Why money is still the most taboo of topics

It’s the biggest taboo in Britain. No one wants to talk about the M word. That’s M for money.

And now Lloyds Bank is launching a campaign to encourage more of us to talk frankly about personal finances.

Uncomfortable topic of conversation

According to YouGov research for the bank, money is a bigger taboo than sex, religion or politics.

When quizzed, half of all UK adults think talking about their own personal money matters is a subject that is strictly off limits in everyday conversations. By contrast, only 42 percent think the same about sex, while religion (26 percent) and politics (14 percent) are nowhere near as uncomfortable as a topic of conversation.

Two-fifths (43 percent) have been embarrassed in discussions about money, while a quarter (50 percent) have gone so far as to lie to family and friends about their personal finances.

A third (30 percent) have fallen out with a friend over money, a fifth (23 percent) have lied to their partner about their finances, and 27 percent have lied to their parents about how much they spend and what they spend it on.

Worry about owning a home

More than half (56 percent) of young people aged 18 to 34 worry about how they will afford to buy their own home, but only a third (32 percent) of them open up to their parents about this concern.

Revealingly, three-fifths (61 percent) of those quizzed by YouGov confessed they had felt better when they finally opened up about their personal finance.

The M-word campaign aims to destigmatise the topic of money. Lloyds has partnered with Relate to launch a series of courses that are aimed at helping people talk honestly about money at key life stages such as leaving home, getting married or buying a home for the first time.

Talking openly helps

Professor Tanya Byron is a consultant clinical psychologist and patron of Relate.

She said: “Whilst we’ve become more comfortable talking about subjects like mental health in recent years, money is still a taboo subject for many of us, and people are shying away from important conversations as a result.

“Feelings about money can be strong, but conversations about money, even difficult ones, don’t have to lead to arguments.

“Talking openly about money can help us take shared responsibility, strengthen our relationships and protect our mental wellbeing.

Catherine Kehoe, managing director of Customer Brand at Lloyds Bank, added: “Being open about our finances can help avoid problems in the future.

“We hope this campaign will help start the conversation in families and make people more comfortable talking about money matters.”