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Tuesday Tip: The Money Taboo

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Tuesday Tip: The Money Taboo

talk-about-money-memeAnyone feel this way?

I helped teach a Faith and Finances class on Wednesday nights at my church a while ago, and our guest speaker started off his portion of the classes by asking us to discuss “The Money Taboo.”  When you think of subjects that are taboo, money/finances ranks right up there with politics and religion as topics we just don’t bring up or discuss with others in polite conversation.

The problem is, when we don’t talk and discuss, we can’t learn…both from those who’ve done it things successfully, and from those who’ve made mistakes that they had to learn from.  That’s one of the reasons our Sister and Mister community is important: sometimes it’s a lot easier to learn, share, comment, and encourage from the relative anonymity of the Internet.

Here’s another issue: if we’re not willing to talk about money and financial issues with our family, friends, church family, etc, the only “voice” out there is the powerful marketing machine saying “Buy MORE!  Buy NOW!  Pay LATER!  You NEED this!  You DESERVE this!”  If we can effectively discuss some of these issues with others, we can combat those ideas with the concepts of moderation, savings, delayed gratification, and frugal living.

Money has become taboo because it’s a source of high-flowing emotion and strong feelings, both good and bad.  So how can we have healthy discussions about money with people we care about?  Here are some ideas from our class, with a some of my own:

  • Share the good and the bad:  Most of us have made some smart decisions and some dumb decisions with our finances.  Transparency with mistakes (along with sharing what you learned and how you recovered), is a great way to open the door to some real and honest conversation about money.  It also helps to not come off sounding like a know-it-all (which can turn people off from wanting to listen to you!).
  • Start young: As parents we want to shield our children from the stresses of adult life, and money can be high on that list.  Children don’t need to know the whole story, but it’s okay to say things like “We can’t afford that right now, but we’ll save up and wait for a good sale;” or “That’s not something Mommy and Daddy can spend our money on right now because we need to take care of important things our family needs.”  You don’t want them to feel financially insecure, but it’s responsible to teach them delayed gratification and savings strategies in the context of daily decision making.
  • Check your emotions:  Feelings can run high when it comes to money, and the best time to talk is NOT when you’re angry, frustrated, panicked, or full of strong emotions.  If you can take a little time to get on more of an even keel, your discussions will be more productive.
  • Consider some timeless wisdom:  Because it was a Faith and Finances class, we looked at some Biblical wisdom on the topic, and I think it can apply to everyone.  A quick look at the Fruits of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)–and you’ll see how they can apply to financial discussions and decisions.  The famous “Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) also has some good advice.  We’re used to hearing the words at weddings, but being patient, kind, keeping no record of wrongs, and rejoicing in the truth (being honest)…all those things can really facilitate good, productive conversations about money.

Is money a taboo topic of discussion among your family or friends?  Do you have any tips for having peaceful, productive conversations about money with those you care about?  We’d love to hear more about it in the comments or on Facebook!

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