With National Financial Awareness Day on August 14th, there are more reasons than ever to be aware of what is going on with your finances. When was the last time that you really looked at your overall financial situation? If you’re like many Americans, the answer to that question may be a long time ago (or even never!). While there is a positive correlation between how closely you look at your finances and your financial health, there are still many people who avoid looking at their finances.
Turbo’s #RealMoneyTalk study
In February 2019, Turbo commissioned a survey that was conducted online by The Harris Poll. The aim of the study was to better understand American attitudes and behaviors around discussing their personal finances and money-related topics with others. The study also categorized responses across generations, with a specific focus on Generation Z (those ages 18-23). In this article, we will look at some of the results of that study, with a focus on why people do and do not talk about their finances.
How many people don’t talk to anyone at their finances
The Turbo #RealMoneyTalk survey showed that more than half (51%) of respondents do not talk about their finances with either their friends OR family. 43% of respondents said they didn’t feel comfortable talking about money or financial status with their friends, while 27% were not comfortable talking about their finances with family.
How comfortable you are talking about money depends on your age
The study also shows that the level of comfort that one has in talking about money certainly depends on your age. For many of the questions in the study, the respondents were categorized into one of four different age brackets – Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers. There was a distinct pattern based on which age bracket you were in, with younger respondents being more likely to feel comfortable talking about money.
Gen Z (71%) is more likely than Gen X (61%) or Boomers (48%) to say they are comfortable talking about money with friends. Gen Z (67%) is also the most likely to talk about their financial situation with family, as compared to Millennials (52%), Gen X (39%) and Boomers (31%). Interestingly, the opposite trend holds for how comfortable respondents were in talking about money matters with a partner. There, Gen Z (31%) was LEAST likely to feel comfortable (compared to Millennials (43%), Gen X (48%) and Boomers (51%). Perhaps older respondents are on average in longer-lasting relationships where there is more of a level of trust.
Most people did not talk about money growing up
While the taboo about talking about finances can have many different causes, one may be the environment in which people were raised. The #RealMoneyTalk survey asked how often finances were discussed in your household when you were growing up? Nearly half of respondents (47%) said that money was rarely (32%) or never (15%) discussed. Only 22% of respondents said that money was always or often talked about when they were growing up.
Again, there is a clear generational disparity in the answers to these questions, with younger respondents being more likely to have discussed money matters growing up. Gen Z (74%) and Millennials (67%) are more likely than Gen X (54%) or Boomers (38%) to say that finances were at least sometimes discussed in their household when they were growing up. The data certainly shows that money matters are being talked about more and more these days.
Talking about debt is a different matter
While many respondents felt comfortable discussing general money matters, there was a marked decline in the number of respondents who felt comfortable talking about their debt. Specifically, 29% of respondents say that they are embarrassed to talk about how much debt they have, and nearly 1 in 5 Americans (19%) say they have lied about how much debt they have when they are with their friends.
Again, responses vary not only by age but by gender. Women (33%) are slightly more likely than men (25%) to say they are embarrassed to talk about how much debt they have. Boomers (19%) are least likely to say they are embarrassed to talk about how much debt they have, compared to Gen X (33%), Millennials (39%) and Gen Z (35%).
Why you should talk about your finances
Pearson’s law states that “when performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.” The same holds true for your overall financial well-being. It is very unlikely that you will be able to improve your financial situation without knowing what it even is! A good way to start understanding your finances might be as simple as starting a budget.
Talking about your finances with a trusted friend or family member can be a great way to improve your situation even more. Of course, you will want to be smart about what information you want to share (and to whom!) but being able to measure and report progress can be a great motivator to put yourself right where you want to be
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.