Have frank and honest talk about money

Owen S Nkomo For Your Money
Young couple going over bills and finances.
Young couple going over bills and finances.
Image: 123RF/Mark Adams

We grew up knowing there are certain things we shouldn't talk about in public: politics, religion and money.

We were told it's impolite to mention these topics and that you need to be respectful of people's differing opinions and beliefs.

Except nowadays, people talk openly about politics and their disapproval of the president, or what church they go to, what they believe in and why.

When it comes to the most difficult conversation you can possibly have, one survey after another has one clear winner: money.

I was reminded of this a few days ago as I was in the presence of a couple at a retail shop who were modestly talking about their personal finances.

I thought to myself, "we don't care if you have it or you don't, you should never talk about money".

Those who actually have money, and do not talk about it are the people that we love.

I was always raised that as an adult, there are certain things you do not discuss in public and money is one of them.

In addition to that, I have also received advice not to talk about money during an interview!

What is the cause of all this? We often keep our finances a secret because we feel alone and scared.

In most societies, money is viewed as a measure of happiness, power and personal achievement, so it's undoubtedly a topic many shy away from.

Declining an invite to an out-of-town trip with friends because of the cost feels shameful.

Not having an income makes you a black sheep of the family.

Asking for separate bills at a group dinner is embarrassing, maybe even youthful.

Negotiating a salary increase feels uncomfortable.

Mentioning money during job interviews makes you look greedy.

Asking family members how much they make is completely off limits.

Why is it that the thing we all rely on for most of our basic needs seems to be one of the causes of our unhappiness?

Whatever you do in life, money will affect many of your decisions.

Will you be able to afford a better education for your kids? Can you retire early to pursue your passion? Can you afford to travel the world? Can you resign from your job without another job offer?

All through your adult life, you will be reminded how you never did certain things because you never had enough money, or none at all.

I agree that "for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil", but most of life's necessities need money.

No matter how smart you are, it will take you some time to understand that your relationship with money will dominate most of your adult life.

You can't rush this process.

I know it will take some time to get a handle on your new-found money.

What I've also learnt about money has been learnt through trial and error, the hard way.

I hope we can make your life journey a little bit easier with lessons about many new challenges we have learnt about money.

So go out there and thrive.

However, understand the potential downsides to avoiding your relationship with money.

If you start having intimate conversations about money like all of life's relationships, you will start to look at it in different ways, ways that will make you wiser and give you a sense of control.