Why are People Scared to Talk about their Financial Situation?

I’ll show you, if you show me! Unfortunately, when it comes to finances most Americans refuse to reveal what is really under the covers.

It doesn’t matter if we’re winning with money or we’re struggling, we RARELY talk about money with our friends, family members, or co-workers.

One of the biggest issues that I’ve seen is that most Americans put up a facade and masquerade around as if all things – financially speaking – are fine.

We act like we have it together, when in reality, we don’t! You’d never know that if you looked at the number of people eating out, buying new cars, or shopping at the mall. So you’ll just have a trust me on that statement.

Speaking from experience, I know it was a terrifying thought for my wife and I when we considered revealing some of our financial facts for this blog.

Why is that the case? Why are people scared to talk about their financial situation?

Why do most Americans pretend to have money (when they don’t)? Why do people struggling refuse to say anything and ask for help?

I don’t know all of the answers (because there are as many answers as there are people in this country), and I certainly don’t have time to go into all of my opinions, but here are a few guesses that I have:

  • Pride – providing for one’s family and succeeding in that area is an extreme source of pride for nearly every man (and woman) in this country. To step on that pride, or to question the ability to provide for your family, is an absolute no-no.
  • Perception & judgment – we live in the land where it means more to have nice cars and houses than it does to have savings in the bank. This isn’t ground breaking stuff, it’s just reality. We are defined by what we own and can do.
  • Envy – we’re all jealous and envious of what other people have. This applies to nearly all people, regardless of status. If I can’t have what you have, then I certainly don’t want to talk about why you can afford it and I can’t.

As I said, I believe there are dozens of reasons as to our ridiculous behavior towards finances, but I know that in order for people (and this country) to win with money, we must overcome our fear/pride/greed/perception/envy and be honest with ourselves, our friends, and our families.

If you’re incapable of doing that, then you’re incapable of getting out of whatever financial mess you may find yourself in.

The real question is: what are you doing about it?

You’re past doesn’t matter, but what you’re doing about it and where you’re going, does.

About the Author

By , on Nov 21, 2011
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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{One Comment}

  1. Jessica says:

    I’ve noticed that “not talking about money” often going the other way. guilted for having more.
    In college, those who had student loans would begrudge or get nasty towards those who had parents help pay for college.
    and, this one isn’t necessarily about making more or having more to start with, the other person could be a bad spender and a bad saver, and those people may not be bad, may not intentionally set out to begrudge you, but guilt sometimes occurs. Not guilt for having more, but those with less try and guilt you into buying the beer at the bar, or the pizza on pizza night, “cmon you have more money than I do”. And then it just becomes a habit of not wanting to talk about it. I think we could benefit from discussing finance with those in our social circles; fresh out of college and need to understand what salary to ask your employer for, it’d be smart to ask the buddy that graduated the year before. also, it’s easy to learn from peers, and their advice may be helpful. But, people don’t want to be made to feel dumb or inadequate, sometimes feeling affronted and defensive if a friend gives simple advice to save or fix
    I recall an episode of friends where ross, monica, and chandler wanted to go out to a nice dinner and a show, but phoebe, joey, and rachel didn’t have the same kind of funds.

    It’s “taboo” to discuss finances. Not wanting to make someone feel bad if you earn more money (significant other, friend, family) is often as big a deterrent as fear that you don’t measure up to what’s expected.

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