Never Tell Anyone How Much Money You Make

Golfing-ducksPeter and I were golfing buddies for years until one day he started asking me about my compensation.  I refused to tell him for weeks until he mentioned he was in a tough situation, negotiating a package with a potential new employer and sought my advice as someone several years his senior.

As I stood over my ball, ready to attempt a 30 foot birdie putt, Peter chimes up, “Sam, you’d really be doing me a favor by letting me know, so I can go back and counter them in case they are low balling me.”  Peter then proceeded to tell me what he was making at which point I felt forced to reveal my income because he was so upfront.  When I did, he quieted down, walked to the next hole and smacked his driver down the pipe.

280 yards with only a sand wedge in!” I applauded after I missed my putt.  “Hmprh“, was the only sound that came out of his mouth as walked further and further away.

As weeks turned into months, I realized he no longer pinged me to play golf.  It also turns out that he never took the new job offer and remains at his company ’til this day.  Peter turned cold and I later found out that the reason why he never took the new job was because he countered them so high based on what he heard from me that they pulled the offer.  Peter blames me for not getting the job and not making the money he feels he deserves to make.  I have no control over what the potential suitor was willing to pay so why is it my fault?

NEVER REVEAL YOUR INCOME

I’ve known Peter for years, and it saddens me that we no longer hang out.  He asked me to be his mentor when he first graduated from college, and his competitive drive drove him overboard.  He compares everything from cars to property with everybody.  As an example, he purchased a two year old Aston Martin Vanquish around his 30th birthday.  All he had to do was buy a two year old Honda Civic and it would blow away what I was driving and most of our circle since we take the bus!

It was an absolute mistake revealing my income to him.  I like to wear worn t-shirts and jeans, because I don’t like to draw attention.  In fact, perhaps this is why I so often wear baseball caps, so I can be left alone to do my own thing.  Blending in is why I drive Moose, my 11 year old SUV that’s worth $4,000.  He’s handsome and clean, but will never turn heads.  It’s the best feeling when people look at me and think I’m just a kid with very little.

I’m not going to apologize for making more than Peter when I was his age.  I was just trying to help him out in his negotiation process as he wouldn’t relent on asking.  We could have come up with a strategy for negotiation, and use my figure as a realistic anchoring point for further talks with his potential new employer.  Instead, he decided to huff and puff and curse the world for life’s inequities.

THE UPSIDE OF KEEPING YOUR INCOME HIDDEN

* You can always play down your wealth.

* You can play up your wealth if circumstances dictate.

* You don’t have to feel like you always have to pay because you make more.

* You can buy things and go on vacations in peace.

* You blend in with everybody else.

* If you make more than the average, nobody will envy you or try and take you down.

THE DOWNSIDE OF REVEALING YOUR INCOME

* You start associating your identity with your income.

* You might come across as arrogant and boastful.

* You lose ground in salary negotiations if you ever change jobs.

* People will start expecting things from you i.e. “Larry makes $10,000 a month, let him get the dinner tab!”

* You might get reported to the IRS agent who might think, “Oh really now?”

* You will be judged by everything you spend and don’t spend your money on i.e. “You only donate that little to charity?”  “How can you afford a $25,000 car when you only make $60,000 a year?”  “You’re 45 years old and still only make that little?” “You make that much and still drive a beater?” “You’re selling the dream, and your client’s dreams are failing.” etc.

IF YOU MUST REVEAL YOUR INCOME

If for whatever reason, you just have to reveal your income to others, use this guideline to decide whether you should or not:

Reveal income if your income is equal to the median income of your peer group (industry, level, experience) up to +15% over.  If you are making any more, then it’s probably best not to reveal and speak in generality.  Any income below 115% of the median income of your peer group is fine.

If your business model is making money by showing others how much money you can make by making money off others, really try and reach out to those who’ve bought your products and failed.  Reimburse the occasional failure and set up some type of safety net fund or charity fund to help.

CONCLUSION

The next time someone tries to dig compensation information out of you, stand strong and don’t reveal any details!  If you must share info given the other party has bared their soul, talk in percentages and temper them while you are at it.  The other strategy is to provide a wide range below and above his or her salary so as to appease some of his/her desire to know, without making them feel unsatisfactory.

Look around at the most financially successful people out there.  You’ll never see or read about them disclosing how much money they are pulling in.  They are secure with themselves and understand the upsides of keeping their finances private.

Readers, what are your thoughts about revealing your compensation info to people, even your closest friends and family?

Why do you feel people like to reveal their income?  Is it true that those who reveal their income are either insecure or have suddenly found wealth and like to get their egos stroked?  Do you believe in the common response of “trying to inspire others”?

Is there a difference in revealing income off-line and on-line?

Is there a certain level of income one makes, which is the cutoff point where it starts becoming poor taste?

Related Post: The Rise Of Stealth Wealth To Stay Invisible From Society’s Rage

Regards,

Sam

Photo: Small duck following a big duck on the golf course. Sam.

Follow on Twitter @FinancialSamura and subscribe to our RSS or E-mail feed.

Updated: 8/20/2014

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Mike Hunt says

    I think people don’t mind to reveal their income on an anonymous forum, hence the number of posts and comments on this.

    I agree at work it is mostly downside and little upside. A senior colleague who is 15 years older than me and very accomplished technically is making less than me and did not negotiate a bonus. The head of the company told him that none of the senior staff get a bonus but he partially lied because he qualified it as a 13th month bonus.

    Instead the company head and I both have a bonus that works out to be 50% of our annual compensation, with 12% of that being fixed and 38% being variable.

    I regularly hear the colleague gripe about this since there was a promise made to him more than 1 year ago that he will get a variable bonus. I will not tell him the entire situation because I know it will upset him and perhaps he will be angry at me for keeping it quiet so long and then telling him.

    In this case ignorance is truly bliss.

    -Mike

  2. says

    Personally, I think revealing compensation is a really bad idea too. People really don’t need to know your financial life in that kind of detail. My sentiments are that if I don’t ask, then I don’t feel obligated to share. Salary and wealth tend to spark a lot of interest, especially when its the details of people we know. However, like you said, once others know, they make assumptions based on what they think you should do.

  3. says

    My dad always gave the same advice (and he was a lumberjack, which is pretty far removed from your line of work). His rationale was that little good can come of it. If it’s higher than the person you’re talking to they will likely feel worse about themselves and many will resent you. If it’s lower, most people won’t give you the same respect as before because so many of us in Western society equate income and material possessions with human worth. He owned his own business and made much more than most people thought. Much like yourself, he always wore “work clothes” (yes, much of the time the stereotypical red plad) and drove used vehicles.

  4. says

    I agree that there is nothing good that can come in revealing income. I want to go through life just blending in as well. Even online, I don’t think it is a good idea. Percentages and generalized statements about increases and decreases are fine, but exact numbers are taboo in my book.

  5. says

    I think there is a lot of good that comes from revealing your income, as long as you are talking to reasonable people.

    If I make $50k, and other people in my line of work make $80k, then I know to either ask for a raise or apply to a different company. I’d never be mad at the people making more than me, but I might be upset with my employer or other companies and try to fix the situation. If people hadn’t told me their income, I never would have known that I was worth more than I was being paid.

    I’m pretty open about my income to the right people (who aren’t the jealous type), and I’ve never had it backfire.

  6. says

    I’m very big on being transparent, but I draw the line at deeply personal stuff like money, I tend to clam up a bit. I’m like Sam, in that I prefer to fly under the radar. My style is low key: no jewelry, not fancy haircut like J$, plain ol’ Honda Accord, etc. I could care less about what offending anyone, or what they think of me. My thing is that I just want to be known for my personality and intangible qualities. Especially being single, and living in such a materially-charged areas as South Florida, it helps weed out not only the gold diggers, but the hangers-on who only want a free ride as well.

      • says

        Hell yeah there are! I’m not sure if there really is a floor. There are people (both men and women) that will date someone for the monetary benefits no matter what their income level. But for the purposes of this discussion, I’d probably say $100k makes you eligible to be a sugar daddy. Sound about right?

        • says

          That sounds about right Eric, especially when one can buy a condo in South Florida for $100,000 now!

          Actually, I guess even here in expensive SF, $100,000 can start being classified as a sugar mamma or daddy. But, we still gotta take the bus.

    • says

      I live in S. FL as well and agree that it is a very materialistic culture. I’m not originally from here, so it was a huge culture shock in the beginning. As Eric and Sam, I like to keep it low key as well. As Sam has had Moose for many, many years, I have had Little Red. She gets me from point A to B and that’s what matters. I don’t want someone to like me only for the car I drive. Nice article Sam. :)

  7. says

    The upsides don’t appear to outweigh the downsides. I see little reason to every tell anyone unless, of course, unless you make money by telling people how much money you make. LOL

  8. says

    I’m with JT and everyone else on the downside far outweighing the upside. I never reveal my salary, and quite frankly, if I wasn’t job hunting, I would never remember the exact figure. All I know is what my TARGET is.

    I reveal my blogging income on the blog because it is entirely relevant to the blog. Unless my blog can pay me $10K per month then it will never be the main source of my income, thus I have no problem revealing my blogging income per month.

      • Sandy @ yesiamcheap says

        I WISH my day job paid me that much. I did the math and for the blog to pay the equivalent of my day job it would need to make that much. Keep in mind that I would have to pay taxes, get my own healthcare, retirement accounts, etc.

        :)

        • says

          Hmmm… fuzzy math?! Cuz if it takes $10,000 to pay the equivalent of your day job, then $10,000 is what you make at your day job! lol

          Unless you are doing apples of gross pay vs. oranges of net after tax pay.

          Either way, big buck! But, I will still buy you a beer when we meet up in NYC!

  9. says

    Sometimes I discuss finances in general terms with friends to try to figure out how to get mine in better shape, but we don’t talk specific numbers. One company I worked for actually had it in its policies that you were not to discuss the details of your compensation at all. I can’t imagine getting into the details of my compensation with any of my coworkers. That’s just crazy and asking for trouble.

  10. says

    Luckily no one has ever asked me straight out to reveal what I make. I’ve had some discussions with colleagues about bonuses, but never in actual dollar terms. Money is such a touchy subject! I’m sorry to hear your friend put you in that position and is being a total idiot now. That’s not cool and him not getting the job is so not your fault. I haven’t even told my parents what I make because it just feels weird and I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable because I make more than them, nor do I want them to get greedy and start expecting me to support them on everything financially. Granted I’m happy to help them out and send them money on occasion when they really need (especially for health related stuff) it but it’s never a good feeling when others start expecting you to pay for them.

  11. says

    You left out “lie”. Not saying I suggest that, but if you’ve got a hefty income you can always lie to the downside, haha.

    ‘You will be judged by everything you spend and don’t spend your money on i.e. “You only donate that little to charity?”’ – How true is that? The same day Steve Jobs died I read multiple stories complaining about how much money he donated to charity. Seriously? You have no idea how much the guy donated anonymously, and no idea how his wife thinks or his will is structured. True charity is anonymous anyway.

    • says

      Yep, lie like the wind if you know you make much more and don’t want to piss anybody off. When my story, I figured he need to know the exact figures to make a better decision in his negotiation process. Mistake.

      True charity is anonymous indeed.

  12. says

    You can find out median pay for your profession on the internet. There is no need for anyone to pressure someone else for a specific number. I never reveal my income to anyone except my family.
    You can say something like – Oh.. I’m in the 31% tax bracket. :)

    • says

      I’ve found the internet figures to be WAY off. But I guess, if you are in a very structured industry such as IT, government, teaching, etc.. sure. However, if you are in industries where the skies the limit in terms of how much you can make, then the internet doesn’t capture hardly anything.

      There’s no such thing as a 31% tax bracket Joe!

  13. says

    I don’t reveal my income, except to close friends or family. I don’t make very much money so it can only be a positive thing. haha! There is a difference between online and offline. I can make more money by revealing how much money I make online (that’s my theory at least, along with many other bloggers who share their income).

  14. says

    I never reveal how much I make to anyone except my wife. I include net worth and investments as private too. I will talk about about investments in general, but no specific details.

    I taught a career class at my last school (high school). I brought speakers such as medical residents, engineers, business owners and psychologists. Some of my students would ask them how much they earned. I explained to my students that this personal information. A better question would be how much someone who performs that job earns to start or after 5 years. The information does nothing for the person asking the question because they cannot evaluate the other person’s perfomance or skills. It creates envy and bad feelings.

    If someone asked me how much I earned (in my previous career), I would ask them why they want to know. I might even joke about the question and ask if they are writing a book. I would try to answer the question in general terms. For example, a CFO at a company of x size earns between A and B.

    Maybe I am old fashioned, but your story illustrates the negative results.

  15. says

    I think that I have to agree with this sam – My fiancee knows my income, and that’s about it. After I started a new job, I didnt tell anyone, even though it is public info (I’m a gov employee). I dont want anyone to think that I make more than them and to be frank, it’s none of their business.
    I see where kevin is coming from, but I still think there may be other ways to find out that information, a lot of people feel like it’s personal (it is) and then they’ll always pressure you to do things, like go out for dinner/drinks more or whatever because they know you make a lot of money.

  16. says

    We had a similar experience some time back. One of my Dad’s best friend was urging him to make a property purchase because the property market is pretty strong where we are. He prodded and prodded, so Dad finally told him I already bought a new condo. He didn’t call Dad for weeks after the exchange.

    We figured out that he only pushed Dad to invest because he thought Dad didn’t have the means to, quite forgetting Dad’s daughters were doing pretty well. He was probably using Dad to feel better about himself, since they have similar backgrounds.

    Personally, I like to be open about my financial situation if I am asked, but I do take extra care if I know the person asking comes from a lower income level than me. Otherwise, I don’t volunteer, except online. I am anonymous, so it doesn’t make a difference.

    I would actually like to ask the question to those who do ask me for my financial status in real life. Why do you want to know? To make yourself feel better if I am worse off? To get feedback on peer averages? To be inspired?

  17. says

    Haven’t you been busting my chops about sharing my info over at my site? Was that a test…

    Sharing income is never a good way to strengthen a friendship.

    • says

      It wasn’t a test. If you are going to do net worth and income reports, you might as well just come clean with the actual numbers. Saying you are up 5%, when the reader has zero context of what the amount is doesn’t provide much insight. What if your net worth was $1 million? What if your net worth was $80,000? There’s a big difference. There just needs to be more context if you are going that route. Otherwise, I’d just avoid it altogether b/c the reader can’t understand how you got there.

  18. says

    It’s terrible that this appears to have cost your friendship, even though it seems liek this is due to a flaw in his character ond no fault of your own.

    I would only reveal this under special circumstances. I would need to know why, and fully flesh out through dialugue how that information was to be used. Overall I would have to agree, that this figure in isolation is not beneficially shared.

  19. says

    I want to smack Peter. He put you in a terrible position, and then acted like a fool with the information he received. Unless you do the exact same job in the exact same company, you can never compare compensation accurately.

    A few people know what I make, but nobody knows what we make as a family. Nothing good can come of it as far as I can tell.

    How would you have handled the question Peter posed knowing what you know now? Would you still have shared your income, or would you have danced around it?

  20. says

    Forget income – never reveal you work at a job that gets you perks people want…

    I work for a very sought after boutique hotel company, and everything was fine till I started telling people I get a great hotel deal. Soon, everyone and their mom wanted me to get them the deal…I did it for a few relatives and close friends at first, and then it exploded.

    Everyone wants me to get them a deal, all over the country, whenever they travel. From that point on, I always tell people there is a big convention in town, and the hotel is booked!

  21. says

    I never got angry at people who earn more, it makes me work more for my money and have bigger plans ;)

    When I had a regular job we kinda knew our salaries, since most made the same money. After we parted and now I’m working as a web designer at my small firm, I don’t like to disclose too much about my money, since now I earn 4-8 times more than most my colleagues and they are not gonna be too happy about it.

    So, I think that now, as I am getting ‘older’, I start valuing my privacy some more.

  22. says

    Hi Sam – this one was right on the money. I have recently doubled my income and am trying to shut up about it. My girlfriend needs money for cigarettes (I don’t smoke) going out to coffee (I go sit on the Riva, but once or twice a week max). In short – YIKES! I have been keeping things vague and now I know to continue doing so. The vaguer, the better. Thanks for a great read.

    • says

      Congrats for doubling your income! That must be great feeling yah?!

      If your gf knows you now make double, at least you know she’ll never leave you! lol

      Enjoy your new wealth, share a little, and definitely don’t tell a soul Anastasia!

  23. says

    I try to be mysterious when it comes to money/income. I thank my father for this trait. Growing up, if I asked him for $20 he would gasp as if it was the last $20 he had. It really taught me to value what I was getting.

    It wasn’t until recently that he opened up his investments to myself and my siblings. We were astonished when we saw he was a millionaire many times over.

    Had I known this growing up, I’m sure I would’ve acted differently.

  24. says

    I agree that discussing salary is a bad idea. I always offer this advice to my staff members. It can certainly lead to moral issues and productivity levels within a department if staff members are more concerned with what the next guy makes.

    Even when people have the equal job sometimes experience, education differences may affect the salary they earn.

  25. says

    I complete agree – telling someone what you earn only sets things up for comparisons. Regardless of how “ok” you or the other party seems with it, issues always crop up and can lead to resentment over one thing or another.

  26. says

    I think income, like everything else, is relative. I can discuss wages with my coworkers because we all make the exact same amount regardless of experience or length of time with the agency. I typically don’t, because there’s no point, but it wouldn’t really matter in my case.

    I don’t mind telling close friends or family what I make because my income is pathetic. If I had a decent or high salary, I’d be more likely to keep it to myself. I don’t have to worry about anyone being jealous right now though!

  27. says

    Discussing finances with any one can be a volatile situation. And Income salaries is something I think should be never revealed unless you FULLY trust the person. For me, I only trust my immediate family members and maybe some close friends with that type of information.

    I think you caved too easily to give out your income, you need to wait until you have a 3 ft putt and say “If I make this putt you stop bugging me about it!” Get yo game face on!! LOL

  28. says

    Hey Sam, everyone assumes Docs make money to burn. Of course in the current health care environment many financial and tech jobs bring in a lot more. And there is very little growth in our industry. You make what you make frequently for years.

    But salary is only a small part of the equation. There are a lot of broke folks who make a great salary. Just look at pro athletes to see what little result income has on net worth.

    Most are broke less than 5 years after they leave the pro ranks.

  29. Brandon says

    I recently built an online business that’s making me 10 times more than I made at my former day job. I’m also writing a book about how to do the same thing. I that book, I announced that my business is making over $30,000/month. I hesitated doing so, but I think it’s necessary for me to say this so people will take me seriously and can see what’s possible in their business. (Although I don’t disclose how much of that money actually gets to me personally. But it doesn’t take much to support my family. We only own what we can fit in our carry-on suitcases, for example.)

    It’s true that wealth really is relative. If you think that making $2,000/month is bottom of the barrel, try talking to someone in Latin America making $500/month or someone in Africa making less than $10/month. Chances are, you’re filthy stinking rich!

    I suppose not disclosing your income makes it easier for others not to be jealous, but it’s their choice is they want to be jealous or not. Of course it’s not nice to go up to someone you know is struggling to make $100/month and out of the blue tell them you make $2,000 — it can be rude to rub it in people’s faces or put yourself on a pedestal. But it depends on the person, their desires, and your motives for telling them. Personally, I was always inspired when I learned how much money people made to support their lifestyles — it encouraged me to work harder to get there myself.

    If people know you have money, they may expect you to pay more for things or give more to others. And giving is wonderful! But you can’t give to everybody no matter how much you have. Learning when to give and when not to give is part of having money, and shouldn’t be an embarrassment. If you’re upset that I don’t give some of my “excess” money to you, ask yourself why you don’t give some of your “excess” money to someone who makes less than you, that you don’t know. Let’s stop judging each other, and just enjoy the money we work for, giving where we can to help each other.

    • says

      $30,000 a month is sweet income. You’ve gotta share what the URL address is! Yes, in your case, might as well chronicle the amount in the book, and help people believe they can make more.

  30. Ron says

    The truth is that privacy is golden. People can get so emotional and messed up over money that they forget all common sense. Such things are best left unmentioned.

  31. says

    I feel the same way. Almost nothing good can come from revealing your income. I tell people what I make on my website, because it’s really not that much money (yet), but I never tell anyone what I make at my day-time job. Like you said, their attitude will change either one way or the other. It’s best to say nothing and continue as usual with your friendship.

  32. says

    Your ex-friend had the problem. i don’t believe you did anything wrong. Definitely all his fault.

    I know it’s not polite to ask about salary. I have a couple good friends who live a good lifestyle and I’m SO curious to know how much they make. I’ve never asked though because I know I shouldn’t.

    I don’t tell people what I make from my real job either. Depends on who they are though. They’d have to be a close friend. It’s a reasonable amount so that’s why I don’t mind. Now if I was making over a million a year, I’d be more hesitant to tell people that, even close friends.

  33. Simple Rich Living says

    Thanks for this post. It’s not how much you make that matters anyways, it’s what you do with your money and how much you have left over.

  34. Charles says

    I never reveal my salary to anyone, especially the exact amount. When I’m in a situation where I do feel forced to, I usually give them a range. You’re absolutely right though, people always identify you based on how much money you make. I even have that tendency myself unto others sometimes.

  35. says

    This is especially tricky at work, given what will happen if you find out someone makes more for the same job, or perhaps even a lesser job. This is why managers don’t encourage it, but sooner or later, I think it eventually does come out.

    As for talking with strangers or friends that are not super-close, I agree that it’s not the best idea to let them know exactly, for the reasons you mentioned.

    • says

      With strangers and not close friends, maybe it’s safer Yo reveal if one is so compelled, bc the downside is who cares, you dont know then well. The opposite is for close friends, ironically.

      • says

        Yeah that makes sense too, actually. I think it really depends on the person. I’ve discussed this with a close friend at work, while with another close friend who I know can be somewhat competitive, I only stick to vague estimates. If he says “Oh I make around $40,000″ then I say “yeah, I make something like that, too.”.

        You’re right about needing to be sensitive to the feelings of the other person — it’s not the money that’s evil but rather our feelings of jealously and envy, but that’s human nature.

  36. says

    I usually tell people I’m just over 6 figures. Many of my friends are in or about that mark. I was accused of bragging one to many times after telling people my true income after they asked. So, I tell them numbers they can relate too.

  37. Darwin's Money says

    I totally agree, and I got the same advice from my father when I was young. Nothing good will ever come of it. I say this to people about a lot of things these days, like starting a fight over something that doesn’t matter, gossiping, etc. Sure, bad can come of these things, but there’s never any benefit – so why bother?

      • Darwin's Money says

        I don’t really view the online thing as a big deal. For one, very few people even know I blog. None of my co-workers and very few friends and family. Of the ones that DO know, there are only a handful that have looked at it more than once. So, of the perhaps 1-2 people that actually know me that have seen an income update, what I make there isn’t a significant amount of money, it’s just “side-money” so I don’t think people would judge me much the way knowing a full-time salary could lead to problems.

  38. says

    Great post. Bad ex-friend. Talking money with people is always a little tricky. Too much is placed on what you earn and what you have. If two friends have the same mindset and are secure in themselves, even if the money gap is huge, the friendship should not feel a strain.

  39. says

    Well, no. Money isn’t evil – in ANY regard. The problem was that your “friend” wasn’t a friend, and while I never think it’s a wise idea to disclose your income in anything more than the most general terms, this particular situation only highlighted what ALREADY existed.

    Many companies consider it a firing offense to discuss salaries with other employees. I think that similar restraint is a good idea for friends as well.

  40. says

    Dang, that sucks that your friend is no longer wanting to hang out. It’s true that metrics help us evaluate where we are in life, only if we want to measure up to others, but in general it’s usually a bad idea to compare yourself to other people.

    I like to compare acheivements because it helps me push myself to my personal best, but I would never begrudge someone what they have accomplished. For example, I know a blogger that started out about the same time as me and based on their posted stats they are doing better, but that just pushes me to work harder. I’m not going to pout and give up.

    I like to see Derek’s goals updates because I’m secretly competing, I like to see Crystal’s income updates because I’m secretly competing. But getting mad at them because they are doing well does nothing to help me get to where I want to be.

    Thanks for sharing this because I will defintely think twice before talking about salary. (P.S. If this comes up again, you should direct them to GlassdoorDOTcom. That site is perfect for salary negotiation information.

    • says

      I’ll check out Glassdoor, however, I don’t really care about other people’s incomes so much ,as I’m not looking to move. Besides, headhunters tell me straight up what the competition is making.

      Glad you don’t begrudge anybody and get motivated!

  41. says

    You ex-friend needs to focus his attention on getting a better job/continued job search instead of stop being friends with you. If he is so insecure/competitive that he cannot stand anyone how makes significantly more than him, then he’s got a big problem.

    I never tell others how much I make. If someone wanted to ask me how much to expect in my field, I’d give them a range but never my personal income. I think people who make relatively more than their peers have more reasons to hide their income than those who make a similar or lower salary than their group. I’ve personally learned how fast the green-eyed monster can come out of people as soon as they even have an inkling that I may make more than them – even if I worked really really hard to get to my current position, and the person I’m talking to would never do my job as they consider it too boring/office-y etc.

  42. says

    for me it’s very much “situational”. i have revealed in the past when i’ve felt that was the right thing to do but have held my ground for the most part. generally i agree the downsides are far greater and one must not if there is no genuine need / objective to.

    i think it is ok for people that make a living online, especially when much of it comes from product / affiliate sales. in fact in many cases it is an expectation. for example, i blog about expedited wealth building or passive income, then i better be able to show how i am applying what i am preaching and whether it works. a reader will always aks – what qualifies me to talk about what i do and why should they listen and follow. proof works and nothing contradicts that.

  43. says

    I don’t reveal my income to my friends. Family yes. But friends tend to borrow money if they know you make more than them. They tend to judge you based on how much you make and how much you spend. I’d rather lie and name a much lesser figure for my own peace of mind.

  44. says

    While I don’t think you should ever need to reveal your exact income, I actually think it’s really important to talk about the general range of what’s acceptable. We had to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for a reason. I actually won’t take a job with a company that makes discussing compensation a disciplinary offense, because it enables them to get away with pay discrimination.
    I happen to know exactly what every person in my department makes because I do the budget; it’s my job. However, my company is also pretty transparent in its pay grades, so it’s easy to give people the range of pay, and also tell them that midpoint is generally our target starting salary, and then they can use that information as they see fit.
    I have also learned what friends of mine make (not that I remember, because I honestly don’t care) when I’ve helped them set up budgets. I had one friend, who when negotiating her latest new position, was given two offers, higher base salary vs higher commissions. She called me and I ran the break even for her. Do I remember any of the numbers? No. Is she making significantly more than me? Yes. Do I care? No. She’s a few years older and has tons of experience in her field. She’s still probably making less than she’s actually worth.
    But part of my attitude about money might be because my group of friends is, for the most part, still people I met in undergrad. We’ve been friends for 15+ years now. Some people are bank tellers and some people are lawyers, some work in manufacturing and others are game designers. We all know there are huge income gaps, and we also all know that that doesn’t mean much when it comes to individual (our couple) financial health. Saying “that’s not in the budget” or “we can’t afford that” is an option whether you make just over minimum wage or just over 6 figures.

      • says

        My friend is only about 5 years older than I am, and does make much more than I do. But she’s now a VP of Sales and she’s very good at her job. The fact that she makes so much more than I do doesn’t change the fact the she and her husband are struggling financially (more so than we are), due to other circumstances. There’s also the fact that I wouldn’t want her work schedule. There are trade offs everywhere.
        Now, if we were on the same career path and about the same level in our careers, it would make me consider my current position carefully and figure out if I really wanted to stay there, but it wouldn’t change the fact that she’s my friend and I know that she’s worked for what she has.

        As for seeing everyone’s comp, I’ve been in a position to see that for almost 7 years, so I don’t even think about it most times. It also means I know about layoffs way before they are announced, re-orgs and all that sort of thing because of the need to to financial planning around it. Sometimes it really sucks to know these things and ethically not be able to speak about it.

  45. says

    Even thought I don’t make that much, I still don’t give the number I make in absolute terms. If you don’t, people learn not to ask you. That said, I have childhood friends like you and I actually occasionally write about them. The too don’t want to bring undo attention upon themselves…

    Funny, but I think it’s best to live closet rich, especially if most of your family and friend grew up making much less than you do. By family I mean cousin and maybe even direct siblings…

    Sorry about you losing a good friend, perhaps he’ll wise up and realize that you didn’t do anything wrong and can help him in his career in addition to gaining your friendship back…

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