From Taboo to Table Talk – Let’s ‘Talk Money’

In a world where money often equates to security and opportunities, discussions around financial matters remain taboo. 

The UK has been pioneering a shift towards greater financial transparency through an initiative known as ‘Talk Money Week’, commemorated from 6-10 November 2023.

‘Talk Money Week’ is more than a campaign; it’s an invitation for everyone to engage in events and activities across the UK. These events are designed to encourage more open discussions about money matters, from pocket money to pensions, and to maintain these discussions beyond just a week.

The Hesitation Around Financial Discussions

A survey conducted by University College London, which included 15,000 respondents, unearthed that individuals were seven times more likely to share intimate details with a stranger than to discuss their earnings. [1] This statistic lays bare the taboo surrounding financial discussions, underscoring the urgent need for initiatives like ‘Talk Money Week’ to encourage a more open and comfortable dialogue around money matters.

A further study by Klarna revealed that 32% of UK adults feel uncomfortable discussing money with peers, even though 44% regularly worry about money. Shockingly, 21% have never discussed personal finances with friends or family due to the awkwardness attached to the topic. [2]

‘Do One Thing’

This year, the theme of ‘Talk Money Week’ is encapsulated in the phrase “Do One Thing”. The objective is to prompt individuals, businesses, and organisations all over the UK to take one actionable step towards improving their financial wellbeing, creating a ripple effect of financial enlightenment across communities. It could be as simple as checking the dates on your pension, revisiting your credit score, or explaining to your child the importance of financial literacy. 

The Importance of Financial Discussions

Embracing financial discussions can lead to a wave of benefits. The Money and Pensions Service explains that financial wellbeing, characterised by resilience, confidence, and empowerment, leads to reduced stress over money. This positive transition not only impacts mental and physical health, but also nurtures stronger relationships. [3] Similarly, Standard Life demonstrates that discussing money helps understand each other’s future financial aspirations, reduces stress and anxiety, and instils a sense of personal control. [4]

Breaking Down Barriers

These insights substantiate that while the reluctance to discuss money is widespread, breaking down barriers to open financial discussions can have far-reaching positive effects on individuals and communities. ‘Talk Money Week’ serves as a cornerstone to challenge existing financial communication norms and promote a culture of financial literacy and openness.

Resources for Participation

The organisers of “Talk Money Week,” Money and Pension Service, have also made provisions for a wide range of participants. From downloadable toolkits for schools to participation packs for different sectors, the resources are designed to facilitate tailored activities that resonate with diverse audiences. You will find these resources on their website.

How to talk about money

Ready to talk finances with your family or partner? Here are a few tips from us:

Prepare for the conversation

  • Time – The perfect time to talk about money is probably not during busy moments, like after work or bathing the kids. So choose wisely. Don’t pick a moment when one of you is stressed, tired or in a rush. Instead, choose a moment when you’re both in a chilled environment, feeling positive and having energy. Maybe a Saturday or Sunday over a planned lunch?
  • Location – While you are encouraged to talk openly about money with your family or partner, you may not feel so comfortable talking about it in the presence of others. So make sure you are at home alone, or perhaps walking or in a quiet area of a restaurant. If you do not live together, you might also want to hold your conversation on “neutral territory” – i.e. not at one of your homes. This can help ease both minds and create a neutral atmosphere.
  • Talking points or goals – Have you ever left a meeting feeling like it was a complete waste of time? Poor meetings often result from unclear agendas and poorly defined goals. If there are several factors you want to talk about, you should split them into several conversations. In this way, the “agenda” and goals of each discussion should be crystal clear, and give you more time to have a proper conversation. Try not to finish the conversation until your goals are met, or reschedule some time to discuss it further.

Starting the conversation

Once you are clear on what you want to get out of the conversation and have an idea of where and when the best time is to have it, it is time to start.

Bear in mind everyone’s different. Some will be fine talking about money at the drop of a hat, while others might prefer some warning. Suddenly asking a new partner “What’s your credit score?” as you’re having dinner after work may not result in the answer you expected. If you believe the other person would appreciate a heads-up – and we dare say many will – think about introducing the idea of talking about money gently and agreeing on a time to discuss it.

However, sometimes waiting for what can be perceived as an “important chat” can cause much anxiety. So you may decide it’s the best approach to just come out and say it. That’s fine too, so long as you do it at the appropriate time and location. It’s likely you’ll know the other person well, so use your judgement to decide the best way forward. Remember:

  • Take turns to speak
  • Be honest
  • Be aware of emotions
  • Agree any further actions

Consider writing down any actions that you need to take before the conversation concludes. This might include:

  • Researching a particular question or topic
  • Calling a bank or loan provider
  • Downloading a credit report
  • Gathering relevant paperwork
  • Seeking help from a support organisation

How to talk to your partner about money

Talking to your partner about money can be part of a healthy relationship. Regularly discussing your finances can help you deal with minor problems before they become bigger ones. So try to find time to make it part of your routine, perhaps agreeing to discuss monthly.

______________

Talking about money can be a daunting task. Yet, it’s a critical step towards building a financially savvy society. ‘Talk Money Week’ serves as a catalyst for breaking the stigma around money talks, empowering individuals with the knowledge and confidence to navigate their financial journeys. By fostering a culture of financial openness, the UK is not only addressing the immediate economic challenges, but also laying a robust foundation for future financial resilience and literacy.

Remember that specialised debt advice is also always at hand. Step Change – a debt advice charity is a great place to start. Their team of debt experts provides free help to thousands of people every week to deal with their debt problems, and get their lives back on track.

If you need help with your mental health, you can find advice on the Mind, Rethink or Mental Health Foundation websites, or at NHS Choices.

For 24-hour support, you can also call the Samaritans on 116 123.

______________

[1] University College London – We’d rather discuss sex than our salary – 2022

[2] Klarna – A third of Brits feel too uncomfortable to talk about money – 2022

[3] Money and Pensions Service – What is financial wellbeing? – 2023

[4] Standard Life – Why now might be a good time to talk about money – 2022

More
articles