Here's the Money Stuff We Just Won't Talk About

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It's a rule as old as time: There are some things we just don't bring up with each other. Maybe it's that awkward time your uncle insulted everyone during a wedding speech, or your feelings about various political figures. For a lot of us, however, we refuse to talk with our nearest and dearest about money. It's probably time for that to change.


Last fall, the Motley Fool released a survey laying out all kinds of taboo topics we won't discuss either with friends or close family. Top of the list was criminal history (although fewer than 3 in 10 Americans have a criminal history at all), but less than a percentage point behind it was receiving government assistance. Other anxiety- and silence-inducing topics include debt, credit scores, and even receiving a bonus at work. We're as nervous about these as we are about discussing our sex lives, our mental health, and family issues.

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Norms are shifting, though that shift is likely unevenly distributed. According to one 2018 survey, it was much less weird or taboo to discuss religion, gender identity, or relationship issues at work. Yet when it comes to financial stuff, we're all much better off the more we open up about it. This isn't just a matter of breaches of trust, as seen with financial infidelity; being upfront and communicative about personal finance helps couples thrive. The more we participate in our own money decisions, the better we're able to direct our lives as we'd like — so swallow that lump in your throat and get comfortable. It'll be worth it sooner than you think.