NEW YORK (MainStreet)—More than half (63%) of Americans would rather reveal their weight than what is in their wallet, according to a recent survey conducted by Country Financial.
Whether feast or famine, we are all making decisions, constantly, about what to eat, what to spend, and what to talk about. "Decide" comes from the Latin, like "homicide"...to cut away and kill the alternatives. Don't talk about politics, religion, or sex... at least not at the dinner table, was the standard rule of thumb for social acceptable conversational etiquette. Don't divulge your age, or talk about money.
"Money has long been the biggest taboo – much more than sex " says Kerry Sulkowicz, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in New York City who now consults for big businesses. "That was always the case when I saw patients. They would all readily talk about their sexual fantasies but not their money."
Will the real Pinocchio please stand up?
One in five Americans has lied about their income, the Country Financial Survey also found.
Americans are squeamish about money mainly because "we are frightened by money", according to Steve Siebold, author of the book How Rich People Think (London House Supply, 2010). Indeed, Country Financial's survey of 3,000 adults nationwide found that, on average, 1 in 3 of us are scared to check our own checking accounts.
"The middle class, in particular, does not like to talk about their finances, because they're living in a world of constant worry" says Siebold, a multi-millionaire. "Many believe that rich people are lucky or dishonest." He believes that the biblical passage stating that the love of money is the root of all evil has been misquoted and misinterpreted by many who think that money itself is the root of all evil. "As a result of poor programming and ignorance, the masses are infected with the disease of focusing on lack and limitation regarding money and are uneducated about what it means to be wealthy, " says Siebold.
But financial fibbing may be on the increase. Fully 20% of those polled say they lie about their income, and almost 25% of those ages 18-29 do so.
And we even lie to our spouses. Almost half (46%) of Americans polled (in a random study including 23,000 adults) have lied to their significant other about money, says a recent "Financial Infidelity" survey from Today.com and SELF magazine, as reported by Globe Newswire. This lying involved even hiding new purchases as well as taking money out, "clandestinely," from joint accounts.
More than half of those polled (60%) said, "Cheating is cheating," whether it is about finances or sexual liasons – and about one-third said that one can sometimes lead to another. Is it a slippery slope? The most common fibs about money were just about shopping. Lucille Ball tells Desi, "It was on sale!" Not a big deal, or is it?
Sulkowicz says that most people are reluctant to talk about money openly due to deep seated conflicts. "The meanings we attach to money – the emotional meanings – are huge, and are unlikely to change with the economy," he said.
"The recession has made some of us more squeamish because we are in more dire straits, and has made others of us more willing to talk about money out of feeling that everyone is in the same leaking boat, " says Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist on the clinical faculty of UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute. "We are, many of us, living above our means and desperately hoping that our friends colleagues and extended family don't find out."
Appearances matter to Americans. According to the recent Country Financial survey, 10% of those polled and 20% of 18- to 29-year-olds were making purchases they could not afford so as to be perceived as having a certain richer lifestyle.
Joe Buhrmann, Manager of Financial Security Support at Country Financial, is not terribly surprised by the results. "Its part of human nature. Just some of the little white lies we all have," he said. "Whether it is about money or what's on the scale... we are all a bit self-conscious about money, and are sometimes scared to look in the closet. What is important is that we make good important decisions...whether others are looking or not, and that we are honest to ourselves . The ultimate accountability is to ourselves."