Let’s Talk Money Part I

When I was growing up, I was told NOT to talk about sex, politics, money and religion. Too controversial, too personal, I was told.

Seems that the list of hot topics not to discuss hasn’t changed much these days but the degree of “hotness” has.

Surprisingly, according to Karen Wimbush, director of retail retirement at the Charlotte based Wells Fargo Bank and author of a recent study, personal finances AKA money is the most challenging topic to discuss by 44% of the study’s respondents. Politics came in second at 35%; religion came in third at 31%. Sex as a challenging topic wasn’t mentioned or perhaps it wasn’t listed as a topic.

So why is money so difficult to discuss? According to Daniel Crosby, a behavioral financial expert and organizational psychologist, “(Money) is such a loaded conversation and there is so much subtext and hidden meaning wrapped up in “money.” It can be shorthand for happiness power, personal efficacy…”

Translation…when there isn’t enough money, the person earning the money can be seen as deficient; when money is abundant, the person earning the money can worry/fear that people near and dear to them may love them for their money and not for themselves.

Most of us develop our attitudes, strategies and abilities about money from our families, our parents. If no one in the family is talking about money, we don’t learn a thing and therefore grow up completely unequipped, not even ill-equipped, to deal with it.

Take an example of a man who grew up in a family where money was scarce. His parents never discussed anything money. Like most of us do, he was repeating the money behavior of his parents…earning just enough, spending it when he had it, worrying and sleepless about it when he didn’t. Then, one day, he got a big promotion that involved a big increase in salary. Now he had money and he still didn’t know what to do with it…until his boss suggested that he contact his own trusted financial planner. Today, his money behavior is conscious, informed, intentional…and now he sleeps well at night.

Another example is a woman who grew up in a family of means that cultivated a “shared vision” of intergenerational wealth. She experienced, even as a child, an organized, consistent process of sharing values, traditions and wisdoms about how assets are cultivated, used, allocated and preserved. (This process is called Heritage Planning and has been utilized by families as far back as the Medicis.)

We’ll talk more about money as a hot topic and how our personal attitudes, values, behaviors around money impacts how we deal with money in our businesses in Part II of this Let’s Talk Money series next week.

In the mean time, think a bit about your attitudes and behaviors concerning money. Do you discuss it with your loved ones? Do you discuss it with your friends? With your colleagues? Your partners? Your clients?

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