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Why Are We So Afraid to Talk About Money?

Introducing Thriving Wallet, in partnership with Discover.

Money is never just about money. Our finances are more than a collection of numbers. Money is deeply connected to our physical health, our mental health, our work, our families, how we feel about ourselves and how we think about our future. It’s no surprise that money is the number one source of stress in our lives. So why are we so afraid to talk about it? Why does even thinking about a subject that touches every aspect of our lives cause stress for so many? And why is the cultural conversation about money so relentlessly negative and judgmental? 

We need to redefine the discussion around financial health. And that’s why I’m so thrilled to announce the launch of Thriving Wallet, in partnership with Discover. Our mission is to help you pursue your goals with less financial stress and more joy, empowering you to focus on what matters to you most. On Thriving Wallet, you’ll find everything you need to build healthy money habits, take immediate action for positive change, nurture your financial health and reframe your relationship with money. 

And we couldn’t have a more suitable partner. Discover is deeply committed to helping people achieve brighter financial futures and empowering them toward financial wellness to help improve their overall well-being. “We are committed to helping people achieve their financial goals, and our work creating tools and  resources to help consumers in this space aligns well with Thrive’s vision to help people build better habits to create positive change in their lives,” said Julie Loeger, E.V.P., President of U.S. Cards at Discover. “No matter where you are on your financial journey, there’s always something new to learn, and the Thrive platform provides a unique opportunity for Discover to help consumers reach their next financial milestone through actionable, easy-to-understand information.”

The need has never been more urgent. As the science makes clear, we can’t separate financial health from our overall health and well-being. Researchers from the University of Warwick in the U.K. and Harvard found that for lower-income individuals, just thinking about a money decision would create a financial strain that lowered participants’ cognitive abilities. And a study by researchers from Singapore showed how, as the authors put it, “debt causes significant psychological and cognitive impairment and alters decision-making.” 

For young people, the worries are even greater. In the latest Stress in America report from the American Psychological Association, 8 out of 10 Gen Z adults say money causes them significant stress. And a November 2019 report by Moody’s Analytics and Blue Cross Blue Shield on “The Economic Consequences of Millennial Health” showed the connection between financial health and overall health. “Poorer health among millennials will keep them from contributing as much to the economy as they otherwise would,” the authors wrote, “potentially exacerbating instances of income inequality and contributing to a vicious cycle of even greater prevalence of behavioral and physical health conditions.” 

Thrive and Discover recently conducted a survey on the relationship between financial stress and well-being. You can read the full report here, but two points help drive home the need for a new space like Thriving Wallet: Fewer than 65% of participants said they feel confident in their ability to handle the stress from their financial situation, and almost half said they don’t feel like they’re able to control the important financial aspects of their life. 

And changing that into a virtuous circle of well-being is what Thriving Wallet is all about. Here you’ll find The Thrive Guide to Better Money Habits. And to build those habits, actionable advice is broken down into Microsteps, which are too-small-to-fail changes you can immediately incorporate into your daily life. For example: Every night, take a few minutes to track what you bought that day in your journal or financial tracking app. 

You’ll also find advice from experts, practical videos and inspirational personal stories. In our “Let’s Talk Money” series, you’ll hear from experts like Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together and founder of BrokeMillennial.com; and Rianka Dorsainvil, a Certified Financial Planner and the woman behind Your Greatest Contribution, a financial planning firm. And if you’re wondering if you’re ever too young to take charge of your financial health, check out Bernadette Anat’s essay. Anat, a former freelancer turned financial literacy educator, shares how getting a grip on her finances in her 20s changed her life. To start off you can also take our quiz to find out “What’s the Source of Your Money Stress?”. 

Thriving Wallet’s core themes will be backed up by Thrive Sciences, which we’re also launching in partnership with Discover. Thrive Sciences will bring together scientists, psychologists and researchers to create data-driven insights and measurements that can shift conversation into action. For our very first project, we surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. adults to explore the gaps in our understanding of the connection between financial health and our overall well-being. These findings and insights, as well as tailored, actionable Microsteps, can be found here

It’s time to bring our conversation about money into the open. We can’t thrive when we’re stressed and chronically weighed down by financial anxiety. Thriving Wallet is your gateway to financial health and well-being and a brighter future. 

Subscribe here for my Weekly Thoughts Newsletter, where you’ll find my take on the week’s news, my favorite pieces on how we can thrive even in our stressful world, and some fun and inspiring extras.

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