Talking About Money
Posted by Gail | Filed under talking about money
One of the things I’m most proud of when it comes to TDDUP is the fact that people have become more comfortable talking about their money. Before the show was on the air, I was quite open about money – my money and money in general – but other people were really resistant to sharing their financial information. I remember doing a call-in radio show in the West on debt; nobody called. We switched to RRSPs and the phone rang off the hook. Even now, people want to remain anonymous, or want their names withheld, because the stigma associated with money mis-steps is still huge. If we want to get better at this we have to get over ourselves, start sharing what we know and asking for help when we need it. The families I’ve worked with on air have been so brave to tell their stories to the world, and I’m hoping that kind of disclosure is catching. I think it’s a real shame that we keep our money stuff so under wraps that we actually do harm to ourselves with our secrets. Here’s a letter I received recently:
My husband and I make excellent money (over 200,000 last year). I “manage” our money, but mismanage is a better term. In spite of our income, we have $66,000 in consumer debt. Each month I go a little further in the hole. I am not a shop-a-holic or a gambler, and we don’t have a lavish lifestyle. However, my husband has always been very insistent that we save for retirement (about $800 a month, not including my pension) and that we pay off our house (we have paid off $130,000 in the last five years and will have it paid off in three years). Nothing is left over for clothes, gifts, or vacations. About four years ago, I was very depressed and began to let things slide. So when we wanted to buy things or go on trips, I just said, yes we can afford it, never telling him that to afford it, we would go into debt. Now after four years the debt has mounted, he doesn’t know and I don’t know how to tell him. I don’t think he would leave me, but I know he would make my life unbearable. I guess I need the courage to bite the bullet, because the stress is killing me.
Here’s an example of a secret that is destroying this woman’s life. No doubt her waking moments are filled with the dread of her husband uncovering her financial mismanagement. But she’s not the only one who is prepared to suffer in silence rather than face up, ‘fess up and get on with fixing the problem. I find it hard to believe she has no friends, no family members to turn to for advice. But she obviously doesn’t think she does, and so she continues to suffer silently. To what end?
It’s a shame we don’t share our stories more often. We’d be so much better off learning from each other, and have a sense of how others are coping with whatever dragons we are facing. It is so lonely to have to face the fear alone.
Children resist talking to their elderly parents about how their parents are coping. Some parents do the “check-in”: honey, is everything okay?, but don’t really want to hear the truth if it means things are a mess. And everyone just assumes that the other guy has got it together and is doing much better. We’re embarrassed by how little (or how much) we make, by the amount of debt we have, by the mistakes we’ve made with our investments. Or worse, we think our way is the only way and are completely intolerant of the path a friend, sibling or lover has chosen, even though it may be working just fine for them.
I think it’s important that we share our successes and our challenges. That’s one reason I introduced the Gail Clubs: so people could get together and learn from each other. It’s also the reason I set up the Success Posts… but I’d like to see more people asking for help there. So I’m offering an incentive. Over the next 8 weeks, I’m going to be giving away a prize once a week to the people who are brave enough to share their stories and ask for help from this community.
I have four copies of The Money Tree Myth (they are my last four copies). I also have two Moonjar gift sets that you can use to help teach your children about money. I like these a lot. And I have 2 Offices-in-a-Box as well. These will be awarded by random draw from the entries received between Monday and Friday for each week for the Success Posts. To be eligible for this draw, your entry needs to be an “I Need Ideas” request. Yup, you have to share your story and ask for help. The whole shebang begins on Monday. Pass it on to friends and family and lets see how many posts we can get in the next eight weeks.
- Week One Prize: The Money Tree Myth
- Week Two Prize: Moonjar gift
- Week Three Prize: The Money Tree Myth
- Week Four Prize: Office-in-a-Box
- Week Five Prize: The Money Tree Myth
- Week Six Prize: Moonjar gift
- Week Seven Prize: The Money Tree Myth
- Week Eight Prize: Office-in-a-Box
I want to thank Brent Dobson of Moonjar Canada for sending me a couple of samples for this give-away. Y’all know that I’m a firm believer in the importance of teaching kids about money. Well, Moonjar provides some very useful tools to not only help kids understand what to do with their money, but to help parents begin conversations about money – yup, that’s the tie-in people; it’s about talking about money – with our kids. Conversation starters include questions like this one, which I just love: What’s one thing you always buy but never really use? Let’s see mommy explain all that face-cream when she has to answer that question. Or this one: What’s the difference between wants and needs? Yup, daddy, go ahead and tell Junior why you NEED another drill!