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TheStreet Open House

We Don't Talk About Our No. 1 Concern: Money

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Religion and politics are typical "third rail" topics of conversations among partisans, but they're pikers compared with discussions that center on cash.

In fact, Americans believe talking about money is more difficult than discussing hot-button issues such as death, politics, religion, taxes and personal health, says a study from Wells Fargo.

But many Americans believe the topic of money may even be hazardous to their health: 33% say they are "more worried about their financial health than their physical health" and 40% call money the "biggest stress issue" in their lives.

There's also a giveaway for your personal finances. If you update your Facebook status, you're more likely to have "poor or average" financial health, Wells Fargo says.

The data come from Wells Fargo's Financial Health Study of 1,004 U.S. adults between the ages of 25 and 75.

Experts involved in the study say it's only natural that Americans shy away from money discussion -- but much like ignoring your physical health, ignoring your financial health is a significant life risk.

 "It's not surprising people don't want to talk about money, investments, tax strategies or even how much to put aside for a child's education," says Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement at Wells Fargo. "But not spending time today to think about the future can be costly in the long run."

"I think of personal finance in the same vein as my health -- I wouldn't keep concerns about my physical health private," she says. "I'd consult a doctor or talk to a friend or family member about it."

Another interesting outlook from the study, and one that should worry politicians in both political parties: 39% of adults say they are "more worried" about money this year than last year, with 33% of survey respondents say they are "losing sleep" over money.

With midterm elections coming up in November and polls showing that unemployment and the economy is the No. 1 issue among Americans, that angst over money could trigger an election year tsunami across the nation.

A national malaise has also set in to the nation's psyche, with 40% of Americans saying they have no idea what to do about their financial problems, citing a lack of motivation. Wimbish says that trend is all about the absence of a plan and the lack of proper knowledge about savings and investment basics.

"When someone is physically out of shape, they typically understand that eating well and exercising more will help get them back on track," she explains. "With money, however, there's a lack of understanding about the importance of designing a plan. Only a third of adults have some type of financial plan or a simple household budget in place, which means most Americans don't have the roadmap needed to improve their financial health."

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