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$69,488 – is this TMI?

May 12, 2010

Did any of you catch the article on sharing your net worth publicly in the New York Times Magazine Preview?  I read it with utter fascination — not only did it talk about the taboo of sharing your money information online, but it also talked about the natural human nature to compare and compete on everything, including net worth.  It may be human nature, but it is pretty silly to compete with others on net worth.  I believe it is only a useful statistic for comparing yourself to yourself, or your numbers to your own personal plans and dreams.

Interestingly, I came across this article when a college acquaintance linked to it on Facebook, adding his own comment that sharing net worth was TMI.  But why?   When I hear “TMI” I generally think of gross bodily functions that no one needs to hear about.  Is talking about your finances equally disgusting as talking about your bowels?   I wouldn’t share my numbers with family or friends – primarily because of the huge taboo.  If it was just something that everyone did, would that be such a bad thing?

The non-anonymous people in the article are brave, but I wouldn’t want to join them.  It makes other people uncomfortable if you share the details with them – yet so many are intensely curious about it at the same time!  I’ve even become less comfortable with it on my blog!  It seemed like a moot point when my net worth was negative, but now that it is increasing, I feel like it could be seen as boasting.  Look at me.  Look how lucky I am! You know?  (Then there are those who would laugh at the idea of my number being worth boasting about.)

Do you share your net worth on your blog?  How about with your friends and family?  How do you feel about it?  Do you think that public net worth information is TMI?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2010 12:47 pm

    I share my networth on the blog, but NEVER in real life. I think it would make other people uncomfortable and I don’t think having other people know really gives any benefit at all.

  2. May 12, 2010 1:05 pm

    I reached the point of discomfort once I hit six figures, and even moreso once Chad and I combined accounts. Once people found my online photos (and real name! Well, old real name…), I was almost relieved to hide everything.

    I still plan to share the information, but probably just in terms of gains &/or losses and maybe a giant post on it a few times a year. I feel much better knowing that the guy searching for porn isn’t going to stumble upon my name and net worth, you know?

  3. May 12, 2010 1:07 pm

    hey sp, delurking to say i’ve been reading your blog for over a year, love it, and appreciate your honesty! i finally got around to kicking off my own blog and have been struggling with the same thing. i’ve always been very open about my finances with everyone in my life b/c i’ve been in a bit of a unique situation, and it’s been interesting to see how some people are very uncomfortable with it while others find it refreshing. and while i used to be a more nose-to-the-ground kind of person with my own stuff, ever since i really started reading pf blogs, i find myself feeling less and less adequate (so silly!), only because so many people are sooo ahead of where i am. it’s pretty interesting, since none of the writers i follow use their blog as a “look at my pf awesomeness” platform, and it’s all about how i (the reader) internalize that!

    so i’m striving for balance, in what i share (regardless of what i’m comfortable with), and how much comparing i end up doing (since that’s going to get me nowhere). this sentiment is what i started my blog with. i don’t know if i’ll end up sharing real numbers once i get those posts, still debating and looking around the blogosphere to see what others are doing.

    going back to sharing net worth numbers in general, i’ve wondered (and discussed with friends) if it’s an american thing (or a “western” thing, “first world” thing, what have you). i come from a totally different culture and it never seemed to be that big of an issue, but then again, most everyone was poor or just not well off, so nothing to talk about. 🙂 i grew up around a lot of people from the same area and have seen them settle down in the US and start making some money after being here for a while, becoming more tight-lipped about it in the process. it may not be as much of a cultural thing, but i’m wondering if others have similar experiences or thoughts about this?

  4. May 12, 2010 1:10 pm

    I don’t currently share my networth or my salary but I’m not opposed to it. I’m still a relatively new blogger so perhaps eventually I get to it. In my real life, I don’t share this figure with friends but I have with trusted family members (my dad, for instance). It’s a touchy subject because I don’t want people to make assumptions of what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my money if they knew how much I make. But if everyone shared their incomes that would stimulate some interesting conversations! I have to admit that I’m curious about what some of my friends make but I’d never have the audacity to ask.

  5. May 12, 2010 1:12 pm

    I love being anonymous and I love it that way. It’s much easier to share info then. I try to be careful with what I share. 😉

  6. May 12, 2010 3:13 pm

    The absolute, only real reason to NEVER let people from my real life mix with my online net worth and expense posting life is what Eric Mill in the article said happened:

    “at one point a potential client, after telling him that he had seen Mill’s negative net worth online, tried to lowball him on a job, letting him know that he assumed that Mill probably needed the money. ”

    I do NOT want any clients saying: oh I see you have _____ in this bank account and you spent _____ last month?

    Very uncomfortable. Same with old friends seeing that. I’d be okay with very good friends, but not others who will judge me upon what I spend, earn and have in my savings.

    If people ask, and are willing to share THEIR money #s and really genuinely want to hear about how you handle your cash, I am willing to tell them everything.

    If not, forget it. It’s extra info that they have, and I don’t about them.

  7. May 12, 2010 6:55 pm

    I don’t have it on my blog. But I think it’s a good thing to track. It’s interesting to see how far you have come and make sure that you are on the upward slope! If you share it with friends etc in REAL life then I would see it as bragging, but in the online community it’s okay. I like to see how far other people have come as well. It’s a great motivater!

  8. May 12, 2010 11:43 pm

    I completely agree with FB. I’ve just started my PF blog but if people in my personal life found out about it I would take down my net worth details straight away. Even though my net worth is still in the negatives I would feel embarrassed, maybe ashamed for others to know about it. I’d feel like they were judging me. Anonymously though it’s a completely different story. Seeing how far others in the PF community have come is inspiring and motivates me to do better.

  9. May 14, 2010 10:24 am

    I share my net worth on the blog since it’s anonymous, but I don’t share it in real life. I don’t think that will ever change. It’s not TMI, but money and how much you have changes the way some people see you. Hopefully no one ever reads my pf blog.

  10. May 14, 2010 12:16 pm

    I share my info on my blog, but if my friends and family found out about the blog I would stop sharing the information. We never know how our friends and family will perceive the information, which could lead to very messy relationships.

    I like having an open forum to discuss and learn from others.

  11. May 16, 2010 6:51 pm

    I agree with all of you — I share here (obviously) but never in real life. But I think it would be cool if sharing was the normal thing to do. How often do you look at your peers and wonder about their finances? Or maybe that is just me. 🙂

    I agree though, it would be quite weird and uncomfortable in current culture

  12. May 17, 2010 1:19 pm

    I wish people cared more about net worth in our culture. I feel like people are much more apt to compare incomes. Most people in our culture strive for, boast about, and compare larger incomes, not net worth. If net worth was the primary goal then people would spend less and save more.

    As it stands I think people are a whole lot more comfortable sharing income (or income ranges) than net worth, maybe because they feel they have more control over it. Plus it’s more obvious (if people know what you do they will have a general idea of what you make anyway). But the guy with a big income/house/lifestyle will be very fearful to admit his net worth is negative to his “rich” friends – and they guy with a small income/house/lifestyle may hesitate to admit to his frugal friends that he inherited a big trust fund.

  13. June 9, 2010 7:51 am

    I haven’t figured up my net worth yet, mostly because I’m lazy and I’m more concerned with paying off my debt than having a positive net worth.

    The bit about competing is interesting because, even though I am crazy competitive with school, sports and board games, I never feel any need to compete while reading someone’s blog. I look at personal finance as just that, personal. I’m in debt because I didn’t have savings to put toward college like some people and because I refused help from my parents. Others have credit card debt for different reasons than I once had credit card debt, you know? Our net worths are different for so many varying reasons that it seems really juvenile to “compete.”


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