A while ago, last January when we were all tired, fat and skint, I wrote a blog post about apps that can make you money. Not loads of money but some extra pocket money if you are willing to invest a teeny bit of time. The post did well and I had quite a few people asking for more information. Interaction on a post is always great. One thing that came out of it though, was something I didn’t really expect. I got a lot of people messaging me saying how nice it was to read something by someone who, by my own admission, is shit at saving money. And *cue Carrie Bradshaw voice* I couldn’t help but wonder. Why is talking about money still such a taboo subject?
There are loads of things that were taboo subjects when I was at school; you only ever talked about being on your period with your very close friends or if you wanted to get out of PE and no one ever talked about mental health. Thankfully non of those things are that taboo anymore but I kind of feel like money still is. I admit I would feel pretty uncomfortable if someone were to ask me outright how much money I earn, even my closest friends don’t ask. And that’s mainly because it’s no one’s business, but money as a whole is still rarely talked about.
I have been, and always probably will be, terrible with money. I can only think of two times where I’ve positively saved my own money for something that I wanted to pay for outright. One was when I went to Vegas with Meagan in 2017 to see the Backstreet Boys, and the other was when I saved up my pocket money for the Space Jam soundtrack when I was 14. I’ve always lived right to the cusp of my means, and in some cases slightly beyond. When I was a barmaid on £50 as week when I was 18, I spent all my disposable income of tops and nights out. Now I’m 39 and I still spend all my disposable income on
tops and nights out joggers and take aways. And the odd holiday here and there when we’re able to travel.
I’m incredibly lucky that Dave is so good with money and always has been. He is 100% financial director of Newman Inc and through him I’ve learnt to be better with my money. I’m a big fan of an interest free period on a credit card and have my money pretty much under control these days thanks to him. But I do often wonder if I’d married someone who had the same relationship with money that I do, what kind of dire situation might we find ourselves in?
Dave taught me how to be more responsible with money but what about the people who don’t have a Dave? I’m perfectly happy admitting I don’t have a scooby doo about household finances, I couldn’t tell you what kind of mortgage we have, or how much our council tax is, or even who our water supplier is. I mean, if I lived on my own, I would learn, but I’ve never had too. But on the flip side, I was never taught either, schools don’t teach you about mortgages or ISAs or interest free periods. I was never taught how to invest properly or the benefit of having a pension. That’s all stuff I’ve had to either pick up along the way, or, in some cases, learn the hard way.
Here’s the big thing though, I definitely feel like there is a possibility that this money taboo, that which must not be mentioned, might just be a woman thing? Or at the very least a British thing? The quote above really resonated with me, especially when I got a promotion at work last year. Partly because we were in the middle of a pandemic, but even if we weren’t I reckon I would still have probably kept it on the down low. Yeah there’s the whole humility thing, but there’s also a lot to do with the money aspect too. It feels more accepted that a man would talk openly and proudly about being promoted at work (and rightly so) yet women are taught to be demure and couth. Talking about money, especially as a woman, is crass.
I mean, I have come to no conclusions with these musing so apologies if this comes as a bit of an anti climax. I’m not really sure why money is such a taboo subject, and believe me I know plenty of people or are more than happy to casually drop into conversation how much they earn (and I’m pre conditioned so that it makes me cringe when they do). But having money as such a taboo subject and the shame an anxiety about perhaps not being great with money or being in a bit of debt, means we’re not sharing best practice and people may be suffering in silence unnecessarily.
Personally I wouldn’t mind if we were more open about money, particularly if it’s something someone is struggling and needs help with. Reduce the stigma in the same way it’s been reduced for mental health issues and it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start divulging how much you earn or how much you paid for your house, that’s still no one’s business. But being more open about struggles or debt may help people see how common it can be and how much help and advice there is out there. And that goes for the successes too, it would be lovely to normalise getting a promotion because you’ve worked hard and you’re proud of yourself.
For me, personally I guess it’s about the fact that how much you earn, or how much you have, is intrinsically equated to worth, and your worth is so much more than what you have in the bank.