Money or rather the perception of money is symbolic. It represents how we perceive our place in our world, our sense of self-worth, and feeling of accomplishment (or not). It is a ruler against which we measure our success or failure against those around us. We size people up based on their possessions – the size and location of their house (and whether they own a house), the type of car they drive (provided they own a car), where they vacation, or the type and brand of clothes they wear. These judgements give us a false sense of power. In order to avoid the judgements of others, we place the knowledge or our personal position behind the wall. Money and financial well-being becomes the most intimate and personal knowledge in our lives. As a result of our mask, money offers a unique, rarely seen, window into our personalities.
Money is emotional. It is a proxy for other unresolved issues. Among families, money often becomes a trigger. Feelings of love or rejection can be attached to these discussions with money representing the hopes and dreams of marriages and parent/child relationships. Love is intimate, making our relationship with money very intimate. Increasingly, society is more willing to talk about sex than money. In doing so, the sex and love equation becomes uncoupled and sex is replaced by money.
With all that intimacy, can you blame anybody for not wanting to talk about money? We carry the lessons we witnessed in our childhood into our adult lives and in doing so, we drag the emotional baggage along with us – this is problematic. If we don’t unravel the baggage and if we don’t start talking about money, we will never untangle the messiness that is entrenched in our relationship with money. If no one is talks about it we have no way of knowing what beliefs and behaviors will influence our future for the better.
Start Talking! Remember:
Others Feel the Same Way. People often keep their mouths shut about money because they feel alone and scared. If you know that virtually everyone else you see on the street is thinking and feeling the same thing, perhaps you will not be so restrained.
Silence Hurts You. We benignly procrastinate having the hard conversations in life. We will get to it all eventually. Instead, we should think of silence as damaging the quality of our lives. Without attention, money problems only tend to get bigger. If money is one of the largest representations of intimacy, withholding the money talk enables a loss of intimacy.
Silence Hurts Others. If you clam up about cash, pause for a moment and think about the longer-term effects. Whether you intend it or not, your position and behaviour impacts your family. If you are a parent, you are likely to pass your traits down to your kids, who might turn pass them to their kids. If you are a parent and you are not having money conversations with your kids, you are handicapping the next generation of savers and investors.
You Can Ask For Help. Even if you never talk about money and would not even know where to start, people who deal with this stuff for a living can help you start the conversation. If you want to learn to play a musical instrument well, you would get a tutor – the same should be said about money. Once you start talking about money, you will realize it’s not as scary as you thought.