The term “The Greatest Generation” comes from the title of the 1998 book by journalist Tom Brokaw about the generation of Americans who came of age during World War II. Speaking of their service, Brokaw wrote: “these men and women fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.” Members of this generation were also, by and large, the parents of my generation, the Baby Boomers. As a group, the Greatest Generation were revered for their stoicism—many grew up during the Great Depression, had a strong work ethic, and as Brokaw points out, exemplified courage, sacrifice, and honor. But there’s one thing they weren’t so great at—talking about money.
Part of that reluctance may have come from a sense of discomfort about money. After all, many had seen their own parents lose everything during the depression. But more often than not, the reluctance to talk about money and finances seems to come down to what was and was not considered polite conversation. As a result, my own generation grew up learning that money, like sex and religion, was a topic to be avoided in polite company. However, when the social taboo of talking about money extends to your most important relationships, your spouse, partner, parents and children—that can spell trouble.