The Money Taboo: Millions are stressed but talking about finances remains off limits

13th November 2014


A massive 41% of Britons admit that money problems remain one of their biggest stresses yet nearly half, at 46%, refuse to talk about their woes according to new research from Legal & General.

As a result of people putting their head in the sand people are failing to plan for their financial future, and having to cope with money worries on their own shows the analysis.

The effects of money worries include: increased pressure on family life (39%); anxiety (39%); bad moods (29%); and sleepless nights (26%). A third, at 34% of those surveyed say money is their biggest stress, yet the same amount avoid talking about their finances with friends and family because it isn’t the “done thing” – rising to over two fifths for those aged 55 and over.

Legal & General’s Taboo Tent has been touring the country, speaking with members of the public to get to the bottom of why talking about money is such a taboo. The Taboo Tent uncovered the nation’s top taboos and challenged people to take their first step towards financial security by holding awkward financial conversations for the first time.

Commenting on the findings, Legal & General Assurance Society executive director and chief executive John Pollock, said: “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. Despite this, one in five people would prefer to avoid talking about their finances and leave their financial planning to chance. 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.”

The top six taboo conversation topics

Between couples Between close friends With parents  
Past romantic relationships (45%)Annoying habits (43%)Weight (38%)Spending habits (36%)Death (34%)

Debt (32%)

Debt (46%)Salary (45%)Annoying habits (44%)Savings (41%)Family scandals (41%)

Politics (36%)

Debt (35%)Death (33%)Annoying habits (32%)Family Scandals (31%)Past romantic relationships (30%)

Spending habits (30%)



Annie Shaw, consumer finance champion and Taboo Tent host, added: “As a nation, we simply don’t like to talk about money matters. It’s a social taboo that makes many people feel awkward. It’s not helped by the fact that financial planning can be a minefield of confusing jargon and alien terms that are difficult to understand. But talking about money doesn’t need to be a taboo. A conversation with someone who can explain the facts in plain English can go a long way to help people understand their finances and plan for the future.”

The research shows that money taboos vary depending on the social situation. For close friends, salary and savings are awkward conversation topics, for partners many find it easier to lie about their finances altogether than tell the truth. Talking about debt is the biggest taboo when with parents.

Legal & General asserted that given the lack of conversation around finances many are not planning for their financial future. Over two fifths, at 41%, of people only talk about money when they have an immediate worry and a fifth, at 21%, prefer not to worry about money at all, as they take the approach it will ‘all work out’.

On a more positive note, 41% of people say they are comfortable talking about money and their financial matters, and 33% say they have long term financial plans in place and feel good about their finances as a result.


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