How Much Do You Make?
These are things that should be shouted from the mountain tops
Some exciting news for those of you reading today! This is officially Mixed Up Money's 100th blog post! *holds for applause* And SURPRISE! I have something a little bit different for you. See, my husband has been asking me for months (and months) if he would be able to guest post. Which if you haven't yet noticed, is not something I normally do. But, when you get married you do things, like "love the one you're with" or whatever. And, let's not forget the fact that he majored in Journalism.
Nonetheless, I will now introduce to you to a guest post by Mr. Mixed Up Money. Enjoy!
This is a conundrum (yes, finally found a use for that word) that has puzzled me for some time.
It’s a thought that has no doubt crossed our minds when with family, colleagues, friends, and even strangers.
Yes – the issue of talking about money, salary, income, or particularly, how much ‘we make’.
There’s surely 1000 ways to ask it…
“How much does that pay?”
“How much are you making at the new gig?…”
But, we feel the need to attach a certain suffix to soften the blow:
“…if you don’t mind me asking”
When in reality, they should not mind you asking and you should not mind sharing, because in the grand scheme of things that number means very little.
After all, the number you are asking about doesn’t reveal the dirty little secrets that people really should mind you asking about. Could you imagine if the roles were reversed?
“How long could you afford that car on no income?”
“Hey remember that $60/month gym membership you don’t use – how’s that workin’ out?” (major pun intended)
“So, how much debt are you in?... I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.”
Those are the tough questions. Those are the ones that will make people squirm, lie or avoid answering. And understandably so.
Out of curiosity to gain perspective, I consulted Google (naturally) in an attempt to understand just why it is so offensive to ask a person about their income.
I get it. Coming right out and asking somebody straight up is strikingly forward and can come off as a bit intrusive, whether the person is prepared to answer truthfully or not. So, perhaps it’s best you don’t lead with that.
Anyways, I kept seeing answers from those particularly financially endowed that struck a chord with me:
"People don’t like to be asked how much they make because they don’t want to be valued on the perceived size of their wallet, especially when they have been raised with strong values and exemplify strong character. The type you would never guess are so well off."
What I’m getting at, is that these are the numbers people ought to be proud of, and no doubt they are.
Healthy compensation and job security in a role you enjoy.
Monetizing something you are passionate about.
These are things that should be shouted from the mountain tops.
A contributor to the issue is surely going about it the wrong way by coming off too aggressive.
So, when it comes time and you feel the time appropriate to open that dialogue, you want to suppress your inner wolf (of wall street):
Donnie Azoff: How much money you make? Jordan Belfort: $70,000 last month. Donnie Azoff: Get the fuck outta here! Jordan Belfort: Well technically, $72,000 last month. Donnie Azoff: You show me a pay stub for $72,000, I quit my job right now and work for you. [later, on the phone] Donnie Azoff: Hey Paulie, what's up? No, everything's fine. Hey listen, I quit!
Okay, while that’s a bit extreme. The point of all of this is that I am never against further opening the conversation about money, and if you follow this blog, you likely aren’t either.
I mean, my younger brother thinks he is getting married next spring and hasn’t started an investment account...
I think - "What is this madness? Have I taught you nothing?!"
There will always be more polite and sensitive ways to ask, especially when it comes to those you care about – but, can we finally drop any underlying tones of shame?
By sharing education and knowledge, we can help each other, in turn helping ourselves.
So the next time you find yourself curious about someone’s finances, remain as objective as possible. You can even convey to them you are asking for the purpose of knowledge, rather than trying to pass judgement.
And of course, know the timing and understand your audience. Sometimes sharing our income with others is helpful, rather than hurtful. After all, I find it nothing but beneficial to share with people who work in a similar industry.
Ever had someone ask you how much you make and not know how to respond? Let me know in the comments!