likely to discuss these matters (40% to 30%). If you were wondering, the most discussed topics were politics and foreign affairs, which 53% of respondents report recently talking about with friends.
While it may be disappointing that so many Americans feel they can’t discuss money matters with those close to them, it also shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Then again, the discrepancy between how taboo these topics are considered compared to more traditionally touchy subjects is eye-opening. The bottom line is that, until we learn to talk more openly about money matters, it seems likely that the cycle of debt and living to paycheck that so many currently experience will continue.