Let’s talk about our personal financial situation. Oh wait, we’re Americans: we can talk all day about money but we never speak of our personal finances. It is mildly forbidden.

When we meet someone at a party it’s rude to say something like “That’s a very nice suit you’re wearing. How much money do you make and how much do you have in the bank?” That kind of talk is considered inappropriate in America and the only place you are likely to hear it is around the Thanksgiving table between your dad and Uncle Frank after a couple of beers and some whisky chasers — just before the food fight.

Forbes magazine mentions that Americans are more willing to talk about their sex lives than their personal financial situation. Well of course. Finances are boring compared to talking about sex. Who cares to learn about annuities when you can take in carnal knowledge? But ask how much a person has stashed away in T-bills or commercial paper and that’s just none of your business.

This all got started well over a hundred years ago in the age of gentlemen and was expressed in print by Emily Post in her book “Etiquette,” Chapter XXIX, “The Fundamentals of Good Behavior,” where she stated in no uncertain terms:

“A very well-bred man intensely dislikes the mention of money, and never speaks of it (out of business hours) if he can avoid it.”

But even Emily Post couldn’t help drifting from finance into affairs of the bedroom, because in the very next paragraph she continues:

“A gentleman never discusses his family affairs either in public or with acquaintances, nor does he speak more than casually about his wife. A man is a cad who tells anyone, no matter who, what his wife told him in confidence, or describes what she looks like in her bedroom.”

In 2013, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Wells Fargo Bank conducted a study which showed that 44 percent of Americans would rather discuss death, politics or religion before venturing into the secretive province of personal finance. They didn’t ask about sex. As it turns out, about two million people were so secretive about their own finances that they didn’t even know they had Wells Fargo Bank accounts. Okay, that last part wasn’t from the Christian Science Monitor but I just threw it in there to yank Wells Fargo’s chain.



Along the same line but without opening non-authorized accounts, Ally Bank took a survey early in 2016 and found that 70 percent of Americans think that discussing money in a social setting is inappropriate or even rude. Alright, Ally Bank didn’t actually take the survey because they were too busy talking about personal finances so they hired Opinion Research Corporation to do the calling of 1,008 American Adults.

I know! Why didn’t they stop at calling 1,000 people? There was no explanation offered for the extra eight but obviously they were on a roll.

Anyway, the survey also found that if you are looking for an age group to blab about their income, hit up the millennials, because even though 66 percent of them feel that it’s inappropriate to socially discuss your financial affairs, 59 percent still do it.

So extrapolating from the data, and I will save you the math headache here, at least 7 percent of millennials talk about personal finance even though they feel it is rude to do so. I would bet that the 7 percent are the ones still living at home with a mountain of student debt and no income. No wonder they’re rude.

Maybe the millennials are onto something. If we don’t talk about our personal finances we will make the same mistakes over and over and a lot of us may end up with accounts we did not authorize.

So what have we learned today? Gentlemen don’t discuss finances unless it’s with the family at Thanksgiving and nobody is talking about sex. If you’re a millennial go ahead, this is America and apparently all the stops to being rude are quickly being eroded. Be as rude as you like. One thing for sure, you can still be president. No, no, I meant that in a good way: that last election just proves how extremely tolerant we are here in the U.S. of A. 

And as far as what anyone looks like in the bedroom, especially me, we shall never speak of this.