Money Taboos: When Can it Be Good to Open Up?
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Many of us decide to lock lips when it comes to money. Common around the world, money is considered as a taboo or just an “uncomfortable” topic to discuss. Deciding the topics off limits to you is a purely personal decision but sometimes, opening up can help.

We look at some of the most difficult topics for Malaysians to openly discuss and offer an alternate viewpoint on when it may be a better option to just talk about it.

Money Taboos: When Can it Be Good to Open Up?

Laying the Ground Rules

The basic things to realise about money taboo conversations is that is always difficult for people to discuss. Sometimes, discussing it can backfire. Before you decide when to open the floodgates; consider these factors.

1) Who are you opening up to? The most important of all considerations is who you decide to talk to as that can make all the difference. People assume that close family members or friends may be the best confidantes but this may not always be the case depending on each situation. In light of your circumstances, decide on the best person to approach.

2) Inject a healthy dose of your own judgements. It’s nice to think that we can share our problems and have someone give us absolute directions and prescriptions to fix it but it’s important to remember that the end decision or ultimate solution needs to be carefully weighed and made according to your own judgement.

Once you understand those two consideration, you’re ready to start tackling these money taboos.

Job Insecurities

It’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable in revealing your job insecurity. But look at it this way, sometimes by conversing, things may turn around or you may even be offered or directed to a new vacancy.

Talking to those more experienced in the job sphere may enable you to garner new insights and action plans for remedying career related issues. You may also learn new ways for looking at things.

Sometimes, it doesn’t even need to be a detailed sharing but a simple one liner about how your job is not working out so well. What this does is it usually opens the lines for people to suggest job opportunities they may know of to you. If you do not let people know that you are looking; they’re unlikely to bring the vacancies to your attention

Debt Avoidance

Whether overdrafts, credit cards, mortgages or loans, avoiding your debts is the last thing you want to do. Discussing about debt openly is indeed a taboo in Malaysia but you never know who else may have the same issue as you and may be able to offer insight. Of course, you might want to exercise caution in announcing the fact to everyone but it can’t hurt with selected close family/friends.

Alternatively, you could call in the aid of a completely neutral stranger – such as the guys behind AKPK – Malaysia’s own debt consultation body. AKPK provides counselling and advice but if the situation is dire – they are even able to negotiate new instalment plans with banks on your behalf.

Salary Comparisons

“How much is your salary ah?” and then…there’s silence…

We somewhat agree that becoming an open book, especially in revealing your salary to others can cause jealousy and feelings of unfairness at your workplace but sometimes, it might help you realise if you are being underpaid or undervalued by your company.

Whilst such comparisons are not 100% reliable – it might give you a ballpark figure about what you should be earning at your level and in your industry.

Asking For Financial Assistance

Nobody likes asking to borrow money but sometimes the unsavoury task might be necessary. If you’ve tried personal loans, credit cards and any legal banking product to no avail; you’re mind might stray to the ‘dark side’: the ah long.

Don’t do it!

It may be rough but asking for help from loved ones or even an advance or loan from your company (some companies offer loans to employees that is deductible from their pay every month) but it’s certainly better than putting yourself and family at risk of the illegal moneylenders.

We don’t necessarily encourage borrowing from loved ones; but we see it as the lesser of two evils. Of course, do be sure that you are asking for a noble cause; not general lifestyle improvements!

Taboos exist for a reason. There is probably a stigma or long-standing cultural reason why we’ve refrained so long from discussing the topics above. But in a time of change; it might do you good to consider new approaches to age old problems.

Good luck!


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