Money is still our least favourite topic of conversation, but a positive change is taking place

21st July 2018

No hidden figures video snapshot

Just 22% of us are comfortable discussing finance with family and friends, but nearly half of us (49%) believe that talking to others about our finances improves our confidence around money.

Money may be the last taboo, but a new survey from Starling Bank reveals that British people gain more financial confidence from discussing money than from putting money in their savings account. 49% of over 2,000 survey respondents said that talking about or asking advice on finances improved their financial confidence, compared to just 38% saying that putting money in a savings account would increase their confidence.

There’s still a long way to go though, less than a quarter of us (just 22%) are comfortable discussing finances with family and friends, compared to our weight (61%), political beliefs (67%), mental health (46%) and even our sex lives (29%).

Other findings include:

  • There’s no gender difference when it comes to talking about money - men and women are just as reluctant to talk about their bank balance as each other, with only 22% of both genders feeling comfortable with this.
  • However men are far more likely than women to say they have felt confident (25% vs 17%) and comfortable (35% vs 29%) about money. Equally, women are more likely than men to have felt anxious (31% vs 27%) and stressed (34% vs 28%) about their finances.
  • We still need more information - two thirds of respondents would like to have a clearer understanding of things such as banking options, mortgages, savings and debt.
  • We know how to help ourselves out but aren’t doing it - 60% of us think that sticking to a budget is the best way to help with financial worry, but 89% of us who keep a budget break it.
  • 37% say they have unexpected expenses like surprise bills or an unplanned night out at least once a month
  • Nearly a quarter of us (23%) don’t know what we spend on groceries each month.

Millennials (between 18-34 years old), are much more comfortable discussing their salary, bank balance and other aspects of their finances with family and friends (42%) than people over 55 (10%). This could simply be down to younger respondents being in a similar financial position to their peers at the start of their careers and financial lives. As our earnings differ from those of our friends, we become less likely to discuss our finances, despite recognising that a dialogue around money brings confidence.

However, whilst older generations maybe more reticent about sharing their financial status, they do have an edge on their juniors when it comes to budgeting. Across all respondents, 60% try to stick to a budget - but the over 55s are twice as likely to stick to their monthly budget (28%) than 18 - 34 year olds (15%).

The study also shows a strong correlation between talking about money and knowing our own financial habits. Over half of respondents (52%) over the age of 45 say that they don’t know what they spend on food, transport, clothes, nights out, holidays or gifts each month. This is far higher than reported by 18 - 45 year olds - less than a third of whom are unclear about their monthly spending on these items.

Carried out by YouGov, who surveyed more than 2,000 people across the UK, the study also explored the possibility that the generational shift in attitudes could be attributed to individuals earning more as they get older. However, the results found that higher earning individuals are just as likely to discuss their finances with friends as those earning less. However, discrepancies do emerge as people from ABC1 backgrounds are more likely to be comfortable talking about what they earn (75%) compared to people from C2DE backgrounds (65%).

Starling Banks’ CEO Anne Boden comments:

"Starling Bank was founded with the mission of helping people visualise and manage their money. Our features enable customers to have a clear view of their spending and saving - giving them a clearer view of their overall financial situation. The figures suggest there’s still a long way to go - we may never remove all sense of discomfort around our finances - but this study proves that talking about money can be is a step in the right direction.”

Alongside the study, Starling is launching a series of films created to encourage honesty around our spending. The series, titled ‘No Hidden Figures’ features people from a range of backgrounds and ages with their outgoings written on their bodies. You can watch the films below.