Brits are known for keeping things to themselves, and it seems as though we are no different when it comes to money. According to research by Legal & General, while two-fifths (41%) of people questioned admitted that money is one of their biggest stresses, nearly half said that money was a personal issue that shouldn't be up for discussion. As a result, many Brits keep their nearest and dearest in the dark about their finances, which could take an emotional and financial toll.
When asked about their attitudes to sharing personal financial information, many Brits appear to harbour out-dated social norms. The research showed that 36% of people believe that talking about their finances was just not "the done thing", so they avoid raising the topic with their partners, friends and families. This attitude was particularly strong among the over-55s, with over two-fifths declaring that this topic was a strictly no-go area.
Financial matters were found to be a fraught topic among even the closest relationships, with one in 10 of those with partners saying that they did not feel comfortable talking about debt with them. Those questioned also admitted that their partner has no idea how much they have saved (18%), how much they earn (8%) or how much debt they have (12%).
Respondents were also very reluctant to raise money matters with their parents, with over a fifth (22%) saying that they don't feel comfortable talking about debt with them. Consequently, 43% admit that their parents have no clue about how much money they owe.
This reluctance is feeding secrecy among partners, friends and family, which means that over two-fifths (41%) of those questioned will only talk about money when they have an immediate worry, while a fifth take an even riskier approach, saying that they prefer to not worry about money at all and instead adopt a "it'll all work out" attitude.
While the discomfort surrounding personal finance is clearly curtailing honest discussion, it is also fuelling white lies. Over one in 10 (13%) of those questioned confessed that they were more likely to lie about finances to their partner than any other topic – a figure that rose to over a fifth (23%) of those aged between 25 and 34. White lies about salary size were also a regular fixture among those who did venture into a financial discussion with friends, with 16% admitting that they lied about their salary.
But why are we so afraid to talk about our finances, and what impact could this have on our financial future?
Succumbing to the easy option and avoiding awkward conversations about money could mean that many people are left to muddle through a financial minefield on their own. This could mean that their financial future is left unplanned, and it also means that many Brits are left to cope with stressful emotional worries without support.
A third (34%) of the people surveyed listed finance as their biggest stress, and these money worries can take a big toll. Of those questioned, 39% said that worries about their financial situation put increased pressure on their family life, while others (39%) admitted to suffering from anxiety, bad moods (29%) and sleepless nights (26%).
Sadly, it seems that many of these problems are caused by the stifling effects of social convention, which is stopping people getting the help and advice they need.
John Pollock, Legal & General Assurance Society executive director and chief executive, commented: "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.
"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."
Aside from the social norm of keeping quiet and carrying on, the survey also identified the complexity of finance as a barrier to increased conversation about money issues. A fifth (22%) of respondents said that they found financial planning confusing and had absolutely no idea where to begin – something that is surely likely to put the handbrake on any attempts to get advice and help.
Don't be afraid! Bringing up the topic of finance may be awkward or embarrassing, but getting help, support and reassurance from those you trust can help you to offload any money worries you have. Sharing details of your debts and savings with your partner and family will also mean that you can start planning for the future, whether that be pooling funds to put down that house deposit, or working out a budget to clear that niggling credit card debt.
If talking about money still makes your toes curl, or you simply need someone to explain things clearly to you, then an adviser should be one of your first ports of call. You can get free independent guidance from Government services, or you can pay someone to sit down and go through everything thoroughly with you. This will help you to understand your situation and make financial plans that allow you to view the future with confidence.
If you're nearing retirement, we provide an annuity planning service that can give you some help and advice. You can also get your financial know-how up to speed by checking out our guides on savings, banking and mortgages.
Whatever you do, try not to bottle up those money worries or lie about your savings – talking honestly about your financial situation and getting the advice you need could mean that you can start to view your finance with some new-found confidence.
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