We’re still not talking about money…

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 15th Nov 2017

Disclosing your debt level is now more taboo than talking about depression.

It’s brilliant that people feel so comfortable talking about mental health now – but, given the monstrous debt quagmire we’re all stuck in, wouldn’t it be great if we could see the same level of progress with talking about money?

We are incredibly prudish when it comes to talking about money, even with our friends and family, despite most of us being comfortable talking about relationships, physical health, voting choices or even bodily functions

Jane Goodland, Old Mutual Wealth

Why is it important to be more open about money?

Talking about money makes money problems less of a problem. They don’t get worse – solutions are discussed, options uncovered and stress eased. But even if you aren’t having money worries, there’s nothing to lose from talking about money more openly. Evidence suggests that attitudes to money, financial confidence and understanding, are set as early as the age of 7. With the UK’s debt mountain rising into the trillions, there’s a really big reason to offer better education around money. The first step is talking about it.

Yet according to Moneysense, only 7 per cent of 7-17 year olds have talked to their teachers about money and only 1/3 parents talk to their children about money.

Research by Old Mutual Wealth asked which ‘taboo’ subjects UK adults felt least comfortable discussing with friends or family. It found that savings and debt were third and fourth-ranked taboo subjects respectively (52 per cent and 50 per cent respectively wouldn’t discuss them)- only sexual health and our sex lives make people feel more uncomfortable, apparently.

Jane Goodland, Old Mutual Wealth responsible business director, says: Social etiquette might say that money should not be the subject of dinner table conversations. But good manners have contributed to a lack of financial literacy, confidence and capability.

“We are incredibly prudish when it comes to talking about money, even with our friends and family, despite most of us being comfortable talking about relationships, physical health, voting choices or even bodily functions. Talking about savings and finances will never be trendy, but it needn’t be something we’re downright scared of talking about.”

Ms Goodland says: “Evidence suggests that confidence in financial matters is low, which discourages us from tackling financial concerns head-on. One of the objectives of Financial Capability Week is to encourage people to talk about their finances in the hope it will demystify money and dilute some of the stigma about those discussions.”

“The UK currently faces some acute challenges when it comes to personal financial wellbeing, with many people struggling with over-indebtedness and under-saving. Encouraging people to talk about their finances may help address some of those challenges. However, there is much more that can be done to prevent these issues arising in the first place. Research shows many financial attitudes and behaviours, are shaped as young as 7 years old. That is why we believe the best way to tackle the stigma around money is to  make financial education a compulsory part of the Primary School National Curriculum, giving every young person a safe environment to ask questions and discuss money.”

Sharing money chats with your partner – the key to long-term happiness?

Separate research suggests that even the health of our relationships might depend on being more open about the dough.  Nearly half (49 per cent) of Brits aren’t open about their finances with their partner and 47 per cent of British couples don’t know their partner’s exact annual salary, according to Portafina, the pensions specialists. Interestingly, those who have been in relationships for more than 25 years were most open about their money – partners in this category scored much higher.

The secrets to a long-term relationship (where finances are concerned at least) according to those who have been together for more than 26 years, are:

  1. Being open and honest about your finances (73%)
  2. Having no secrets (54%)
  3. Having the same goals (40%)
  4. Saving together (27%)
  5. Splitting things fairly including bills and necessities (25%)

While we’re on the subject… It’s Financial Capability Week

13-19 November is Financial Capability Week (FinCap Week) which aims to get more people talking about money.

What is FinCap Week?

FinCap Week celebrates and showcases the work underway to improve financial capability and ultimately to improve financial wellbeing. The week is organised as part of the Financial Capability Strategy for the UK and aims to get more people talking about money, follow the conversation on Twitter: #TalkMoney or find out more on their website.

What is MoneySense?

MoneySense is the longest running bank-led financial education programme for 5-18 year-olds. It’s developed by education experts, supported by bank employees, and delivered in classrooms and homes across the UK and Ireland. It’s free, impartial and accredited by Young Enterprise.

Financial education is an important life skill

Research shows that many teachers and parents don’t feel confident in teaching financial education:

  • Just 7% of 7-17 year olds have talked to their teachers about money.
  • Only 1/3 parents talk to their children about money.
  • Less than half (43%) of young people and 44% of parents feel confident managing money.
  • Only 13% of teachers of 12-16 year-olds that we surveyed felt confident in delivering financial education before using MoneySense. This increased to 70% after using MoneySense.
  • Working-age people in the UK don’t plan ahead:
    • 12 million aren’t saving enough for their retirement
    • 27 million don’t have a sufficient savings buffer to allow them to cope with a significant income shock
    • 19 million don’t have an approach to budgeting that they feel works
    • Around 8 million have problems with debt

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