|Topic Review (Newest First)|
|04-01-2010 02:12 PM|
|04-01-2010 01:56 PM|
I generally don't talk about how much we make, although it's pretty common knowledge that we don't make a lot because people know our situation Probably the only person who I would talk actual numbers with is one of my closest friends.
I know how much my Mom makes, I also know how much my Dad makes, and pretty much always did growing up. They never hid it (FWIW they were separated the whole time I can remember, so it wasn't combined income, they each individually were open about talking about it). I'd tell my kids if it came up what we made as well, that doesn't seem odd to me.
As for the judging, I can't imagine making as much as I know some of my family members make, not at all judging that they do or what they do with it, but I have commented that I can't imagine what it would be like. The only person who I really judge when it comes to money is my mother... but she makes enough to live off of, or could at least and yet she never has money, always needs to borrow large sums, and then spends tons of money on truly frivolous things (game systems etc).
|04-01-2010 09:51 AM|
My father is retired from the military, so everyone knew what everyone else's salary was...it's public information. We didn't really discuss it as a family, but once I was old enough to be curious, I was old enough to figure out how to look it up (and this was in the days before the internet! LOL)
Now we still don't discuss money. As an adult I have a lot of respect for the way we lived on what I now know was a pretty meager income...my parents bought and completely paid for their home before my father retired, all of us children were able to do any kind of sports or lessons we were interested in, we ate very healthfully, etc. My parents live on a fixed income now that they are retired and never seem to be scrimping on anything. They are both just naturally frugal. A line from a song from The Music Man comes to mind... "If they ain't got it, they don't need it!" (and yes, they do live in Iowa )
I know they are curious about how much money my husband makes but they've never come right out and asked. I mentioned once years ago when his company switched hands in the middle of the year that there was a mistake and we were paying into social security again (there is a point at which you stop paying ss tax) and now they think we are fabulously wealthy, even though we live pretty modestly.
|03-31-2010 07:52 PM|
|03-31-2010 07:38 PM|
|celerydunk||While I understand why its not done, I do sometimes wish we were more open. Most financial articles cover families and its sometimes hard for me as a mid 30s single woman to know if I am doing okay.|
|03-30-2010 11:45 PM|
And I have some theories as to why some people don't tell what they make. Some people who are low income might want people to know they're poor. (I don't particularly care. We make $18k and if someone asks, I'll tell them) But then for example my sister makes over $40k and who knows what her hubby makes. I think she doesn't want people to know because she always makes bad decisions and "never has money". If people knew how much they made, none of her friends could understand why she's always asking for help and never can make ends meet...
|03-30-2010 05:37 PM|
So yeah, I understand why employers don't want you to know this info! lol
|03-30-2010 04:26 PM|
Since I first posted, several people have had interesting things to add to my comments, and I meant to add also, except that it was bedtime. Yes, I think that employers both covertly and overtly discourage employees from comparing wages, because yeah, so many things besides "merit" go into the decision...how long you've been there, what you made before, whether you bargained, what degree you have, and yes, all too often, whether you're the right color/sex/religion/sexual orientation--I think just about all those things often come before "merit".
Personally, I think this whole "it's crass [Crass? Really? What does that even mean?] to talk about money" thing comes from the same place as other middle-class beliefs like "only deadbeats go bankrupt" and "If you work hard and go to school everything will be fine". And like those and other beliefs, I think it's overdue for a critical examination.
|03-30-2010 01:06 PM|
I think it's lot about wanting to avoid judgement. But the cynic in me also thinks it's a way that The Man keeps us down, too.
As a PP said, people who work together would in many cases be shocked if the salaries became transparent. You'd clearly see unfairness going on. Maybe the whites and males get promoted and paid more, or maybe it's just the brownnosers, or the ones assertive enough to negotiate hard for a raise. We see clearly that it's not a meritocracy. At all. Not at your workplace, nor in society as a whole.
The fact that your BIL makes twice as much as you do or you neighbor makes half is probably not fair. And people get mad about things like that. And when people get mad, when ENOUGH people get mad, things change. And some poeple don't want things to change. So there's the cynic in me.
But yes, people are also defensive and judgemental about money. I'm guilty of both, under the right circumstances. I'm defensive with my neighbors (who are very defensive toward us about money). I'm also judgemental - no, not to anyone's face of course, but do I internally roll my eyes when my mom complains about my dad not being able to retire yet while she's blowing a wad shopping? Oh, yes indeedy. If I knew someone's salary would I mentally compare their choices with mine? Yup, guilty.
I've freely admitted my household income on this board (for your covenience, you don't even have to do a search: it's $40k) but we've told no-one IRL. But I'd be surprised if our families didn't have a pretty good idea of it anyway. When I was a kid, my mom told me only in retrospect what my dad made, I would never know the current salary. I don't remember the context of her telling me, though. I'm sure it wasn't just out of the blue. DH's dad, I don't think he'd tell the kids his annual salary but he certainly would show them the checks he got. He was an electrical engineer and worked as a contractor, so he'd get these big fat checks for $20k, $30k, $50k or whatever all at once - but then they'd go months with no checks. (And, slightly off topic, despite him making awesome money, DH and SIL grew up alternating between shopping sprees and eating peanut butter with the lights shut off).
|03-30-2010 12:30 PM|
I don't disclose what we make because I don't want the judgment. I work in retail, and am married to an attorney. I have already been the victim of "why does she even work? She doesn't need the money?".
I also don't talk much about finances at work because some people are seriously struggling. While no one should have to hide their success, it seems rude to talk about how well off you are in front of three people who chipped in to split a can of Aldi soup for lunch.
Lastly, even though our store has a rule about disclosing wages, I heard 2 other supervisors brag about how much they made and discovered I made more. There is no way I am opening that can of worms!
|03-30-2010 12:09 PM|
In my family and upbringing it was definately a no-no to talk about specifics like salary and net worth. What people paid for their houses was a safe topic as it is public knowledge and deed transfers are published in the local paper.
I horrified my German cousins when we were walking down the street and I was telling them how much specific houses cost. They could not believe 1.) that I knew what people paid for their houses and 2.) that I would actually talk about it. They thought it was poor manners. (Maybe it was but so was their expressed opinion about my manners but that is another class post.) I thought they would be interested in knowing about COL, they thought I was crass.
In my professional and private life, talk of salary/earnings was considered to be taboo. General info like "an analyst with X years of experience can expect to earning in the range of $xx,xxx to $xx,xxx" but never "I earn $x per year." Between friends we will talk about goals, budgeting, and financial decesions but never what we earn.
I was shocked when I switched jobs. I am in construction now and nearly all of our 25+ guys have no problem showing each other their paychecks and discussing all sorts of intimate financial details.
|03-30-2010 12:05 PM|
When I was 18 and started doing my own taxes (with my dad), I got to see how much money he made, how much came off in taxes, how much he had for retirement, etc. He wanted me to see how everything worked.
I'm pretty up front about money/salary. There aren't a lot of people I'll talk about it with, but in my family (immediate) we talk about our salaries pretty openly. I'm also pretty open about how much debt I have from school.
I'm a nurse, and it's important to keep track of my pay - I get OT, pay in lieu of benefits, weekend/night premiums, pay increases according to hours worked, holiday pay, etc. So we sometimes talk numbers at work, to make sure no one's getting short changed.
So, while I wouldn't walk around saying 'Oh, I make this much money', I also wouldn't hesitate to talk about it.
|03-30-2010 11:30 AM|
|mar123||Maybe because I am a teacher, but I frequently get asked about my salary. Maybe not the exact amount, but general things. For example, when I moved from a private achool to public school, I was asked if I took a salary cut or saw an increase. I have no problem answering. Probably because the salary schedule for my district is available to anyone who wants it. I make more than the listed amount because of all the extras I do. I also sometimes I feel I have to justify why I teach summer school; it is a heck of a lot of money for the amount of time. Maybe that is just a things with me though. Dh has never been asked in any situation outside of a job interview etc, about money. So maybe it is people's curiosity about teacher pay in general.|
|03-30-2010 11:22 AM|
|03-30-2010 10:43 AM|
As far as co-workers... My coworkers all compared salaries a couple years back when we were going through a restructuring. What we discovered is that a lot of people were making way more than others, regardless of the quality of their work, experience, etc. Salaries were seemingly totally random. On the one hand, we were glad to find that out, but on the other, many many people quit (not JUST because of that but it was definitely a contributing factor). It's a really horrible feeling to know the person working in the cubicle beside you (who is constantly goofing off, calling out sick, etc.) is making $15K more than you. I'm still not sure if it was good or bad that we compared (and the company would have a fit if they knew we did!) but I do think open salaries would be more 'fair' and also motivate people -- if you know you can make $5K more by meeting certain guidelines, that's really motivating (but of course the company would need to follow through...) Another really disturbing thing we discovered is that all the men in the company were making significantly more than all the women (even if they worked the same positions)...
|03-30-2010 09:56 AM|
|03-30-2010 01:47 AM|
Personally, I've found that this goes a lot deeper than not wanting to offend/be judged. I've been in plenty of conversations where income was relevant information, and found that I had trouble telling/asking, but I went ahead and did it, because I had to ask myself what purpose it served not to, and I didn't come up with anything. I know what many of my friends make, they know what we make, and I guess that (as usual) I had a pretty unusual childhood experience in that I always knew what my mother made. It's been interesting information and opened up interesting conversations. Besides, it's not a cut-and-dried subject. We all know that our income and, say, the income of our friends who live in LA or our other friends who live in rural NC are not directly comparable.
People regularly talk about how much the super-rich are "worth", but we can't talk about our piddly incomes? Again I ask, who does this really serve? We all have our mental images of "poor" or "middle class" which may or may not have anything to do with reality, partly because we never talk about it. Maybe if we knew financial information about each other more often, we would be more inclined to question whether Person A is really somehow worth that much more than Person B; to analyze the basic inequities of our society. For example, does my husband deserve to be paid more than the techs at work, even though they're often highly experienced and knowledgeable, just because he has an engineering degree? Even when they're often doing the same work? You get the idea.
I have always felt that it's probably impolitic to bring up wages between coworkers, though...too much room for jealousy/hurt feelings.
Anyway, who needs to know salaries to judge people based on how they spend their money? Not me!
|03-29-2010 08:37 PM|
Want the honest answer?
I often disclose how little we have as our income because I feel defensive about it. People have all sorts of stereotypes about low-income, below-the-poverty-line individuals. I have been judged in that way in the years since I've been in this sort of financial situation. (As mentioned in the other thread, we were very rich when I was growing up.) I have been demeaned, stereotyped, boxed into categories... and it was a very abrupt change from their attitude when I was still in the upper-middle/lower-upper class. It made me angry, very angry. Now I tell people when appropriate. I don't do it to make people uncomfortable (I'm very anti-conflict, I want to be nice to everyone etc.) but I get uncomfortable when people make assumptions of lower-income people, and perhaps I can get people thinking outside the box.
Plus I'm proud of how well we live off of our small income, and I get angry that health insurance/medical is really the only glitch - and it ties into my politics. I believe in universal medical care (shoot me if you don't agree, that's your choice) and I get *ticked* when people who can easily get it through their employer get up in arms about the "freeloaders" who want more. We're not on public assistance and wouldn't consider it in our situation - except for Medicaid for the kids. I would have no qualms about getting it for H and me if it was possible. I mind my own business until someone brings it up and I feel that I am close enough to them to share our situation. Perhaps I can change a few minds here and there. If not, oh well. I never *start* the conversation, but I won't really shy away from it if it comes up.
|03-29-2010 12:28 PM|
We are usually vague, because we don't want to make anyone feel badly. We are so not rich, either. It's just that my dh makes almost twice what any of our neighbors or friends make. We do not apologize for it, though, because we know how hard not only my dh has worked, but how hard we as a family work/ed to make it happen.
We do have a neighbor who always felt the need to tell everyone he made $22/hr. For here that's not bad, really. It's just that we never could really understand why, if he made that particular amount, they were always broke (we knew our mortgage was roughly twice theirs, etc). We never really cared or thought it was our business, until they both came to us begging for budgeting advice. Like, here's our bills, this is our bring home, can you please help us? So, in doing this for them, we discovered (as did his wife, don't ask me why she didn't know), that he actually made $4/hr less than he was always saying. Needless to say, his wife is working now, and they are doing better. I don't get it, though, and after helping them, then watching them do the opposite and getting into a really really big hole, we refuse to allow them to involve us again.
I grew up not really knowing anything about my parent's finances (but found out when I was much older that we were lower middle class). I was always taught that it was not socially acceptable to discuss it. Kind of like asking a woman her age (which I personally don't have a problem with-I'm 37).
|03-29-2010 10:18 AM|
I do talk about our income to very close friends, but I would never ask. And a couple of times when I have done this, I have felt embarrassed afterwards and kind of regretted it; so now I think I'll stick to generalizations about our income and still be specific about purchases/budgeting. I guess the way it has come up for me has more to do with the other thread, about are you the same "class" you grew up? The answer for me is no and the answer for dh is yes. I gew up very, very poor (urban poor). I realized not too long ago that I carried around this mentality and still had the idea that I couldn't afford anything. So when dh and I gave me the actual figures for our last year's income, I was truly amazed. I knew all the details of our budgeting and roughly what we earned, but he does the spreadsheets and when I heard the actual figure I just couldn't believe it. We do not have fancy jobs (computer tech and medical transcriptionist at the hospital for us), but we are unionized and dh does on-call work every month.
So that's how it came up with my friends, in discussions about class and how I can't believe we own our own home, have money for discretionary purchases, etc. But again, I'm sure that leaves people wondering what our exact income is and I'm afraid to post it!
Friends do say it's freeing to be able to discuss money with me. Dh and I have excellent communication around finances and our friends often ask us to help them with theirs. Sometimes it's just easier to know the bottom line in those cases.
|03-29-2010 10:15 AM|
I definitely think that in the current environment in which I live, openly sharing our salary would be kicking off open season on judgement of our personal affairs!
If people didn't enjoy deciding what other people should do, it could be different.
|03-29-2010 09:32 AM|
it's also VERY cultural. i grew up in India and although no one asks your salary per se, talking about how much one makes approx. (or for ppl to ask in a casual conv. ) is not totally inappropriate. that said, i've never seen anyone respond to such a query in anything less than the vaguest way
BUT that's a culture of "showing off" excesses so really no one needs to tell anyone their exact income if they're wearing a cartier watch, yk?
|03-29-2010 08:51 AM|
Have not read all the responses yet but wanted to say to the OP~
As an employee (teacher) in the school system your salary should be public knowledge for at the very least the people of the town/city you work in. After all, they are the ones who pay you through their taxes. In my town, the school employees salaries are all published in the annual Town Report every year along with all the people who are employees of the town.
Beyond this, it is impolite to discuss salaries outside family and family-like friends.
|03-29-2010 08:49 AM|
Because it could be percieved as bragging, which isn't socially acceptable. Or on the opposite end of the scale, a person could worry that others will look down on him if they find out what his salary is.
Personally, I don't run into very many social situations where there's a need to tell someone our income. Business talk, maybe. Or helping another person understand how to budget with a low income (which I have experience with). But generally, it is unnecessary.
|03-29-2010 03:39 AM|
|KellyAnnW||I'll talk salary with close friends. I dont feel embaressed by the amount hubby makes or what we do with it. And i find other people's budgets very fascinating|
|03-29-2010 02:39 AM|
Nobody really ask us how much we make. DH's family are very polite and would never ask. My parents don't ask because they're afraid I'd ask how much they make in return. Though my dad did brag a couple times. Mom was pissed off because then they had to pay for their share of the dinner at restaurant.
I think most people are afraid to be judged. You know like if a moment ago you were just complaining about how much things cost, then you reveal your "rather high" salary, people might assume you not very wise with your money. Then you have to jump into the explanation that you have student loan, child support, parent support, and tithe...etc. You might end up dumping out too much information. We all compare ourselves with other people we know, and it might sometimes create unnecessary, uncomfortable feelings, if we feel we don't measure up to our peers or if they don't measure up to our expectations.
*It's really hard not to judge. DH has a friend who's very smart and has good jobs. I never asked him but I know he's always made much more than DH did. We're a family of 5 people living on one income, he's single. Then he was laid off and complained about his outstanding mortgage. I nearly choked. I knew his mortgage is huge, but thought it'd be paid off after 12 years of high salary with no dependents. I sure felt like telling him off for buying such a big house in the first place, but controlled myself. (It was over 5000 sqft, for just one person.) It's really not easy to not judge other people's money and decisions.
|03-29-2010 01:47 AM|
I personally don't talk about salary numbers, but find that a lot of others in my social circles do. IME I've found that they either talk about it to brag or to find some sympathy/advice about budgeting.
I've never shared with others what our salaries are even when others are talking about money. Personally, it makes me uncomfortable.
|03-28-2010 11:33 PM|
|03-28-2010 10:36 PM|
I was raised to never discuss finances because it was rude, not at all something done in polite society. I now am willing to talk about money with any of my friends and openly on the internet. It is just money. It is just numbers. And, they don't define the societal value of my (or DH's) work and certainly not my personal worth. It helps that my field is public service.
But, I recently had my first negative experience with being so open. DH's mom had a really passive aggressive reaction to his recent salary increase and has started making comments about how we now need to support her in old age (we have consistently communicated for a decade that we will not ever since she has done little to nothing to help herself), how she will have to buy DD a new Easter dress since we won't (DD has plenty of clothes and dresses, they just aren't new, and we don't go to church anyway), how "fancy" we are that we bought a new car (we paid cash and had been saving for years), etc.
I guess I wish there weren't so many assumptions tied up in knowing someone's income.
|03-28-2010 09:55 PM|
|Knittin' in the Shade||I'm with the others who said that it's crass. I love tot alk budgeting,frugality and such with others, but IMO talking about your specific income is just...taboo. Especially online, I've found that it can really become a source of judgment from people, and because the same salary figure can mean completely different thingsinvarious areas, it's reallynotagood way to judge anything. (ie - $100K in NYC is barely a living wage, while in rural Idaho, it would be a fortune; it's not an objective measure of anything)|
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