Would you tell your best friend how much money you make?
If just the thought makes you squirm, you're not alone. Only about one in 10 Americans would feel comfortable talking about how much they make at a dinner party, according to a 2018 poll by Lexington Law of over 3,000 U.S. adults. Only one in five say they would ask a friend their salary.
But recently, CNBC Make It asked best friends to do just that. We had five sets of friends share their financial details with each other, including their salaries, how much debt they have, if they've ever gone on a date just to get a free meal and more.
Most participants weren't afraid to share the nitty-gritty details: "I think I was actually in a relationship for just going out for free meals," Mikayla, a 25-year-old actress, confessed to her best friend.
When asked how talking about money makes them feel, a common emotion stood out: discomfort. "[I feel] embarrassed sometimes," Nico, a 27-year-old bartender, said. "I feel like at my age I could have more money put away."
"Among people our age, there's an uncomfortableness with saying you're not struggling financially," said Lucy, a 23-year-old paralegal. Her best friend, Jenna, a 24-year-old part-time elf, agreed: "It's 'trendy' to be financially unstable."
That sentiment isn't surprising. A third of Americans (34%) say that it's taboo to talk about money in social settings, according to a Harris Poll of over 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by TD Ameritrade.
Within that, 36% of respondents named student loan debt the most uncomfortable financial topic to discuss, followed by child-care expenses (30%) and living paycheck to paycheck (26%).
The reluctance to talk about money with friends is driven by more than just social norms. "The fear of being perceived as a failure is the number-one reason millennials don't openly discuss the topic," TD Ameritrade says in the report.
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However, it can be worthwhile to open up about your finances. Sharing your struggles with a friend can ease money-related anxiety, as well as help you gain perspective on the situation, Nicholas Arreola, chief behavioral scientist and analytics officer at CLS Investments, told CNBC.
If seeking expert advice feels intimidating, try talking things through with a friend. You can still gain valuable inspiration and wisdom from those who are just a few steps ahead of you, Alicia McElhaney, founder of website and newsletter She Spends, told CNBC.
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.