Never Tell Anyone How Much Money You Make

After the global pandemic, the wealth gap has widened further with stocks, real estate, and crypto marching to all-time highs. Therefore, if you are doing well, I highly recommend you never tell anyone how much money you make. Instead, practice Stealth Wealth instead.

If you start telling people how much you make, you're inevitably going to make people feel bad if they make less than you. And when you make people feel bad about their financial situation, you will no longer get their love and support.

Some people will inevitability get envious of your higher income. I experienced this In my post, Blew Up My Passive Income, No Longer Financially Independent. Even though I admitted no longer being FIRE after starting the FIRE movement in 2009, plenty of people bashed the crap out of me due to our budget.

I was transparent with my ideal household budget, but because it was over $250,000 a year for a family of four, people on FS and around the web got angry.

Let me share a story of how I shared how much money I made one year. As a result, I ended up losing a close friendship because he couldn’t contain his jealousy.

The amazing thing is, he makes millions of dollars today as a biotech research analyst at Jeffries. So I hope he’s happy now!

Never Tell How Much Money You Make

Peter 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.

Then He Turned Sour After I Told Him How Much Money I Made

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 Tell Your True 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. 

Funny enough, I saw Peter at the playground almost a decade later. I didn't recognize him because his hair was grey. However, Peter now makes $3-$4 million a year at Jeffries, as their biotech analyst. Amazing!

If you have a strong money mindset, you have a greater chance of getting rich!

Go “Grey Man”

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.

Related: How To Convince People You Are Middle Class When You're Actually Rich

The Benefits Of Keeping Your Income Hidden

  • You can always play down your wealth.
  • You can play up your wealth if circumstances dictate.
  • Don't have to always have to pay because you make more.
  • 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.
  • You become less of a target from envious people who want to take you down

The Negatives Of Sharing Your Income And Wealth

  • 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're running a personal finance site, fewer people will take you seriously if they don't see some financial transparency. As a result, I've shared my net worth when I retired in 2012 and my latest passive income streams. But I don't share my entire income or net worth because it will likely piss a lot of people off.

If You Must Tell Others How Much You Make…

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.

Case Study On The Benefit Of Making Poor In The Eyes Of The Public

If you find yourself in the enviable position of doing really well, you might want to pretend you're doing just OK or actually doing poorly. For example, after 12 years of financial independence, I announced I blew up my passive income in 2024. As a result, I declared I was no longer financially independent.

What happened was both an outpouring of support from those who wish me well and glee from those who don't. Given I am a FIRE movement pioneer, a lot of people were happy about my downfall. Read the comments in the post on blowing up my passive income for yourself. And you know what? That's awesome!

I got to slash my passive income amount from $380,000 to $230,000 a year, making me more relatable to other people trying to achieve financial independence too. I now write more about budgeting and saving, which brings about a new set of readers.

Even though my net worth doesn't change after buying a forever home, my cash flow does. And people focus on income and cash flow more than net worth.

Practice Stealth Wealth And Don't Reveal Your Income

The next time someone tries to dig compensation information out of you, stand strong and don't reveal any details! Practice Stealth Wealth!

If you must share info given the other party has bared their soul, talk in percentages and temper them while you are at it. Never tell anyone how much money you make.

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.

Related posts to never telling others how much money you make:

Keep Your Donations Private

Combine Stealth Wealth With Stealth Action

Make More Passive Income With Real Estate

If you want to make more passive income, investing in real estate is one of the best ways. Real estate is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income.

By the time I was 30, I had bought two properties in San Francisco and one property in Lake Tahoe. The rental income of over over $100,000 a year from these properties have enabled me to retire early.

In 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $810,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms. With interest rates down, the value of cash flow is up.

Best Private Real Estate Investing Platforms

Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds with just $10. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for 500,000+ investors. 

The real estate platform invests primarily in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are cheaper and yields are higher. The spreading out of America is a long-term demographic trend. For most people, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. These cities also have higher growth potential due to job growth and demographic trends. 

If you are a real estate enthusiast with more time, you can build your own diversified real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet. However, before investing in each deal, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.

I've personally invested $954,000 in real estate crowdfunding across 18 projects to take advantage of lower valuations in the heartland of America. My real estate investments account for roughly 50% of my current passive income of ~$380,000. 

private real estate investment dashboard

Manage Your Money In One Place

Sign up for Empower, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely run your numbers to see how you’re doing. 

I’ve been using Empowerl since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Personal Capital Retirement Planner Tool - Never Tell Anyone How Much Money You Make

Never Tell Anyone How Much You Make is a FS original post. FS has been helping people achieve financial freedom since 2009. Join 65,000+ others and sign up for my free weekly newsletter if you want to build more wealth.

221 thoughts on “Never Tell Anyone How Much Money You Make”

  1. Sam,

    This was truly helpful. Like a breath of fresh air to be honest.

    Two people downright did the same thing your ex-friend did within 24 hours after I made the mistake of revealing how much I make to them.

    They became entitled, and when they asked for a thing or two they just turned cold and stopped speaking altogether.

    Why is this so much of a common thing these days? It really does seem to rattle me a lot.

    For context,

    They both requested for stuff I told them no to.

    I refused because the requests came right after they were made aware.

    Thank you for all you do. I’ll be frequenting here a lot.

  2. THIS POST HAS TO DO W MAKING MORE MONEY. I DID THE OPPOSITE. I went from 400,00 to 125,000. I use to work many hours to pay taxes. I never saw a dime of that money. By being in a lower tax bracket, I keep more of my gross income. I spend less on crap I don’t need. I eat out less and lost 28 pounds. I live in a modest home. My cars are average. For me, making less and spending less was the answer

  3. Lance M Jungers

    It’s all about what you do and your priorities though. He’s right in asking you what you made and comparing it, because we are in a world today that experiences a 5x cost of living, but only 2x the salary compared to the older generations. We live in a world of inflation. The average person today needs 3x the retirement of someone 10 years ago to retire, but yet wages are not going up to represent that. Most people today have to work their entire life, because wages are not going up at the same pace as inflation.

    I get very jealous when other people make more money than me. So I think it’s only right that other people tell me what they make so I can make more. The world is not fair and I think I deserve to make more as well.

    1. It’s not right for you to expect other people to tell you how much money they make…I’m very happy for people to make millions and millions more than me.
      look at Jeff bezos and elon musk…
      Ambition is the key not jealousy!

    2. Greedy rich people. All of you. I wish discomfort and pain on all of your lives. People go without and put in more work than you. Yet they never see what real luxury is. Only the illusion of it. PIGS

  4. Question, first off, very simple , yet sometimes so simple of a rule it can be overlooked sometimes, example, I was approached by compitition and asked how much I bid a job for that he had bid prior but wasnt awarded. I proceeded to tell him that everyones overhead and markup are different and it would be of no value to tell him my bid, he then told me what he bid, then was an awkward silence, I folded for who knows what reason, maybe just to get him to go away so I could continue working on my project, I quickly figured what could it hurt? I already had the job, so I told him, I immediately regretted it as the whole conversation was awkward. What do I do now? I just pretend the conversation never happened, and remember to never tread those grounds again

  5. A friend of mine makes 3 times my salary. His career went up at a crazy rate. In just 3 years at the save company his salary went from 2/3 of my current salary to 3 times my current salary. Over the same period my salary increased by 50%…

    I feel stupid and worthless pretty often now.

    I’m not hyper competitive, I don’t need to make more money than my friends, but we simply don’t have the same life anymore.
    The guy saves in 1 year what I save in 5… We’re just not in the same category anymore.

    He totally deserves this money, he is constantly working, he has huge pressure and stress. I don’t know if I could take on even 50% of his mental load.
    The guy is also a freakin’ genius, learning new things instantly, with a crazy memory. For instance, he remembers how I was dressed at a dinner 5 years ago when I don’t even remember being there at all.

    Anyways, it’s not easy to be the Peter either. It may not be something that someone else forces upon you, it’s something you do to yourself, but it’s not easy changing your own brain and mental functioning.
    It’s been years, I’ve tried hard but so far it’s not really working so far. I don’t feel great when I’m with my friend anymore, I feel worthless and I don’t like that.

    Long story short, don’t disclose your money (either income or savings) to friends, don’t ask them theirs (otherwise you’d may be compelled to tell yours).

    Not only can it make you feel bad, but it can also make them feel bad. No one gains anything out of this and both situations could hurt your relationship.

  6. Angela Dente

    I think the problem wasn’t that you told him your income, but the problem is with Peter himself. It looks like he’s the type that rates his self-worth and success base on other’s, so the problem is something that he needs to figure out himself.

    As for the blanket statement of just not sharing your income, I do think it’s very important for people to get into the habit of sharing their income with their coworkers who hold the same position as them, especially if you’ve been holding that position for relatively the same time. That was how I was able to renegotiate my salary, to even know I should renegotiate my salary. I learned that my coworker made more than I did despite having the same job and both of us agreeing that we did the same amount of work. He then helped me renegotiate my salary, which put us on even ground. Now that kind of income sharing, I believe, is healthy for a work environment and should be normalized.

    1. You are looking at this from only one viewpoint – that of a successful outcome.

      Ask yourself this: How would you have felt about your coworker if your salary renegotiation had been UN-successful? Had that been the case, you almost certainly would have resented both him AND your employer.

      Before you tear down a fence, consider first why it is there (The Parable of Chesterton’s Fence).

  7. I don’t think revealing income is smart, in general. I can see possible exceptions within very functional, non-issue-ridden families… like revealing to siblings or parents or something. Sometimes even that isn’t a good idea. I grew up quite poor I suppose, by most peoples’ standards. Now I have a husband who earns what I consider an upper-middle class income for our household, and it’s still early in his career. We haven’t changed our lifestyle much at all because we’re saving money right now. Most people do not know that he makes more money now. (I think only his mom and my mom know.) I instinctively don’t want to tell most people, and he doesn’t either.

    I admit this is mostly because a lot of the people in our circles don’t make quite as much as he does. We don’t make enough that I fear people wanting us to pay for everything. It’s more like I don’t want them to have any animosity towards us or think of us differently or be jealous. Sometimes family or friends tell me about raises they got (revealing specific amounts) or about how much they’re making with some side hustle they have. I smile and am happy for them. I am human though and sometimes it does seem like “bragging” to me, but I still hold my tongue, no matter how much that small part of me wants to let them know we have more than they do. I know nothing good would come from that.

    It all just makes me begin to understand why many people who “have” don’t ever want to talk about it. I don’t necessarily even want to feel this way, but I find myself beginning to think somewhat less of people who talk so freely about specific amounts of money they’re making…

    1. I made this mistake today. I might have lost my oldest and longest friend because they can’t get over the amount. It’s not even a high amount, but they think that they should be at the same amount and can’t believe it.

      Better to say nothing I suppose.

  8. Peter was never your friend.

    Wealth is your life. The core of who you are as a person. Peter never knew even the most fundamental detail about who you are. You can’t be friends with someone you don’t truly know.

    So what’s left? A shallow competitive relationship with someone who doesn’t trust him. Well, he found out he couldn’t compete and let me guess when he stopped calling you never called back and had a real conversation with him, did you? You assume what happened with him but you never cared enough to find out the reality just like you never trusted him enough to be a real mentor.

    Which brings me to the next of this shockingly horrific article of yours. You call yourself his mentor but it took weeks of asking for you to share knowledge that every one posts on GlassDoor with him much less help him with his negotiation. Or reach out to him when he had a setback.

    It is obvious that you are excellent with money and just as obvious that you are terrible at being a friend.

    * You can always play down your wealth. / Lie -_-

    * You can play up your wealth if circumstances dictate. Brag -_-

    * You don’t have to feel like you always have to pay because you make more. / You don’t or is it just that you don’t want to use your money for others?

    * You can buy things and go on vacations in peace. / You already could or again is it that you can buy more and go on more vacations if you don’t feel guilty. Why do you feel guilty?

    * You blend in with everybody else. / You shouldn’t have started a website if you wanted to blend in.

    * If you make more than the average, nobody will envy you or try and take you down. / Or respect you or ask your advice. Ohhhhh that’s why you started a website so you can hide behind the interenet and have it both ways. Hide from the people in your life who matter while getting respect and attention from strangers.

    Choose better friends and maybe you wouldn’t still regret losing what sounds like a bad one. Of course, to choose better friends you would have to have an honest with relationship with them so that’s not likely.

    Man, this was horrible to read… you guys are terrible and no I’m sure its not your “wealth” that makes you that way. Pat yourselves on the back for being selfish, spineless, lying little whiners.

    I know its hard but hey you could actually own who you are and then maybe you would have relationships that could weather a quick salary fact check ffs…

      1. I was born July 20, 1965 in Madison, Wisconsin and we lived in the middle of farm country. Our family tree shows that our ancestors had a single steam trunk they brought over with them from Europe while their infant children were dying from the German-Measles. No one in my day as an American drove fancy cars, lived in large homes or went out to dinner three times a week. Call me now right now and I will tell you it’s a confirmed fact. American’s were here to fight taxation and government and religious influence. We were driven to desperation. We forget, how the human race goes on in current events, on how we all used to live. We are short-term memory humans. Do you remember yesterday’s headlines? Hardly. Well, let me get to the money discussion. My father died when I was nine, and we lived for a time on social security in the 70’s for many years along with a fertilizer warehouse he had been converting into a make-shift home. My mother never got a degree or most never did in those days. Most women like my mother got married at 18 and then had kids and then never got divorced because if they did it was a scandal. But let me tell you, there was never a lack of love, or a push for education. Everyone in my day wanted their kids to have an education and to do better than they did. For anyone in China or any foreign country reading this, American’s were not rich, but all want to to good by their children. My Mother wanted her kids to have a better life than her, and she loved us too. Flash forward, I was not poor for a brief moment in the 90’s, and people around me were supportive, nice and positive. Their were of course, some moments – where I thought – am I spending too much? Never. I remembered those days when I was poor. I was frugal. But during the 2000’s my ex-husband fell into the ego trap of big spending means you are successful. Right before the 2008 crash, my ex bought into the real estate game, thinking money can never run out. But this is this is the biggest rule I want everyone to remember – the poorest man can become the richest and the richest man can become the poorest. Just like me, money came in quickly but it quickly ran out. Very very quickly. Now I am wiser and smarter about money, have good credit and I never judge anyone, no matter how poor or rich they are. I see how people are, arrogant, driven, jealous, mean, or have a heart made of stone toward anyone who has success. If that person was sexually abused, faced bankruptcy, was meth-addicted or was dying of cancer, would that lessen your envy? What would it take for anyone to remember that the human spirit is about how to be free, not because we need money to do it, we just need enough to know about how to do it equally. Or how about, could it just be because we are losing sight of a bigger picture? ARE we being overtaxed? Is the private industry dying one day at a time for the public sector? Just remember, in the long run you can’t take it with you. Not the money, not the house, not the belongings. If you want money,… have to work for it. NO ONE IS JUST GOING TO GIVE IT TO YOU BECAUSE YOU GOT YOUR HAND OUT TO IT. No one is rich if they are young. No one has it easy. No one. All current office jobs are still factory jobs without windows for the most part. I bet there are a few people out there who won’t dirty themselves doing menial work. I would. Every step of the way if that was what I wanted to do to make a better life for myself and my children. Be humble. Be gracious. Be smart and intelligent and invent a better life for yourself and your children. I don’t want to hear anymore bullshit about golf-courses and Italian cars. Live below your means. Buy a used car, get a decent education and don’t get greedy. Take all the money you save and take a great vacation and set-up a decent IRA. If someone says, what are you doing with your money? Tell them, it isn’t for yourself – it’s for your children or to a better cause. That will stop the conversation. Because selflessness isn’t something people are accustomed too. Don’t disclose your income. Tell them how much you spent on your college education and the jobs they should take to get them on a career path so they can make as much as you do. (After working on the path for a long long time.)
        IT’S NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS what you make. Want they may need is good financial planning and some sound financial advice. Give them advice! By all means.

    1. Joseph D Willis

      LOL, i can help but think that you are Peter in disguise. Only he (you) would agree with Peter nosing in on Financial Samurai’s finances. Someone asking you how much money you make is a double edged sword. If you refuse to tell them, they get bitter. Why is he obligated to disclose this to Peter just because they’re golfing buddies? You’re right. They’re NOT good friends. Only buddies that occasionally golf. And undoubtedly Samurai did inquire about Crybaby Pete, otherwise he wouldn’t have known Peter was sore about the information he finally tricked Samurai out of. Which, by the way, Samurai never agreed to be his mentor. That was only a request from Peter. Now, back to Samurai’s sword (no pun intended! although it would be a clever one!). The other edge is that when you DO disclose this, the Peters of the world get jealous and bitter and/or do something dumb, like highball their employer for more money only to get rejected. And all the blame is put on the Samurais. It’s a trap. That’s all it is. Complete privacy is always the best answer. Unless he’s like your very BEST friend in the world. Then, maybe.

  9. I came to the article’s same conclusion on my own over time unfortunately. I think the hardest thing was becoming successful and financially solvent while my friends did not and seeing how well I was doing made them resentful relative to their own successes. So much so that it strained and in some cases ended our friendships.

    A decade ago a group of friends decided to make it big in LA. We all came to Los Angeles together to ‘find ourselves’. I was a big fan of movies and always liked movie vfx so I put in a lot of sweat and tears into that sort of gig. After a couple of years it panned out better than expected. I work with lots of people that I would say are very successful and are also very low key and I like that people could be that way without ‘needing’ to show that they are successful. That is something I admire very much.

    Some of my friends just wanted that Hollywood lifestyle which is really easy to fall into and with the other aspiring XY or Z entertainer types doing the same sort of nothing it can go on forever or until the money runs out. Another friend and I were the more successful of the bunch (2 of us out of 7 friends actually) and we noticed that we would cover expenses more and more on outings. At first I felt I was just offering support as they found their own success but after a while it seemed like they just weren’t trying. People were getting resentful on both sides; I felt like I was being used and they felt bad about themselves since they weren’t making it. Things came to a head when we’d go out and I’d meet strangers that my friends knew but I didn’t; but I was the cool guy covering the tab. I just felt stupid. My other successful friend felt the same way. After a short while of needing favors and only being called when they wanted to go out to places they couldn’t afford we said to hell with them. And that ended a toxic relationship with childhood friends.

    That was probably 5 years ago now and since then I keep my mouth shut about finances or my financial well being. I’d like to be treated like any person you’d meet at a coffee shop or bar or so on. I can say though that it was a situation that my friends saw me grow into over time, but seeing how those events panned out I wouldn’t want a repeat of it.

  10. Another reason not to share is if you are separated / divorced. I don’t see any good coming out of your ex knowing your financial details. lol

    I choose not to discuss my income or net worth with anyone in my personal circle. Just too much potential downside.

    I am open, though, to sharing anonymously online. And I do like learning from others’ situations / successes / mistakes anonymously online as well.

    As a female professional, I am sensitive to pay equity. So I would support whatever’s needed to ensure fair compensation practices. I once was accidentally sent pay information for hundreds of employees in the company where I currently work. You can bet that I checked for gender discrepancies (thankfully seemed to find none). I work in a large corporation with structured pay bands per job level, so that helps. My last employer was a smaller, with all male co-founders and a mostly male senior leadership team. My guess is there *were* probably pay equity issues there, but I’ll never know for sure.

    1. These comments are cancer…

      You are GOING to get divorced if you can’t even share that much trust with someone you are marrying and you will deserve it…

      Of course, you are too dim to realize that your full financial state is disclosed by law during a divorce. Not surprising for someone who believes in the wage gap. News flash men work different jobs and different hours… OH, why do I bother be ignorant it will help anyone not insane from ever making the mistake of marrying you Haha

  11. Would it be a good idea to let legal guardian know net worth so they can take care of children in case of death?
    (We have substantially more net worth than they do)

  12. DayoftheLocust

    Opposite side of the issue: What do you do when people constantly brag about what they are buying and how much they are spending? My high school friend / neighbor (joe) has a friend that comes over to get togethers when I am over for a drink or to let our kids play together. This other friend (Steve) constantly changes the topic to what he is buying now/just bought/is thinking of buying, etc. Steve has no problem saying how much he spends on things and bragging about possessions/services he gets done. We all live in a nice little older plan built in the 60s/early 70s with average home prices. A good, safe place to raise our 2 kids.
    This Steve guy annoys the hell out of me since sometimes my wife and I dont have alot left over after the bills are paid. We pay 2 mortgages ( the other house we are trying to sell ), have student loans, etc.
    Question is: why do people brag about what they spend and how much everything costs??

    1. I recall one of the first times I ever saw my Dad loose his cool in front of family in when his brother-in-law had the nerve to ask him his salary. My Dad looked him straight in the eye, “that’s really none of your damn business, Bob…. unless you tell me yours first,” of course the topic of convo changed….. My parents always taught me the most sure-fire way to offend anyone is to ask them how much they make; they stressed do not do it, unless that’s the reaction you want. Most people will talk politics and religion before divulging that info.

      I’m sure this cat bugs his co-workers with the one-upmanship games as well and he’s likely hated all through the office hallways. I’ve known several family members like this, they get a kick out of attempting to degrade you with their, “Im better than you,” schtick, but my mom was always good at say, “boy, that sure sounds like a waste of good money, you sure about that?” and the topic of convo was quickly changed.

  13. I find it interesting that people are defining success by comparing him/herself to others. Being successful is as simple as paying off debt and living within your means, no matter what you make.

  14. I love this article! It totally validates how I feel. I just graduated law school and got my first job in a firm so friends and family often ask me what my salary is, which I feel extremely uncomfortable revealing. That list of upsides describes exactly how I feel: I want to blend in, I want to spend my money in peace, and I never want someone’s view of me or expectations of me to change based on money (as in: “she should get the bill”). Personally, I would never ask someone that question.

    Unfortunately I found this article because a friend just now asked me over text, I told her that I’m not comfortable talking about it, and she got offended. But I am prepared to accept those awkward and obnoxious moments :)

  15. how do you practice stealth wealth if everybody knows what you made? I won a contest that was featured on espn, fox sports and the associated press. It is similar to the chris moneymaker WSOP situation. Every person at my job knows now and I have to take a picture with my prize that will be featured on many websites. I know that this pub will die down but how do I practice stealth wealth from here on out.

        1. also I get health insurance through the union at my job. What could be the options for getting insurance?

  16. okay Ive had a big six figure event that has happened in my life. Unfortunately I cant be stealth with it because as part of singing up for this contest and winning it, I was featured on espn the associated press and my local paper and tv station. What can I do now to practice stealthiness? Is it even possible?

  17. Dear Financial Samurai,

    How the Hell can you write a post and tell everyone not to reveal how much money they earn; but you do just that at the end of your post!? I’m all for money & financial freedom, I assume from your results you worked consistently to achieve I admire that! In addition to encouraging readers to start their own website or business. But what you posted is not consistent with WHAT you posted if you know what I mean. Not sure if you wanted reactions and pissed peeps or what?

  18. You’re right. Never tell. People who ask this question always have selfish intentions. These people deserve a lie. I think it’s better to question their question. For example, you could be sarcastic: “Oh, do you have some money for me?”

    Take my case for example. I work as a bus driver. All the companies are different unions. At some of our stops, there’s other bus companies. Occasionally, you get these other drivers who think we’re all part of some brotherhood coming up and asking how much you make. It’s like, well, if i make less than you, are you going to fight for me? NO!

    I recently told another bus driver from another company we don’t discuss salary. He got very, very, very butt hurt. But who cares. He’s only looking out for himself, there is no brotherhood, he would never fight for me, we’re competing companies. Get lost. Worst case scenario, you tell enough of these people how much you make, and a strike could happen.

    I go to work so I can work. That’s all.

  19. Hey man,

    I am totally against revealing your income for several reasons but there have to be better positives than the ones you’ve listed.

    For example this one:

    “You can play up your wealth if circumstances dictate.”

    Why not just be honest and tell the truth. It’ll save you a lot of headaches (that come with lying) in future.

    Anyhow, that’s just my 2 cents.

      1. * Having to remember your lie.
        * Not being able to afford something that you said you could.

        Idk man, I can see this playing up business eventually leading to a breach of trust.

        Yeah, I agree and wouldn’t reveal my income under any circumstances but I don’t see a valid reason to talk it up either.

  20. The problem was not that you told him how much money you make. The problem is that your friend was a jealous scrub. I have no problem telling my friends how much I made or don’t make and they have no problem telling me how well business is going for them. If a friend of mine is doing better than me, I congratulate him and learn whatever I can from him to see if I can use it to do better for myself. It works both ways. Only idiots and bums get bitter when they find out their friends make more than them. Smart people will observe and find out what they need to do to better their own situation.

    You didn’t lose anything. Now you have one less scrub in your life. Go make some winner friends :)

    1. You know what? You’re exactly right. A true friend would be happy that I provided the information he wanted, and be happy that I made what I made. Don’t waste time with people Who don’t add value to your life!

    2. Joel…you make everything feel right and positive. Most people don’t get it like you do. And I wish I had more friends that had the same point of view as you do. People can rave about how hard and unfair it is that they have no money. But when you talk about money and you have money it can be a sticky subject.

      Unfortunately, when applied to family it’s seems a little more difficult than said. :|

    3. I agree with you Joel. A friend should be happy for your success. I had a friend early in my career who shared with me how much she made and benefits. This helped me know that I had a low ball offer and take a pass on a job.

  21. SO I am a stay at home mom since my first kid was born, that’s seven years ago. My husband started his business 5 years ago. Every year we’ve made significantly more. First, 250k…second, 380k…third 500k goes on and on(we are in the Bay Area). When we had our first kid I was on Medi CAL(7 years ago). When money first started rolling in the first year, it was exciting more for him than me. I came from a normal mid-class income family. My husband came from poor…dirty 2 bed apartment living and single mother raising 7 kids. (I had 7 in my family too :) I’ve seen what money can do to a good person(if allowed) and how people treat people that have money. You can’t have one without the other. Unless you are really good at hiding things. LOL. The first 3 years were exciting, fun and new(shine new things my husband bought). Year 3 and 4 you realize people asking for money and expecting you to pay for everything and just want to hang out with you for no particular reason. Year 4 and 5…you start noticing the haters in at least one corner of the room. I call them that bc that’s what they are….sick people. i now have a much small circle of people around me today and realize those few that are really there for ME and don’t talk about money. And now I recognize the others that really could care less about US. They are just THERE(can’t get rid of them so I can only ignore and put up with them bc they are family) I am tired of the whole rich thing poor thing talk between people. When the subject comes up I shut my mouth and watch what I say. Then again when I am around the rich people in our neighbor they are just as worst if not worst. The rich people act like they are better than you! I can’t find anyone to get this…so only a few would understand what I’m talking about. It’s a game to (some) the ones that are making a lot of $. Who has nicest car, biggest house, vacation homes. I’m so sick of both sides. I’m not sure where I fit and not sure if I really should give a damn anymore. Being here is isolating, bc people just don’t get it. *No offense guys…this has been my point of view for the longest time. I am super duper grateful to be blessed like this. But people’s got to mind there own businesses and be humble.

  22. I like this article.I think it is always best not to reveal how much money you make or if you get a bonus or any extra money to anyone.If you must share with someone,go online and share anonymously.I recently had to learn that the hard way,when I was supposed to get some financial help from someone and I told a couple of friends about it and how I was glad that I was going to get that financial help.Well anyway about a week later,the individual who I was supposed to get financial help from,said that they can no longer help me,and did not give me a good reason why.I know that I’ll never know if that had anything to do with my friends saying something to them.However,one of my friends seem to think that I am ok financially where I am and that I don’t need any help financially from anyone.But,they don’t know about the extra expenses that I have had or debt since the last time I talked to them about my finances and I really did need that help.So from now on,I’m not going to talk to friends about how much I make,any extra money I get or how I pay for anything.If just going to avoid those questions or say I got a second job to pay for this or that and not say exactly how much I make.

  23. pouty faced

    i can see how revealing would cause envy. you saying $36 is taking a pay cut made me sad to read because at 40yrs old and as a female I will be lucky to make $22 at my new job :(

  24. I think it is wise not to reveal how wealthy you are to strangers. You would welcome unwanted dishonest friends who can be best avoided. However, I do not find any harm in revealing how much you make, to friends. If your friend envies you or hates you for this, then that friend is not worth having, in my opinion. It is always good to make friends who share common interest than make friends in the same wealth bracket we are in.
    However, revealing a salary to co-workers is a completely different issue. Companies and corporations want you to believe that it is in your best interest to not reveal your salaries. This scenario is only in the best interest of the corporations. By sharing salary number with your peers you make sure that on an average you are not being underpaid and overworked. It doesn’t make sense to share the same with people working under you.

  25. It’s better not to tell anyone what you make, not only to protect yourself from people who would lust after your property and be jealous of you, but also to protect yourself from shame/embarrassment if your income level decreases. It’s your nebulous income, that uncertainty that gives you an edge.

    People will always pick up on little clues about your income level just by you living your life, no matter how humble you choose to live it. But if you don’t put a number on it, you have power.

    “It’s better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt,” Mark Twain. You can change that to say it’s better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are rich (or average) than to open it and remove all doubt. Even if you’re rich, you would lose power. In a game of poker who has the power? It’s the one who reveals nothing in their face no matter what cards they hold.

  26. I 100% AGREE with everyone who said that wasn’t your friend! I strongly dislike such types of people and would be rejoiced to rid them out of my life.

    The ONLY time I like competition is when playing games. When it comes to money, materialistic things, relationships, etc. I HATE competition. I get extra motivation by others success; I LOVE to see people I know come up…!!!

  27. Its better not to reveal because you never know who will knock on your door in the middle of the night with knife in his hand..

  28. You should never tell… I have friends always using different tactics to try to gather information about how much I make, how much rent I pay, etc.

    I always avoid the answer, sometimes in a very obvious way. Why do people need to know? There really is nothing useful they can do with that information.

  29. I grew poor, I had a baby when I was 18 in highschool. People told me I would fail. At 19 I got a job at a company making over 100,000 a year gross. That same year I bought rental property. I have continued to expand, and make money off different things. Because I never went to college, when people ask how much money I make at 25 I told them. We don’t flaunt. People think the opposite, I love to prove them wrong. I sure wish I would have seen this advice at some other point in life. DO NOT TELL. I have issues with family and friends over money, I am an Entreprenur spirt. I talk about money constantly. Big mistake.

    update Now I am in college. I filled a 13 to keep my estate because I lost my career. Still doing very well, but don’t know how to tell people it is not 100,000. Take this mans advice don’t tell…it should’nt matter. Its all ready said enough for however your living. You should’nt go out of your way to hide it, but don’t tell. Family should not know either.

  30. I’m realizing that it gets really bad when your friends with more education find out that you make more money than them. They’ve all gone on to get graduates degrees and it really has not seemed to have paid off: now they’re over $50,000 in debt and still looking for a job. They make a lot of passive aggressive comments to me about it as they apparently think I should be making less than them. I’m not going to apologize for it though, I made the most with the opportunities that were given to me and it has paid off.

  31. Thanks for the article Sam. I feel like I made a mistake, I told my best friend that I make a six-figure salary. However I’m about to be laid off soon / my contract will ramp down. She used to work until she decided to go back to school, where her international student fees are pretty high. While trying to take a decision and explaining to her my situation, about wether to jump ship first and follow my dreams or wait it out, I blurted out that I make a six-figure salary. She sounded a little surprised but took it in stride and we discussed the dilemma. She knows I won’t be making this kind of money in the future with the dream job that I will be pursuing after this contract is over.

    Is it terribly wrong for me to have done that? Now that she’s back to being a student, I felt really bad about blurting that piece of information out (not that she thinks I was making less than 50K, but still). She keeps things in confidence and I trust her, I just feel bad about how I said it.

  32. I found this article by searching for “Why can’t I seem to make what my friends and family can?”.

    While I don’t want this to come off sounding like a sob story, I felt like I had to say something here after reading so many of the comments about how “Peter is an idiot” and how “Peter wasn’t a real friend”.

    I have nothing against success, but it’s a hard fact of life that relating to those with more success is extremely difficult, especially when you met as peers. I’ve lost many friends growing up simply because our interests grew apart. For example, I had a friend long ago who dropped out of high-school and immediately started making 100k a year. After about a year, we just couldn’t talk to each other anymore. Our lives became drastically different as well as the people we associated with. I was a poor engineering student while he was a well off 17 year old entrepreneur.

    I agree that you didn’t do anything wrong and that Peter was indeed the one with the problems, but I really think your readers should give Peter a break. People here are describing Peter as some sort of terrible friend because he let “jealousy” overcome him. Well I’m sorry, but jealousy only begins to describe the feeling Peter probably felt. Peter probably felt INADEQUATE learning that his friend (the financial samurai) was making significantly more after the same experience. This feeling of inadequacy compounds on itself, and salary plays a huge role.

    Sure, you may see it as shallow, but I’m sure it was very emotionally taxing of Peter realizing that after all this time, his work wasn’t paying off the same as his peers. This train of thought quickly leads a person to feeling inadequate, which nobody likes to feel. It even causes some to give up completely if it goes on for too many years.

    Often times someone puts in way more effort/sacrifice to get where he is in life, I understand this, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel this way. For example, if you had a friend from high-school who started as your peer, but 10 years down the line, you realize that he gets paid over twice your salary, you’re going to start second guessing your entire existence. This can result in people giving up their career entirely as they see no correlation between the effort they put in and their salaries. It becomes more clear that some people just “have what it takes” while others don’t, and it sucks when your slowly realize your social circle has what it takes while you don’t.

    I just wanted to add my 2 cents as a lot of successful people do indeed some to lose touch with basic human emotion and empathy.

    1. In the case of a regular job, it certainly can feel hopeless if your peer is significantly out-doing you. But in a lot of cases, the peers dont have jobs at all and are involved in various entrepreneurial endeavors.

      So its not necessarily that they’re that much smarter or harder working than you by many orders of magnitude.

      Its just that their strategy has implicit control, leverage, and higher profit margins (depending on which market), and your strategy sucks in comparison. There are many profitable business opportunities that require low startup costs. It comes down to your willingness to learn, experiment, grind, and do something outside the box.

      You dont have to re-create Microsoft.

      People have made millions selling bug spray and paint remover. Virtually any product or service that is of superior quality and/or a good bargain with a pre-existing demand can get you well off, if not rich.

      The hardest part is probably defying conventions and prejudice from normal people.

    2. Insightful comments, Ben. What I find most frustrating is when you know, for certain, you have more talent than a more financially successful peer, yet sometimes, by just by the sheer quirk of fate, they are raking in the dough while you are not. Sometimes, regardless of the excellence of the strategy employed, one’s efforts still don’t pay off. It is a great struggle to not allow bitterness to set in, to keep one’s chin up, and strive to try again, to improve… and sometimes again and again.

      I did very much appreciate the observations on moderate living in the article. I quite happily drive a 13 year old Dodge pickup. Dandy rig, and looks nice, runs beautifully, has plenty of horsepower to meet my needs and my payments are super low. I’m thrilled to get up every day and try hard, and am so grateful for all that I have. The tendency Peter had of thinking that “stuff” is going to make him happy, or that resplendent possessions are the gauge one’s worth is a trap that so many people fall in to. It’s a trick that can choke the life out of the soul.
      Definitely can make one question the point of it all if have not obtained some “must have” goal of great wealth.

    3. This is so true. But I learnt that life itself is like that. It is unpredictable and unjust. However, when someone has more than you do, even though you work hard, study hard, or dedicate yourself to your goals more, you just need to realize that’s not the whole picture. There is also someone out there who was born, just like you, working just as hard if not more but not having enough to even buy food to eat (especially all those, living in third world countries). Do you know that some Chinese workers work for 20+ hours a day with no breaks just to get enough money to buy food and clothes and nothing more, so that we can have cheap technology and clothes here that are MADE IN CHINA and have what we have now working for much less hours?
      And when you grow old enough, you’ll realize that it is like that not only with money, but with everything in life. Did you notice that one person gives so much attention to their spouse, so much affection and care and money and devotion, and yet their spouse cheats on them. And then you see another couple, where one spouse does absolutely nothing for their relationship yet is being treated like a king/queen and nobody cheats on them. Why is it like that?
      The most unjust situations you see is when one person never smokes, always exercises and eating healthy all their lives only to end up with a fatal incurable disease at the age of 35 and end up dying at 36; while someone else who is smoking and is overweight ends up living with no any kind of sickness until 80 and dies in their sleep with a smile at 82…….Why is that?
      Trust me, “why” is an unanswerable question that needs to be forgotten. When I saw with my own eyes a talented and extremely emotionally mature 13 year old girl, who got brain cancer and had only less than one year to live, while staying in one-room apartment with her poor single mother, I felt how unjust the world was. But the dying girl was so smart. She did youtube videos, encouraging others to love life and to love present moment. In her last year of life, she started doing her hobby – photography – through pain and chemotherapy side effects. In spite of losing strength and in spite of losing her life, she did what she loved, and she found various people to be her photo shooting models and made a beautiful gallery of her pictures of those different people before she died at the age of 13. In her video message she said: “Find strength in yourself to not seek injustice. Life is not worth being wasted on this. Find what you love and do what you love while you have time. And that will be your true happiness.” She was only 13 years of age and she was that wise! She died so happy and brought tears to all her fans. She had no money, no rich house, no father, not even a chance to grow up. Yet, dying so early and so unfairly, she was happier than most of us . When you see those kinds of people in your life, you realize jealousy is more of an illusion. You see reality only half way. You close your eyes on all those people who are much worse than you, although they didn’t work any less nor deserve any less in life and you pay attention only to those who ahve more stuff for less effort.
      Don’t look only at those who have more than you. Remember, if you live in the US, even if you are poor, you are automatically at the top 1% of the rich people in the world. If you consider all those orphans, and unjustly sick people, who, having less than you, ARE STILL HAPPIER than you – you get amazed how beautiful life can be if you only stop comparing yourself to those who always have more.
      Accept the reality that there is ALWAYS someone who has more of something else no matter how rich or successful you are. Also, understand that you never know the whole picture. Someone might have more money much easier than you, but do you know how long their life is? May be you are the one to live to 100 years of age and not him – your friend-millionaire? May be you are the one who will survive an airplane crash but not your rich friend? May be you are the one who’ll be happy single, but your rich friend will be miserable and single? May be you are the one who’ll have true friends all your life (who love you for you and not for money), but the rich peer will have fake friends who are there for him only for money? May be you don’t know that you rich friend was abused as a child by his father but you had a nice childhood in comparison? Jealousy never sees the whole picture. It only imagines how one specific thing is unjust. But life is not just one little specific thing. Life is multidimensional.
      In summary, when you are jealous, remind yourself that it is just an emotion that is not in line with reality. In reality, there are probably more people who have things worse than you and some of them are actually happy anyway. If you want to compare, compare yourself to those who unjustly have so much less than you and yet they are the happiest people in the world. Then you’ll be inspired by them to be happy not because of luck but in spite of its absence.

  33. I just came a cross the article and can relate.

    I have been in my field for many years and through continued education and hard work I have found myself in a very blessed position. So, you may be asking, what’s the issue? Well, one is that I come from a working class family and have greatly outpaced my surroundings. For example, my wife and I still live in the same starter house as we did years ago. We actually love the area and have raised our kids here and don’t want to leave. The tricky part is that as my career has grown, we are starting to exude success even though we speak little of finances.

    Personally, I have only disclosed my income range with close relatives. Though we have a tight and loving family, I do get a couple who joke about me paying for food, drinks, etc… I feel joking between family it’s tolerable, but this is occasionally done around outsiders which is not cool. I correct these comments and they accommodate, but not without jibes. They rationalize this by saying they are proud of me, and that I should be proud of my accomplishments and so on. I guess? But it’s hard when I’ve overheard money related comments from friends and family members spouses, such as “why cant we vacation here” or “why can’t we do this or that?”… From what I gather it seems I’m getting used as a gage of success which is to me terrible and totally unintended…

    I guess my point is that one’s finances may not need to be verbally disclosed to be estimated by people around you. I feel that with certain careers sometimes success is estimated by outsiders based one’s behavior, career discussions, professional friendships etc. As a note, I am not arrogant or extravagant in the least, but my career life and obligations do put some pressure on my personal life.

    Just wondering if anyone has experienced this?

    1. You are right. There is likely an embedded assumption how well off someone is by their age, experience, and occupation. But with all these stories about people spending more than they make, it’s not a certainty.

      I often wonder why a 55+ year old is quoted in the paper as being devastated by a job loss when they had 30+ years to save and invest. The answer is that I guess many people don’t spend within their means. Life just happens and will only be rectified if the pain is bad enough.

      1. I agree with everything you wrote. Sometimes we can all succumb to external pressures of what we should be doing versus what is prudent given one’s individual circumstance.

        This is where “keeping up with the joneses, or in todays terms, Kardashians” come in to play. For example, one colleague of mine (56yo) feels compelled to pay for his kids education in full. Two are already in Ivies, one a senior, the other a freshman both seeking advanced degrees. The youngest – a junior in HS – is also bright and wants to attend a top school as well. Yikes, talk about financially burdensome!

        Don’t get me wrong, paying for his kid’s education is admirable. However, it still comes with the cost of restricting retirement savings at an age when this is wildly important. Point is, if he subsidized payments or passed this full obligation on to his kids, they would be able to rebound with time on their side, and hopefully great future jobs. My coworker on the other hand will be in his sixties by the time this is said and done, and will have missed out on potentially hundreds of thousands in savings. Heaven forbid he loses his job or has a major life event. He would then become one of the people you describe seeing in the paper.

        1. Maybe it would be admirable if they were helping other peoples kids, but their own kids are their own personal responsibilities. I wouldn’t call it “admirable” to raise them well, rather “not despicable”.

          People without the money to give their kids a good upbringing probably shouldn’t be having so many kids in the first place. It’s the parents’ decision to have children, and nobody elses. These are burdens the parents chose to take on. Very few people conceive unwillingly. (am i allowed to say rape on this blog?)

        2. I really do not understand why American parents just won’t help their kids pay their tuition. American parents are driving nice cars and living in big nice houses, but many of them just refuse to help the kids out. I do not understand why. I am a Chinese. I grew up in a poor family with my dad were making $5 a day and probably had work 200 days out of a year. And my parents saved every penny through the past 20 years to send me to good high school (high school is not free in China) and college and paid my tuition, dorms, food and everything. And 99% of my classmates’ parents paid their tuition too no matter what. And it’s considered very despicable and mean if parents do not pay for it.

          1. Because kids are stupid as hell and will forgo a perfectly good in-state school for an out of state school strictly “for the experience”, racking up a bill that could easily cover a brand new Lamborghini. Most American parents are drowning in debt themselves. It’s not that they don’t want to pay or help out, its just that they cannot front the money for what is essentially a brand new top tier sports car. Add multiple kids into the equation, and the problem gets even worse. Add retarded degrees like feminist native american dance studies, which no one will hire for into the equation, and it gets EVEN WORSE. It’s considered “normal” to go wherever your heart desires, even if the bill would end up costing you a brand new townhouse.

            To forgo it because you know you can’t afford it would be “un-American” and akin to denying someone the right to be successful. Anyhow, the end result is the same. Corporation owners have a guarantee of an endless supply of slaves who have no alternative but to get a job, and the middle class stays enslaved generation to generation.

            1. As teenager students, many of them do not have enough knowledge of society yet and nor can they make good decisions. Indeed, parents should guide them while they are choosing school and majors instead of letting them do whatever they want.

            2. My son graduated HS in June, and is working for a year before starting Community College. This was MY idea. Why start school when you have no idea what you want to go for, and I wanted him to work, like I did every summer through high school, so he’d know what’s it’s like to work a job you don’t like.A couple days ago he told me about 2 of his friends who are now in college in Az. We live in California. My first question was “Did they get a scholarship?” When he said he didn’t know, my next response was “well if they didn’t, they’re stupid for going to school out of state,and they’re going to end up with Student Loan Debt.” I then gave him an example of resident vs non resident tuition, and I will continue to give him these examples. Right now, he wants to attend Sac State after his 2 years at CC, and that’s fine. Attending college out of state is just ridiculous imo, unless you have a full ride, like his friend has to Missouri to play Football. They attended daycare,preschool,grade school,hs and graduated together. I knew long ago that kid would have a scholarship for sports, and he’s a nice kid too. His parents have good jobs(Union Pacific Railroad and I believe mom is an Accountant) but I don’t believe even they would pay for their kids tuition out of state, because they have common and money sense.

              1. Is there “out of state” tuition for CC? If so, that is ridiculous if you can pay in-state tuition!

                I think it’s great to go to CC for two years, save money, figure out what you do, get better grades, and then transfer to a more well known school. I would have done it, but I got into my first choice, The College of William & Mary, where tuition was only $2,800 a year in state back in 1995!

                See: Public School Or Private School? Depends On Your Fear And Guilt Tolerance

            3. ohh! … and add to that equation if they choose a degree and then change to a total different ‘mayor’ and then have to start all over again and pay for even more classes! true! Or if they go to college and change there degree a few times and then ending having a job in something totally different. That will break the parent pockets!! I think that parent should help in someway but no necessarily paying the whole college tuition no matter what their economic situation that they have, cause nobody gonna save money for their retirement but them selfs. So everybody just have to plan accordingly. Sometimes there is scholarship that students can apply, (some scholarships take into consideration the parents income which I think is dumb considering that not everybody depends in their parents income) and there are many resources now a day that can help with tuition. College can be expensive but there is colleges out of state like in Puerto Rico where u can expect to pay half of the cost if not less. But my point is that is good to help your kids within your mean whenever you can but not spend all your retirement money and spoils them f you are not financially capable of doing it.

  34. Great article. I have a family related predicament!

    On my side of the family, we don’t tell each other what we make. Frankly, it’s nobody’s business and can only complicate things. I’m close to 30 and my parents still have no idea what I make, which has worked well!

    My wife’s family is very open about discussing incomes and financial stuff and always has been. So we’re at the point where they (my parents in law) expect to know (play by play, rise by rise, promotion by promotion) what I make. I’ve explained to my wife that I’m uncomfortable both discussing and revealing what I make. So she’s covering as best she can. But the questions are still coming!

    Apart from me not liking this in general, I feel like there’s information asymmetry between my own parents and my wife’s parents which makes it worse.

    Anyway – WTF should I do! Frank conversation? Or is this blowing it out of proportion?

    1. WhatAnIdiot

      Just tell them. It literally doesn’t matter & you’re just being an asshole to your in-laws by not sharing in their culture.

      I know this is a shocker to you, but they are not your family. That is why they are called “in-laws”. Unless you married your sister?

  35. I have a girlfriend whom I’ve known for years and is very competitive. I get annoyed every time she tells everyone how much money they spend on everything. I just went to her son’s three year birthday party where she was making a circle telling everyone how much she paid for the venue, food and favors. She is the type of person who judges others by what they have to show. She has tried a few different tactics to try to get me to tell her how much I make. I always just say “we could always make more but we are comfortable with what we make”. I think she is insecure and has to know if she’s doing okay by comparing herself with others. Because I choose to downplay what we make by not showing her what we have, she thinks we make less than her and leaves us alone.

      1. My boyfriend of 2+ knew my financial situation, knew what I made through grapevine of others we knew before we knew each other. I was pursued by him. He has been single for the majority of his time, & found this to be puzzling as he seemed to be responsible, 30yrs at his very professional job etc..After the 2ND YR (which was good but hell to see him willingly throw cash towards requesting young tenants of his) we were talking about random things that were money topics & he said to me” you don’t know how much money I make do you?” I don’t care , but reply ” no” . He asked me to guess? I said no thanks it ruins the person from knowing if a person likes them for themselves or what they are getting from them..mind you I moved in later& it got brought up again by him & it seems like he really wants me to know? I’m getting upset as I think this will be a back door for when he is done with getting SEX fix for his long dry spell or sick of paying for it 2x or more monthly? He was single for ever!! He didn’t hand it ( his stamina was of a 19yr old ! He wore me out)

        every thing was split on going out every time & ( i didn’t mind) I pay rent, (+ never having to take me on a real date or what not? You will understand after reading) he never asked me either, not once after we got together? I let that go as a relationship isn’t that…right? (But he was getting FULL BENIFITS FROM ME EVERY NIGHT & I DO ME FULL, w/ little given in return in affection)I ENJOYED US & I found him attractive & thats a plus, he said the same so it SEEMED REAL) HIM 50 ME 45 )BUT STILL
        I tell him I rather not know how much he makes!!, but kept talking &telling me reguaudless? Why!? After I heard the number I knew I was eventually going to get dumped,& very soon treated like a needy woman who was a low life on the take!! I was being used for sex, and as a cover! He would drop money to his other tenants (19yr old females out of gas or wanting more than cereal for breakfast…having guest for weeks using his shower laundry & soap, he buys all food, & they party , break stuff , never turn off anything just disrespectful ) thinking nothing of telling them to suck it up , and he will need all the rent by the 18th!? ( what !! I was late by the 4th and he actually asked me for the rent by 5pm on 5th? I’m feeling like his affection at this point was false as he told me he never felt so strong for any woman in his life ever…but when I asked for help with some gas money ( I had a new job ,a son just getting out of mental hospital for catatonic break at 23yrs , his dad & I would split the week with his new illness, and driving to & from 30+ miles ) any way I was told no! I did offer to pay it back as well during my asking him. He makes what I make a month IN LESS THAN 2 DAYS & I STILL NEVER UNLESS I REALLY REALLY NEEDED TO WOULD ASK HIS HELP & ALWAYS FOR LESS THAN 40$ -100$ as being told no is very embarrassing and hurtful. When you give if you’re self timed and you’re honest with wanting to do it too , it made me happy making him happy & if he needed to ask me to pick is dog up from the pound cause tenants left gate open, I am happy too?!
        ( he knew my financial situation in full as my sisters husband ran into him & told him before we ever hooked up) THIS seemed to tell me EXACTLY WHERE I STOOD AS HIS GIRLFRIEND, I STOOD LAST &ON THE OTHER SIDE OF HIS AGGENDA,family likes me seems happy he finally had a woman, he is 1 of 10 kids& only one single, I am gonna say he did the least and took the most from me? BEING A GOLD DIGGER OR A PERSON ON THE MAKE IS NOT WHAT I WAS…I WANTED HIS honest AFFECTION AND TIME !He says I should go find happiness that I want if I could not find it living there! Convenient statement FOR HIM.(snake) OH & I found him going to fill up tenant gas tank before he reparked it..the car was blocking him in so he got the keys and moved it ….went to station and then back , help other tenants pay tickets …(hush money?)started to watch his ass…I WAS THERE TO MAKE HIM LOOK NORMAL AS HE HAD JUST BEGAN TO RENT HIS PROOERTY, ( His THINGS ARE PAID FOR ALL THINGS NO MORTGAGE NO CAR PAYMENTS NOTHING IS OWED TO ANY FINANCIAL INSTITUTION. I am after two years his brilliant broad ass minds way of ( quiet genious) coming home to his already way of life and not having to go seek it AND FEEL LIKE A PERVERT LOSER YO HIS SIBLINGS AT HIS AGE OR A CLOSET GAY OR SICKO FOR RENTING TO 20 AND UNDER AGE GROUP THAT HE HAD BEEN WORKING WITH $$$ FOR WHO KNOWS HOW LONG? MONEY MATTERS WHEN ITS NOT A JEALOUS REASON AND WHEN YOU HAVE SAID U CARE AND LAY WITH A PERSON THAT NEEDS YOUR HELP AND FOR CHUMP CHANGE IT IS NOT KIND TO SAY NO. THEN ACCEPT LOVING SEX Full benefit sex 30 min blow jobs and have zero reason to be like she is on the take…your Dan right I wont pay rent anymore and if I still need you after all that pretend 2yrs you took from me & tell me no to 10$ at a food store I left wallet at home is not ABOUT to add up to MONEY MAKES SOME HEARTLESS AND VHATS LIKE THESE ABOUT PEOPLE BEING JEALOUS, HIS CONSCIENCE IS WHY HE JUST HAD TO TELL ME HIS $ ! AT THIS POINT TO OTHERS I WILL LOOK LIKE A LITTLE WHINING NEEDY WOMAN WITH A MAN I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA GET MONEY FROM. ..SHAME ON HIM & PEOPLE WITH LOTS USE PEOPLE WITH ZILCH MORE THAN WE KNOW ONLY TO SCREEM JEALOUS….REALLY THAT WORD EXISTS DUE TO RICH PEOPLE ABUSING THE MONEY TO OTHERS WITH NONE…NO FLAUNT THEN OTHERS WONT WANT ITS ADVERTISING TO GET NOTICED..TO BE REAL MADE PROFESSIONAL PERSON YOU ALSO KNOW HOW TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW YOU MAKE OTHERS FEEL (BULLYS SUCK) TERRIBLE TO PRETEND TO LOVE AND CARE ABOUT ANOTHER BUT THEN USE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT TO MAKE THEM LOOK UNWORTHY OR DESERVING OF YOUR ASS AND STUPID FOR ASKING YOU SOMETHING THEY SHOULD ALL READ KNOW THE ANSWER TO …HOW DOUBLE DUMB I AM ? WOW. I AM BENT …LOOKS ARE EVERYTHING SO NEXT TIME I WILL WARN A MAN THAT IF HE USES ME NOT FINACIAL WISE BUT IMAGE TO THE USE OF HIS SUCCES IN LOVES NAME I MIGHT NOT BEND I MIGHT SNAP!

  36. This is good stuff, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen this recommendation played out anywhere: “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.”

    I see both sides of this. Maybe an updated post with “the upside of revealing your income,” since so many people see the value in doing so. If anything, it is nice to have a hard figure to attach to blog income because it might help motivate people to stick at it for years at a time, especially when it is far from lucrative for most!

  37. I don’t talk about what I make in specifics. I may be vague and say, “6-figures.” My peers should be within the same ballpark as me so it wouldn’t seem like I’m doing better or worse. If I ever get married, I don’t think I’ll tell her a specific number. All she has to know is that it’s enough.

    It’s pretty cool that you dress down. It shows self-confidence and don’t need to show off.

    I do that too, just so less people hassle me when I’m out and about. People will think: Oh, he’s just a poor college kid.

  38. This blog is a nice find.

    I just started my career and have expectations of going to senior exec. in 10 years or less. I’m very explicit about what I want my next salary to be and don’t mind telling people what my current (essentially “starting”) salary is. My little trick is that I always add the disclaimer “Yeah, but I have crazy student loan debt and am aggressively fighting it while saving for a house and retirement.” I admit that I foolishly accepted a large financial burden; people get the impression that I’m fiscally responsible for tackling it AND that I don’t actually have that much money to spare.

    1. How’d you find my site? I’m always curious to know.

      Starting off is easier because income is less and we all know how much folks make for the first 3-5 years more or less. But after the initial training phase, things get much more touchy as some people are superstars and achieve rocket income levels.

  39. Hey Sam,

    I gotta say man…another posting with plenty of room for discussion.

    Why withhold information from people? If someone asks, why not tell them? Plus it lets you know who your real friends are. Plus open discussions about money allow you to find out what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right with your cash.

    Excellent thrives in an environment of honest and transparency.



  40. When I made less than everyone else I knew, they treated me like I was a little inferior. When I started making more than everyone else I knew, they either became angry or expected me to pay for everything. There is no upside to revealing how much you make and frankly it’s no one else’s business.

  41. I do not like revealing my compensation at all, but I recently have for my last job and current one.

    I taught in Japan last year, and fellow English graduates wanted to know how much it paid. I did disclose this information to people I fully trusted or who were considering pursuing that role.

    I currently work as a technical writer, and in this area, not many English graduates are fortunate enough to land such a role. So, a fellow English major was curious about my pay. I hesitated and said that I did not wish to cause tension or comparisons. He has a steady job (recently received a promotion), and he wanted to know what a writer here could make. I reluctantly revealed my salary to him, and he congratulated me and said he was very happy that a fellow English major was doing well (even better than most we know, in regards to compensation with our degree).

    Others have asked me, and I told them (politely) that if they are curious, they can research the average salary for technical writers.

  42. Great advice, but my fiance, after 8 years, still won’t tell me how much money she makes…do I really need to know? Maybe not, but she surely knows how much I make due to all my colleagues makes the same amount. I think it is just as well. But, what if she doesn’t make that much and 20 years down the line, I have a great portfolio and am able to invest properly and she has nothing to show due to her not making good decisions on her money, yet she makes the same amount. Shouldn’t I be able to direct her to invest properly? I’m going to feel useless when we are both 65 and I’ve done it right and she hasn’t done a damn thing.

    1. I would certainly expect my fiancee to discuss finances, and in detail. However if your main concern is that she doesn’t live up to your standards you should do both of you a favor and end the engagement.

      1. Marsha Wernick

        Marrying a financially irresponsible individual for love is the height of stupidity. Your spouse will eventually drag you down into a pit of hell if you permit it. To believe that marriage is solely about love is incredibly naive. Good “chemistry,” trust, open communication, shared values, and a similar vision for your future together is the foundation for a sound union. Never settle for less.

  43. I think you did right by telling him. I think it was his fault for not evaluating the information correctly. If he was really low balled and his counter was almost 50% more then of course the company was probably not expecting to pay him that much more. If he was reasonable with the counter he could of got a foot in the door with that company, and then worked his way up to what he is worth down the road. Just my IMO.

  44. it’s always a mistake, but people, especially friends get huffy and persistent about demanding to know

  45. I agree with what you said. I feel frustrated whenever my mum or my relatives ask about my salary. Sometime, I don’t know how my salary concerns them. I scared if I were to tell my mum about my salary, she will ask for more despite I have other obligations like car loan and study loan. It gives me nerve-wrecking moments and total anxiety! I don’t know how to brush her off whenever she asks me about my salary. Hope you can advise! Thanks.

  46. From time to time, I share my compensation, I am an IT consultant, with three of my close friends. One of them owns IT business and the other is physician and third one is colleague (strange right). First two of them acknowledged that I make more money than most people. Strangely, physician who is in internal medicine told me that I make more than him too. Luckily, all of them are ‘true’ friends. Other than occasional remarks, both of them treat me well and none of the past relationship changed. The third one who happens to be my colleague happened to have lesser compensation than I did. So, we sort of planned in a way that he could get more compensation so it is almost on par with mine. To me friendship or relationship is give and take. I am always of the belief that the information you have should help so others (in particular close ones) and hopefully they leverage it constructively.

    My belief is that you should be share such sensitive information with close friends though my wife disagrees to the point that I am a fool. So far my openness with my friends and relatives worked for me. I get the same respect/warmth as before.

    I am open about everything not just financial stuff. They all appreciate my openness and it has served me well.

    I guess, it all depends on how you put it across so you do not come across as intimidating or arrogant. Sure, the relationship while strengthening, there could be some transition period where it could be little unsettling. In the end, it should work out fine as long as you choose right people as your friends. You will amazed

    It is lot of stress if you keep sensitive information to just to yourself. It is a great stress reliever too if you are open about things to your close friends and relatives. If at all, my relationships strengthened not that they were weak before.

    You can make out who your true friends are much before you share financial information.

  47. Sorry to put down your friend (I’m not, really), but this guy is an idiot. And worrying about what kind of information you share based on the actions of an idiot is also foolish.

    I’m not saying it’s a good idea to broadcast your earnings but worrying about alienating your so-called “friends” is not a reason to withhold that information. If you have people in your circle who would treat you any differently based on knowing your income then TELL THEM IMMEDIATELY SO YOU CAN IDENTIFY WHO THEY ARE AND GET RID OF THEM. There is no benefit to having people like that in your life. Iron sharpens iron and people that are worth having around will only be strengthened by your success. All others can quickly hit the curb.

  48. In the finance world everyone’s bonus (which represents >>50% of compensation in most cases) is usually public knowledge about 20 minutes after they find out what it is. Some people tell/brag/complain. Some people ask. Management leaks. A couple weeks before bonuses are decided is “campaign season” anyways so everyone’s been talking about it.

    It can definitely cause problems even though the industry is mostly thick skinned people and radical differences in compensation are the norm.

      1. Sort of on the periphery – I’m not employed by a finance firm. I actually work for an engineering firm, but I’m involved in the industry.

        Everything I’ve heard is that 2011 was pretty bad except for people associated with T-bond primary desks (MF Global excluded of course).

  49. So did your buddy buy a Maserati or an Aston Martin? In either case you guys must be making a lot of money because both cars are well over $100K!

    I generally agree with your thoughts, but that is probably because I have the sort of income that would mark me for death at an OWS encampment. Conspicuous consumption is frowned upon and it is nice to be able to fly under the radar as much as possible.

    In the overall discussion of personal finance there are one or two close friends that I do share income figures with when discussing goals and planning, if they are really your friends it should not be an issue.

  50. I don’t mind telling people how much I earn, probably because it is very average. I might be a little bit above average for my blue-collar profession, but less than average as compared to my white-collar counterparts.
    One of the early posts on my money blog talked talked precisely about my specific income. I figured folks out there might be curious about the income level of an average trucker.
    When my income increases though, due to investments and other ventures, I can definitely see the benefits to keeping it secret. Great post here and great advice!

  51. The Financial Blogger

    I also reveal my exact income from my day job and my online business on my blog. And I’ll do it in real life too… if someone ask for it. I would never come to my friends and family and tell them upfront how much I make… This would be seen as arrogance.

    However, I share my income with one of my friend as a source of motivation and because we always feel happy for him when he gets a raise, and vice-versa. So it’s not viewed as competition but more as encouragement when we talk about our income.

    There are plenty of people like Peter and I don’t think I want any of them to be my friend. If this guy was really your friend, he would not reconsider his friendship over a dollar sign. This has showed you how he values friendship.

    I like to know other’s people income as I am curious to know how people make their living. What great ideas they had. How they have built a successful company.

    Being jealous of someone because he is making more than you is just stupid. You just have to do what he does (e.g. all his sacrifices!) and you will be making the same income. It is as simple :-)

  52. I reveal my exact income every month since I do make it online, my readers got me there and seem inspired by knowing, and it keeps me going – like a kick in the pants to do even better. Would keeping my mouth shut be simpler? Yeah, but as long as my audience sees it as a positive rather than a negative, I’m blowing off the naysayers. ;-)

  53. Money Reasons

    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…

  54. 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.

      1. 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.

  55. 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!

  56. Had to change the link on my comment above. It still points out to my old site. Didn’t mean to spam your comment thread. :)

  57. 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.

  58. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

    1. As someone said, disclose your income, and see who your friends really are!

      Money is evil. I’m reminded of this every day. That’s why we have protesters on the streets!

  61. 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.

    1. It might be one thing if we are the same age, he went to the same schools, got the same grades, and worked at the same place. But he doesn’t.

      Yes, disappointing ex-friend indeed.

  62. Darwin's Money

    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?

      1. Darwin's Money

        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.

  63. One downside of telling your friends how much you make is you end up forking up up the bill more often every time you go out. =(

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. Simple Rich Living

    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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

    1. $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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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

  74. Andrea @SoOverDebt

    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!

      1. Andrea @SoOverDebt

        $36k a year before I changed jobs. If I had to estimate my annual income based off the last 7 pay periods, it would be less than minimum wage.

        See? No one is jealous. No one is upset. Because I don’t make squat. :)

        1. Cool! That means incremental blog income can make a big difference for you! Which should motivate you more than others who make more. You are in a very fortunate position!

        2. i’m sort of jealous xD. i make $1.67K dollars/year. and god its pathetic. i know we don’t even live in the same country or pay the same expenses but if i own a dog i might not be able to feed him with the 140$ that i make xD. fuck it xD. i work as a TA in some university & the irony is that my tuition / year was 2.78K. It’s like they’re telling me that their degree isn’t actually worth 2.7k/year it’s just 1.67k

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

    1. 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!

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

  81. 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!

  82. 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?

    1. I would have lied and told him something that was only about 10-20% higher than what he made. We had a decent relationship, which is now non existant. Relationships are important to me…. way more important than money. This is where money is so evil.

  83. 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.

    1. 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.

  84. 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?

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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).

    1. Only upside baby! It’s OK to reveal if you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Just don’t when you start making much more than them.

      Yes, showing income on your blog to make money is a good strategy for making more money. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  88. 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. :)

    1. 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!

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. Sandy -

    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.

      1. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

        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.


        1. 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!

  92. Eric J. Nisall

    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.

      1. Eric J. Nisall

        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?

        1. 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.

    1. World of Finance

      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. :)

  93. 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.

    1. Give it several more years and keep telling everyone. Right now, you are at the beginning of your career, so it’s all upside. After 5-10 years, go ahead and continue asking and telling everyone how much you make above and BELOW you. Let me know how it goes.

      1. He said he only tells the right people, not “everyone.” Please learn how to read Financial Samurai and also don’t be jealous that someone has real friends who he feels comfortable sharing this information and it has not affected his relationships. I tell all my friends (I make more than all of them) and work to better my friends and help them make more by giving them the advice that got me where I am. They expect nothing and are eternally greatful now that their funds are starting to increase based on my advice. This is real friendship and it’s unfortunately you’ve never experienced it.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. Roshawn @ Watson Inc

    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.

    1. Jon - Free Money Wisdom

      I totally agree with you. It is none of their business. It is sad that Peter would ditch a friendship due to jealousy. I guess if you want to find out who your true friends are reveal your income bracket. ha!

  97. 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.


      1. Maya Mattern

        I read this article too late. My husband and I are 6-7 years into “real jobs” after college and we both make more than his mom and dad. We live in Ct and they live in the South so it probably amounts to the same. Originally, we revealed our income because we were excited to have jobs and then every promotion thereafter.. It was a celebration for us and we were sharing our happiness. Recently, we paid off our student loans and finally have some room for our wants.

        Also recently, our relationship dynamic with his parents has changed. They expect us to take them out to restaurants and pay the bill every time when we visit. This Thanksgiving they asked us to pay them 200 bucks in electricity bill as the usage went up when we were visiting. We aren’t rich by any means but they think so. They think if we make x dollars, then we should spend the entire x dollars. My FIL recently revealed what he wanted for Christmas (a gadget that cost more than our entire xmas budget) and I knew then that telling them about our promotion was a bad idea.

    1. I think that revealing income and the job itself to some family members or friends can be bad EVEN if you earn very little. They judge you based on money without even realizing it.
      My story is this. I earn a below average income. Most of my family members earn two-three times more, and some five-six times more. I was always glad for them. It seems they are so lucky. But I would expect them to love me for me and appreciate me at least because I am financially self-sufficient. No matter how little I earn, I always have an emergency cushion. I don’t have any credit card debt nor mortgage debt. And if I get in any financial trouble(unexpected expenses/bills), I NEVER ask for money because I have my dear (saved by me) Emergency Cushion friend that is always there for me.
      On top of that, I love my job and yet still look for other better opportunities(no matter how many years it takes). I love my money and never complain that it is too little. In fact, I feel like I have more than enough to live very comfortably. I am a saver by habit and don’t like to spend much. So, I tend to save money easily. I simply wanted to share my happiness with the family because right now I work as a cleaning person for a company that pays the highest income (BUT the highest of all the lowest incomes). And i did share.
      The fact that I am enjoying this job, finding it stress-free and learning from it (possibly thinking to open my own cleaning business) , the fact that I spend my money responsibly and live self-sufficiently, the fact that I’m NOT just a lazy person who ignored school but rather FINISHED two universities with excellence (have one Bachelor’s and one Masters’ degrees), the fact that I’ve been looking for a job for over 7 years since graduation but couldn’t find anything in my field and then instead of sitting on my ass and waiting for a perfect job I took any other job just to start making money for myself so that i can pay off my student loans, the fact that I never complained about not having the right job or having too little money no matter how little I had ( for some time even living on food stamps after graduation) – all those facts didn’t matter. What mattered to my family is that I have a “bad” kind of job (cleaning is not of high reputation in my family) and that the income I get is below average, which means I must be really “stupid” ( I am looked at as a failure). They rather have me to be all in debt, and live in deficit but drive mercedes, or better ferrari, and appear “successful” so that their family’s reputation is high.
      So, when I shared my story with them about my job, all I got back was excessive amount of pity and sorry, almost with tears. They kept asking “Is something wrong with you?” or “But you have brains, don’t you?” , ” Oh, you have such a bad life…. you deserve more”, or “I’m so sorry you have such a shitty job”…………..All those comments showed me that they value me based on how much I make. I wanted support and encouragement, but I got pity and discouragement. Those comments drained me out of happiness. And I decided to never talk to them about where I work or how much i make any more.
      If one day i make million dollars, I’ll pretend like nothing happened. If one day I lose a job and end up destitute, I ‘ll never let them know (never even going to ask for help – I rather sleep on the street than go and ask them for help) because I know they would not lift me up, they would drag me down(mentally and spiritually).

      1. I was a cleaner and now I make 3 figures yearly.Your will is all that matters.And it really is not the size of a dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in a dog.All the best to you.

      2. Wow, powerful. What you wrote is exactly how I feel. I cannot share my joys or failures with my family without being put down ALL the time. They compete with me too. I have reached a place where I rather struggle than be around them. This resonated with me. Thank you for sharing and congrats on building and awesome life for yourself without anyone’s approval., you are an inspiration.

      3. So sorry to hear that. You are a mentally strong person and don’t need anyone’s approval. You work hard and don’t rely on hand outs. You are a victor not a victim. I wish you so much success!

    2. McAllen Bell

      To play the devils advocate…First, to blame yourself for Peter’s misfortune seems wrong to me. You provided him with information, but he made decisions based on that information. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked? Maybe he should have thought about what percentile of income for your specific job you fall in, and whether it is reasonable for him to ask for more or higher? There’s a ton of variables.

      I’m defending you, and your decision to tell him for a few reasons. For one, much like religion and politics, income seems to be a taboo conversation point. I think this exists because historically, we have societally decided this is some sort of value placer in our community. Obviously this is not the case, the most respected figures in history typically did not make alot of money. It seems as though Peter is believing the lie that your total gross income represents your true worth or that he is some how getting screwed over by “doing the same job for less”.

      The first lie can be debunked relatively easily. In the US, relative satisfaction with life tapers off around the 65,000 mark, and most people fall within the highest scores making 30,000 or more. On a world stage, 33,000 puts an indiviual in the richest 1 percent(not adjusted for inflation/deflation, but still powerful).

      The second lie about ‘same job for less’ is a bit harder to map out. You and Peter may perform identical duties on a daily basis. He may make 20% less than you. It could be true that your boss/company is just better at pay distrubution than Peter’s. It happens all the time, again, no reason to blame you. Assumming they are equal however, what is not factored in is the relationship, communication,reciprocation, CHEMISTRY and other intangibles that your company/boss feels merits the extra pay. I make a modest living, like right at the median/mean, so I’m not sure if this changes as you go up. I know plenty of guys who make bank, not because they are more talented than everyone else, but because their direct supervisor finds it easy to work with/coach/criticize them..and that shit is invaluable.. I’ve seen guys making 25 an hour doing a 12 an hour shift because of this.

      The most important reason that I think you did the right thing is because I believe in transparency. The guy wanted to know, and you had the information. I feel like secrets are just bad for biz in all ways. The average employee needs to know what the average skill set should expect wage wise to feel valued. At the end of the day, all sucessful companies have to have employees that feel like they are paid fairly and treaed equally. How are they supossed to know this without asking others?

      Maybe Peyter was getting screwed. Maybe that job would’ve taken away is life and free time for sub-prime wages and ten years in he wouldve had massive regrets…Who knows? Maybe he’s mad right now, but I think you did it right and I wouldve too.

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