I read hundreds of stories online about personal finances and sometimes wonder – are we too open about money? Talking about personal finances has become less taboo in recent years, but are there some things we should just keep to ourselves? My parents and grandparents have mentioned in passing (quite a few times actually) that I shouldn’t reveal so much about my financial life. Their generations never spoke openly about money and generally kept everything under wraps. You never knew if someone was struggling in private or secretly a millionaire. Hearing these comments made me think about how we share our monetary lives and how it affects us. Is it better to keep our lives hidden? What are the pro’s and con’s in the real world and the blogging/social media world?
offending others with your journey
Talking about finances can work out well in the right group or circumstance, but there are times when it can be seen as offensive. If you’re doing particularly well managing your money, other’s who aren’t doing as well may feel put down or like you’re bragging. I have friends who find comfort in the fact that I have such high debt with my high salary. They feel like the playing field is leveled. I’ve witnessed conversations between friends that have gone south quickly because one person came off the wrong way. I knew the intentions were good but discussions are oftentimes all about the delivery.
It’s sometimes better to bring things up in a Q&A discussion rather than a “this is why I’ve done” discussion, unless you’re specifically asked. For example, asking a friend if they think you should invest in your company’s 401K or HSA plan. Asking rather than telling is always a better way to ease in to a discussion about money. You can avoid offending anyone and still get what you want out of the conversation. It’s also important to be mindful of other’s situations and praising them for getting a raise or meeting a savings goal of their own. If you want to be open about your financial situation you have to be accepting of theirs.
the opposite of keeping up with the jonesEs
Often the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” is used to describe lifestyle inflation. However, in the financial community I find the opposite to be true. It’s easy to be jealous of those who have paid off a massive amount of debt in a short period of time when you can barely make a payment above the minimum. I read about people who gave up going out to eat for years or didn’t buy new clothes for 12 months to prioritize paying off debt. I know that I won’t ever have the discipline to be one of those people and I know there are others that feel the same.
Accepting that when you share your story, others will likely share their own, is part of being a member of the financial community. There are many different definitions of financial freedom and it’s easy to find yourself comparing your journey to other’s. If at the end of the day you feel good about your journey stick with it. The community is a place to learn tactics and test out which ones work the best for your situation. You shouldn’t feel like you need to have the exact same journey as someone else, even though it can often feel like you’re doing something wrong if you have a different view on something that worked for them.
Opening Up To Unnecessary Criticism
It’s sometimes difficult to navigate the waters of how much information is too much. By sharing so much about our money are we opening ourselves up to unnecessary criticism? I recently had a discussion with my parents about my savings. They were interested in how much money I’m keeping in savings while I get out of debt. Looking back, that’s a door I wish I had kept closed. They disagree with my get out of debt plan and think it’s ridiculous I’m keeping so little money in my savings. Now, every time I speak to them about anything, the topic of my lack of savings creeps into the conversation.
There are always going to be people who disagree with your decisions; not everyone will be supportive. In these situations, is it easier to leave them in the dark? Bringing criticism into your life brings stress. The debt payoff process is stressful enough without judgement and excess criticism coming into the mix.
Sometimes opening ourselves up to criticism can be a good thing. In fact, the criticism of my financial decisions by a friend promoted me to start my path to financial freedom. In cases like these, it can be beneficial to open up about your situation. Dave Ramsey argues that debt payoff and money matters are mind over math. Math may tell you to pay your highest interest rate debts first but your mind will always get the best of you if you aren’t dedicated enough. This train of thought leads me to believe sharing your financial life can be psychologically beneficial.
Since I’ve opened up about my finances in a public way, I’ve received more support than ever before. It’s extremely encouraging to feel like you have a team cheering you on during your journey. Whenever I’m feeling down about my journey I call a friend or hop online and chat with other bloggers for encouragement. The human psyche, in my view, would vote in favor of reaching out to others as much as you feel necessary.
Overall, there are good and bad things that come with being open about debt. How do you feel about opening up such a personal part of your life and what situations has it put you in?