A recent Huffington Post article wondered if talking about personal finance was “the final taboo.” Talking about money can feel as revealing as a strip-tease with none of the fun, but for something as complex and individual as your financial future, a one-way conversation with the internet or personal finance columnists isn’t enough.
We are, to borrow from Seinfeld, “careful with money.” We see people buying and spending and traveling and bingeing, and we have to wonder: are they better or worse off than we thought? Are they funding their retirement accounts, loading up the credit cards, or something else all together? It’s not a topic that can be easily broached unless you somehow stumble upon common ground, often to commiserate. Sometimes it’s necessary though, and can even help put your own financial house in order.
For the last seven years, I’ve had a particular friend repeatedly ask me about my retirement planning. I’m 28. These regular inquiries have had their desired effect, and I now give considerably increased thought to my retirement planning, which has led to a series of new conversations with other friends, who wonder why I talk about the topic so much these days. But those conservations have led to knowing how a friend, who recently finished the Peace Corps and then worked for two years, was able to buy her new five-bedroom house. Or knowing the income ranges, savings plans and rent or mortgage payments of dozens of my friends.
The recession might have made our country more open to having honest discussions about personal finances, at least in relation to the political conversation about the economy, but the recent economic crisis also highlights how important it is that these discussion become more regular and widespread. At the same time, all these conversations I’ve had have highlighted how rare it still is for people to feel safe to regularly engage in such discussions.
You can talk about money with accountants, brokers, and the occasional human resources manager, but they rarely appreciate your full financial picture; they’re also not always the people you’d want to sit down with for a deeper conversation about your financial health.
So who do you talk to about your finances?
Talking about Personal Finances — the Final Taboo? [The Huffington Post]