Money And Secrecy: Why Won’t We Discuss Our Finances?

Money And Secrecy: Why Won’t We Discuss Our Finances?

The feeling of shame is one we all remember well. It’s the feeling of wanting to hide our flawed selves from the light of day and hoping that something about us will not be discovered. It’s useful when our moms teach us not to steal, but not so useful when it comes to our adult lives and our money. Money gets easily attached to shame and, if we let it, can run our financial lives.

Money Shame Fits Any Situation

For instance, we might not have as much money as our friends and we don’t want them to know it. This can lead to going out even though we can’t afford it, because we don’t want to be different from others. On the other hand, we might have way more money than our friends, and not want them to know it because we fear our relationships could change. We might owe money, and be ashamed of being in debt and not managing money well. We might have received money that we did not earn ourselves, and have the shame that accompanies unearned money, especially in the U.S. Of course, there are other scenarios that also feed into shame about money, but I am guessing that you are starting to get the picture. Our shame about money can get us into trouble with overspending, secrecy and feeling incompetent. It keeps us from asking for help and support when we need it.

The Cure

Bring it into the light of day and deal with feeling embarrassed or awkward. Here’s a creative way that Kate Bingaman-Burt dealt with her debt, which she described as a “huge ball of shame.” Every day she made a drawing of one thing she bought that day, posted it on her website, and each month also drew her credit card statements. Over the course of three years she documented one thing she bought each day and also watched her debt reduce until she became debt-free in February of this year. If you, like me, are fascinated by this approach, check out her website or her just-published a book of her drawings, Obsessive Consumption.

Tell us in the comments: Do you have money-related shame? How will conquer it? To whom will you reveal your money secrets?


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