Ashamed to Talk About Money Problems?

Money is the last taboo. Shh... Don't talk about your money problems. Three years ago when people first stopped making their mortgage payments they hid that fact - no one they were close to knew. They were mortified someone would find out. They blamed themselves for their financial problems. While it's good to take responsibility for your part in a money crisis or challenge, you are not fully to blame for whatever economic mess you're in.

Just as it's hard to admit a financial problem to a friend or neighbor (who's probably in the same boat), money is a flash-fire issue between couples. I know. If my husband and I tried to talk about $$ I would inevitably get mad and yell at him or end up in a pile of tears. He stopped trying to talk with me. But, that didn't solve our money issues.

We see this money taboo reinforced in corporate culture where if you ask someone how much they make, they act like you've asked them to pull their pants down in public. (Well, some people would be happy to do that as long as it was on reality-TV).

Families can be extremely secretive about their money history. I didn't know until recently, that my grandfather, who died just before I was born, was the #1 insurance salesman for the #1 insurance company in 1929. You know what happens next. He lost his money in the crash and then he lost his identify, his sanity and eventually his life.  My dad never talked about his dad.

How do we break the taboo of secrecy? We tell the truth in safe places. In a monthly women's group I run, I encourage open discussion about money problems. At first the women are hesitant, but as they see the looks of recognition (yeah, me too) when someone says, "I haven't paid my taxes in 5 years," relief floods their face. They know they're not alone.

Begin breaking the taboo by telling the truth to yourself. Write in a journal or on a piece of paper you throw away afterwards what's going on with your money - the unpaid bills, the mortgage going into short-sale, the worry, the fear, the shame or guilt, the anger you're feeling. Just write it out. Then think about a safe person you can talk with - friend, pastor, counselor, coach. Next write out 3 action steps and do them.