There are certain topics that make us uncomfortable. Weight and money are two of those subjects.
So, when it comes down to it, would you rather tell people your real weight? Or discuss your income?
According to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index survey, most Americans would rather talk about their weight.
An Aversion to Talking about Income
The survey points out that 68% and 58% of women would rather talk about their weight than their wallets. Even though men are clearly more comfortable talking about their weight than women are, women still really don't want to talk about their incomes.
But why do we have this aversion for talking about money? Well, it's not considered polite. A lot of that has to do with the way that we often accord status to those who make more money. The more you have, the more likely you are to command respect.
I'm often reluctant to talk about my income because I live in an area where I make more than 80% of the people around me. It makes me uncomfortable to talk about money. Others are uncomfortable because they don't want to reveal how little they feel they make.
In either case, for some people there's an aversion to talk about income, and when the subject comes up, many people are likely to lie. I tell my family and others that we “make enough” or that “we're doing fine.” I hedge and move on. Others, though, lie about their income. I know someone who makes a very nice income, and he tells others that he makes less than he does. He doesn't want others to realize his net worth, much less his income.
Others, though, lie to make it appear as though they make more money than they do. The COUNTRY Financial survey points out that 10% of people have bought things they can't afford in order to look as though they are more affluent. If money = power/importance/influence, than we all want to appear as though we're “keeping up” — even if in some cases all it means is that we're keeping up with debt.
Should We Be More Open with Our Finances?
One of the things that shocked me about my husband when we married was how open he was about our money situation. We had debt, and we didn't make very much, and he talked about it. It's true that I've been more open about my past finances now that they're in my past, but the talk about financial specifics still makes me uncomfortable. I just didn't grow up with those types of discussions, and I grew up thinking it rude to ask others about their money.
But maybe we need to be more open with our finances. If you knew that your neighbor's awesome new car came at the cost of a huge amount of debt and the sacrifice of a vacation for the next three years, would you still be envious? Too often, we just assume that we're “behind” when we see what others have. But what if we're not.
What do you think? Are you uncomfortable talking about money? Why?