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Why aren't we talking about money?

Superannuation  |  26/10/2017  |   7 min read

Have you ever attended a dinner party where you covered all sorts of intimate topics, but as soon as someone mentions money, income, or savings you can hear crickets chirping?

While most of us are happy enough to share photos of holidays and lunches we’ve enjoyed, when it comes to personal finances there’s a real taboo. Let’s find out why.

The last taboo

In 2016, comparison site conducted a survey and found that 42% of Aussie respondents agreed that money talk is taboo, more so than religion, sex and politics.

The findings showed that only 18% of Aussies regularly discuss money. The younger you are, the more willing you are to talk about the dollars. Generation Y (18-34) are most comfortable discussing personal finances, with one in three laying their money lives on the table. On the other hand, Baby Boomers (55-74) are least comfortable discussing money matters, with 56% admitting to never discussing it.

So why aren’t we talking about it? Well according to the same survey more than one in two couples admit to fighting about money, with one in six admitting to rows about their finances every two to three weeks.

Psychologist and Clinical Director of Relationships Australia, Elizabeth Shaw, says one of the most common catalysts for household arguments is, you guessed it, the household finances. And she says Generation Y couples are arguing more than others. spokeswoman, Bessie Hassan, put a lot of this tension down to social media, which has a tendency to amplify the positive aspects of people’s lives, often setting unrealistic lifestyle expectations.

Another reason couples avoid openly discussing money matters, specifically around investment, is because each have different risk appetites and can’t agree on how to grow or spend their money, which means they can’t agree on short and long term financial goals.

It’s dashing my dreams

According to research by the Financial Planning Association of Australia, Aussies’ most significant life goals are most likely financial, with over half of respondents reporting their top short term financial goals to be ‘saving money’.

A 2017 nation-wide study into the financial wellbeing of Australians, conducted by Suncorp, found that 65% of respondents felt pressure to do well financially, while a quarter avoided discussing the topic altogether, for fear of being ‘judged’.

The same study also found that over a quarter of respondents had given up on dreams of overseas travel and 15% have given up the hope of owning a home.

More recent data also suggests that financial pressures, and the lack of support for young parents, is resulting in Australians having children later in life, and having fewer than had been intended. These decisions have both short and long term impacts on society.

We need to talk

With all the above it’s no surprise that financial concerns are the leading cause of stress and anxiety for many Australians.  So how do we change this?

Research by ME Bank has shown that:

  • The more you talk openly about your money matters with others, the less likely you are to be worried about them.
  • The more you chat about money with other people, the more likely you are to actively manage your own.
  • And the more you make the discussing of finances integral in your relationship, the less likely it is to cause tension and conflict.

In other words, there’s a clear benefit to being open and honest about your finances, especially if it’s keeping you up at night.

These financial conversations don’t necessarily have to be with qualified financial professionals, although that’s also a great idea, but with friends and family as well, in particular people your age. It could help you realise what you could be doing with your money, and how that can benefit you. 


Originally published by Clover. Learn more about your invstment options with Clover's automated investment advisor.


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