Money Talks LIFE

Key stats:

  • Growing pains: 1 in 4 Americans were taught it’s impolite to talk about finances and only 32% learned how to budget while growing up.  
  • Stressed out: A third of Americans regularly worry about money. 
  • Mirror, mirror: 43% of Americans say they have prepared for a money conversation by practicing in the mirror or writing down their thoughts ahead of time.  
  • Would you rather: More than a quarter of Americans (29%) would rather wait in line at the DMV, sit on jury duty (27%), miss a flight (26%), or have a TV show spoiled (26%) than tell a stranger how much money they have.  

Break open the piggy bank 

Don’t talk about money: that’s the message half (52%) of Americans hear, learning it’s impolite to talk about finances (26%), and certainly not what you earn (35%). The taboo prevails for two-thirds (60%) of people who don’t feel comfortable on the topic.

Americans recall stowing away coins in a piggy bank (41%) but say many practical financial lessons weren’t discussed – like the importance of having an emergency fund (31%), building good credit (30%), and managing debt (27%) – as kids or adults. This might explain why Americans tend to clam up when the conversation turns to money. While many received an allowance (36%), the majority (68%) were never taught how to manage a budget. Nearly a quarter of Gen Zers (23%) grew up in a household with a swear jar teaching about money and manners – yet 79% of all people say they never spoke about how much is “needed” to be financially secure.

YOLO

One in 5 (18%) Americans surveyed say they were raised with a YOLO money motto: “You only live once, so don’t worry too much about finances.” Despite the saying, more than a third (37%) say they regularly worry. That’s even higher for Gen Z and Millennials (51% and 49%) and women, who are considerably more stressed about their personal finances than men (42% vs. 33%).

Less than a quarter discussed saving in a 401(k) (21%), salary negotiation (18%), or investing in the stock market (17%), critical lessons that could alleviate some anxiety in their adult years. When it comes to the stock market, 75% of men vs. 50% of women say they understand how it works. All this silence may come at a cost, leading to increased uncertainty about opening up: 43% of Americans admit to having practiced a money conversation in the mirror before the real thing.

Let’s change the subject

People are more open about polarizing subjects like politics (43%), existential topics (32%), or even relationship advice (31%) – before conversing about cash. People prefer dishing about their favorite food (57%), what they watched on Netflix (46%), or celebrity news (28%) over sharing their financial plans (24%).

Ever hear the phrase, time is money? Not to the more than a quarter of Americans (29%) who would rather wait in line at the DMV, sit on jury duty (27%), or miss a flight (26%) than reveal how much money they have in the bank. Nearly a third (28%) would rather give a big presentation at work, and 17% would prefer a blind date to showing their financial statements. More than a quarter of Americans would rather have a movie, TV show or book spoiled than share how much is in their coffers.

Asked but not answered 

Besides their spouse or partner, less than half of Americans talk about their personal finances with their own family (49%), friends (35%), financial advisor (34%), or a coworker (12%). And while 70% of Americans think money conversations should be kept private, the vast majority (86%) have at least one question about money on their minds. ​“How do I make more money?” (67%) and “How much money do I need for retirement?” (63%) are two of the biggest ones asked today.​ Nearly half (44%) say they never talk about how much money they have or how much they need to be financially secure (44%), even though 65% feel confident about their long-term plan.