In many aspects of modern life, we live in an age of oversharing. We share every crevice of our day on social media. We dissect our private lives in WhatsApp groups. We’ve even become accustomed to watching people having sex on TV. But with so many previous taboos now up for discussion, why is money a taboo topic? And why can’t we open up and admit that we need debt advice?
“Instagram brunch pics and cute #homespo stories would lose their luster if we knew that they were built on credit”
I put this question out on my Instagram page a while ago and, apart from privacy concerns, the consensus was that discussing money leads to negative judgement. And we don’t reach out for debt advice because of the shame we feel, even though most of us are in debt. As a result, we don’t put our finances out there, and neither does anyone else. Therefore, no-one talks about money.
Talking about money would completely our current perceptions on their head. Suddenly, Instagram brunch pics and cute #homespo stories would lose their luster if we knew that they were built on credit.
There is stigma out there attached to money, but only because we’ve made it that way. Let’s be honest, we live in a culture of one-upmanship. We are desperate to keep up with people we deem superior, and judge those that are inferior. Being open about our need for debt advice means risking where you currently stand between the two.
In our own lives, admitting our less-than-perfect financial situation to others means admitting it to ourselves. If we were financially comfortable, we’d be more comfortable sharing our financial situation. Perhaps sharing the details of our debt with others pales in comparison to coming to terms with it ourselves. Maybe the taboo enables us to ignore our issues, meaning we’ll never get that debt advice that we need.
“We live in a culture of one-upmanship. We are desperate to keep up with people we deem superior, and judge those that are inferior”
Another problem with the money taboo is that it makes us feel isolated in a problem that’s incredibly common. According to the National Audit Office, up to 8.3 million people in the UK are unable to pay off bills or household debts. Would as many people be in this situation if we were able to talk about money, and give and receive debt advice? I’d like to think not.
So why don’t we start to remove the taboo? My debt Instagram account began anonymously in July 2017. However, I quickly realised that remaining anonymous did nothing for the money taboo, and waived my anonymity. I talk openly about my debt payoff to anyone who will listen (although I try not to be preachy, because many people are just fine about being in debt- and that’s their choice). And it’s wonderful when someone asks me for debt advice. Why not start here, or make your own account to hold yourself accountable for improving your money situation?
“The most significant way to change our collective money situation is to be more transparent, and encourage others to do the same”
As for taking control of your individual finances, there are many resources out there that destigmatise money. The forums at MoneySavingExpert or Refinery29’s Money Diaries are some of my favourites (and the R29 UK Money Diary Facebook page is all sorts of open about all things £££). Connecting with others that are open about money not only normalises it, but helps you to get into the right money mindset, too.
There are many things you can do to change your own money situation, such as taking up a side hustle, cutting your expenses or building a budget. But the most significant way to change our collective money situation is to be more transparent, and encourage others to do the same.
The money taboo only exists because we let it. So let’s make a lasting change, and start the conversation.
Vicky Eves says
I’ve wondered this a lot myself. I admit that even when I was in debt management I was embarassed to talk about it, and it’s only in the last year or two I’ve felt confident enough in myself to stand there and tell the world I was in debt. I’m not proud of it and I’m not trying to be smart or clever, but the more people who come out and say they were in debt but came through it, the better! Hopefully in time the stigma will go and money won’t be such a taboo topic!
Thank you so much for your honesty Vicky! That’s fab to come through your debt and learn from it, and I do think you should be proud of yourself for taking those strides and for starting the conversation.