Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Financial Confidantes

Here's an interesting topic, via All Financial Matters and One Frugal Girl-- who do you confide in about money matters?

I was thinking about this the other night, after having dinner with my friend Mortimer. We hadn't seen each other in a couple of months, so we were catching up on all sorts of things, including his job. He came right out and told me that he was going to be getting a raise from $65k to $70k at the beginning of next year. It's not the first time he's openly told me his salary, and I think in the past, I've been equally open with him. More recently, I haven't been, because he's been struggling somewhat, while I've been doing well, and it just seemed a bit uncomfortable to bring up.
I think the root of this may have been in the mutual friend who introduced us long ago, who I'll call Edgar. Mortimer and Edgar met about 25 years ago, when they were both sales clerks in a retail store. They both worked their way up to become managers, and then branched off into different career paths, but I think those humble beginnings in a store where everyone knew the hourly starting rate perhaps led to a degree of openness they might not otherwise have had. And when I started hanging out with the two of them, I kind of fell into the same kind of openness when we'd talk about jobs and finances. This was about 15 years ago-- the other key thing is that back then, none of us really had much money. We were all working at low-level jobs and could barely make ends meet, even though Mortimer and Edgar are older than me.
In the years since, I've been lucky and gotten a bit further in my career than either of them had by my age. Mortimer went through a phase of unemployment and health problems that was a major setback for his financial security (I wonder if anyone would get it if I had titled a previous post about him "Mortimer'S need"). Edgar is probably doing alright, but we've fallen out of touch with him ever since he moved to be with his boyfriend, Charlie. (Mortimer may have been a bit jealous-- he couldn't speak or move for a while after Edgar left.)

Anyway, I do have other friends with whom I talk around financial issues, but there really isn't anyone else I can think of who just tells me their salary like that... except for about 200 commenters on this blog! (oops, and my friend Buddy.)


Anonymous said...

Interesting topic, I'll be checking the responses. Personally I tell nobody about my salary etc, although I love to discuss retirement accounts, savings rates, brokerage fees, etc in general. I was kicking myself last year when I did tell an acquaintance what I earned and saved in some detail, and he later became good friends with some work colleagues. My spouse doesn't give a damn about that sort of thing, and we've had a few arguments when he's given away what I earn to his friends.

Anonymous said...

I don't talk to too many people about my finances aside from my immediate family, not because of the confidential nature, but because most people don't share the same financially organized mindset that I have.

I find most people have incorrect financial knowledge or financial fear that prevents them from really discussing and understanding about the subject matter.


beth said...

I'm pretty candid with my sister (I know roughly what she makes, and if I asked, she'd tell me; the reverse of all that is also true). I'm pretty candid about money in general on my personal blog, but I don't specify my salary.

Anonymous said...

I find my workplace (the United States Air Force) to be very open about financial discussions, but it likely stems from the fact that everyone's salary is published. All you need to do is look at their rank and the pay tables. Additionally, my office are all in about the same stage of our careers and encountering similar speed bumps, so the team effort to problem solving that we us in our daily business is easliy applied to finincial questions. It definately helps and has led me places I doubt I would have found otherwise.

thisisbeth said...

I'm a very private person, so not only do I not talk in detail to anyone about finances, it's true of most things. My baby sister (okay, she's 22) and I will sometimes talk in general--more me telling her what she should do because I regret not doing them (not in life, but rather in savings).

E.C. said...

In addition to my parents and brother, I'm pretty open about finances with a few of my friends. We have equivalent fellowships and state scholarships so we're all getting the same amount of money to live on. There doesn't seem to be much point to keeping secrets.

Anonymous said...

I just talked with another couple in our home group. We will try to track our expenses for a month. We'll try to hold each other accountable to get through the month.

This is the first time I've offered to open up my finances to another couple, so it will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

I don't talk about my salary with anyone, but I do make suggestions to one of my coworkers who has a lot of debt. I think most of the time my suggestions fall on deaf ears, but considering her situation, I'm not surprised. I'm also pretty sure that because I'm single and don't have a husband and child, she thinks everything is so much easier for me. I don't mind helping with $$, if asked, but I rarely share with others how I do what I do with my money.

Bitty said...

My best friend probably knows more about my money than my kids, but if they asked, I'd tell them.

Like anonymous, my salary is public record. In fact, it's somewhere on the internet, although what's there doesn't take into account my summer pay or some other extra things I've done around the workplace to get extra dough.

But I do talk to said best friend about money and she to me, and to my kids, and it's partly because things have been looking up so much lately. If things were bad, they wouldn't hear much because I wouldn't want them to worry. In a few weeks, when something I've been working on finalizes, I'll even blog about it.

Anonymous said...

My salary was published in a national magazine earlier this year, along with my name and photo so it's silly to hide now. I only really discuss it with my nearest and dearest, though.