The Last Taboo

I recently read a short article from a young professional lady, Renate Rijsberg. She says, “In recent weeks I discussed the issue of finances with people around me. During a dinner with family, at work, and in a relaxed evening with friends, I asked a few questions, kept my ears open and noticed what people had to say.” “First of all, I was amazed at the taboo hanging around the topic of money. It is always a bit vague. Telling your salary is ‘not-done’, the state of your bank account is very private. We only tell others when we have made a bargain buy or bought a mega-expensive product.”

The investment firm, Capital Group surveyed 1,200 adults on what they see as taboo topics in conversation. The results were surprising. Starting with the highest taboo subject down to the lowest, here are the results:

Household earnings – 39% of respondents Retirement savings – 38% of respondents Inheritance – 25% of respondents Politics – 17% of respondents Drug use – 14% of respondents Racial issues – 8% of respondents

Many of us grow up learning that money is one of a few topics — like politics, sex and religion — that you should avoid at all costs! We’re discouraged from talking about money at every turn, but if you want to fix your financial situation, talking about it is necessary.

Forces like the social taboo, the intimidation factor, embarrassment — conspire to keep us from talking about money and improving our circumstances.

“There are few things that can cause joy, shame, contentment, anxiety and stress the way that money does,” said Korrena Bailie, a financial journalist. “If your finances cause you stress and anxiety, it’s natural to want to keep this to yourself because you might feel embarrassed or ashamed about the decisions you made,” she said. “When you ignore your financial situation, minor problems happening on a regular basis build up to very substantial challenges.”

So, how can we break the taboo?

Break the silence. It’s hard to learn about something when you’re discouraged from talking about it. In that way, silence becomes a tool for oppression.

Start small. If you’re intimidated by personal finance and unsure of where to start, remember that you don’t have to learn everything about money at once.

Schedule money meetings. It’s important to make sure you and your partner or spouse are on the same financial page. Set aside time to talk about your finances,

Talk to your friends. Speaking with friends about your financial situation is critical for breaking the taboo around money. The more comfortable you are talking about topics like retirement plans, student loans and budgeting openly among your peers, the more opportunity you have to learn from each other.

Find like-minded people. When you’re trying to get more comfortable with money, it helps to surround yourself with people who are on the same page, who have similar goals and are open to talking about those goals. 

Compass small groups offer a ‘safe-haven’ in which to talk about money with fellow believers. In a confidential small group meeting, Christians can discover what the Bible has to say about handling finances – God’s way and help each other put these timeless principles into action.

Download the free booklet, “Why Teach Biblical Finance in Church.”

Visit the Compass shop for Europe’s largest collection of financial stewardship materials.

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