Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Someone Asked Me!

Hey, I'm back! What a time to have to be away on a business trip... the post asking people to post how much they made got a huge number of responses and I haven't even caught up on reading them all! Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment and was willing to share a bit of their salary story.
In the meantime, while I was away, I had dinner with a group of people that included a former colleague and friend of mine, someone I have known for many years now. I wouldn't say we're extremely close, but I see him a couple times a year and we often manage to have a meal together and he's just really easy to talk to about a lot of things. We dissect our relationships, talk about mutual colleagues, and discuss life in general. Let's call him Buddy.
This time, he asked me how my job was going and then said, "Well it sounds like you're doing well. You must be making 6 figures now, right?" I sort of laughed and made some kind of non-answer remark. Then he said, "No, really, how much money are you making?" to which I stupidly replied "You're asking me how much money I make?!?"
Of course, part of my brain was thinking how weird this was, given what was happening on my blog at that very moment! And perhaps partially because of that, and partially because I thought it could do no harm, I admitted to Buddy that I did think I'd hit the six figure mark in total salary plus bonus by the end of this year for the first time. He congratulated me, and seemed a little surprised I wasn't making more. Perhaps that is just polite flattery, but of course it reinforces my impression that I may be a little underpaid! But then Buddy proceeded to tell me his entire salary history over the 12 years or so that I've known him, being quite specific!
It was actually really interesting. He lives in a different part of the country, and he is about 10 years older than me, so it's not like there was any apples-to-apples comparison. He also has some fringe benefits thrown in, like a company car. But he's never had a salary higher than the low 80's, and in recent years has even been quite a bit lower due to a layoff or two. He is single and childless, and said he does have some money saved for retirement, and I think he lives pretty well. But he's not in the cheapest part of the country, and at his age, I was surprised he wasn't making more.
Anyway, the money discussion didn't last too long and we soon went back to talking about all his ex-girlfriends instead, but it was a fascinating intersection of real life and blog life! Now I have to go back to reading all those other stories!


SavingDiva said...

It's great that you have a friend that you can have such open financial conversations with. All of my friends avoid talk about finances...and prefer to talk about weddings and clothes...

frugal zeitgeist said...

I'll have conversations like that with a very few trusted friends. They all know I'm obsessed with personal finance anyway.

Last night, I posted a corollary to your question about asking people how much money they make. My question was about asking people how much they save. I'm curious to know the answer to this one if anyone's willing to share:


PS - welcome back!

Anonymous said...

From my experience, friends, acquaintances, and those I've been in relationships with have been more than willing to share extremely personal details about themselves. But oddly when it comes to talking about finances and about how much they make, everyone suddenly becomes nervous and on guard. I guess it's still a strangely taboo subject.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, people talk more freely about sex than about money. One of my fellow guy friends has a rule that he won't date a woman with a FICO below 700. It doesn't matter if she's a 10 on other scales. No FICO, no dessert.

"What's your sign?" has now become "What's your FICO?".

Btw, I'm a 34 yo male (760 FICO).

Anonymous said...

I would also be interested in knowing how much people save, as a percentage of their total income. I work with a lady who lives on 50% of her income and saves/invests the other half. I am not even close to being able to do that.

Sicilian said...

A lot of the responses to your question are the very same situation as you and your friend represent. It is all kind of relative to where you live and what things cost.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty open about it, at least online. But then I'm so deeply in debt that...I don't know, it doesn't seem important anymore. Kinda like how when you're a tween you don't talk about your period, but you get to college and you're discussing it with your roommates or something.

But I don't like being asked about it by others unless there is a good reason.

VixenOnABudget said...

At my age (21), all of my coworkers compare how much money they make. I work in a restaurant and it is quite standard to ask other servers what they made in a night. A difficult component of servings is that I honestly don't know what I actually make in a year. Tips vary during different seasons. There are dry spells and wonderfully fertile seasons.

Anyhow, my point was that I've noticed the privacy in regards to money doesn't seem to emerge until later on in life. While people my age freely talk about it, my other friends who are older are much more reserved. To be honest, I have no clue how much money even my boyfriend makes (he's older), nor would I ever ask. It seems tacky and invasive.