62% of Americans don’t talk about money according to new Empower research, and their silence may come at a cost

62% of Americans don’t talk about money according to new Empower research, and their silence may come at a cost


Breakthrough ‘Money Talks’ study shows financial taboos persist, yet the majority of people believe more candid conversations have the power to change the world

Greenwood Village, COLO – April 19, 2023 – It’s time we had the money talk, say 66% of Americans who believe open conversations about money are the key to financial freedom – but taboos remain.* Empower1, a leader in financial planning, investing and advice, published new research finding that Americans surveyed are constantly planning (64%) and dreaming (58%) about their future, and thinking about finances (61%) – but that’s where it goes silent.

Over six in 10 (62%) people don’t talk about money. Mum’s the word with their family (63%), friends (75%), and even with their spouse/partner (46%), though Millennials and Gen Z are twice as likely to say they’re an “open book” compared to older generations (28% vs. 13%). Many people would rather discuss politics (43%) and death (32%) than their finances (24%).

It may be costing them their dreams. A majority of people believe more candid “money talks” have the power to change the world: 66% remark that open conversations can help people build generational wealth, improve the gender wage gap (62%) and over half say that money conversations could improve workplace transparency (56%). 

Carol Waddell, president of Empower Personal Wealth says: “It’s clear that ‘money talks’ matter. When it comes to retirement savers, we’ve seen that more engaged participants have higher savings rates.2 Conversation is a currency on the pathway to financial security, and open discussions about money can have a truly transformative effect on society. Our study shows people believe that clarity about their financial picture, talking to an advisor and financial education are key to achieving financial success – and that’s exactly what Empower is here to help deliver.”

Money Talks key findings:   

  • Money is the monster under the bed in many homes – and it’s time to turn on the lights: More than half of Americans surveyed say they never talked about finances growing up (52%), and 1 in 4 learned that it’s not polite to talk about money. Another 35% of Americans say they were taught to never ask someone how much money they make. Respondents report being raised without practical, critical money lessons like budgeting (32%), saving for retirement (21%), negotiating a salary (18%), or investing (17%).
  • There’s no such thing as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but when it comes to money, it’s much easier for Americans to believe in magic: 71% of Americans have purchased a lottery ticket and 1 in 4 millennials turn to a fortune teller for advice, and yet only one third of Americans have spoken with a financial advisor.  
  • Taking time to talk about money counts, but people would do almost anything to change the subject: A quarter of Americans (29%) would rather wait in line at the DMV, sit on jury duty (27%) or miss a flight (26%) than tell a stranger how much money they have. Nearly a quarter (24%) would rather go on a blind date, and 18% would prefer to give a big presentation at work than share their financial statements with their friends.  
  • Financial knowledge is power – and many Americans could benefit from taking stock: Just six in 10 Americans know their own net worth (58%), and only 38% know their partner’s. More people are familiar with Elon Musk’s net worth (28%) than their own family’s (24%). Having clarity around a full financial picture (40%), talking to an advisor (36%), and financial education (34%) can be critical to achieving success.  
  • Pay transparency could redefine the modern work experience and motivate people to work harder: Americans avoid uncomfortable money talk at work (68%), but wish discussing salaries wasn’t taboo (56%), stating it would help avoid miscommunications (60%) and motivate them to work harder (50%). To help with potential career opportunities, 34% of Americans, including over half of Gen Z (53%) and Millennials (58%), would share their salary information on their LinkedIn.​ 
  • 77% of Americans want to see society take on more emotional and practical “money talks”: People want meaningful exchanges on ways to save for the future (41%), money mistakes they’ve made (36%), basic financial literacy (34%), and even emotional aspects of money (20%). A quarter want more discussions about how to negotiate (26%) and pay for big expenses (24%).

“In these challenging times, staying tight-lipped about money is something people can no longer afford. As part of our mission to advance financial freedom for all, we’re here to help people speak up and take the next step for a brighter financial future,” says Waddell.

The full “Money Talks” report with more findings exploring what’s next in life, work and play can be found on The Currency™. Start on the path to financial freedom today: visit Empower.com to schedule an appointment with a skilled, fee-based financial professional or sign up for its free financial tools.


Empower’s “Money Talks” report is based on survey responses conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Empower from January 3 to January 10, 2023, surveying 2,000 Americans ages 18+ and data from the Empower Personal Dashboard™.


Empower, a leader in financial planning, investing, and advice, is dedicated to creating financial freedom through people and technology. It administers approximately $1.3 trillion in assets for more than 17 million retirement plan participants and is the nation’s second-largest retirement plan recordkeeper by total participants.3 Connect with us on Empower.com

Media contacts: 

Rebecca Rickert Rebecca.Rickert@empower.com  

Katelyn Kwiatkwoski Katelyn.Kwiatkowski@empower.com

1 Advisory services are provided for a fee by either Personal Capital Advisors Corporation ("PCAC") or Empower Advisory Group, LLC (“EAG”) depending on your specific investment advisory services agreement. Both PCAC and EAG are registered investment advisers with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and subsidiaries of Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Investing involves risk. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. You may lose money.

2 Engaged participant savings rates are 56% higher, according to Empowering America's Financial Journey, 2022

3 As of January 31, 2023. Assets under Administration (AUA) refers to the assets administered by Empower pursuant to service contracts, including recordkeeping, for retirement plans and participants, IRAs and other pension accounts. On August 1, 2022, Empower announced that it is changing the names of various companies within its corporate group to align the names with the Empower brand. For more information regarding the name changes, please visit http://www.empower.com/name-change

The information contained herein is being provided for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell securities. All visuals are illustrative only. © 2023 Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America. All rights reserved. “EMPOWER” and all associated logos, and product names are trademarks of Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America.