Why is it Hard to Talk about Money?

Do you find it hard to talk to friends and family about money? Many Americans do, according to the findings of a new survey.

In fact, Americans would rather talk about any number of things before engaging in discussions about money.

At the risk of causing discomfort, insurer Northwestern Mutual asked a bunch of people about their feelings on the subject – as part of the company’s 2014 Planning and Progress Study.

In the study, American adults were asked about the difficulty they might have in talking to others on a range of sensitive subjects. The most uncomfortable subjects included Asking to borrow money from parents (48% found this an excruciatingly unpleasant prospect), and asking for money back that had been loaned a friend/family member (42%).

Northwestern Mutual found that Americans were slightly less uncomfortable when faced with asking for a raise/promotion (37%), addressing the long-term care needs of parents (35%), asking parents about their wills/estates (31%) or to talking about death/preparations and preferences with family (30%).

Adults were far less uncomfortable asking their boomerang kids to move out (25%), discussing budgeting with a spouse/partner (23%), discussing the birds and the bees (21%) or asking adult-age children to get a job (15%).

Strange as it may seem, Americans are more uncomfortable at the prospect of asking family for a loan than they are about death planning, or discussing sex with their kids. Why is this?

The simple answer is that discussions of money expose vulnerabilities that we’d rather not have others see. Asking for help with money can be seen as an admission that you can’t take care of yourself, for example.

Of course, most people have money problems from time to time, and we often turn to family and friends in crisis. When it comes to issues of money, addressing the issue head on is usually the best way to avoid hurt feelings. We know all of this, but it sure doesn’t make the topic any more comfortable to discuss, does it?


Copyright Today’s Credit Unions