Would you rather share how much you weigh or how much money you have saved?
Surprise, surprise: 58 percent of you would rather step on the scale.
That’s according to a new survey from Acorns on financial wellness. Acorns and SurveyMonkey polled 3,403 adults in November. It’s lower than in 2018, when 68 percent said they would rather talk waistline over wallet.
Our reluctance to talk about money makes it uncomfortable to share personal numbers like our savings account balance, credit score, debt load or salary. “Most people won’t talk about finances because they’re not confident about where they are,” says Paul Golden, a spokesman for the National Endowment for Financial Education.
But if you work on making one change this year, getting comfortable talking about money is a good one. It’s key in helping you earn, save and invest more.
You don’t need to get financially naked with everyone or start publicly tracking your net worth like many financial bloggers do, Golden says. “There are levels of how open you are about money,” he says. Start small, with people you trust.
“Talking about money, it has so many benefits,” Golden says—you can stay in sync with your spouse on money goals, and make sure your kids are picking up the right lessons about spending and saving.
And if you feel like your finances could use some improvement, talking about that with a trusted friend or family member can help you move past that, says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox of AsktheMoneyCoach.com. She credits talking about her debt with helping her make smarter choices about paying it off. “I took away the shame and the embarrassment factor,” she says.
“You are not alone,” says Khalfani-Cox. “There’s no reason to suffer in silence.”
There’s also a practical angle to talking about money that could help you negotiate your next raise or ensure you don’t overpay when you buy your first home.
Think about how knowing the price of say, milk, helps you shop. “If somebody tried to charge you $45 for a gallon for milk, you would understand that is not appropriate, because that is not a normal price,” explains Dorie Clark, author of “Entrepreneurial You.”
“People need basic information to understand what the going rate of something is,” Clark says. “When you have only your own experience to go on, you’re at a massive disadvantage."
Speaking up becomes even more important when you look at other money habits highlighted in the Acorns survey. Almost 4 in 10 survey respondents say they carry a credit card balance, and 1 in 5 have more than $5,000 in debt.
Whatever strategy you pick to work on paying down credit card debt, there are tricks you can use to make it easier to dig out. An easy one to do: Call up your issuers and request better terms.
“People are surprised that a lower interest rate is often yours for the asking,” says Khalfani-Cox. “The worst they can do is say ‘no,’ and then you’re in no worse shape.”
Putting that plan into action could offer room to grow: according to the survey, 45 percent plan to start investing once they get a raise, find a new job or pay off debt.
We talked yesterday about the advantage of time in saving and investing: Don’t wait to start. But it is smart to think about making the most of an unexpected windfall or extra money that comes your way, since you won’t miss it in your budget, Golden says. Building a rainy-day fund is a good place begin.
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