Right after politics and religion, money is up there as one of the avoided topics in social settings. We’re taught that unless you’re in a meeting with your financial advisor, then there is no reason that you should be sharing your financial information with other people. To ask other people about their finances would be considered intrusive to say the least.
However, 50 years ago the same was true for several topics that today we consider very common to talk about. The change comes when a majority of society collectively decides that it is okay to openly discuss the touchy topic. Well, we believe that the time has come for society to conclude that it’s okay to start discussing our money.
Money is a Taboo subject
Topics like politics and religion are relatively easy to avoid. In fact, there are lots of people who simply ignore these topics altogether, and it has little impact on their life. If you’re not political or religious, you can just mention that, and the conversation is over.
You can’t exactly do that with money. Sure, maybe you aren’t motivated by money, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid it. In any event, everyone has bills to pay and needs some type of employment to earn that money.
If it’s something that every person has to handle, why does no one like to talk about it?
Part of the reason comes down to not wanting to turn it into a competition or make anyone feel bad about not making enough. But if someone isn’t earning enough to meet their bills, it shouldn’t be considered shameful or embarrassing. As a society, we should encourage people to open up and receive guidance, so they can make progress and reduce their suffering.
- If you had a friend who clearly has a drinking problem, would you ignore the issue?
- If your child tells you that they’re getting bullied at school, would you just continue tucking them in?
- If a family member told you they’re feeling depressed would you make a joke and change the subject?
In cases like these, people need to vocalize their struggles so that they can receive support and encouragement. Once the issue is out in the open it becomes much easier to approach and fix. The same thing should be done for people who are struggling with money. The good news is that finances are typically easier to manage than struggles with addiction, bullying, or depression.
Debt Statistics in America
Why is money still taboo to talk about when so many are struggling financially? Chances are that more of your friends or family members are struggling with debt than you realize. And although families have paid down some debt over the last few years, household debt is still reaching lofty levels:
$7,000 – The average credit card debt.
$30,000 – How much debt the average college student graduates with.
Total consumer debt hit $4.161 trillion in September 2020, averaging $12,596 per person. When you consider that this debt load is being carried during a pandemic that pushed unemployment to its highest levels, it’s safe to assume that this issue isn’t going away any time soon.
While it’s easy to gloss over statistics, let’s remember that behind these numbers are real people with real worries. Many people who you know, might be struggling behind the scenes. The stress affects their everyday lives. In fact, according to a study done by Northwestern University, having household debt and money problems can drastically impact the mental and physical health of Americans.
Having money problems can make you feel trapped, hopeless, and depressed. Making payments toward credit cards and student loans each month, while seeing no reduction in the balance owed can sap the spirit right from us. The stress can lead to headaches, migraine headaches, insomnia, poor eating habits, and increased use of alcohol. Money struggles are one of the most common causes of divorce.
So, what’s the answer?
It’s time to talk about our money troubles
Right now, Americans are struggling. They might have been furloughed due to the pandemic, might have lost loved ones, and almost everyone has been forced to quarantine and isolate themselves from friends and relatives. And the data shows that more families are feeling like they are getting close to the edge of their financial cliff.
Public Service Announcement
Let’s declare that “it’s now okay to talk about your money struggles.”
Once the majority of society determines that a subject is safe to talk about, it will gradually become the new normal. This means that you can be part of the solution by encouraging your friends to open up if you feel like they need to talk. If you struggle with money yourself, you can volunteer that information to your friends, and get the conversation going. You might be surprised how many will say they’re dealing with something similar.
If you or your friends need to talk, consider calling a financial assistance Hotline a call to speak with a professional. Sometimes, just speaking about your options can clear the air of all the fear and trepidation.