I grew up in a house where you never talked about money. You didn’t ask how much things cost, you didn’t ask how much people made and you certainly didn’t ask how much people had in their back accounts. You never offered this information either. Oh no. Even worse than admitting you didn’t have any money was giving people the impression that you might have some. We weren’t even allowed to tell people when we bought a VCR in the late ’80s. Any mention of a recent purchase might mean you had the money to spend on such extravagant items as electronics (extravagance loosely meaning anything you don’t need to stay alive).
A lot of people I know grew up in similar homes. In fact, when my current gentlemanfriend and I first began to get closer and I wanted to discuss our separate personal finances, he bristled. If I dare even broach the subject, he’d become visibly agitated and swiftly change the subject. I worried this meant he harboured a deep debt (something even worse than my monstrous mortgage), but he soon revealed it was simply the topic that made him uncomfortable.
“I was raised to believe that talking about money was rude,” he dismissed me.
You and me both, baby. You and me both.
The problem with this belief is that money becomes shameful. It’s a shameful thing to have, and a shameful thing not to have. If a purgatory exists, I don’t even know where it might be. (Can you tell I was raised Catholic?)
When there’s shame, there is misinformation. And where there’s misinformation, there are mistakes. Colossal mistakes. The kind you can’t take back. At least over night.
Lately, I’ve been talking about money. A lot. I’ve asked for advice from friends who I know are excellent with money. I’ve asked hard questions of people I love, people I thought were in much better financial positions than I am. (We all create a bit of a ruse, don’t we?) Because it’s been a taboo topic in the past, this money talk takes on a titillating air for me.
I feel a bit sexier when I’m talking about money. More brazen. More confident. A bit like there’s no going back.