Aussies still feel finances to be taboo topic

Half of Australians never discuss their finances with family and friends and a further 14 per cent still consider the topic taboo, according to new research from Suncorp.

The survey of 1500 people found that Australians feel more comfortable talking about traditionally controversial topics such as religion, relationships and politics, rather than their salary, savings and spending behaviour. 

“Money is arguably a more emotive topic than religion or politics, as it’s so closely related to our perception of personal success,” said Suncorp behavioural economist, Phil Slade.

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Slade believed Australians want to avoid social comparisons where they can be viewed as more or less successful than their peers.

“For many people, money is tied to our ‘presentational self’ – the impression we want to leave about ourselves on others,” he said.

“Openly discussing our financial situation can allow others to see gaps between our presentational self and our ‘actual self,’ and that makes most people feel vulnerable.

“We have a tendency to view our income as an extension of our personal identity. Unfortunately, this can lead to anxiety if we fall short from our perception of success.”

The survey showed only 6 per cent of Australians would regularly discuss their salary with family and friends.

The research also showed that age and life stage played an important role in determining how comfortable Australians felt about discussing money with friends.

“When we view our peers as an in-group, we’re less concerned about social judgements,” Slade said.

Millennials (aged 18 to 34 years) were three times more likely to discuss their financial situation with family and friends when compared to baby boomers, the research showed.

Suncorp also found despite nearly half of parents wanting to teach their family about the importance of savings – 42 per cent have this conversation regularly – only 12 per cent would disclose their salaries to their children. 

“Generally, it’s not considered a social norm to discuss household finances as a family – which is a shame because we know that families who openly discuss money are often better off,” Slade said. 

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