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Book Review: Breaking Money Silence

BreakingmoneysilenceBook By: Kathleen Burns Kingsbury (Praeger, 2017)
Reviewed by Julie Fortin, CFP®, FBS®

Mixed financial messages abound when it comes to our collective money culture. Money can often bring up feelings of discomfort, anxiety, or shame. Consequently, money can be an uncomfortable topic of conversation that is typically avoided at all cost. However, this cultural confusion and silence around money is causing more harm than good when it comes to our emotional and financial health.

According to a recent survey by Wells Fargo, money is the most uncomfortable subject to discuss for Americans with almost 50% of Americans preferring to discuss death, politics, or religion before personal finance! This is only reinforced by society, families, and workplaces that continue the norm of money silence. This silence also fuels the financial literacy crisis we have in this country that is not going to go away on its own.

Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly about Finances, and Live a Richer Life offers a step-by-step manual for those who are ready to move beyond financial avoidance and reluctance to engage in financial conversations with loved ones and become a better communicator when it comes to personal finance. The book tackles these key areas:

  • How to identify and understand your money mindset and beliefs that could be interfering with discussing financial matters.
  • How to engage in a money conversation with curiosity and willingness to see the other person's perspective.
  • Establishing money talk guidelines.

This insightful book sites a multitude of examples regarding overcoming reluctance to engaging in wealth conversations and the high cost we pay by keeping money a taboo subject. Examples in each chapter are followed by "Money Talk Challenges" each of us (and our trusted advisors) can begin to use to break money silence in our personal and professional lives. Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a wealth psychology expert, has included a lot of research on the topic along with real-life stories from her personal and professional life. Kathleen has a way of educating about the interpersonal aspects of money in a way that is inspirational and empowering.

Discussing the emotional aspects of money opens the door to better understand how our personal relationship with money is affecting our financial behaviors. Before any impact can be made on the current financial literacy crisis or improvement to the financial health of Americans, there needs to be an increased awareness and intention around learning the skills necessary to effectively talk about the important subject of money.

Breaking Money Silence is part of a bigger money revolution that is breaking the taboo of discussing money and calling out money myths that are hindering the financial health of Americans.

To me, living a rich life means having the ability to spend time doing what is truly valuable to each of us. A rich life is a fulfilling life that is free from financial stress and full of the feeling of abundance. Most of us were not given the financial tools necessary to live the rich life we each deserve to be living and this includes feeling comfortable discussing money. I would put this book on the list of tools that can be used to achieve a richer life.

My favorite quote from the book: "Individuals, couples, and families spend too much time fighting about dollars and cents, and not enough time trying to understand each other's money mindsets. In other words, it is not about the price of milk, but what motivated you or someone you love to buy the milk in the first place that matters."

If you are someone who wants to talk more openly about money and break your money silence, this book is for you. This also a good read for anyone experiencing strife within a relationship over money, any parent trying to raise children who are financially intelligent, or someone facing financial conversations with aging parents. Breaking money silence, as with any long-held social taboo, is not an easy task - but it is possible. I hope that this book inspires readers to consider their own money mindset and become more open in their discussions about finances, it can make a world of difference for years to come.

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