Jul 16 2012

Do you tell people how much money you make?


A few days ago, someone commented on an archived post:

“At first, this blog seemed incredibly useful.  However, I find it hard to use your blog as a useful tool as it leaves out information about the most important factor in balancing one’s budget: income.  We can see how much you spend per month, but we can’t see how much you earn, so there’s no context.  Would you consider providing that information for readers, in order to make it a more useful tool (or maybe it’s here but I’m just missing it).” — Nora

I posted the gist of her comment to my site’s Facebook page to get some additional opinions.

I wanted to know:  when reading finance blogs, is it actually helpful to know a blogger’s household income so you know how she prioritizes her spending and saving and the sort, or does it really matter?

Some folks said it was nobody’s business and I am entitled to some privacy. Some said percentages could be helpful, perhaps. Others said that income dollar amounts are only relevant to people who live in the same area I do. Similar expenses, tax rates, etc.

I’m inclined to agree. I don’t think sharing Shane’s exact income does much to help keep my story in context and I don’t think it particularly helps any of you with your own financial goals. In fact, Nora was the first person in almost 5 years of blogging here who wanted to know income specifics.

I know some people openly and willingly share how much money they make, and they don’t think anything is wrong with that. It’s just a different perspective, I guess. Maybe a cultural thing?

As for me, I prefer not to disclose it. Actually, I felt more comfortable sharing our income when we were first starting out but as income increased, I’ve wanted to keep that to myself a bit more. (I have disclosed my blog earnings, but I feel that’s more meta. I blog, and I feel just fine telling you how much money that earns me).

Oh, and as far as percentages go, I’m not sure since we’re still coming up with a new budget. (Shane’s income will be variable — he has a base salary and then a bonus for billable hours worked). But for percentages sake, I’d estimate our new budget to include:

– Roughly 5% income invested for college (total, not per kid)

– Somewhere around 20-33% invested for retirement. It will depend on his bonus. Doesn’t look like there’s an employer match for Shane, as far as we know, and there’s not even a 401k yet but that’s in the works. So we want to increase our contributions now and let time work in our favor.

I don’t know the percentage for other savings goals right now. And since I told you how much we have in expenses, I can’t tell what % of our income is basic expenses :p.

What about you? Do you tell people how much money you make, or do keep that private?

Posted under Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Do you tell people how much money you make?”

  1. I’m really uncomfortable sharing my actual numbers because I don’t blog anonymously. I’d find it really weird if my students knew how much I was making =\ I use percentages of my spending though. I don’t usse percentages of my investments/savings because for security reasons I think it’s good to keep that safe (again, because I’m not anonymous)

  2. I don’t share numbers, but I have hinted at percentages. So a person could easily figure out how much we earn per month. I would just hate for someone that I personally know to know.

  3. I personally would not share that information with anyone. Most of the time I can figure out whether people have more or less money than us by how they live. I know it doesn’t seem accurate but it is a close ballpark figure. We are not jotting around the world and live in a multi-million dollar home with servants. Get my drift?

  4. The purpose of budgeting is to live within your means so how much you make is only relevant to each individual case.

  5. I agree. Besides, every area is different as far as cost of living, taxes, etc. And every family is different – your health, your interests/hobbies, # of kids… You might have free babysitting available while I might have to budget for that, etc. It would be impossible to compare and I think knowing your salary wouldn’t really help me budget. I could see percentages being helpful, but even then it’s conditional. (A good example might be medical costs… just because you make the same salary doesn’t mean you have the same health benefits or you spend the same amount on healthcare.)

    I think better is teaching people critical thinking, and how to make these kind of decisions for themselves. We all have different ideas as to where our money should go. (Some people spend more for organic food, others don’t.) Being able to evaluate your own income and make those adjustments is key.

  6. Kacie, I would never share that information online. It opens up a whole can of worms. (I know, because my husband’s salary is public record.)

    Half of your readers will discount your perspective immediately. “How can you be frugal when you make so much money a year?” and “If you can’t eat well on that income, there’s something wrong with you!”

    Meanwhile, others will criticize you for not spending ENOUGH relative to income. “Why DON’T you buy only organic everything for your children? Not only are you cheap, you are a bad mother!”

    The irony is that it can be harder to stick to a budget as income increases. A first world problem, but true in my experience! I am grateful beyond belief that my husband has been successful in his field, but I won’t apologize for the years of night classes and weekends spent painting and scraping it took to get us to this point–knowing that it could all be gone tomorrow.

    Writing about personal spending is transparent enough, and you do a great job of analyzing yours without opening yourself to personal judgement.

  7. Thank you for your feedback!

    Ashley yeah you have a point — health insurance can be a big factor. When we were in Pittsburgh we had a Cadillac of a plan and it was so cheap, but I know it’s going to be up there with Shane’s new job at a small company.

    And Meredith — good to hear from you!! I think your words are so wise.

    Another drawback to posting my husband’s salary — if a current or future employer happened to come across my site that could be a negative thing for negotiating.

    I can still be frugal even though we’re above the poverty line, but I do open myself up to criticism and internet trolls.

    And lol about the organic comment! So very true.

    I do think it’s tricky to be good with pay increases. Even a small cost-of-living-raise we had to be very careful that we didn’t just blow it. That’s part of why I love automating transfers to my savings account.

  8. I guess that’s a very personal information to share. Even to people who are already close because it could be a source of misunderstanding.. But it’s an indispensable information for job hiring.

  9. I’m not all that comfortable with disclosing income either. Money is a very emotive thing and changes relationships. Best to keep it to yourself, be generous when you are able to be and not have other’s opinions cloud your spending priorities.

  10. I don’t feel like your posts/suggestions are income-specific. I want to be wise with my money whether my income is a little or a lot. Plus, no one’s spending and saving habits are going to be exactly the same, so I don’t see how it would be worth your family’s loss of privacy. I think people should be reading your blog for suggestions on how they can be money-wise, rather than an exact budget.

  11. I agree with you, I don’t think it is necessary to disclose your income. I’m not into disclosing how much we earn as a combined income. In my job, the pay scales are all equal, so anyone can ask me what scale on and they can instantly know how much I get per year (it goes up every year on the anniversary of when you started). We are currently building a house, and I am continually astounded by the questions we get about money. People ask the exact price of the house,t he exact price of the land, it doesn’t take much for their little minds to start ticking over to work out how much our mortgage might be. I find it incredibly rude that people even ask. My brother asked recently how much it all cost, but it was because they are looking into building themselves, but with others I get the impression they just want to work out how much better off or worse off than us they are.

  12. Yeah that’s pretty forward to ask straight-up how much your house cost. I disclosed that info on my blog because I figured, it IS public record, and if any of my friends wanted to look that up they could. Still, I don’t think people should assume a really expensive house means someone has a high income, or an inexpensive house means the other.

  13. YUCK! No, you should NOT disclose your income. From personal experience, telling people or friends how much I make has not been a positive experience. Regarding one “friend”, EVERYTHING comes back to how much money I make. They say things like “If I had your money, I wouldn’t need or want a man either.” “If I made your money, I would loan it if a friend needed it.” “If I made as much as you, I would do XYZ, or buy someone ABC,etc.” Not to mention, I’ve had to give up going out with said person, whether to eat or anything else, I end up paying for the entire meal, I end up paying for all the gas and snacks. I end up footing the bill for everything because in their little minds “I have so much money.” I don’t think it pays to tell people how much you make, unless of course, you want to PAY for everything :-)

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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