SURVEY SAYS: Talking About Finances

NewsDash readers shared who they feel comfortable talking to about their finances.

A Questis survey of 2,000 adults found that 56% believe talking about finances with others is considered “taboo.” Although most are not sure why money talk may be taboo (81%), people weighed in on the most controversial money-related topics to discuss: inquiring about their parents’ finances (51%), debt (45%) and wills (43%).

While most respondents (76%) describe themselves as an “open book,” in reality, 63% of them shared that they would never discuss finances at the family dinner table.  

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Last week, I asked NewsDash readers who they feel comfortable sharing their finances with and whether there were elements of their finances they kept more guarded than others.

More than half (54%) of responding readers work in a plan sponsor role, while nearly one-third (31%) are/work for recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants, and the rest are advisers/consultants.

Asked who they would be willing to share details of their finances with, all of them selected “spouse/partner.” Sixty-one percent indicated they would be willing to share that information with financial advisers/consultants, and 46% said they would be willing to do so with their children. Thirty-eight percent selected “parents,” 23% each selected “siblings” and “friends,” and 15% chose “co-workers.”

Savings other than retirement savings and debt are two areas that are more guarded than others, as only 8% of responding readers selected each as areas they are comfortable discussing with people they are closest to. Only 15% are comfortable discussing monthly expenses and inheritances/estate planning/wills with those they are closest to. Twenty-three percent selected “salary,” 31% selected “retirement savings,” 54% chose “all of the above,” and 15% chose “none of the above.”

In verbatim responses, readers shared reasons they are not willing to discuss their finances with others, although a couple of them mentioned ways it might be helpful to other people to do so. No Editor’s Choice this week.

A big thank you to all who participated in the survey!


My husband knows where the bodies are buried but I don’t discuss finances with anyone else. It’s not necessary.

My spouse and I discuss all areas of finances with each other with specific details. With children, parents, and broader family, we discuss financial topics, but without specifics (e.g., salary). We have discussed topics of debt and investment with our children without needing to know their specific situations, but also tell them we are willing to discuss as much as they are comfortable with. I put much of the credit for my financial stability on my parents, who explained why we didn’t have the latest car and fancy vacations as living within our means. You don’t need to know exact numbers to put “live on less than you make and save the rest” into practice.

I guess I prefer not to burden others with these difficult topics.

I generally don’t feel comfortable with sharing any of my personal financial information with anyone other than my husband or my financial adviser. I guess it’s the way I was brought up. We never spoke about finances in the house and never, ever to anyone outside of it. I still feel uncomfortable getting my taxes done.

Again, I agree that the subject of money, saving and finances shouldn’t be taboo, however, I feel that certain items should still be held in a more private status. I am open to discussing these things but usually not with those outside my inner circle.

I think sharing experiences and investing ideas can help others be more confidant in saving and investing. One thing I’m always very open about is that even though I do very well overall with my investments, some have been terrible, and I’ve owned stock in companies that have gone bankrupt; so diversify and invest. Nobody is perfect and we all learn together.

I tend not to discuss finances with anybody other than my spouse. My parents never discussed their financial situation with me, we just have to trust things are okay. I will never discuss this with my mom/siblings (and vice versa) and we all seem to respect that amongst each other. For me, it’s because I don’t want to wave it in their faces that my financial situation is better than theirs – as it was, my mom was shocked that I wasn’t getting any stimulus money and could hardly believe it, and frankly, I prefer it that way.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.