Talking about money has always been difficult. Seven in 10 adults consider it rude to bring up the topic, Ally Bank found. Nearly half of couples don’t know how much money their partner earns, Fidelity found. People are seven times more likely to talk to a stranger about sex than about their salary, according to a study out of University College London.
And yet talking about money is a critical step toward learning and passing on good money habits. Parents that talk to kids about money have kids that are more likely to save as adults, Northwestern Mutual Financial found.
Such statistics should surprise no one. They have been around for decades. Still, money remains a taboo topic in millions of households. Now, the $1.1 billion Philadelphia Federal Credit Union wants to break the conversation logjam. In the spirt of April financial literacy month, the credit union launched a social media campaign designed to loosen lips around this difficult discussion.
To kick start the campaign, the credit union teamed with Temple University, where students have posted confessions including “High I.Q., Higher Student Loan Debt” and “Money Does Buy Happiness.” A personal favorite: “Great Personality, Not So Great Credit.”
“We wanted to start a widespread conversation in hopes that we can encourage people to face their financial realities, realize they aren’t alone, and provide them with the information they need to set and accomplish their goals,” Erin Ellis, a financial counselor at the credit union, told CreditUnions.com.
For my taste, the confessions could be more personal. So far, they have been mostly…
• • •
…vague lessons or truisms—rather than people really owning a money mistake. This campaign needs direction. In that spirit, as the accompanying picture shows, I submit: “Spent $400 On A Stetson That I Never Wear.” Now that’s a money confession.
In a dozen years, I have worn my Stetson exactly twice. Dumbest thing I ever bought. I leave it in plain view on a shelf to jolt me whenever I get the bug to buy something on a whim.
I am not eligible for the credit union prize money. But if I can further the conversation in even a small way, I am happy to come clean with this money mistake. The photo you see was posted on Twitter. You might ask your kids or students to play along. Everyone has a money regret or two. Those make great teaching opportunities.
Credit unions have emerged as leaders in the financial education space. The #StopMoneyShaming campaign from Philadelphia Federal Credit Union is just one example of a credit union directly counseling or educating its members about their personal finances.
More than one-third of the 5,689 federally insured credit unions in the U.S. offers financial counseling and education to members, reports the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. One in five offers financial literacy workshops.
This year, members of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates celebrated National Credit Union Youth Month with coloring contests and prize giveaways themes around “the Science of Saving.” Five Star Credit Union in Alabama is sponsoring financial literacy classes in 18 schools.
The Cornerstone Credit Union League, representing Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, is supporting various local programs like Money Smart Weekin El Paso, TX. A joint program between Lutheran Social Service and Firefly Credit Unionin Burnsville, MN, combines financial education and counseling and has helped 200 credit union members pay down $3 million of debt since 2007.
Channeling his inner Shakespeare, Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is asking the media to refer to the organization by a new name: Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. That is what he is now calling it and he has petitioned style gurus in the media to honor the name change, including embracing the new second reference BCFP instead of CFPB.
The distraught heroine Juliet asked, “What’s in a name?” But she knew full well that a name can be everything. So it is with Mulvaney. This rebranding to a passive and more cumbersome title isn’t exactly like a Capulet becoming a Montague. But it is clearly designed to devalue the watchdog agency by obscuring its past, confusing its identity and, in essence, starting over under a new set of guidelines.
Since his reign began last fall, Mulvaney has frozen all new investigations and slowed existing inquiries. He sharply restricted the bureau’s access to bank data and is putting every one of its functions up for review. He has also scaled back efforts to go after payday lenders, unraveling a signature effort by the previous bureau chief Richard Cordray.
Mulvaney says Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection is the official statutory name. No word yet on whether the style chiefs in the media, especially at the widely followed A.P., will honor Mulvaney’s request.