Way back in 1991, Salt-n-Pepa implored us to talk about sex. Not saliciously, but openly and honestly about the positive and negative aspects of the act. Similarly, I try to implore people to talk about money.
Not in a braggadocio manner, nor as a means to feed hyper-consumerism; but as a way to become more knowledgeable about how to manage money in such a way as to become wealthy, to achieve financial freedom.
I should note that my definition of wealth probably differs from many others. As I have noted previously, I do not define wealth as a certain income level, nor as a particular value held within a retirement portfolio. For me, being wealthy means you can live your chosen lifestyle on passive and portfolio income, foregoing earned (labor) income if you chose.
My experience has been that like politics, race and religion, people are reluctant to talk about money. My belief is that there are two primary underlying factors for the lack of communication about money. First, particularly if you are an individual that makes a substantial salary or has a significant portfolio, the reluctance stems from a desire not to be seen as a braggart. The best way to avoid saying something that might be construed as bragging? Don’t talk about it.
The second factor, one I believe is more prevalent and the bigger problem, is one of ignorance. The reality is that most individuals are financially illiterate…and of course, no one wants to reveal themselves as being ignorant when it comes to money or managing finances. Believe me, I speak from experience. When I was a younger man, I made plenty of money mistakes and never sought feedback from others.
However, during the time I was going through a divorce in my mid-30s, I realized I was in financial trouble (discussed in my book and the blog post, My Journey to Fiscal Fitness). Not only did I search out as much personal finance information as possible via books, magazines and newspapers, I reached out to a couple of friends and an uncle that I knew were pretty savvy financially.
With respect to money matters, it was the best decision I ever made! Does that mean you go out tomorrow and immediately reveal your salary and/or value of your retirement portfolio to each of your friends? No. It means that you start by acknowledging that you are probably not as financially literate as you need to be and recognize that you can become more literate by leveraging various resources, including family and friends.
There are 8.5M blogs* out there, including this one, that discuss personal finance. Find one that communicates in a way that you can relate to. Don’t be afraid to jump into the conversations in the comments section, share your thoughts and latch onto the good information shared by others. There are a number of magazines that cover money, finance, retirement, etc. Again, find one that addresses the topics in a way that you are comfortable with. There are also a number of good books and documentaries that are worthy of your time. As I discover them, I add them to the SavvyRecommendations section.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is talk to other people. I have three friends with whom I routinely discuss money matters with. We talk about the state of the economy, the stock market, different investment techniques, etc. Occasionally we reveal personal money information if it is germane to the conversation. Through our conversations, many of my thoughts and practices are reinforced and occasionally, I adopt a new way of seeing things or modify a previously held belief.
The bottom line: don’t be afraid to talk about money.
* I was being a little facetious 🙂 I don’t really know if there are 8.5M personal finance themed blogs, although I do know that there are quite a few. More than I imagined when I started my own!