6 Reasons Why People Don’t Like Talking About Money

Many people avoid talking about money. That’s because many generally don’t like talking about it.

Some of us never bring up our personal finances. Some are quick to change the subject when it comes up.

Australian currency. Banknotes and coins.

Some of us feel awkward, embarrassed, angry or guilty talking about money even with friends and family. After all, money is a sensitive topic – salaries, spending habits and savings are very personal things.

Often money is seen as a taboo topic that carries stigma like sex, politics and religion.

It seems Australians find it hard to talk about money. A survey in 2016 found almost half of Australians avoid talking about personal finances. Another survey in 2018 found two thirds of Australian parents are reluctant to talk about money to their children.

I’ve always had an interest in money and don’t mind discussing personal finances with those I trust. Growing up money was discussed openly in my Chinese family as wealth is pride in Chinese culture.

Most others around me, however, tend to keep their financial achievements and struggles secret.

There are valid reasons why some prefer not to talk about money, and here are some of them.

1. Judgement

We don’t talk about money because we don’t want to be judged for our financial choices or circumstances.

People can be quick to judge based on first-impressions or stereotypes. Our financial situation doesn’t necessarily reflect our values and self-worth.

There’s often the misconception that the more you earn, the better off your life is. After all, how much we earn can determine if we can afford certain luxuries.

That said, if you go out every weekend or buy designer clothing all the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. Even if you are, that’s your choice.

If you earn below the average income in a developing country, it doesn’t mean you aren’t hardworking or don’t have an emergency fund.

Everyone has different salaries and habits – different financial outlooks for different lifestyles.

2. Offending others

Money is tied to the notion of status, class and privilege. Talking about money with people who don’t understand your lifestyle might make them feel bad or annoyed. They might also behave differently around you.

For instance, if you earn a modest income or prefer to live on welfare payments, you might get looked down upon by corporate high-flying career-types.

Bragging about one’s wealth in an upmanship manner is crass. It can be triggering, making those who earn less feel like they don’t belong and discriminated because of financial wealth they don’t have.

On the flipside, high-income earners might feel annoyed at having to fund welfare or disability payments with their taxpayer dollars, feeling others are mooching off of them. At times they might also be a target of crime if they talk about their wealth to the wrong people.

When I was much younger, wilder and unemployed, I lived off welfare payments for a few years. To qualify for the payments, job-seeking classes were mandatory which I attended. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do to pay the bills.

3. No one really is a professional

Financial advice from a financial advisor or your friend is just an opinion. That advice won’t guarantee you financial freedom.

Everyone’s life, goals and circumstances are unique. Financial advice that works for someone might not work for you.

As such people might be hesitant talking about personal finances for fear of causing someone else’s financial downfall. Who knows if someone might take your investing recommendations like gospel without doing their own research and end up with an entire portfolio in the red.

Also, the volatile economy and certainties in life can change at the drop of a hat. That can make some of us even more reluctant to share money tips. Money tips that worked previously might not work now.

4. Tradition

Sometimes people never grew up talking about money. So they don’t ever talk about it, keeping with tradition.

Some might have been discouraged from talking about money when they were younger. After all, childhood and teenage years are usually carefree times. Some parents rather not have kids stress over the math of compound interest or taxes.

My Chinese parents were the exact opposite. Throughout school dad encouraged me to read the Australian Financial Review and keep up with current affairs to make sense of the stock market highs and lows.

The habit of saving over spending was also drilled into me back then. My folks got me an orange Dollarmite money box as a kid and encouraged me to feed it coins every day after school.

In general, wealth is a marker of success in Chinese cultures that’s why some Chinese talk openly about building wealth.

5. Stress

There are many aspects about personal finance. Talking about it can be overwhelming, not knowing where to start.

There’s earning, saving, spending, and paying off debt such as student loans. Then there’s also setting up an emergency fund. Funding a retirement fund. Saving funds to support loved ones. Predicting future inflation. Setting aside for medical expenses. Diversifying investment portfolios and income streams. And more.

Adding to that, money doesn’t fall from the sky for free every day.

6. Right to privacy

Everyone has the right to keep their finances and financial habits to themselves. How much you make and spend is no one else’s business.

To simply put it, not all of us are comfortable revealing our money habits.

The more you talk about your personal finances, the more you reveal about yourself. That can set you up to not just be a target of crime but also identity theft.

So best to be mindful with whom you talk money with.

*  *  *

Going back to the notion of privilege, some are born with certain privileges.

It has been suggested ‘privilege is having advantages that others don’t have. Privilege comes into play in nearly every situation when it comes to money.’ For instance, who you are determines the student loans you pay and the salary you earn.

If you’re born into a white middle-class family in the modern Western world, chances are it’s easier to get more opportunities and accumulate wealth – work less and afford spending and travels fairly easily.

If you’re from a place where you work multiple jobs to make ends meet, or from a minority group, it can be harder to get ahead with money – and maybe it’s harder to talk about money.

As such, conversations about personal finances will be different for different people depending on one’s privilege. Everyone will have a different perspective about managing finances.

I remember the job-seeking classes were demoralising. It was hard to focus. There were students of all backgrounds: some seemed high. A middle-aged guy taught English overseas for years, wore a business suit each class and took a raggedly-looking classmate to buy decent interview clothes. Others kept interrupting the tutor.

That experience taught me some of us will always do it tough financially. Halfway through the course, I was offered a job in a call centre. I didn’t want the job. Not my kind of field. But I took it and left the course to earn a living.

Notably, working hard doesn’t guarantee you’ll be financially independent in the long term. Also, your life priorities and financial priorities will change throughout life.

It’s important to talk about money, such as spending habits, ways to save and investment strategies. That way you can make informed financial decisions and develop a healthy relationship with money to suit your lifestyle – and feel better about money.

When talking about money, you don’t always have to get personal. Talking in general about saving, spending and investing can be both helpful and insightful.

As I wrote in Cheap, Cheap Asians, for me saving and having an emergency fund comes first. If I can save instead of spending, I will. I miss the days when I could get $1.50 luncheon meat fried rice and $1.50 nuggets for lunch from the school canteen in Singapore.

These days, money is more complicated – and it probably is for the average person as life goes on. Growing investments, paying off the mortgage and taking care of others are often on my mind. But there’s also fun in having the occasional go at sports betting, discussing wins and losses with friends.

Typically it’s white men talking about money and managing finances in the public eye. More women and people of colour should be speaking up about money, encouraging others to be financial literate.

There are some financial personalities who discuss money and make it relatively simple for you to understand. For instance:

  • Host Aja Dang breaks down budgeting and setting aside funds for the future.
  • Day trader Shay/HumbledTrader shares tips on trading and points out its highs and lows.
  • Realtor Graham Stephan encourages frugal spending habits and investing in mutual funds.
  • Businessman Dave Ramsey champions paying off debt to take control of your money.

No matter what background or culture we come from, we can all learn when we talk about money with each other.

Do you talk about money or personal finances?

164 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why People Don’t Like Talking About Money

  1. I do want to talk about money … your extra colorful Australian money! 🙂 I wish our currency and coins were so beautiful and cheerful.

    But to be serious, I was taught that talking about money was not polite, so I rarely discussed it then and have hung onto that preference over the years. Nowadays, however, people talk about EVERYTHING we didn’t used to: money, politics, religion, sex, plastic surgery, weight, etc. There seem to be fewer secrets these days, and I find that both good and bad. For the most part, I wish we could go back to less bragging, salesmanship, posturing, and TMI in general! I do think openness with one’s kids has changed, and I largely think that is OK. We did talk with our kids about money in some contexts, and I think it helped them understand what they needed to do financially, especially since we were the annoying parents who said they were on their own the minute they graduated from college!

    Hope you are doing well, Mabel!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think I also had that upbringing of discussion of money being impolite. It probably stems from that perception of people getting offended if they learn they are not earning as much as others.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, Australian currency does look bright and cheery. I didn’t actually realise that until I pulled out these notes. These notes were released a few years ago, so I think that’s why they still look fresh. From what I have seen in movies and just reading generally, American currency carries more muted, neutral tones.

      That is a good way to put it, that talking about money is not polite – it can be seen as being nosy about someone. It sounds like you educated your kids about money, and showing them options on handling it. Money is personal and you really can’t force your opinions on it on someone else.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. In my case it’s mostly cultural. I feel that in (Central) Javanese society, talking about money is a big taboo, and if you really have to, you must do it in private. As an adult, I usually adjust to the person I talk to. If he/she is comfortable with it, then I’ll be candid myself. However, there are only a handful of people with whom I can openly discuss about this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is interesting to hear that in Central Javanese society money isn’t usually talked about openly. I am also the same – if the other person is comfortable talking about money, I am happy to discuss it with them – even if it means talking about it generally and not disclosing personal financial figures.

      Hope you and your roomate James are doing alright over there. Stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In my white family, discussing money is absolutely taboo. We never say how much something cost or how much money we make, or discuss rent, etc.

    The first time I met my future Chinese-American in-laws, they interrogated me on the cost of my rent and told me how much money I could save if I moved in with their son. I was mortified, but it is hilarious in retrospect, and also rather flattering.

    I’ve changed my view on monetary discussions enough that now I think I make my white family uncomfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Mabel, very thought-provoking topic and one that transcends cultural boundaries!

    Nice that you gathered such crisp notes for your photos – I hardly deal with cash these days other than when sharing lunch bills with friends, but shared meals outside of the home hasn’t happened for a long time because of the restrictions this year. I didn’t recognise the coins either – they look like commemorative coins for ANZAC Day but valued at $2 while appearing to be the same size as regular $1 coins (hard to get a sense of scale in the photos).

    I know money is highly prized in Chinese culture. The giving of money on Chinese New Year is something that I’ve had changing opinions of as I’ve grown up. I didn’t have much ‘pocket money’ as a kid so I used to prize what I got at CNY celebration. I understand that tradition warrants that as a bachelor I’m still eligible to receive these gifts but thankfully no-one offers them to me any more. Aside from that, I know everything seems to orient around money in traditional Chinese culture. Study hard to get a good job in order to support your family when you’re older. Nothing wrong with that and they are all good and wise things, but it can be taken to the extreme in many cases, at the expense of other things like feelings of self-worth before your family. I wonder how many kids currently undertaking HSC exams (VCE in Victoria, I believe) feel the weight of family expectation.

    On the topic of judgement, I think it ties in a lot with our culture of asking people ‘what do you do’ – as in, what is your job? As though our identity is solely, or primarily in our occupation. I reject that notion, but I think it further relates to how household mothers like my own mother and my best friend’s wife are generally looked down upon in our western society because they’re seen as being a ‘burden’ rather than being the solid foundations upon which healthy families are built and can flourish. Instead, ‘successful’ women are seen as those who give up the privilege and joy of motherhood in order to pursue careers, perhaps even at the expense of relations with her friends and/or husband/family. I’m not saying it’s impossible for a mother to be a career-focusd woman, just that it’s very difficult to do so and treading on women who choose to put their family before themselves are to be commended – praised, even – rather than disparaged.

    On the topic of offending others, I think there’s also the one-upmanship trap that we all can fall into. Speaking about job loss and change with my best friend recently we discovered that he actually earns quite a bit more (15-20%?) than I do, I assume because he’s in a mangerial position and I’m just a ‘lowly’ software engineer (plus we have different employers and are in different industries, of course). But that’s largely been my choice – I’d much rather be the one to do the actual work than telling other people what to do. I admit that I felt a little sad that I wasn’t earning as much for (perhaps) knowing more in the technical domain, but he readily said that he thinks I should be receiving more. That aside, it’s just as you said about how much you earn not being directly correlated with how well off your life is. And it’s precisely because of that dissonance between pay rates and satisfaction that I’m prepared to take a pay cut to move to a job that looks like I will enjoy (and contribute more to society as well as learn from) in the near future.

    On the topic of tradition, I think my dad spoke to me of budgeting in my childhood years, but I think more as case of learning to plan ahead and teaching me from his accounting background rather than any real family tradition. Reading my grandfather’s biography not too long ago I learned of his entrepreneurial spirit and hard work ethic that enabled him to build a family business that I believe is still known among Mauritians to this day.

    On the topic of privacy, I’m reminded of Jesus words about giving to the needy, ‘do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’. Referring to some folks who give simply because they wanted the adulation of their fellow man – ever seen those giant cheques they have at some donation ceremonies? I think of that sort of showmanship. By all means, giving to those less fortunate should be encouraged, but motives are important too. And many in Jesus’ day who gave to the poor did so purely for selfish reasons.

    On the topic of privilege, I thank God often that he has given me as much as he has. I might not have as much as many in our wealthy western society, but I also recognise I also have far more than most in the world. Unlike many protesters who use such slogans, I reckon I’d be in that ‘1%’ that people often rail against, even though it doesn’t feel like it. If I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat, and a means to provide for myself and others, I’m already better off than so many, and I need to be grateful for and be generous with that.

    And privilege doesn’t guarantee success either. I’m sure that for every poor man (or woman) who worked hard and built up a good life for themselves and their family, there are many privileged folk who have frittered their wealth away on wasteful things.

    While appearances can mean little, it sounded quite generous for that man to buy your classmate nice clothes for job interviews. I don’t mind dressing up but only when the occasion warrants it, not to show off my supposed wealth.

    My church has been unabashed to talk about money in a constructive way, not in the ‘gimme all your money’ way that televangelists are stereotyped for. As part of budgeting for the next calendar year we have a ‘pledging’ system in place where we prayerfully consider what we can afford to give – however big or small – towards the service of our community and to support those around the country and the world. The old way of simply ‘guessing’ what was going to come in doesn’t work all that well when managing a congregation of a few hundred families. And right now is the season where we’re doing this pledging, to be prepared for 2021.

    I think the problem with money is all too often we see it as the idol that will bring us security – but I think COVID-19 has shown most, if not all, of us just how precarious that notion is. Worshipping at the temple of consumerism and laying down our weekend sacrifices of money for gratification at the altar of Retail Therapy (I’m being sardonic here) is no longer an option for many families as pay cuts and job losses means tightening of budgets. An often mis-quoted line is from Paul’s letter to his protégé in ministry, Timothy, where he writes ‘the *love* of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ (not money itself, and certainly not all evil). The love of money traps many of us, and even the late Michael Jackson wrote a song on money: ‘lie for it, spy for it, kill for it, die for it’.

    In the same letter to Timothy, Paul writes for the ‘rich in this present world’ not to ‘put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain’, but to be ‘rich in good deeds… be generous and willing to share’. Being rich is not a wrong or bad thing. But hoarding for oneself is, though I’ll grant that there is much wisdom to be learned in knowing how much to set aside and how much to be generous with. During the worst of the restriction season, I know of those in my church community who took forced pay cuts or even lost jobs, so it was important for us to collectively support each other financially as well as in other ways.

    When we put money in its rightful place, I think there is much room to talk constructively about money and how we can use it beneficially for everyone. Much of the discussion about the federal budget seems to revolve around what we can get out of it rather than whether those most in need of support will receive any or whether important public infrastructure/services will get the right funding. Money is a wonderful tool, but it is a terrible Master. Jesus said that ‘you cannot serve both God and Money’, and likewise Paul wrote of learning to be ‘content whatever the circumstances… [whether] in need [or] to have plenty’… So I have sought to be wise about how I handle my money, but I also try not to cling so tightly to it as so many of us do. Given our culture there hasn’t been much room to talk about money but I see no reason why not to if the subject is brought up.

    PS One final thought about why we don’t like to talk about money: because it often exposes the darkness of our hearts. Another of Jesus’ quotes: ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’. What we spend our money on often reveals what we value the most. For me, that’s often technology. XD But shouldn’t it be something else…?

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    • You are right, Simon. This topic is one that transcends boundaries, and everyone will have a different opinion on it. Also it’s a topic that people will feel strongly about, and some will love it and others hate it.

      Thanks for your nice words on my photos. That was such a fun photoshoot. The pandemic has probably made us all more conscious about not handling cash these days and more and more places are only accepting payment with card – which maybe you have encountered when out with friends, one person pays for the group and everyone else throws cash at him or her. The coins are commemorative coins that I got a few years ago. I was shopping at Woolies and got them as loose change.

      That is correct. If you are a bachelor or not in a married relationship then Chinese elders can feel entitled to give you pocket money or red packet during the Lunar New Year. To be honest, I much prefer receiving money as opposed to a half-thought out gift or gift that I don’t like. Times are definitely changing, tradition is changing, and not every Chinese kid is studying hard to make more money in the future or setting themselves up. Then again, as you mentioned there is this family expectation in Asian cultures – and maybe that will always be at the back of some of our minds.

      That is a great observation, that the question ‘What do you do’ is often an ice-breaker question tied with money and status, tied inherently to our identity. I also reject this idea, because what we do for a living doesn’t necessarily reflect our interests and what we know. Your example of mothers and homebodies illustrates this argument so well – and anyone can be successful in their own way. Success is tied to money, but it is also not tied to money as well. Being content with who you are and what you do is probably what makes most of us happy. But sadly money is still often seen as the currency of success. I do think this mindset might change if people focused on talking about money in terms of choice, habits and options as opposed to numbers and increasing numbers.

      Every job has a purpose and no job is too small. I am sure your job isn’t ‘lowly’ at all and what you do serves a purpose. Your situation reminds me of how people like managers in the corporate world can have large paychecks, but people on the front line such as nurses, army reserves and firefighters earn nothing close to them or sometimes even perform their roles voluntarily. There is a dissonance towards pay rates everywhere. To be honest, it is nice to receive more money and that’s because we can afford more things to improve our lives – and feel more comfortable alongside lifestyle inflation.

      That is great you learned to planned ahead during your childhood years. It sounds like working hard got them far. People who work hard with good intentions often are lead more calmer, satisfied lives.

      I have actually heard of that quote by Jesus, and it fits in very well with this topic. Those big, giant cheques like the ones you see at events are interesting. As you said, there is a motive behind these donations – and it keeping up or enhancing reputation probably has something to do with it. Your question also made me think about the oversized cheques presented to winners on game shows and post-lottery wins – which also exemplifies the notion of one-upmanship and exhibitionism. That said, some people who do win these things are humble and probably use their winnings wisely.

      That is great you are greatful for what you have been given and thankful for what you have. Someone else is always doing it tough out there. You are so right in that privilege doesn’t guarantee success – and really success means different things for different people. When you mentioned appearances, it make me think of how people dress differently. Yes, many of us don’t dress up to show off wealth but rather, we dress up nice for ourselves. It also reminded me of how some people who dress rather comfortably, walk into a bank or expensive jewelry shop and get judged negatively by the attendant…until they reveal how much they have.

      It sounds like your church is well prepared for the year ahead. Hope it goes well for the year ahead and hope all of you achieve what you want to achieve 🙂 The pandemic has changed how many of us view money, and people are thinking twice about spending on themselves. There’ll probably be an economic crash at some point soon, but that really is going off on a tangent. As per your quotes, money is evil but only if we let it be. Hoarding it is not a bad thing, just as spending it is not a bad thing either. So long as we can make money work for our lifestyles, then the choices we make surrounding money can be justified.

      This was a very insightful comment, Simon. Thank you so much for contributing.

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      • I’m glad you had fun! I wasn’t sure if they were photos of your money or not (perhaps an art display or something). I only collected a few commemorative Aussie coins, I never handled or even saw the ones you shared.

        Yes, I’ve only really been grocery shopping of late, and major supermarkets encourage electronic payments over cash. Not handling materials like cash reduces risk of contagion.

        I’m terrible when it comes to giving gifts – unless it’s to do with specific kinds of technology. So while things like gift cards may sometimes appear ‘half-hearted’, I’m sure the freedom of the recipient to choose what he/she wants outweighs the disappointment of me screwing up a gift. On the other hand, if they are the kind to be so easily disappointed by a ‘wrong’ gift, I’m not sure they are a very good friend in the first place. 😉

        Yes, I’ve observed some westernised Asians being more relaxed about study – in good ways and not so good ways. There are still plenty of Asians who will study perhaps to an unhealthy degree – I remember this kind of thing from my time at high school.

        Oh, to be successful in raising balanced, healthy children or in other endeavours benefiting society, over mere accumulation of wealth for the self. (:

        I suppose I don’t consider my job lowly, I was taking a sarcastic view-point from those higher-paid than I am – as I said, I enjoy being the hands-on type to do the actual work over merely directing others. But somehow mangers are deemed worthy of more pay. I don’t mind the working leader – the one who shares the workload with his/her subordinates while having a responsibility for a team. I rather like those, actually. It’s the bureaucrats – the ones merely passing down directives and ordering others about, doing little to help or perhaps even much to hinder those under them – that I feel sad are earning more than the ones doing the actual work. I also really wonder what it is CEOs do to earn such ridiculously high salaries – honestly, I really don’t see what they do for the company, at least for my current employer.

        Aren’t tangents fun? Seems I’m in a bad habit of doing that, always finding things to talk about. I belatedly realised your post was focusing on people discussing money, not money itself. XD

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        • Now that you mention it, the photos do seem a bit like an art display 😂 They were indeed of notes and coins I had lying around. Also I was trying to make money less daunting through colour. I think I have more commemorative coins lying around somewhere. But as payment options are becoming more digital, there are probably less of these coins coming out.

          There is no shame in giving gift cards as gifts at all, whether it is a physical gift card or an e-gift card. Some people might think it is ‘half-hearted’ as it is not a material gift, but it is the thought that counts. Some people also give money as a gift if they don’t know what to get physically. Agree it is better giving something like a gift card rather than screwing up the gift. Unlike you, I am usually pretty spot on with gifts 😛

          I do think accumulation of wealth for the self and family over time is necessary. When I say that I mean in the context of retirement and getting older – especially so if you want to retire early or earlier than 65. I think many of us intend to work a small side job when retired. When you think about it, retirement might span 20-30 years and you really got to do the math on how much you need in the future.

          It is interesting how technical roles, managers, CEOs and higher ups differ in salary. I guess with technical and managerial roles, the skill can be learned. With higher ups, it’s more visionary work involved, having the capacity to be a people person and get negotiations underway – and not everyone is a people person or has a leadership, likeable persona. Universal salary could be beneficial in that there is less competition over jobs. Then again there are also cons to this, such as people not working for the money and some might lose the incentive to work hard.

          Tangents are so fun. They can spinoff into a whole other topic, and a whole other post 😀 Yes, this post was on people discussing money but really why not talking about money itself too XD

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          • I saw someone else comment about how colourful our Aussie money is. I rather like it, contrast US note currency and how everything is so… pale green. I found it very hard to quickly distinguish between denominations when I was visiting – aside perhaps from visually-impaired folks I don’t think we’d have that issue for visitors here. I understand Australia also pioneered plastic notes and its benefits in terms of being harder to counterfeit (than paper) as well as its much longer endurance – I remember one of my aunts in the UK remarking that plastic notes didn’t feel ‘real’ to her, but the UK has since adopted plastic notes as well, among many other countries.

            The main reason why I had to keep cash around was for bus fares commuting to/from the office. There was a private ‘smart-card’ payment system introduced many years ago but then withdrawn, so I had to revert to the cumbersome handling of cash. Ensuring I had small enough notes was always a challenge – drivers never like being handed the $20 notes that ATMs mainly dispense. Then they introduced a paper-based travel card that dramatically reduced commute costs for me (mainly because private bus fares were previously so expensive) and eventually a public ‘smart-card’ system was introduced to replace it… which unfortunately increased costs again, but at least I don’t have to worry about handling cash for public transport any more.

            I usually prefer to give physical gift cards. Another tangent: I was looking over some of Dad’s old photos from 1960s and 1970s yesterday. It occurred to me that there’s just something nice about having tangible photos over electronic ones, even if physical photos are more prone to deterioration over time (data storage media can degrade too!). I think I’ve only given electronic gifts where it makes sense to do so, eg on Steam. I would hope most people realise it really is the thought that counts! I’ve occasionally had gifts I don’t find useful but I appreciate being thought of all the same. I’m glad you’re such a great gift-giver. (:

            I wasn’t saying it’s not wise to save for self and family, and for retirement too. I’m just thinking it’s a very blurry line between hoarding to the point of selfishness and being generous with what one has been given. (I’m recalling one of Jesus’ parables about the fellow who hoarded for himself after a bumper harvest crop and then his life was demanded from him that very evening, with no-one left to benefit from his labours.) My father retired in 2013, and a few church friends retired quite recently too. I know they are all serving or planning to serve our community even after formal retirement. Interesting to note retirement is a fairly new notion (in the scale of human history) – I suppose people in past ages expired before they were able to enjoy what we understand today as ‘retirement’. I see modern medicine to prolong lifetimes as another blessing/gift.

            I suppose being a visionary is a good trait for a leader, especially in a CEO role. I recognise a few names in the tech industry who seem to be quite good with their company leadership. As I mentioned, I like leaders who don’t just sit at the top and demand their sub-ordinates specific things, but actually share in the work-load. It’s also a very good style of leadership not to tell sub-ordinates *what* to do, but show them *where* you want the company to go and let the people who know best about the details to carry it out. In other words, inspire them with a vision and let them take care of the details. In my current job it’s very prescriptive, non-tech people telling tech people what to do and how to do it, very disempowering and very demoralising. It’s in this context that I’m quite uncomfortable with CEOs getting such huge salaries – especially when a company might not be doing well financially. But I suppose it’s part of their contract that they get paid multiple of millions of dollars regardless of how well the company in their care performs.

            But that is the nature of the market system. I wasn’t really advocating for everyone to be paid the same. If the demand warrants it, people get paid the big bucks. Like A-list actors who rake in millions too. Many of them really do their job well and probably deserve to be paid well for it. But I also wonder when how much is too much? I suppose it shows the kind of things our society really values the most, doesn’t it? There are probably many in less desirable and lower-paying jobs that are over-qualified for it because they can’t find anything better. But those jobs like cleaning are still valuable.

            Thanks for your understanding about tangents. It’s interesting looking at the history of cash and how it came to replace the barter systems used in early societies. So money is often seen as opportunity potential rather than having any value inherent in itself.

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            • That is interesting to hear it can be difficult to distinguish US note currency, and you had this issue while visiting. Australia’s plastic money doesn’t feel plastic to me at all, except at the transparent plastic part. I remember some places in Australia do I check on $50 notes I hand them when I pay in cash – they’ll run it through a money-checker machine to ensure the plastic note is not a fake.

              Your story about keeping cash around for bus fares reminds me of the times I had to take the bus and there was no smart-card system yet. Yes, you did have to make sure you had enough cash, and coins would have come in hand too. With a smart-card system, I guess you only have to worry about making sure you have sufficient funds on your card, especially if your card is a top-up as you go one as opposed to a month long or longer pay pass.

              You have a good point there, in that it’s a fine line between hoarding and being overly generoudly. It’s similar to taking care of oneself and looking out for others – you can’t always be looking out for others, but at the same time we always have that choice and are capable of making that choice. The notion of retirement is an interesting one, and different for many of us. Some see retirement as no longer being a part of the workforce and instead travelling the world, others see it as a tie to work on their side hustles or volunteer.

              Yeah, leaders tend to be visionaries, the kind of people you would want to look up to – have an aura of attracting others to not only see and believe in their vision regardless of how much one is paid. Too often you can leaders at the top who are out of touch with what goes on in other areas of an organisation and request unrealistic demands. It does sound rather like that in your current work environment – and sometimes this behaviour is hard to change if it’s always been like that.

              That is a good way to describe money in the past and now, ‘as an opportunity potential’. In a way, it will probably always be an opportunity potential. It’s not always a bad thing but it’s also encourages a divided world. The day will come when we will all move to a just digital payments and then a digital currency…and that would be very interesting for the whole world if it’s a universal digital currency.

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              • I think we are just accustomed to what we’ve grown up with. I suppose I didn’t regularly handle notes till I was older and by that time we already had plastic notes. I do have vague recollections of the previous paper notes, though, from the early 1990s.

                Been so long since I’ve commuted, so I haven’t ‘topped up’ in months. (:

                I suppose it comes down to who do you put first? I find life is so much better when everyone helps each other (though I recognise I’m still inherently selfish), while the world constantly says to only care about yourself (who is the ‘number one’ in ‘look out for number one’?).

                Though I don’t like to think of myself as one, I suppose this is why I was described as a leader in my team at work even though I don’t have that title formally. I have some expertise and knowledge and know something of good and bad ways to do things, though I’ll readily admit I don’t know everything. Then someone else is given the title, who despite 2-3 years of experience with us still doesn’t know anything about what we actually do and makes excuses as to why he can’t actually do his job as leader, all while pretending to know everything. This isn’t just me talking, the plummeting morale in the team in the last six months is palpable. ):

                On digital payments, many years ago my church moved to electronic transfer as the primary means for giving. I understood there was two main reasons for this: one, to avoid the distraction of handling cash during a service, and two, to dissuade visitors of the notion that they are also expected to give anything – guests should remain our guests. I suppose convenience is also a factor – less work for money counters (plus always had to make sure no single person had responsibility for handling cash, for accountability).

                I notice the push to add payments to mobile phones, since it is the centrepiece for so many people. There’s also the saying about putting all eggs in a single basket… In much the same way as many are quick to distrust the government but all too happy to entrust their personal details to the likes of Facebook and Google, I’m a little perplexed and bemused to see many be so distrustful of banks (granted, their reputation isn’t great) yet quick to entrust their financial transactions to the likes of Apple and Samsung. I suppose it’s partly the ‘newness’ factor and mostly the convenience aspect, since so many depend on their phones so much.

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                • I honestly feel that all of us have to take care of ourselves first. When times are hard for oneself, be it financially, professionally, personally or just having a bad day, I think most of us would turn inwards and work on ourselves. If you have to be there for someone, you have to be present for them.

                  It does sound like you are the leader at work, what with explaining your thoughts so articulately as always 😜 From what you described it sounds like some leaders talk their way to the top, putting personality out there to get themselves far – and reality is, that is how most of the corporate world works. The people with technical expertise may not be officially given the title or paychecks of leaders, but they are often a wealth of knowledge and a big loss to the team once they move on. I am sure if and when you find another role (soon, maybe), it will be a loss to many of your colleagues who supported you.

                  Quite often people like to change jobs, say one or every two years even if the next role pays financially the same – reason being to learn a new job, learn new skills, get more expertise. I’ve seen this happen in various sectors, from technical types to higher ups with the exception of those who like a comfortable, familiar role. So people in a team change, and I guess the direction, vision, attitudes and ways of working change and not everyone is happy. To be honest, it happens to a lot of organisations :/

                  This is the first I am hearing that a church accepting digital payments. I am so behind with the times lol. It is nice that your church has the mentality ‘guests should remain guests’ and there is no pressure to give, and if they do give, it is in good spirits 🙂 Definitely agree it makes for good record-keeping.

                  Ugggh, payments by tapping mobile phones. That seems to be becoming more prominent and as you mentioned, security can be an issue. There are so many kinds of mobile payments and it differs from country to country too. I guess people gravitate to things like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay because of reputation and brand – and also Afterpay is becoming ever so popular. Who knows, I might change my mind about movile payments in the future. But for now, not for me.

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                  • I completely understand. Such is the nature of people and the world we’ve made.

                    Thanks for your compliment. I wonder if word-craft is a lost art in the era of Internet communication. (:

                    I suppose I was fortunate to have a mostly good team for most of my 10 years. It’s only been the last couple of years where things have gone downhill thanks to some individuals and I no longer have the confidence that things will improve. I didn’t want to leave but I see no other choice now.

                    I know it’s the culture of our generation to change jobs frequently. My father had basically two jobs: one in UK and one in Australia. I think that’s a generational thing rather than an Asian thing – not that my family are typical Asians anyway.

                    I’m not sure how common it is but I’m sure my church isn’t the only one.

                    Seems we share the same caution and reticence about mobile payments. I wonder if it becomes as heavily audited and regulated as bank payments (for the sake of security, if they are not already) whether then they’ll become as frowned upon as traditional payments. Perhaps not, given the convenience factor, but I’m sure there’s a reason why traditional banks can only transfer overnight – wonder what the ‘disrupters’ are doing (or not doing) to get payments done ‘instantly’.

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                    • Word craft is probably fading away – but I guess it will survive in one way or another through digital means. Same with currencies in the years to come.

                      That is amazing your father used to have two jobs, and in two different countries nonetheless. It’s not common to hear of that these days, and more common to hear of one person working one job working long hours to make ends meet.

                      That’s a good thought, regulating mobile payments and that might be a thing of the future. These days lower rates are becoming the norm, and depending on your lifestyle, that might or might not work in your favour.

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  5. Hi Mabel 🙂 Hope you are keeping well. Thanks for another thought provoking article. I am in the money is private business school. Having said that, we talk fairly openly about money with our son. Ee don’t usually talk in numbers though. We usually speak about money by referencing things we need to do or want to do. For example – we wouldn’t say ‘I have $10,000 dollars saved for a holiday’, we would say something like – ‘I have done the sums and I figure that we have been able to save enough for our airfares and accomodation and have enough to do a few tours and enjoy some unexpected outlays’.

    It is the same with talking about our needs for the future. We would discuss the thing we will need in the future and the things we would like to have/do and then maybe discuss if our current work or plans are heading us in the right direction.

    My wife and I retired 2 years ago and it was the best thing we have done. We have planned all along to be able to pay off our home and then live a frugal but enjoyable lifestyle, with less stress and I am very thankful to say that is what we are doing at the moment.

    Take care Mabel and stay safe, happy and warm 🙂

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    • Thanks, Andy. I like how you say it – you are in the money is a private business school group 😀 It is great you talk about money to your son in terms of reference things. That is a more approachable way of talking about money, and it encourages others to think about what you need to get where you want in life. Numbers, figures and percentages can be scary, confronting and overwhelming to some people.

      It sounds sensible that you discuss future needs with your wife, and have plans to get there. Planning is a good way to assess what you can afford now and in the future – and probably also afford a few treats in between 😀 It is great you are doing great at the moment, and retired lifestyle seems to suit you very well. Keep dong what you do, Andy. Finally, finally it is warm here…too bad we are back to cold this weekend 😂

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  6. I think the hardest part for me about discussing this is not making stereotypes about those who have or don’t have money. I find myself instantly making judgment calls when I find out that someone spent a great deal on their house or that their parents took care of their college expenses. Unfortunately, there’s also this tendency to believe these days that one particular group of people have more money than others. For example, American Asians get lumped all together and believe you me, there’s great financial differences between us.

    That being said, you raise an interesting question. Why are we uncomfortable discussing money? Most of it has to do with culture for sure, but I think poor people talk about it a lot because it’s always lacking and maybe the rich discuss more ways to make it? I think it creates misunderstandings like political issues. It is personal, but more folks talking about it – I feel like there are tons of YouTubers and entrepreneurs of all kinds readily sharing tips and tricks on finances.

    And have you considered that some folks aren’t interested in talking about it? 😉

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    • Stereotypes are sooo prevalent when talking about money – and sometimes these stereotypes still hold true. You bring up good point there Lani, that a particular group of people have more money than others. I think this pandemic has shown how there are financial differences among all of us, and financial situations can change at a drop of a hat no matter if you have or don’t have money.

      You also bring up a great point there in the differences about money talk. That those who earn modestly might talk more about lacking it or aiming to get a payrise, whereas those who earn more might indeed talk more about earning more or enjoying other things in life. This can divide us as a world even more – and yes, misunderstandings about political issues and also more unrest and safety issues looking at the bigger piture.

      I have thought about how some people just aren’t interested in talking about money at all. I used to be one of them…until life caught up with me in more ways than one. Talking about money helped me be more aware of how we should never take things for granted in life.

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  7. Hi Mabel, so glad to hear from you again! Hope you are just fine despite the troublesome world… Money? In our family we talk freely about money, but with friends and relatives such as cousins and further out – we don’t. It is like politics – you have to be careful what you say. Some are really well off, some are not. You don’t want to brag and you don’t want to offend people or make them sad. We have friends who are extremely well off, but they never say anything about it, and we all appreciate that.

    Here, money is not such a big deal in the sense you have to be rich or well off to have made a success out of your life. We have many friends who are very artistic, or very good at taking care of other people, or working to fight climate change and the loss of biodiversity. I think they are the real heroes. Money is, unfortunately, needed for most of this as well. I admire people who work for our planet’s best and don’t think too much of themselves.

    When I was young, we did not have much money – I came from a single mother family from the start. But hard work and good humour helped us manage. I learned early to save money, and not spend. So hard, that when I got my own life and job, I did not realize I really could buy things, afford things! It took me many years to take out money from the savings to buy something more expensive than the daily needed things.

    In order to buy our house, we had to borrow some money – that was hard for me. I was taught never to borrow anything, but save until I could buy it myself. I and my husband worked hard through our lives before retiring, and payed off all the borrowed money long ago. For many years we have had no debts at all – which is unusual in today’s society here. But both of us belong to a society long gone, where honesty and hard work was the way to go. I feel sad for many people today, when morals and ethics have no place in their lives. Look at the USA. And it is spreading over the world. These are sad times. Money rules. Let’s talk about money/let’s not think about money.

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    • It is lovely to hear from you too, Ann-Chrstine. That is great to hear your immediate family talks quite freely about money. The more you know about money and how to manage it, the more it will work for you. I agree, you don’t want to brag about money and that is great you friends are conscious about their wealth and stay humble. After all, money talk isn’t for everyone.

      It is interesting to hear over there in your part of the world money is not entirely a big deal although it is needed to make a living – and as you said, needed for working towards a sustainable planet. Things like taking care of others and fighting climate change are much more important issues than becoming a millionaire, and it is very kind of your friends who take action and make their surrounds a better place.

      I like that you said hard work and humour helped get your through growing up in challenging times – two things that always make things better in the long term. It’s such a good habit that you saved – everyone should save for a rainy day. I hope you at least bought something for yourself when you started earning, perhaps something practical and useful. I remember when I first started making a living I was afraid to spend because, well, what if I never see this kind of money again XD

      Congratulations on being debt-free. It is so true it is hard to get to being debt-free. These days it takes a lot of discipline to get to being debt-free. For some of us, this might not be even possible at all given things are becoming more and more costly – and once the price of things go up, they don’t usually go down. A good example would be new flagship smartphones that come out each year which I do feel are really not affordable at all.

      I am doing alright over here. Here in Victoria, Australia we have just come out of seven months of lockdown…and already people are getting together again too closely. Hopefully the third wave won’t be as bad. Health comes first and one death is already too much. I was following the news and I hope you are doing okay over there in Sweden. It seems like hard times again over there and hope you are staying safe.

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      • thank you, Mabel – glad to hear you are doing OK! So are we over here. Europe is having hard times withthe new corona – we are starting to feel it too, but at a lower level. Many restrictions to follow, but we can never have a straight lockdown as it is inscibed in our law that we are free and cannot be contained in our houses. But most restaurants, libraries, museums and sports arenas are closed. Elderly people get their food home or shop betweeen special hours. People work from home if they can. Schools are open for the small kids – and has been so from the start. From college and upwards school is totally digitalized. I wonder if this will ever end…

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        • It is good to hear you are okay too. The news in Australia have mentioned Sweden a few times alongside Europe saying things are getting worse – so I got thinking of you (and also your friend Vivi).

          I was also reading the news and heard some chocolate shops in Europe are still open as people need chocolate to be happy.

          That said from what you described it does sound like quite a lockdown over there but not as strict in Australia – where at one point we could only go out 1 hour for groceries. Hope you can get your groceries and the shelves aren’t too empty…

          I think we all need to manage this illness going around, and really be careful and kind to each other until it all goes away…or just manage it if it will be a part of our lives.

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  8. In my opinion, the reason no1 is the most common reason for people to not discuss money. In our part of the world, some people would give you “expert advise” even if they themselves are a failure. People pretend as if they have superior knowledge. Another reason as pointed out by you is that money is closely tied to the social status and many people don’t want to talk about it and feel “exposed”. Many cultures don’t talk about money. I like that you have mentioned clearly that even experts are not experts. his is so true. I’m glad you chose to write about this topic which is often not discussed.

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    • That is sad to hear in your part of the world people pretend to have superior knowledge about money. It is so sad that some get taken advantaged like that. No one in an expert at all – and with what is happening in the world, financial advice from even an ‘expert’ isn’t always right. How are you over there, Arv? I heard things are still challenging over there and I hope you are staying safe.

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      • Well, this is not unique to this region. It is universal. Things are challening but it is not like Spain or the US. Conisdering how populated the country is, the absolute numbers will be higher. Till the moment, I’m fine. But one can’t say about the future. Thanks for asking. Life must be good in Australia since the lockdown has been lifted?

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  9. I don’t mind talking in general about financial issues but I don’t discuss my personal finances. I consider them private. As you say, there are many different reasons why people may or may not discuss money.
    It’s lovely to see you back in the blogosphere, Mabel.

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  10. Talking about money is comparable to talking about your age… nobody wants to tell how much he earns unless he has enough to flaunt! Within a family, money should be discussed so that growing children could pick up the right values but within an extended family, it again becomes a sensitive issue. So it is better to avoid than take an unsolicited advice from an uncle or an aunt.

    Jealousy plays a major role when money comes into focus and even friends don’t discuss it, some may not like how one of them became so successful and some may assign it to his wealthy father. Such issues become controversial and may lead to misunderstandings. Actually how much money you have and how do you spend it is a personal matter. So it is better to keep it like that.
    It is nice to see you Mabel. Hope all is well at your side.

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    • That is such a good analogy, Balroop, Talking about money is indeed like talking about your age where people are hesitant to reveal anything at all. Agree money habits should be discussed with children so they can pick up good habits as they get older.

      That is a good observation, that jealously is common when it comes to money. Being jealous over money can cause friction between family and friends, So for some of us, maybe it is best not to talk about it at all especially in times like these.

      It is nice to see you too Balroop. All is okay here. I hope you are doing okay over there. Looking at the news it seems like it’s challenging where you are, so hope you are staying safe.

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  11. It’s not a subject that interests me, Mabel, and I’m fortunate in having a husband who is good at managing our finances. I’m not a spender and am happy as long as we have enough to feed ourselves and to help our youngsters out when they need it. 🙂 🙂

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  12. Some good points on discomfort talking about money. It doesn’t happen much among my siblings..I have a dim idea most of us except maybe 2 sibs are still paying off home mortgage. It is drilled into us on advantages of pay off debt sooner rather than later.

    Our parents were poor since my father was a cook. the good thing was that parents did talk openly about money, budgeting, etc. in front of us. Not that we understood everything because of our diminishing chinese fluency. That’s ok. Just the act of parents talking calmly and at length about money is good for children to know it’s a healthy thing to do.

    I would strongly recommend to every partner in a marriage to become more financially literate about your own finances. One’s partner won’t be around forever. The worse thing is to find out later after death, unknown debt or bad costly investment choices. Ignorance is not helpful and also makes one vulnerable to fraud.

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    • Thanks, Jean. It sounds like money was a part of your life growing up and your parents had a good influence on you and your siblings on how to manage it. They must have worked really hard to make ends meet. Talking calmly about money is wise – it makes talking about money normal.

      That is such a great point, Jean. Everyone of us should be financial literate to a degree. Nothing wrong with letting a partner handling all the finances but you are right, they won’t be around forever. I do think it’s important to be as open as possible to your partner about your finances, whether if there is a joint account involved or not. After all, communication is so important in a relationship.

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      • That is true, my parents talked calmly about alot of money matters. My mother, though she didn’t work outside of home, was the person who did calculations in her head during the conversation.

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  13. Very interesting topic, Mabel. Money is tied to many emotions and cultural traditions as you mentioned. I think it’s better in the long run to talk openly about money to our kids. Also, I wrote a whole chapter on money in my divorce self-help book for women. So many stay at home moms were reliant on their spouse’s income and once separation and divorce occur, they must learn to survive on their own with limited financial support. So, yeah, there are times that money must be addressed. However, if you’ve ever had a friend who constantly talks about money or being broke, how quickly they become a bore. LOL.

    Awesome to see you back at the blog.

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    • Thanks, Lisa. This is indeed an interesting topic. That is great you wrote a whole chapter on money in your divorce book – which will be helpful for women working out finances moving forward. I hope you didn’t have to deal with too much money matters with your ex, but then again everyone needs to chip in for legal proceedings. It’s still quite common for women to rely on their partners for all things finances, and it can understandably be daunting post-divorce.

      Hoping to be blogging more next year 🙂

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  14. That’s a good list, Mabel. Your first item, judging, was a good place to start. Even if we don’t talk about our finances, we can’t help giving people many reasons to judge us.They can judge the quality of the clothes we wear. They can guess at the price of our car and our house or apartment or the cost of our trips. Why does that matter? Two reasons: compatibility and jealousy.

    Even though my husband was Chinese, he didn’t talk about money. He was very generous. He always said, if you loan someone money, consider it a gift and you won’t be disappointed. I think both of us thought it was bad manners to talk about money.

    Many companies don’t like to disclose what each person gets paid. It can lead to jealousy and hard feelings. It may also reveal some things they don’t want you to know, for example that they pay men more than women for the same work.

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    • Thanks, Nicki. You make a great point there, that money brings up the emotions of compatibility (fitting in) and jealousy. It is so easy to get jealous over someone’s lifestyle, and how much they earn. In so many workplaces salaries differ from person to person, even when you are performing the same position. This is justified on the basis of skill, but then there is also gender and inequality pay gaps as you mentioned.

      I agree with your husband’s thought on giving someone money – always give money away as if you won’t see it again or get it back. There is no guarantee someone will be able to return the money loaned – and it isn’t polite to ask for it and in turn ask about someone else’s financial situation.

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  15. Mabel, this was a lovely post about a difficult topic. Some people live above their means and have trouble with money all their lives. There are classes to take about managing a budget and how to interview. I am glad you found and took a job. Education is the key to unlock doors in life. Saving is a great way to have necessary resources in life. Your photos were interesting too. Money looks different in many places around the world. Have a good weekend. Be well. ^^__^^

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    • Thanks, Mary. You said it very well, ‘some people live above their means’. Sometimes people live above their means until it is too late – but never too late to be conscious about managing a budget.

      I didn’t like the job I decided to take back then, but as you mentioned, education opens doors. Sometimes you learn most from the hardest things you face.

      You are so right. Notes and coins are different over the world. Seems Australia has got some colourful currency and from memory, money in your part of the world is a bit more neutral. You be well too.

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  16. Great reasons and I agree with every one of them. In a world when perception and reality often blur, where truth is often defined by a person’s life experiences, talking about a topic like money becomes complicated. I’ll stick with the guidelines Mama taught me!

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    • Thanks, Jacqui. That is true, talking about money is complicated and is tied so much to our experiences – and our current circumstances. Each to their own talking about money. Good on you for knowing your boundaries talking about money!

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  17. so glad to hear from you again, Mabel. my immediately family talk freely about money. it is important as we help out each other. however, outside of my family, we don’t. i think it is too personal. love your colorful Australian money!
    i hope all is well with you amidst these uncertain and difficult times. take care and stay safe. 🙂 🙂

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    • It is also good to hear from you and see you are still posting, Wilma. That is interesting to hear your family talk freely about money. Most others have said money is a private matter even among family. Yes, Australian money is very colourful, bordering on pastel colours. All is well here. Hope things get better over there 🙂

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  18. Wonderful discussion about money, Mabel, and I enjoyed the graphics too. I smiled when the discussion about saving yielded the coins stacked, and the little fox and giraffe figures added a whimsical element. It’s easy to see you were raised to talk about money, because this essay was well-written and great advice. It’s a tricky topic, and you did a great job of addressing the taboo and related points.

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    • Thanks, Jet. This is a tricky topic and I did wonder how to approach it. I figured I’d write it from different perspectives, and it’s important to even just think about topics like these. It was a lovely photoshoot with the colourful coins, fox and giraffe. We could all use a bit of cheer right now. Hope you and Athena are staying safe.

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  19. As always Mabel, an interesting subject wonderfully explored. Your images are perfect as well. Here in the US I suspect there is more conversation about money than in many other places. I can remember my dad continually reinforcing the need to save, to be mindful of the ups and downs that come with being responsible for oneself, and to always, always recognize the value of the dollar. I was very fortunate to have been raised that way, and also fortunate to have capitalized on the many opportunities that came my way. but I’ve never forgotten his advice and while not frugal, have always had a rainy day fund and a focus on savings and conservative money management. I find it shameful that in the US there is so little focus on financial management in our school curricula as many of our young people have no concept of money management. Credit is much too widely available and bankruptcy laws make it a bit too easy to recover from failure at the expense of others. Then again, I suppose I do sound like a stodgy old woman these days! Thanks as always for the marvelous food for thought!

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  20. Great to see you back in the blogosphere Mabel. Like Lexie I love the vibrancy of Australian money, only perhaps outdone by that of Fiji.
    I think in Canada the generalization would be that it is not polite to talk about money. That people’s salaries or savings are not for discussion and it would be considered rude to talk about one’s own or ask others. I know we tried to instill financial learning with our kids, so we did talk about it with them.
    On a side note I think your photos are great for the topic.

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    • Thanks, Sue. It is good to be back in the blogging world. Didn’t know that Fiji currency is also colourful. Interesting to know how notes and coins comes in different colours, shapes and sizes all over the world.

      Interesting to hear money is generally not talked about openly in Canada. It is great that you touched upon financials with your children. I guess we all have to know the basics of managing finances – even if we choose not to talk about it openly. After all, it is a life skill.

      Hope you are doing well, Sue.

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  21. Good to see you Mabel and very interesting blog post. As I may have told you, I was raised by strict German parents who were very much influenced by the hardship of war and its aftermath. They instilled in my sister and me the importance of saving and finding the type of work that would pay the bills (when I initially wanted to study psychology, my dad was not at all supportive). But they never discussed their financial worth with us. They taught us never to discuss money outside the family or brag about achievements, financial or otherwise. I’m still influenced by these values but am more open now with my son and close friends about money matters.I agree with Sue (above) that in general it is not polite to talk about money here in Canada.

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    • It is good to see you too, Caroline. It does sound like your German parents were very particular about their finances, and wanted to teach you and your sister the life skill that is managing your money well. I hope you managed to eventually explore psychology, just like you did with ballet. It never is too late 🙂

      Sometimes it’s best to keep our personal finances private as you don’t know who is out there listening. Talking more generally about money in terms of habits and planning might be the way to go.

      Hope are you well and stay safe.

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  22. I grew up in Australia in an era of having an emergency fund, like you. But I think Australians indirectly ask the big financial question. Don’t they ask what kind of work you do when they first meet someone new? This to me is a way of asking, how much are you worth? At least they used to ask that when I still lived there (more than twenty years ago).

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    • I am surprised that quite a few people do not have emergency funds these days, even if it’s an emergency fund for a month. You are so right about the ‘what kind of work’ or ‘what do you do’ kind of question. It’s still used as an ice-breaker question these days. Your profession can indeed reveal quite a bit about you.

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  23. Okay, so all I want to say to this is that money has no intrinsic value. None. So it’s funny that so much emphasis/secrecy/angst/longing is wrapped around this mythical substance. If we placed less emphasis on it and more emphasis on living our truth and doing what we love, I do believe we would have enough. That all being said and that all being my view on money, I agree that, until there is a better system, we need to teach women (yes, of color especially) financial literacy. I’m not being duplicitous here, just looking at money through different lenses 😉 oxoo

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  24. I grew up in a family in which frugality was the order of the day. Talk about money always revolved around ways to save it. Any other way of talking about money would have been considered vulgar. As an adult I find that most people don’t want to talk about their own personal finances but they sure like gossiping about other people’s finances. It’s a touchy topic, to be sure.

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    • Being frugal isn’t a bad thing and definitely helps with saving in the long term. However not everyone wants to be frugal. Hope you took something away from talk about being frugal 🙂 People who gossip about other’s personal finances baffle me – and it makes these people who gossip look bad. Hope you are staying safe, Ally.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. “My Chinese parents were the exact opposite. Throughout school dad encouraged me to read the Australian Financial Review and keep up with current affairs to make sense of the stock market highs and lows.” – My parents didn’t ask me to read The Edge or NZ Business Magazine because they feared that the figures would end up confusing me more than educate me. Yet, with that being said, they actually expect me to take charge of the household expenditure from time to time so that I know where each and every dollar goes to.

    Covid gave me so much financial stress until there’s no choice but for my parents to be open to the idea of discussing finances.

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    • It is interesting to hear your parents thought figures would be confusing to you back then, They probably wanted you to enjoy your life for most part. Taking charge for household expenditure including for your parents can be daunting as there is quite a bit of responsibility.

      I am sorry to hear the virus gave your financial stress. It is a difficult and uncertain time for a lot of people. Take care, Ciana.

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  26. Money is a nuanced topic, thanks for writing about it Mabel! With money I also think that people may be discouraged to talk about it because doing so benefits people with more power? Like those who are wealthy and have more power may discourage those with less money and less power from talking about money because then they may not be aware of wage inequities and disparities, especially related to being underpaid (such as women not being paid as much for doing the same quality and quantity work as men).

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    • Money is definitely a nuanced topic. You bring up such a good point, Thomas, that some wealthy might discourage others from talking about money – and that fuels one kind of lifestyle over the other. Add to that, some people are happy to let others handle their finances. Financial literacy is so important as not everyone you trust will be around forever, and it really is important for each of us to learn the basics.

      Thanks for stopping by Thomas. Hope you are doing well.

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  27. A innovative topic for you, Mabel which you handle in your quintessential way. It can be touchy to ask folks about how much money they have and I would rather err on the side of paying for someone rather than have issues about which person paid more. Some folks don’t understand high finance and so brush off any discussion, living from week to week without much planning. I tend to discuss the general concepts of money and feel comfortable doing so but my family background was quite secretive about discussing anything to do with money. I would have no idea how much or how little my parents had.

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    • Thanks, Amanda. This really is a tricky and touchy topic. That is interesting, being okay to pay for someone instead of having issues with who paid more. It made me think of how sometimes we go out with a friend or a group, and someone pays vs. split bills. I’ve been in situations where we’ve all ate out and I got asked to pay. I’m usually okay with that…but I am never someone who will ask if they can pay. If I can’t afford it, I won’t do it or make a purchase etc.

      That is great you discuss general concepts about money. People are always so quick to think that you need to reveal your financial figures when talking about money – you don’t need to and you can still have a great conversation about money.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes you can still discuss money without revealing figures, Mabel. I don’t find that any kind of problem, but some might.
        I am not sure that I would feel comfortable being ASKED to pay for a group if that wasn’t arranged beforehand. This might be a cultural practice as I attended a Malaysian birthday party dinner at a restaurant once and went to the counter to pay, and was told that the host’s parents had paid. I felt bad and tried to offer them some contribution for my meal but they refused. I hope I didn’t offend them but it is just the way we have always done it. In my circle, one doesn’t assume someone else will pay, and even if they do pay, one should always offer to pay for their meal, and the person who pays has the right to refuse that – of course. A very interesting and as you say, tricky subject with varying views. Some restaurants don’t allow you to split the bill so in that case, we usually split it 50/50 and reimburse our friends with cash or bank transfer.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That sounded like a lovely Malaysian birthday dinner party you went too – and parties can be quite extravagant among Malaysians especially when extended family is invited. I don’t think you offended them at all by offering to pay. If anything, it is seen as polite, wanting to chip in and not helping yourself to everything. I hope you enjoyed yourself at the party. I agree, one should always offer to pay for their meal. Sometimes when I go out and know someone insists on paying, I don’t go all out and order everything on the menu, preferring to order not the most extravagant dish and making sure I can finish what I order. I would feel really bad if I ordered a meal and couldn’t finish it, and someone had to pay for it.

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  28. Interesting title Mabel. You immediately brought me back to my work life. I worked in the clinic area with many patients in a dental office. I did hear how patients became more challenging when it was time to pay their bill.

    Your descriptions of Australians is similar to Canadians and possibly many other cultures. We find the topic of money a sensitive subject. You bring up a good point how financial advice is often an opinion, even from experts. You also bring up the concept of work ethic. And all of this is a complicated topic. Thank you for sharing a thought-provoking post and a great deal of wisdom as always. Hope you and your loved ones are well.🙂 Erica

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such a great example you bring up there, Erica. Dental and medical expenses can be costly, and not everyone can pay on the spot. Also paying in installments can be unwelcome as it is still a bill. It would be best if these bills are clarified before procedures, but that can put people off.

      Money is such a sensitive topic indeed. At the end of the day, each of us see wealth in different forms and different things are important to us. We are doing well over here. Stay safe over there as you head into winter 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  29. As usual, Mabel, a very well written, well thought, and researched post. You are thorough if anything. That is a very good thing if say for example, you would like to try journalism, the journalism that I am talking about that thoroughly researches before publishing. Do I talk about finances? No. When I talk to a friend and we talk shopping, I do enquire about prices and such. But in general, no. For the most part, my experience has been people tend to get unconformable with the subject so I just don’t talk about money. That’s fine with me. I also have this “feeling” that I will be provided for and because of that, I have no worries about money nor do I stress about it. Really great post! You need to be proud of yourself!! xo

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    • Thanks, Amy. I like research and it’s something I do every now and then professionally. You would make a very good photographer for a publication with your eye for photography.

      That is great you know what you like and what you don’t want to talk about. It is also great you let your intuition guide you – so powerful – and you will be taken care of alright.

      I am always proud of my research and writing, proudly putting my name on it. I hope you are proud of your photography and art too, Amy. Take care of yourself 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I talk, at length, about how poor we were when I grew up. No food left on a Thursday, no coins for the gas meter. I think I do it because I now live in a rich area and my husband has worked really hard so we are wealthy by some standards (perhaps it embarrasses me). Rarely do I discuss how much money we have but I do lecture, like an old lady, about having no debt. We own our house, our old cars and pay the credit card every month.
    Living in Cairo helped to see that having money doesn’t necessarily make you happy. I have noticed the same in Mexico. The higher rate of suicide is in first world countries. To be honest, I was less stressed about money when we had almost nothing.
    Great and thoughtful post, Mabel. America is a perfect example of how badly a free economy can treat the most vulnerable citizens.

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    • That is quite the inspirational story you have there, Kerry. Working your way from the bottom to a more comfortable lifestyle. I think it’s great you have no debt and this seems to be rare as things are so ridiculously expensive these days. You should be very proud of yourself, and your husband too.

      That is true, the rate of suicide and mental illness is higher in developed countries. In some places like Japan, people are dying or committing suicide from overworking. The more wealth you have, the more paperwork and balancing comes with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. A great question, and such differing opinions. I grew up with my parents instilling the value of money (saving and taking care of it), but it was something outside of this we never talked about. Part may be growing up in a small town in the USA and it was always considered not polite. And then I went to China and it was a common question I often faces and it was such a strange topic for me to talk about ~ and it still is. Uncomfortable because I never thought about it much, and then I think also uncomfortable because I’m never sure what the situation of my friends or people who ask. Your post helped me think more deeply about why I don’t talk about it much – and gives me insight on why others do 🙂 Thank you very much, you’ve so much insight when you write and post, makes us readers reflect on ourselves and others which is a gift of your writing! Wishing you a great spring ~ I am envious, as we are slipping into the cold and icy winter of this catastrophic year of 2020 🙂 Cheers, and take care.

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    • That is interesting you came from a background where you discussed money minimally at home, and later on in China many are pretty talkative about the topic. Sounded like quite a shock for you. Saving and taking care of money is a good foundation to have. In China and some Asian countries, talking about money is much more direct so to speak. Very interesting how money is tied so much more to status over there and an ice-breaker topic at times. I do think talking about money generally should be encouraged, such as spending and saving habits and looking at the bigger picture. Always good to be knowledgeable in this aspect as it is a life skill.

      Thanks for your kind words, Randy. Yes, we are well into spring and can feel summer already. There is so much to take away from this year as we move into a another… Things probably won’t ever go back to the old normal but we all have another better world to look forward to. Hope you take care during a cold and icy winter, and stay safe 🙂

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  32. So happy to see you’re blogging again, Mabel! And what a fascinating subject you chose! Money rules the world as we all know and yet many people choose not to talk about it for different reasons. Here in Germany there’s even a saying ‘You don’t talk about money, you have it.’ Well, that’s if you’ve got money that is of course. My parents handled talking money very differently: my mum talked about it and taught me about saving instead of spending it, my dad never talked about it.
    I can understand both ways actually. I myself however talk only about money, and especially the lack of it, with family. I’d never raise the subject with friends though.
    I think the same is true for many people.
    What’s funny though is that people seem to love talking about other people’s money. 😉 I think jealousy might have a big role in that. 😁

    By the way, I once also worked in a call centre – for about two months, after that my voice was gone! 😂

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    • It is lovely to see you pop by, Sarah! Money is such a fascinating subject indeed. That is interesting to hear people say that about money in Germany. When I think of Germany I think of their automative industry and fancy cars…which you need to be well-off to afford 😁

      It sounds like your mum wanted you to have a good foundation with money. I always think saving first is wise – because if you want to buy something, you can always buy it later. Agree that not everyone will talk freely about money, especially personal financial figures. But it is good to talk about money in the general sense – such as spending habits and different ways to make money through side hustles. That way you can avoid jealously surrounding money.

      Ohhh. Call centre work is definitely not for you then! I hope no more call centre work for you 😂

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  33. I agree with many of your points Mabel.. People are reluctant to discuss finances, and many in todays world often live beyond their means, which gets them into difficulties…
    I am pleased to learn you are prudent and wise in that you are thinking ahead, and seeing the importance of feeling secure and have a savings plan, many do not, then end up in huge amounts of dept..
    I know of many young people like this who live for today and who do not see the consequences of not discussing their problems and get even deeper into dept…
    Many thanks Mabel for your thoughts upon this subject.. really enjoyed reading… Sending Lots of love your way my friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sue. There’s the common assumption that talking about finance you have to reveal your financial figures… Many don’t realise a good start and good way to talk about money is talking about it generally, such as spending habits, the pros and cons of being debt-free and more.

      You are right, there is importance in feeling secure especially around finances. I think it’s because I like to be prepared and if this year has taught me anything, it is to not spend so frivolously – I am guilty of this time and time again and I think we all are at some point. Health is wealth and a currency in itself – and if everyone we love has health and doing well health-wise, that is the most important.

      Sending you lots of love your way too my friend. Take care over there and stay safe 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  34. I agree with each one of your points here, Mabel. Our Indian tradition says, it’s not a decent manner to talk about money unless you are in a close circle. The reasons being the same as you stated. Personally, I don’t like the topic but, surely, if any of my friends or relatives faces a problems regarding finance, I won’t mind discussing the matter if that helps them out… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is very kind of you, wanting to help your friends or relatives if they have a problem. It can be tricky talking about finances even among people you are close to – you can never be sure if they are comfortable with the topic. But if they want help and want an opinion on finances, then that’s okay. Hope you are doing well, Mani 🙂

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  35. Great points here Mabel. In my family – growing up and even now – money is a five letter word. It’s seen as rude to ask anyone about their money or how much they have or how they handle it. My parents never talked about it at all. My brother and I broke the mold when we helped our mom in her last years organize her money and use it to the best of her ability so she would have a comfortable life. You bring up such interesting topics here. Nice!

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    • Thanks, Ruth. It really is lovely of you and your brother to help your mum organise her finances. Hope she didn’t mind and she had a comfortable lasts years with you and the rest of the family. Sometimes money can be daunting and people whom you trust can help you manage it well. Hopefully my next few posts are on interesting topics lol. Hope you are well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  36. I read this much earlier. Couldn’t comment, though. The comments section is already too long, it was hard making a comment using mobile phone. Now using my laptop.

    Anyhoo, here, I think we’re much more open. Filipinos can be too open, we can often discuss financial matters and not feel awkward or weirded out or scared. Of course, it’s on a case-to-case basis. We might not want to share info with certain people at certain times. But generally, Filipinos are so open. we can be too trusting, I just realized.

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    • Oh no, the comments section too long on a mobile 😂 I might need to have a look at that and make it shorter. But thank you so much for coming back and leaving a comment. Very kind of you.

      That is lovely to hear Filipinos are open and don’t mind discussing finances too much. I didn’t know Filipinos can be so trusting. That said, many Filipinos I’ve met are very friendly and always are up for a good chat.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Hi Mabel – I hope you are doing well as November winds down
    You picked a good topic – money – and I think it really does vary person to person – but you are so right – some folks do not want to ever talk about it and find it rude – whereas others might need to use some discretion.
    For example, abut ten years ago we heard a man complaining about his finances and sharing woes – two months later he bought $150.00 jeans and sharing about his outfit and we were like “Huh?” – we tried not to judge him, but a small part of our thinking was judging him because he was just crying poverty..

    You know how I buy used books? well this means that sometimes I pick titles I normally would not pay full price for – and one of those books is “Smart couples finish rich” by David Bach
    and Mabel, I thought i was going to dislike the book because I assumed it was about accumulating and maybe about “more nest egg” more, more more
    but it was not.
    It was such a good book because it was about understanding values that connect to choices – understanding the difference between values and goals – and then it had advice similar to what you suggested:

    “It’s important to talk about money, such as spending habits, ways to save and investment strategies. That way you can make informed financial decisions and develop a healthy relationship with money to suit your lifestyle – and feel better about money.”

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    • You summed it up very well, Y. Some really want to avoid talking about money whereas other are happy to talk about it with discretion. That is an interesting example about a man complaining about his finances and later bought rather expensive jeans. Maybe he spent his last dollar on them. Or maybe he turned a corner in his life and it was the start of a new job for him. Sometimes it can be hard to tell where someone is at in their life, and that can make it hard to talk about money – including start talking about finances with someone.

      It is always an experience buying used books and picking up titles you normally wouldn’t normally choose. I haven’t heard of that book by David Bach but it sounds like an interesting red, and I might check it out. Accumulating and having a nest egg is a wise option when it comes to building a financial security blanket. But there are also other ways to make the most out of our finances. We all have choices when it comes to our finances and how to make it work for our lifestyles.

      Thanks for your kind word, Y. Things are well over here and I hope you are doing well over there as you head into winter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi M
        Thanks for the nice reply!
        And sometimes with students one of the ways we talk about money has to do with how “needs escalate” and people tend to spend what they make.
        And as while ago I heard a man gripe about his misery- he had more money than he ever had and was grumpy! He had suits made rather than bargain rack suits – he had financial portfolios and well – his summation was that if feeling heavy, rat race stuck and wished for the days he had an ill-fitting suit because of the joy he had and the way less was more – how he appreciated and all that/ but he also noted how much spending money and accumulating left him not full!
        And that is because as humans – we do need stuff – as we all know – the relationship we have with money matters greatly –
        But the things that fill us up deeply are not what money can buy-
        Whew –
        You really tackled another layered issue so well!
        😉

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        • I enjoying replying Y…so thank you for replying. ‘People spend what they make’. The more we make, the more we can afford and some go all out for it – and your example of the grumpy well-off man is a great example. More doesn’t mean we will be happy. If we can’t find reason behind any purchase, and worse if we can’t tell what we are buying it for, chances are we won’t feel much joy from it. Not full as you said would be a good way to describe it.

          We all need stuff, and it would be best if we could always focus on buying stuff we need which will serve us for the long term. For instance, I would rather focus on buying a good quality maybe pricey vacuum over a nice occasion outfit, putting needs over wants first.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well Mabel – your balance (having needs first) is so grounded !
            I forget the show – but I watched a documentary about when consumerism creeped in to the culture – I think it was connected toa lawsuit from the Fabrege family (jewelers from Russia) and the Faberge cologne that was launched – the owner of that cologne talked about marketing tricks and how they targeted consumerism by brainwashing through sexy ads and commercials – “cologne Brut 33 by Fabergé had a product placement in the 1974” and Mabel – so much goes into sucking people in!

            Anyhow – my husband always reminds folks in first world countries about how rich they are – they don’t feel it when they live paycheck to paycheck – but still in the top percentage compared to many other places –
            And today I drove by a guy working on his car – wheels off – and he had the car half on the Claude walk and half in the street parking spot (not dangerous as it was out of the road)
            But I thought how grateful he’d be for a one car garage – but some folks with a one car garage wish they had two or three garage spots –
            I dunno – I guess the secret is to not let stuff and possessions meet needs that other things should meet.

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  38. I grew up in a household where every penny counted and was taught from an early age that if you take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves. The cost of purchases was often discussed in the context of whether we could afford them or not. I think that people who have no shortage of money don’t really talk about it as they just take it for granted, unless they are the bragging type, which is sure to put me right off them. 😳 I love your cute images and the different colours of your bank notes. Great post as always, Mabel. xxx

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    • It sounds like your family was very meticulous about money growing up. Not a bad thing at all. It makes sense to think about if you can afford something when buying something. These days ‘buy now pay later’ schemes seem to put this in the background. True, some people take money for granted and are lucky they don’t have to count their pennies. I never understood bragging about money…wealth can disappear overnight. Thanks, Sylvia. This was a fun photo shoot at home. Australia does have very colourful bank notes 😳

      Liked by 1 person

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