Don’t yuk yums (financial or otherwise)

Sonnie Bailey

24 January 2020

One of my all-time favourite podcast names is "Death, Sex, Money".

Three words. Three highly emotive topics. Three topics that many people find hard to talk about.

Talk about clear, concise, and effective.

Money is highly emotional.

Money is rarely talked about in a candid way.

Those two things: they can be a recipe for disaster.

I've talked about death (estate planning) and money (financial planning) in my professional life.

I wonder if I'll get to sex.

Sex is highly emotional.

Sex is rarely talked about in a candid way.

That can also be a recipe for disaster.

In two of my favourite books on sex – Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski and Sexual Intelligence by Marty Klein – the authors are at pains to repeat an important message.

There's no such thing as "normal".

Focusing on "normal" or prescribing what people should or shouldn't like and do is a red herring.

Who cares what is normal?

If something gives you pleasure, and you have a partner (or partners) who consent, and it doesn't hurt anyone, and you're not breaking any laws, what's the damage?

The specific term for that philosophy is "sex positivity".

There was a time when there was a moral panic over bicycles.

There was a time when there was a moral panic over books.

There are moral panics about screen time for kids.

There are always moral panics.

Money is emotive.

Money shapes our relationship to time. It determines how secure many of us feel. It helps us manage risk.

Some people describe money as "liquid resilience". Having a financial buffer makes it a lot easier to deal with setbacks.

But despite its importance, or perhaps because of its importance, people find it hard to talk about money.

Is it any wonder that many of us have complicated relationships with money?

Is it any wonder many of us find it hard to think clearly about money?

Add to this: there are a lot of smart people in the world of finance. Many of them see their job as trying to extract money from your wallet.

There are major financial incentives for instilling FUD.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

Combine that with everything else, and we have a recipe for disaster.

When it comes to money, there's also a lot of virtue signalling.

There are lots of fledgling bloggers and social media types stemming from the FIRE phenomenon.

They'll talk about spending money on anything beyond what you need as if it's a moral failing.


What's the point of being frugal for frugality's sake?

You do you.

Sex educators realise that there's no point to yukking other people's sexual yums.

They explain that "pleasure is the measure" – however that works for you.

They talk about the importance of self-knowledge, of being assertive, and communicating what you like and don't like.

That's "sex positivity".

It's a breath of fresh air compared to many of the moralistic messages we so often see and hear.

Instead of moralising, or making others feel bad about their money choices, how about we focus on "money positivity".

Everyone's different. One person's decisions might be right for them, even if they're not right for you. People weigh risks and consequences and pleasure in different ways.

There's room for good faith debate and candid conversation. 

But the older I get, the less patience I have for moralising. 

Let's stop yukking other people's financial yums.

And more broadly: let's stop yukking other people's yums.

Let's focus on our own yums, and celebrate the yums of others.

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