Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How Much Do You Make?

A recent NY Times article, Not-So-Personal Finance looks at the question of should one talk about money publicly. In particular, paycheck size.

For people old enough to remember phone booths, a blunt reference to salary in a social setting still represents the height of bad manners. But for many young professionals, the don’t-ask-don’t-tell etiquette of previous generations seems like a relic.

I guess I'm of the phone booth relic for nine to fivers, but in the restaurant industry it's fair game. I have no problem asking how much someone (I know, even casually) makes in tips at another joint, and within the same restaurant there usually is a fair amount of transparency between, say, the floor and the bar. Especially if the floor is tipping out the bar. But if you earn a paycheck paycheck? No way am I asking you how much you make. Not unless you're one of my best friends. But that's just me, I wouldn't be offended if someone asked me how much I made, I'm just not really going to go around asking people that question. I guess because I think that they themselves don't do that.

There are definitely benefits to sharing salary information with friends in the same industry. Also, I think that women have a tendency to inadvertently sell themselves short because they don't talk about money as much as men. But that is a totally uneducated assessment (however I would like to point out that I am very skilled at the uneducated assessment, so it's not without merit). And honestly, I am all for people talking more about money in general with each other.

Apparently, if you're under 35 you already know how much all your friends make. And those extra two years of me sometimes wishes I was under 35, so guess what. I make $2300 a month (a mix of before tax and after tax, don't ask), but that's mostly freelance work so it can easily change.

And if I asked you how much you made, would you cringe or tell all?


asgreen said...

It would depend on how you asked and who you were. If you randomly asked I think I would be offended, but if it were in the context of discussing finances I would tell you. I really liked this article and posted about it also.

SavingDiva said...

$40k at my full time job
Plus whatever I can from my part time job!

If you asked me face to face, I might be a little scared.

PiggyBankBlues said...

asgreen- i agree. it's all in the context. i liked your post on it, btw.

savingdiva- lol, me too. that's the beauty of the internet's relative anonymity..

Just Me said...

I don't like to talk to my coworkers about how much they make, cause I get annoyed if they make more than me, or if someone in a lower position makes close to what I make, even if they've been with the company for much longer.

But to strangers, anonymously, $45k/year, thats $13.36/hour with a lot of built in OT.

PiggyBankBlues said...

just me-
i agree with the co-worker issue, but wouldn't that knowledge be leverage to ask for a raise?

good for you for getting lots of overtime :)

Suzy said...

My take home pay is about $3000 a month...

Apropos post. I feel like people ask me this question ALL THE TIME these days. (One person, having known me all of 3 days).

I think it's inappropriate if it's asked as a point of interest. "Hey, what's your favorite color." But it can be appropriate or not-objectionable, let's say, if it's being asked in the context of career evaluation, job search, etc.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I don't discuss my salary at work, with one exception: my SO and I work for the same employer and we know how much each other makes. He doesn't tell me what his team gets paid and I don't tell him what mine makes. Only a few friends know how much I make.

I accidentally outed myself on my blog to one friend, and that's had a definite chilling effect on what I'm willing to share about my salary on the internet. If you want a ballpark idea, I'm not getting a stimulus check.

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