Money, sex, religion: It's easier to talk about money

Tacoma News TribuneFebruary 6, 2014 

Here in the Puget Sound region, we feel better about our financial situation than do people in the rest of the country.

And it’s not that we spend too much time thinking about our finances. In fact, we spend more time tracking our favorite sports teams than we do tracking our money.

So say the results of a survey released Thursday by Wells Fargo. 

Among the data:

• 52 percent of residents in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties describe their financial health as either “good” or “great.” This compares to a 44 percent total nationwide. The remaining 48 percent in this region describe their situation as “poor” or “average.”

• 49 percent of residents  report having no detailed investment or financial plan – compared to 42 percent nationwide. 

• 71 percent of residents said that by living within their means, they do not need to worry about money. This compares to 58 percent nationwide.

• Of those who have lost their job or been laid off in the past three years, 71 percent report that they have been rehired or found new employment. This compares to 51 percent nationally.

• 56 percent of Puget Sound respondents pay their credit card balances monthly. This compares to 40 percent nationally.

• 35 percent of local residents feel more stressed about their financial situation than they did a year ago. The same percentage say money issues provide the greatest source of stress in their lives. 

• 31 percent said their financial health was of greater concern than their physical health.

• 35 percent of married individuals said that it is difficult to discuss finances with a spouse or partner – while 44 percent said it is difficult to discuss religion, and 57 percent said it is difficult to discuss sex.

• 77 percent of those polled visited a dentist in the past year and 73 percent saw a doctor, but only 41 percent conducted a financial review or check-up.

• 19 percent of residents said they track their favorite sports teams more carefully than they track expenses and spending, compared to 13 percent nationally.

“If things aren’t going well, people are less inclined to plan, because they’re fearful,” said Carol Powell, regional wealth planning manager and South Sound market leader at Wells Fargo, on Thursday. “When things are going well, there’s a sort of euphoria. We think the bubble’s never going to burst.”

Powell said she spends much of her time with Pierce County clients, and notes that hereabouts they “are buying commercial real estate. We’re also seeing a greater willingness in Pierce County for people to invest their cash, to move out of a bank deposit account. That’s a sign they’re feeling better.”

From various data in the survey and from her own experience, Powell noted that “we don’t speak to our children about wealth. It’s scary to talk about what it means. Clients are concerned about giving too much to their children. They don’t want to empower their children to do nothing. There is a great sense in the Puget Sound, and we see this in Pierce County, about giving back to the community.”


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