Talking about salary

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I've gotten some hits recently from my comments on Blueprint for Financial Prosperity when he talked about how not so general salary discussion was common among him and his friends.

I commented that this was true of me and a hadnful of my friends also. Now, this is a small group of guys littered around the US, so it's not like we get together every month and slap down our paychecks on the table, but of this group I have a good idea what they make (I think) and they also have a pretty good idea what I make. It is comfortable for us, and in no way awkward. It allows us to have better, deeper conversations about how our jobs and personal lives are going. It also relays a since of trust between us that I don't know we would feel otherwise.

I have also discussed my earnings with both my parents. While my dad was not too great with money for a large portion of his life, my mom seems to be the exact opposite. They are divorced, and have been for a very long time.

When I first got a job offer, I was floored that someone actually wanted to give me so much money for something that I would have done for free, at least for the time being (not so much anymore) I couldn't wait to tell my parents what their son was going to get paid, thinking that they would see, appreciate, and feel a sense of pride that their son was so successful. This was what I got from both my parents at the time.

A little backstory. While my dad has never been the kind of guy to tell me what he makes, he has understood that some basic undestanding of salary and job worth is a good thing for me to know. My mom on the other hand never talked to me about personal finance except to tell me she keeps an emergency fund in her account at all times. She never talked to me about budgeting, investing or retirement.

Back to the story...

When I told my parents I would be able to work in my field and get paid well to do it, they were both very happy for me. Over time though, when profit sharing time came aournd, when I got raises (over ten grand in three years) and I would talk about them with my mom, she would be happy. But every once in awhile I would talk about some purchase, and she would insuate that such purchase would obviously be no problem for me, and other comments that would make it seem like I was "Mr. Moneybags." Now, I do not think that she did this intentionally, but when conversations of money would come up, conversations would get tense and uncomfortable on both sides. Because of this, I do not talk with my mom about money in not so general terms. "My bonus this year was very nice" and "I got a good raise this year" are phrases that I use now.

I miss not being able to tell her I got a $3000 raise, or my bonus was $2000. It makes me feel like there is a part of my life that I view a parent should be a part of is not open to me. it makes me think twice about what I share with her now. Make sure not to do this to your kids, and if you do this to your kids, stop. If you do, you might miss out on other non money related times in their life because they don't know how you might hold it against them later.