Financial insecurities are today’s last taboo

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Money is still the subject of secrets and lies

Inez Dyer

We are conditioned from birth to have one face for the public and one face for our private lives. Photograph by : The Associated Press file

EDMONTON — These days you can hardly open a magazine or turn on the television and avoid hearing someone discussing their most intimate sexual practices or fantasies.

If that turns you off, you can always flip to another channel and watch someone having breast implants or giving birth.

No matter how personal, just about everything is in your face

24/7. So why is it, with all this over-the-top public display, people’s personal finances are still hidden deep within their closets and not a subject for polite conversation?

It’s way past time to wake up and smell the coffee, folks!

All those dark financial secrets you’ve been keeping are likely the root cause of most family fights, insomnia, alienation from your grown children and why so many of you will eventually find yourself slugging it out in divorce court.

Sad as it sounds, I hear from readers who tell me they buy their kids expensive gadgets, even though they can’t afford it, because they don’t want them to feel left out. How inappropriate is this, and what kind of message are we sending kids who are growing up in a fool’s paradise, believing mom and dad are human bank machines with endless supplies of cash?

There is no question society is to blame for all the secrets people feel they must keep about their money. We are conditioned from birth to have one face for the public and one face for our private lives. The public face must be consumer-

driven, in charge and always positive. Admitting you have a problem with money is admitting you have a chink in your armour: It’s just not acceptable in this age of perfect white teeth, perfect hair and a perfect size-four body.

Our consumer culture has elevated money to the most desirable commodity on Earth, often ahead of honesty and personal integrity, and if you happen to be lacking it, you mustn’t admit it or risk losing your place in society or, worse, disappointing your family.

If we want to stop this nonsense and improve things for the next generation, we have to start now, preferably around the dinner table, and begin to discuss money like we discuss school, sports, politics and relationships. Your children need to understand that money is not a way of evaluating a person’s character or substance and especially not a yardstick of measuring their own self-worth.

We polite, oh-so-proper Canadians have a long tradition of keeping our mouths firmly shut about our personal finances.

While it may be hard to start talking candidly about your money, I guarantee it will reap substantial rewards, both on the home front and with your bank balance.

You’ll also feel less personal stress because you’re no longer alone in dealing with your financial problems and insecurities.

It’s way past time we searched within ourselves and began to understand why we allow money to rule our lives, define who we are and feel embarrassed and inadequate about talking about it.

It’s been my experience that once people get over the fear of being judged for admitting they have a problem, financial or otherwise, they take advice to heart and start making excellent progress in overcoming their problems.

When it comes to your money, silence is not golden!

© The Vancouver Province 2006

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