BRITAIN’S BIGGEST TABOOS: 20 MILLION PEOPLE STRESSED ABOUT FINANCES, YET TALKING ABOUT MONEY REMAINS OFF LIMITS

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I don’t normally do press releases on here, I will make an exception here.

People are embarrassed about money – when it’s their money they are talking about. The taboos about debt, wealth and financial planning are real and we need to understand them, if we can get on with helping people to manage their money better.

So over to L&G…

New research from Legal & General reveals two fifths of the population (41%) say money is one of their biggest stresses, yet nearly half (46%) say finances are a personal matter not to be talked about. As a consequence of this social taboo, people are failing to plan for their financial future, and having to cope with money worries on their own.

The effects of money worries include: increased pressure on family life (39%); anxiety (39%); bad moods (29%); and sleepless nights (26%). A third (34%) of those surveyed say money is their biggest stress, yet the same amount (36%) avoid talking about their finances with friends and family because it isn’t the “done thing” – rising to over two fifths for those aged 55+*. 

Against a backdrop of an aging population, where people may have to work for longer, and the Chancellor’s recent changes to annuities, people are having to take more responsibility for their long term financial security. Financial planning has become more important than ever, yet many are failing to take action.

Legal & General’s Taboo Tent has been touring the country, speaking with members of the public to get to the bottom of why talking about money is such a taboo. The Taboo Tent uncovered the nation’s top taboos and challenged people to take their first step towards financial security by holding awkward financial conversations for the first time.   

The top six taboo conversation topics** are:

Between couples Between close friends With parents 
Past romantic relationships (45%)

Annoying habits (43%)

Weight (38%)

Spending habits (36%)

Death (34%)

Debt (32%)

Debt (46%)

Salary (45%)

Annoying habits (44%)

Savings (41%)

Family scandals (41%)

Politics (36%)

Debt (35%)

Death (33%)

Annoying habits (32%)

Family Scandals (31%)

Past romantic relationships (30%)

Spending habits (30%)

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Annie Shaw, consumer finance champion and Taboo Tent host
, said:

As a nation, we simply don’t like to talk about money matters. It’s a social taboo that makes many people feel awkward. It’s not helped by the fact that financial planning can be a minefield of confusing jargon and alien terms that are difficult to understand. But talking about money doesn’t need to be a taboo. A conversation with someone who can explain the facts in plain English can go a long way to help people understand their finances and plan for the future.” 

Legal & General Assurance Society executive director and chief executive John Pollock, said:

“Taking the time and having the confidence to talk about financial planning is hugely important – not just for financial reasons but for our wellbeing too. Despite this, one in five people would prefer to avoid talking about their finances and leave their financial planning to chance. We need to break this social norm and start talking about money. No matter what the situation or stage of life, achieving financial security begins with having the right conversation.”   

The research shows that money taboos vary depending on the social situation. For close friends, salary and savings are awkward conversation topics, for partners many find it easier to lie about their finances altogether than tell the truth. Talking about debt is the biggest taboo when with parents. [See below for full breakdowns]

Between couples Between close friends Between parents
Over one in 10 (13%) of those in relationships say they are more likely to lie about their finances than any other topic with their partner, rising to over a fifth (23%) of people aged 25-34 years old.

White lies that have been told include: how much people earn (15%); save (21%); how much debt they’re in (22%); and hiding credit card statements (11%). 

Many say their partner has no idea what they have saved (18%), how much they earn (8%), or how much debt they are in (12%).

One in 10 (10%) say they do not feel comfortable discussing debts with their partner.

Only 10% of people say they talk regularly about their personal finances with their friends.

Salary is one of the most avoided conversations with 61% of people saying their close friends have no idea how much they earn.

Of those who have discussed the topic with friends, 16% admit to having told a white lie about how much they earn.

A quarter (25%) of people say they never set time aside to talk about their finances with a parent, and over a fifth (22%) say they do not feel comfortable talking about debts with their parents.

Perhaps as a result of this, over two fifths (43%) say their parent does not know how much debt they are in, and nearly half (49%) say their parent has no idea how much they have saved either. 

White lies that have been told include: how much people earn (15%); save (21%); how much debt they’re in (22%); and hiding credit card statements (11%). 

Many say their partner has no idea what they have saved (18%), how much they earn (8%), or how much debt they are in (12%).

One in 10 (10%) say they do not feel comfortable discussing debts with their partner.Only 10% of people say they talk regularly about their personal finances with their friends.

Salary is one of the most avoided conversations with 61% of people saying their close friends have no idea how much they earn.

Of those who have discussed the topic with friends, 16% admit to having told a white lie about how much they earn.A quarter (25%) of people say they never set time aside to talk about their finances with a parent, and over a fifth (22%) say they do not feel comfortable talking about debts with their parents.

Perhaps as a result of this, over two fifths (43%) say their parent does not know how much debt they are in, and nearly half (49%) say their parent has no idea how much they have saved either. 

The lack of conversation around finances means many are not planning for their financial future. Over two fifths (41%) of people only talk about money when they have an immediate worry and a fifth (21%) prefer not to worry about money at all, as they take the approach it will ‘all work out’. 

Encouragingly, the research shows two fifths (41%) of people say they are comfortable talking about money and their financial matters, and (33%) say they have long term financial plans in place and feel good about their finances as a result.

To help more people have financial conversations for the first time, Legal & General is providing information and top tips on its website to help individuals get started. With a fifth (22%) of people saying they find financial planning confusing and have no idea where to begin, Legal & General is helping people get closer to achieving financial security: http://www.legalandgeneral.com/moneytaboo

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About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to BRITAIN’S BIGGEST TABOOS: 20 MILLION PEOPLE STRESSED ABOUT FINANCES, YET TALKING ABOUT MONEY REMAINS OFF LIMITS

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