Money Myth #1: Women Shouldn’t Talk About Money
Does talking about money make you feel uncomfortable?
Be honest, does talking about money make you uncomfortable?
If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
A survey of 1,202 Americans conducted by Capital Group found that people are more comfortable talking about marriage problems, drug addiction, race, sex, mental illness, race, and politics then they are about money.
In a time where oversharing every detail of our lives on social media is the new normal, it’s somewhat surprising that talking about money is still so taboo.
Why is the topic of money so taboo?
The idea that it’s “rude” or “ill-mannered” for women to talk about money is about as relevant as saying “women shouldn’t work.” It’s an archaic notion, one rooted in keeping a woman “in her place” and out of power. Yet, for women, money is still one of the most taboo topics in America.
With all of the progress women have made in the realms of education, health, and work, why is money still so off-limits?
Most of our beliefs and values come from our family. Our beliefs about money are no different. If you grew up in a family that didn’t talk about money or a family who thought money was the root of all evil, or a family who constantly fought about money — then it’s no wonder if you’re not open to talking about it.
There is so much shame around money.
Shame if you have too much, shame if you don’t have enough. Shame if you feel like you lack the financial literacy necessary to start or engage in a conversation about money.
Enough with the shame.
Many ideas about money are deeply rooted in tradition and culture. Many women don’t talk about money because society has told them it’s not ladylike or it’s tacky.
Traditionally, it was the man that made the money, invested the money and controlled the money. Women were often (and sometimes still are) oblivious to their families’ financial situation. Women make up nearly 47% of the workforce and 41% of mothers have taken the role of sole or primary breadwinner for their family. Things are changing.
While there are personal finance communities where it is viewed as normal or, dare I say, even fun to talk about money, these conversations need to move to a bigger forum. Talking about money needs to be commonplace at a societal level.
Why we need to start talking about money
Empowered women present a challenge to the status quo of a leadership that is predominately male. One way to curb this challenge is to silence it – to punish, reject, or shame women who talk about money.
If we want to overcome this, then women need to start the conversation and then keep it going.
Women deserve the opportunity to take control of their lives and experience the freedom and confidence that comes from being financially stable.
Women need to talk about money to increase their financial power in their home, their community and on a global scale.
By removing the stigma and putting the topic of money on the table you can begin to help those women who are experiencing financial hardship but are too afraid to reach out or are too embarrassed to ask for the help they need.
By starting the conversation you can create a network of support to help ensure women aren’t trapped in abusive relationships because they don’t have the financial means to leave.
By starting the conversation about money you can discuss wages and your company’s or industry’s pay structure to ensure women are getting paid an equal amount when compared to their male counterparts.
The importance of women talking openly with each other about finances isn’t just about individual equality. Being financially empowered is bigger than you. Your example and your mentorship are powerful tools for helping other women achieve financial (and full) equality.
So, if you want to be a part of the conversation, or better yet, if you want to start the conversation, what steps can you take?
What can you do to ensure your daughters, sisters, nieces, mothers, coworkers, and friends have the confidence and knowledge needed to take control of their financial futures?
How to start talking about money
Talk to your spouse
If you’re comfortable enough to sleep in the same bed or even share a pet with someone, then you should be able to talk to them about money.
Why is this important? Well, money is one of the main things that couples fight about and it’s one of the leading causes of divorce. If you and your partner share a bank account, a debt, or if you’re financially reliant on your partner, you need to be on the same page.
Both of you should be aware of your financial situation. You should be aware of how much money is in the bank, how much money you have invested and, if you’re carrying any debt, how much. You should be part of the conversations with your financial advisor and you should know the passwords to all of your financial accounts.
When it comes to money don’t put your head in the sand and rely on someone else to make the decisions. There is nothing more empowering than taking control of your finances.
Talk to your friends
Start to make the topic of money more commonplace by bringing it up in casual conversation. You don’t have to make people feel uncomfortable by asking how much their house cost or what they spend on their monthly car payments.
Instead, use conversation to share ideas about money. Educate each other on interesting and useful things you’ve learned. Share financial resources or attend a financial event together and make it a fun and educational night out.
Talk to your kids
Children are the future so set them up on the right financial path. Make money a topic that is open for discussion, make financial literacy a family goal, and seek opportunities to teach your children about money management.
If you don’t feel like you have the financial education needed to give your kids advice then make an effort to learn together. Check out some personal finance books at the library or find some good online resources (there are tons of them). Or, seek outside resources – bring them with you when you go to speak with your financial advisor and have them ask some questions.
You should be talking about money. You should be talking to your spouse, your friends, your children, and anyone else who wants to join the conversation.
Talking about money doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. You don’t need to ask overly personal questions about how much money they make or how much debt they have. The goal is to start discussing money to increase financial literacy and to normalize the topic.
By having a conversation about money you are demonstrating that it’s not a subject that should be kept secret. It’s not a topic that is shameful to speak about.
So, are you in? Are you ready to bust this money myth and start the conversation?