Let’s face it, talking about personal finance can be a challenge in our world. As children many of us were not exposed to how money really works and how to manage it because our parents either didn’t teach us or they didn’t know themselves. This cycle continues to repeat itself as it has for many years now and it’s something that needs to be addressed.
Why is this topic so uncomfortable? Why is it so difficult to have a real conversation about money? The short answer is fear. Fear of looking stupid, fear of feeling socially awkward, fear of alienating friends or family, and so on. It’s a big hurdle to get over this level of socially engineered fear of the “money talk”. But we need to get over it. This is not an easy feat, but the mild discomfort early on will open up new possibilities in the money management part of your life.
In addition to this general fear, there is a very deep-rooted feeling that somehow money is bad. Yes, this is crazy talk, but let’s get it out in the open. I’m not going to pretend to know what’s buried deep in your psyche, but take a minute to think about what money means to you. Think about how you see wealthy people being depicted in TV and movies. How many of them look like the hard working, tax paying, charity supporting people we know in our real lives? Few, if any. The typical stereotype is one of a greedy Wall Street tycoon, and this has had an impact on the way many of us think about money.
The simple, but not easy, solution is that we need to change the way we think about money and what it represents. It’s not overly complex or scary and, despite what some recent political followers would have you believe, money is not “the root of all evil”. In fact, money is just a certificate of the value you have delivered to another human being. If you did not steal the dollar in your hand, you earned it in some way. If you happen to have more than me, then you have likely served more people and/or delivered a greater value. Conquering our fear and re-thinking what wealth represents will lead to more open discussion and a more direct path to the wealth we desire.
The point is not to get everyone to wear a big necklace with their net worth for all to see, it’s to ensure we are all comfortable talking about money when the time is right. With our loved ones and our advisors, in particular.