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Is money off-limits as a topic when you talk with your family?

Posted by on Jul. 15, 2013 at 9:46 AM
  • 7 Replies

4 Money Secrets I Keep From My Mom

by Adriana Velez

moneyWhen it comes to my family, I'm an open book. We've gotten to the point now where we've stopped judging each other's lifestyles ... well, for the most part. By now we've all done some pretty wild stuff, and nothing surprises my mother anymore. When it comes to money and budgeting, though, forget it. I'm not spilling anything. But why? What is it about money that feels so private to me?

Okay, I'm willing to tell my family how much my home is worth. The number is so crazy out of proportion to the actual size of my apartment, they'd never believe me anyway. (Life in NYC ...) I'll tell them how much cash I usually carry around with me -- loose change. But the rest? Here's what I'm not sharing.

1. How much I earn. I'll never tell. I mean, my family knows I'm not a millionaire. I write for a living, for crying out loud, and I'm not exactly E. L. James. But I kind of feel like it could go either way -- learning the exact amount I make could prompt either pity (ugh) or loan requests (no!). So I'd rather not spill. Your income is wrapped up with all sorts of uncomfortable questions about your self worth, your potential, your power, or lack thereof. I'd rather keep money out of those conversations because really, ultimately it should be irrelevant. 

2. How much I spend on groceries. I just don't feel like anyone would understand. Food means a lot to me. It's not so much about the quantity -- I have a small appetite. It's the quality. I spend what's probably a ridiculous amount of money feeding just myself and my 9-year-old son, who eats like a bird, by the way. I do shop at a food coop, the farmers' market, and sometimes direct from a farm. But I never use coupons. 

3. How much I spend on school. My son is in private school. NOT because I'm fancy and have so much money I don't know what to do with it all -- but for some other very important reasons. I do get a financial break. But still, all of us went to public school. Actually paying for school before college is kind of a new idea for us. I don't want to get into the dollars and sense of it all.

4. How much I spend on clothes and grooming. I think my sister would understand. Everyone else? Maybe not so much. Not that I'm a crazy spendthrift -- anything but. It's just that once again, the scale here in the city is different. And I believe in paying more to get EXACTLY what you want and having a few investment pieces rather than grabbing whatever you can get off the clearance racks. 

Is money off-limits as a topic when you talk with your family?

by on Jul. 15, 2013 at 9:46 AM
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by on Jul. 15, 2013 at 9:49 AM
For me money is not mine., and especially not my husband's, families business. Some things are just private. I already have enough trouble getting the in-laws to understand boundaries!
by Ruby Member on Jul. 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM
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Money is not off-limits with my side of the family (my parents, kids) because my parents have always been very helpful...and my kids need to understand.

DH's family tends to think we're poor because we drive 15 yr old cars, don't buy new wardrobes every 6 months, don't go on vacations, don't spend lavishly at Christmas, and don't go out to eat.  I say let 'em think that way.  We've weathered long layoffs, illness, financial hits, and have still managed to stay afloat without selling our souls.  If they ask how we can afford for me to be a SAHM and SAHW, then I'll tell them.

by Bronze Member on Jul. 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

I talk to my parents about a lot of financial items. They're very aware of how much things cost and they're also very willing and currently able to help out if we get in a bind, so I appreciate that. Altho I recently bought plane tickets to visit them and celebrate their 50th anniversary and I intentionally didn't tell them how much they were but my mom got it out of me and sent us a check. they love having us visit and are happy to help whenever they can. I recently took out a 401K loan to pay off my credit card debt (not DH's, altho hopefully, since it's a LOT less than mine was, we can get that paid off in the same time period!) and I told them about the loan, but not the amount. I'm obviously terrified of what people will think if I tell them, but it's more than my last car, I'll just leave it at that. 

We don't discuss, or at least I don't discuss money with my in-laws. not sure how much DH tells them, but they're somewhat out of touch with reality on a lot of financial related issues. They area also very frugal in a lot of ways and very cheap in others, they're just different people than DH and me, so while I imagine they know what he makes, I doubt they know what I make (probably because DH ignores it when I tell him, I make more than him and as much as he tries to hide it, I think it bothers him. he continually said we made "about the same" when we were over 10K apart, and we don't make so much that 10K is chump change ;) ) and I have a random guess at what his other family members make, but I could be so far off it's not even funny. I don't know what my sisters make or what my parents made when they were still working, I did know what my mom got from SS when she first retired, but that's just because she's a teacher and only paid into SS for a while and was literally floored when she found out she'd get any payout from them! LOL but yeah, the in-laws also just don't understand or don't seem to understand the variances in pricing in the area we live in versus where they live (HIGH rent district versus small town). 

by Member on Jul. 15, 2013 at 3:36 PM

We tend to not talk in exact numbers but we are willing to talk about finances and give advice when asked depending on the person.

by 80sTardisGirl4Gore on Jul. 15, 2013 at 4:33 PM

it isnt but it can be a sore point sometimes

by on Jul. 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM
1 mom liked this

 Only if they are asking to borrow some!!!sidesplittinglaughter

by Silver Member on Jul. 15, 2013 at 8:14 PM
We speak to our kids about finances (we want them to learn from us so they don't screw up like we did) but our "in-laws" and such? We stopped talking to them about it. Too many judgment issues.
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