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Talking money with ethnic minority communities

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Research revealed by Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) in 2020 showed that 29 million adults don’t feel comfortable talking about money, despite 48% admitting they have regularly worried about finances recently.

Unfortunately it’s a stark reality that gets worse when we look at Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Groups that over index on a lot of the national issues. Those in the UK who identify as BAME are also more likely to be worried about their current money situation with nearly half (45%) admitting they are worried in comparison to the national average of one in three (35%). 40% wish they could be more comfortable talking to friends and family about money.

Why might this be the case?

There are a range of factors but from a personal point of view there are a number of socioeconomic factors that come into play. Personally I grew up on a London council estate in an area with very limited social mobility and in my late teens and early twenties all I wanted was nice clothes to wear clubbing and a nice car to drive. Speaking from experience, I’ve seen popular black music culture and the media encourage viewers and listeners to ‘floss’ and wear designer clothes and accessories as well as a fancy car, which means some people will do this before they invest in the long term e.g. savings, home ownership and investments. Keeping up appearances and the façade that you’re ‘doing well’ was common-place. Similar could be said for other ethnic minority communities too. Close-knit communities talk!

People buy status symbols to fit in and be accepted in higher social circles, which in turn is perceived to create more opportunities and open doors. These status symbols act as the common ground to relate to wealthier social circles, which can often be class and/or race dependant.

One’s status depends on a combination of variables, including occupation, education, income, wealth, and place of residence. Poorer communities and locations often have a more racially diverse make up, which accounts for the financial data over indexing for BAME populations.

Looking at the data, it seems that a person’s level of income impacts the reasons why they keep money secrets as well as their propensity to hide financial products from a partner, family or friends.

As I talk to BAME colleagues, friends and customers every week, what’s clear is that better financial health, contributes to better mental health and overall wellbeing, and financial education is critical to overcoming some of these challenges.

To help ensure everyone has money confidence, particularly for the BAME community we need to talk more openly about money. Because when you feel confident about your money, you can feel confident to spend it on the things in life that really matter and you can get the most out of life – it’s life made more!

How can we open up about money?

Money is a touchy subject for many, the source of deep emotions, conflicts and anxieties. The money taboo however keeps us, particularly BAME groups from learning better habits, practices and perspectives. As scary as it may feel, we can begin to open the conversation by talking about money more frequently.

I would encourage you to talk about money with your children, your partner, your parents, and most importantly with support groups if you need help.

It’s so important to educate early and teach children about money to help them understand particularly as they watch their parent’s relationship with money, and as a society we become more cashless. It’s important to demonstrate that money doesn’t control you and it’s actually the other way round. The Money & Pensions Service research shows that the younger you introduce your children to money concepts, the better they will be about their own money in the future.

Whether you’re married, engaged, or just starting to get serious with somebody, it’s really important to come clean about your finances as it’s not something you want to discover later and find you don’t have common ground. It’s important to share your financial goals, your challenges, and start talking about your financial habits.

If you are struggling with money, or know someone that is, then get help, particularly in the current environment. Don’t leave it too long. Contact your bank if you need help and there are a number of charities and organisations offering free advice, for example the Citizens Advice (Opens in a new window) can connect you with debt advice and information about benefits that may be available.

A guest post from Ricky Benjamin (Branch Performance & Capability Manager and BAME Network Co-chair at TSB Bank).

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