Why Is Money Taboo to Talk About?

Key takeaways

  • In our overly sensitive and politically correct culture, you might think things like politics, drug use, or racial issues rank among the highest taboo topics.
  • A recent survey reports that it’s actually money-related topics that take the top three spots over these other subjects.
  • We clearly have an issue with money in our society, since so many still struggle to discuss it with their families.
  • The taboo surrounding money is the one primary reason so many people have a difficult time handling financial issues.
  • Consider these survey results the next time you are thinking about having a talk about money.

What subjects are taboo to bring up in conversation? Given our current politically correct culture, it seems as if you almost can’t say anything that isn’t going to raise the ire of somebody, somewhere. That makes talking to others challenging at times. But I can talk about a survey I recently saw. After all, it’s not about what I believe, it’s about what the report states.

The investment firm, Capital Group, asked 1,200 adult participants what topics were taboo to bring up in conversation. The results truly surprised me and they may surprise you too. From most taboo to the least, the findings are:

  • Household earnings – 39% of participants
  • Retirement savings – 38% of participants
  • Inheritance – 25% of participants
  • Politics – 17% of participants
  • Drug use – 14% of participants
  • Racial issues – 8% of participants

I certainly would not have guessed that discussions involving money would take the three top spots, especially over politics and racial issues. These results are interesting given all the changes we’ve seen over the past 20 to 25 years. These changes have made people far more aware and sensitive to various things going on in our society; yet, money still takes the top spots for taboo subjects to discuss.

Money, in one form or another, has been around since the dawn of civilization. It’s ubiquitous in our lives today and we use it for almost everything we do. People spend the better part of their lives working, in part, to earn money to support their needs and wants. This lingering taboo that surrounds talking about money is why so many people have a difficult time managing and dealing with it, no one is talking about it.

Should I start a movement? An awareness campaign aimed at helping people overcome this taboo? I can say from my own personal experience working with countless families that it’s extremely difficult for families to discuss money. It’s tough for them to talk about it across generations and even tough for couples to discuss it between themselves. Apparently, this continues to be a problem in our society. As a culture, we have an issue with money.

The survey results clearly depict the disparity between the topics we might think are taboo and the topic that actually is taboo. According to these findings, money outranks the other topics by double or more. I thought it a surprising and interesting survey and share it because you might feel the same way. You may consider thinking about this survey the next time you need or want to have a discussion about money. Until next time, enjoy.


Gary Klaben is in our Glenview, IL office and serves our clients who are now located all over the country.  He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, Wealth of Everything and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.

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All information is from sources deemed reliable, but no warranty is made to its accuracy or completeness.   This material is being provided for informational or educational purposes only, and does not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any client or prospective client.  The information is not intended as investment advice, and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or invest in any particular investment or market segment.  Those seeking information regarding their particular investment needs should contact a financial professional.  Coyle, our employees, or our clients, may or may not be invested in any individual securities or market segments discussed in this material.  The opinions expressed were current as of the date of posting, but are subject to change without notice due to market, political, or economic conditions.


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