How to navigate awkward financial conversations

How to navigate conversations about money

Money can be an awkward topic of conversation. Many Americans say they would rather talk about almost anything else.

A recent Capital Group survey asked more than 1,200 adults what topics they considered "too taboo" to discuss with friends. Income, retirement savings and the amount of debt were at the very top. Marital problems, political views and drug use were ranked as less controversial.

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CBS News

CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger said talking about money has been an enduring social taboo.

"A psychologist once said to me the thing about money is, it's concrete. And so all of our emotions, all of our unresolved issues, our fears and anxieties, it can be lumped into a money issue. And it really can bring up some feelings of inadequacy as well. And that can really make it hard to have open dialogue," Schlesinger said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."

In relationships with spouses or partners, Schlesinger recommended and "open dialogue" in a "safe place."

"You want to pick a good time and a place. You want to have some ground rules, no judgments, right? We're going to try to just calm down. We're going to say, here's what I have, maybe you have a little secret account you've been hiding, maybe you've got some debt you've been racking up," Schlesinger said. "Check in with each other about your financial priorities. Maybe one of you wants to send your kids to college and pay the whole thing. The other one might say I don't want to do that, I want to retire by the time I'm 64. You've got to have these conversations."

Have these conversations with children as well.

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CBS News

"Money habits are actually formed by the time you are 7 years old. So you want to demystify some of the aspects of money. But, that doesn't mean you have to share how much you make. You want them to be comfortable with the topic," Schlesinger said.

It's imperative to set expectations and help guide children to develop good money habits, she added.

Lastly, Schlesinger also suggested having open conversations at work about pay, which could reveal disparities.

"It may help you. Seek a mentor, seek a manager who can guide you. Talk to your friends outside of work. Try to demystify this topic. You may end up making more money by having these open conversations," she said.