More Difficult to Discuss than Politics, Religion

Americans find discussing finances even more difficult than subjects like politics and religion, and they are more worried about their financial health than their physical health.

Americans find discussing finances even more difficult than subjects like politics and religion, according to a new survey.

While roughly a third of Americans said religion or politics are the most challenging topics to discuss, personal finance took the cake with 44%, according to the Wells Fargo Financial Health study of 1,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 75.

“It’s not surprising people don’t want to talk about money, investments, tax strategies, or even how much to put aside for a child’s education,” Karen Wimbish, director of Retail Retirement at Wells Fargo, said in a statement. “But not spending time today to think about the future can be costly in the long-run.”

Finances are on people’s minds, though, with 39% of Americans reporting that money is the biggest stress in their lives, with a third losing sleep from money worries. In fact, a third claim they are more worried about their financial health than their physical health.

A major barrier to a healthier financial life is knowing what to do, according to Wells Fargo. Respondents said the hardest part is “motivating themselves to get started” (40%) and “sticking to a plan” (36%).

“I think of personal finance in the same vein as my health—I wouldn’t keep concerns about my physical health private,” Wimbish said. “I’d consult a doctor or talk to a friend or family member about it.”

While more than half say they feel financial good or great about their ability to live within their means and 67% feel the same when it comes to paying monthly bills, retirement and emergency funds make respondents feel decidedly less good. Just a third feel like they’re in good or great shape about their ability to retire comfortably, and 40% feel financially good or great about their amount of discretionary spending and “rainy day” funds.

“When someone is physically out of shape, they typically understand that eating well and exercising more will help get them back on track,” said Wimbish. “With money, however, there’s a lack of understanding about the importance of designing a plan. Only a third of adults have some type of financial plan or a simple household budget in place, which means most Americans don’t have the roadmap needed to improve their financial health.”

Women find it much more difficult than men to discuss personal finances (50% vs. 38%) and are much less confident when it comes to investing. Less than a third (29%) of women say they know where to invest in today’s market compared to 42% of men. Women realize and understand these shortcomings, with 45% grading their financial literacy a ‘C’ or below, while men assess their level at a ‘B’ or higher.