I created a survey asking people why they do (or don't) talk about money. Here's what I found, and here's how we can fix it.
I’m pretty passionate about personal finance, specifically - talking about it, because I feel like it’s really hard to do. Yet, it’s really helpful, right? At least that's what I think. That passion has led me to create this project and start digging into the problem.
When “digging into problems”, you have a couple options.
1) Sit in a chair and just guess. You can strike your best thinking pose, you can have your favorite pen and pencil out… you can even whiteboard!
2) You can actually ask people questions and get data and REAL info about why this is a problem.
I chose option number 2, and to do that, I created a survey about personal finance. Specifically around how often we talk about it. (Here’s what it looked like.)
You know what I found? A lot of really interesting things… some that I was expecting, and some that I wasn’t. It was awesome to hear from people and see others experience the same confusion and frustration that I do, and the answers helped me really start thinking about the problem in better way.
So let’s dig into it, shall we?
These findings will hopefully help you to not feel so alone, and will help you to see the problem and maybe help me think of ways to fix it! 😀
1. Do we talk about money??
Sometimes! But not on a large scale, and only with certain people.
64% of people said that they have told someone (besides family and close friends) when they did some form of financial activity (like paying off loans, investing, or saving). But 82% said they've never posted about it on social media.
When asked why not, some common responses were things like:
It feels too private
It's taboo to talk about money
I'd feel like I'm bragging
Not sure if other people would be comfortable with it.
"I feel like it is just something that people don't normally talk about or celebrate."
"I talk about it in person but I'm slower to post about it on social media. I don't want to "brag" or make anybody feel badly about where they are financially. (Even though it probably doesn't do them any good by helping them not be confronted with their own thoughts.)"
"mostly bc I'm not perfect at it. who am i to tweet about those matters?"
Some said they DO post about it on social media as a way to share their progress and encourage others to do the same!
"Because i am proud of it and to inspire conversation."
"Encouraging others to get out of debt."
"Typically no, but I posted when my student loans were paid off because I know so many people who have that goal, and I wanted to share that it’s possible to pay it off."
"I do, to encourage others, and because I’m excited! No specific numbers though."
2. How do we actually make progress on our goals?
When we talk about, and when we track it.
49% of people said they're more likely to reach a goal when they tell other people, and 31% said they're more likely to reach a goal when they write it down.
Interesting…. So let me get this straight.
We don’t really talk about money
We make the most progress on goals that we talk about
Most of us aren’t doing as well financially as we’d like to be
Well, when you think about it, it's no wonder we're not where we want to be!
3. But wait, is it actually helpful to talk to people about money?
Yes, it is actually. More helpful than our Google searches.
I asked people what they do when they have questions about money, and then I asked them how helpful that was.
When trying to get help with finances, 64% said they go to Google, but 13% found that to not be helpful. In fact, only 10% found it to be extremely helpful.
Meanwhile, only 25% of respondents actually do ask people, but 100% of those that ask people find it at least somewhat helpful, while 29% said they found it extremely helpful!
If you have questions about money (don’t we all).... You have a one in three chance of actually getting some REALLY valuable advice, and 100% chance of it being at least somewhat helpful to move you in the right direction.
I guess that settles it… people are better than search robots.
4.Um…does anybody care about me and MY finances??
88% of respondents said they were at least somewhat interested in seeing what other people in similar situations are doing with their finances, and 40% of all respondents said they were EXTREMELY interested in seeing what other people are doing.
Have you ever put together a puzzle? 🙋 Let me guess. You looked at the picture on the box didn’t you. Of course you did!
Sometimes it helps to see what others have done so you can build something similar. I think personal finance is kinda like that, too.
And let’s be honest - sometimes we just need to know somebody cares and is cheering us on. We behave differently when we know people are watching us and rooting for us. (Yeah there’s a whole study about how cockroaches actually run faster when other cockroaches watch.)
So you might not think sharing your financial progress is valuable, but what if it encourages someone else to also take steps towards making financial progress? Maybe it helps you stay the course and pass the finish line on your financial goals, too.
4. Okay, so how do we make it easier to talk about money?
Simple - we create an environment where it’s expected, encouraged, and there’s no shame or judgment.
Okay, not so simple. But at least we’ve got a bit of a blueprint for what’s required. When asked what would make you feel more comfortable talking about money, people answered things like:
Knowing others were comfortable with it
Being in a better financial situation themselves
Talking to people in similar financial situations
Knowing others had similar goals
Knowing there'd be no judgment
"not being judged."
"A community with the same goals."
"If I saw other people doing it, or an environment where it was encouraged."
"Talking with people who don't make me feel awkward or judged and who are interested in supporting me."
"If it was a common topic of discussion. The normalization of talking about money."
"If there was no shame or awkwardness."
"Knowing I am talking with people in very similar financial / life situations."
It’s really interesting to me that we all feel this way… and I can totally resonate with all these things. Can’t you??
5. So, now what??
Okay, this wasn’t a question I asked in my survey. But it’s something that’s been burning on my mind.
I wish I could snap my fingers and fix it, but I can’t.
So instead, I’m going to keep working on building a community where people can freely share and talk about money with no judgment. They can track their progress and share it with others, and everyone can ask questions from other people, because we know that’s what helps us grow.
So I’m going to take this feedback, and use this to structure how I build Penge. (Penge is an app I’m working on that’s aimed at solving these problems of making it easier to talk about money.) And I’m going to continue to get feedback from others until I’ve finally built something that will help us all grow in our personal finance journeys and make sure we don’t feel alone.
Are you in? I’d love for you to join me. If you’re interested in seeing something like this happen, join the waiting list. I’ll keep you updated on my progress and share exciting things I find along the way.