Category: Communication

How can I get my family on board with saving?

When it comes to spending, it’s easy to get excited. You don’t have to try hard – advertisers do all the work for you, making the acquisition of shiny new things look and sound fun and appealing.

Spending, however, requires a little more creativity on our part. But even if you manage to get hyped about saving yourself, your family might think you’re a grump if you’re constantly reminding them to switch off the lights and close the doors and buy the cheaper detergent.

So how can you get your family on board with saving? How can you use the same sorts of tricks advertisers do to make spending seem so appealing to convince your family – and perhaps yourself! – that saving is the best course of action?

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Are we speaking the same language?

Do you feel like you and your partner are talking different languages when it comes to money?

In intercultural communication research, we talk of two different ways for communication problems to occur – miscommunication, where communication occurs but is misunderstood, and communication breakdown, where communication ceases.

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Why is money taboo?

Why don’t we talk more about money?
Earlier in this series, I suggested that two key reasons include the fact that money means different things to different people, so it can be hard to get on the same page, and secondly, that it simply isn’t considered polite to discuss money openly.

Money is frequently considered a taboo topic – more so than sex or death in many societies. And it is precisely because of this taboo nature, Adrian Furnham reports in The New Psychology of Money, that couples are frequently surprised at the beliefs and preferences of their partner when they are revealed.

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How can experts influence our money decisions?

Our ways of speaking about money, and using money, are intimately tied.

Linguistic Relativity, also known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, states that the structure of a language influences its speakers’ world-view.

The philosopher (of mathematics, mind and language) Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory of language as the means by which people both picture reality and reason famously concludes ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent’.

In other words, in order to be able to talk about money, and make effective decisions about money (key aspects of financial literacy), we need to understand the language of money.

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How do our financial tongues differ?

While children generally learn the variety of language their parents speak, seemingly ‘automatically’, this does not mean they have access to all of the dialects of that language equally, and different dialects have different uses and are valued differently in different contexts.

I grew up speaking a more rural variety of English, and acquired a more ‘standard’ variety later in life.
Most children grow up speaking the familiar, informal language of the household and have to be explicitly taught the more formal registers considered suitable for education and the workplace.

Like stigmatised language varieties, some varieties of financial literacy – beliefs and behaviours connected with money acquired from childhood – are less valued in society. That is, they are associated with less symbolic and social value, lacking prestige and possibly leading to social exclusion.

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How do we learn to speak money?

Learning about finances, says John Lanchester, author of How to Speak Money, is a bit like learning Chinese – ‘figuring out the meaning, word-by-word’. This, he says, is how he learned to ‘speak money’.

Many of the same theories that have been used to explain language acquisition – including behaviourism and cognitivism – Adrian Furnham reports have been used in conjunction with learning about money.

Just as our mother tongue is learned primarily in the home, supplemented by formal lessons at school, many of our ideas about money are formed in our early years in the family.

Summarising studies of ‘money troubled’ adults, Furnham states that many of their troubles originate in ‘lessons’ learned as a child, with the family as the primary socialisation unit. ‘Teaching economic literacy, good money management and sensible saving and spending should be a parental priority, Furnham points out, referring to Charles Collier’s notion of ‘financial parenting’ in the book Wealth in Families.

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Why can’t we talk about money?

Financial disagreements are a chronic source of conflict for many couples and families. Financial literacy resources, self-help books, and the experts who write them frequently refer to ‘common sense’ – even though there is conflict among authors about what is commonsensical.

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Why?

‘Why? Why? Why?’

As a child, I was constantly asking ‘Why?’
Of course, my father or grandfather would respond ‘Why is a crooked letter.’
It wasn’t until some time later, when I learned to form letters myself, that I understood this wordplay.

Like many who begin their blogs with this same anecdote, I never really stopped asking ‘Why?’ Continue reading “Why?”