Why don’t we talk about money?

People quite openly talk about their marriages, problems with having kids, weight problems, health problems but when it comes to money, the clam up. Ask someone “how much money do you earn?” or “how much are you worth?” and watch them squirm before they say “I’m not telling you!!” So, why don’t people talk about money?

As a financial planner, I need to know a person’s earnings, wealth as well as their health, whether they plans to have more kids as well as what their ambitions are in life. People have no problem in disclosing this information to me as it is in a professional setting.

Is money a sign of success?

Is how much money you earn the only sign of success? I have met plenty of people in high paying jobs who are miserable. The money is the only reason that they drag themselves out of bed every day and into work. I wouldn’t call that be a success, that’s being miserable.

I also know people who have given up well paid jobs to pursue their passions. They have given up having money to spend their days doing something they really love. They may not have a lot of money, but they sure are happier than they were before.

We probably know anyway

Enda Kenny earns €185,000. Richie Boucher earns €690,000. A teacher’s starting salary is €31,009. Recruitment agencies carry out and publish salary surveys every year. It is not that difficult to know what kind of ball park figure people are earning anyway. So why hide it?

If someone is doing well, we can see it anyway. Your lifestyle will usually change to reflect the disposable income you have available. Even if it’s not as obvious as moving to a big house or bigger car, it can be in the quality of the clothes you wear or the restaurants you frequent.

Don’t want to be seen as a show off

This is a real Irish thing, people don’t want to be seen as having done well. If someone work hards and makes a success of themselves, they should be rewarded. It is not something they should be ashamed of. In fact, it is something to be proud of.

It is beneficial to be open about salaries

For my first job, the graduate salary that I started on was £11,700. A friend of mine from college joined the same company a few months later. However, she told me that they were paying her £12,500. I was able to go back to my manager and tell her that the graduate starting salary had increased by £800 a year and that I should have that salary too. It took a while to get it but I got it. If we didn’t talk about money, I would have never have got that increase (it was a lot of money to someone starting out in their first job).

A client of mine has a number of friends and ex-colleagues who all work in the same industry but in different companies. They quite openly discuss salaries to ensure that none of them are being underpaid compared to their peers. By being open about what they earn, they are all helping each other out.

If you know the answer as to why people don’t talk about money, send me an email at steven@bluewaterfp.ie.