Do you know how much money your best friend makes? What about your brother? Are you clued into how much your partner has in their superannuation account? And does anyone, aside from yourself, know how much you bank after each paycheck?
Talking about money is awkward, or rather discussing salary-related finances can be — but I think we should all drop the awkward nature of coin conversations and open up a bit more about the money we earn, not just the things we spend it on.
You might share how much your rent is; You may even brag about the price of the jacket you’re wearing if someone compliments it, and if you’re excited about a bargain you found, you surely wouldn’t hesitate to spread the word.
But when it comes to how you negotiated your latest job offer, you’re probably more prone to say you bargained for a little more than originally offered (if you’re saying anything at all), not that you got them to go up to $85,000.
Why is it that disclosing your actual salary to people in your circle is unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unnatural? Why can’t we just announce: “Hey, I got a new job and I’ll be making $73,500 a year,” over lunch in the same way we’d announce a new pet or holiday?
By playing our cards so close to the chest we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Because knowing what other people in your field get paid is vital to stopping the gender wage gap, plus, negotiating is far less daunting when we know what other people in the same roles earn.
It’s only natural for humans to compare themselves to others around them. Comparing ourselves to our peers isn’t necessarily a toxic practice, particularly in a professional capacity when doing so gives us a sense of guidance of our progress, our goals and our present.
And this is fundamentally why talking about your income in an open way gives you and your friends (who may well have a similar background, profession and life trajectory as you) a good measure of what things you might be missing out on, what benefits you might be entitled to that you didn’t know of, or even how much to ask for when you sit your next interview.
Here are two simple ways you can normalise the wage talk today.
1. Set the precedent
Don’t open your group chat and just throw a “let’s go around and tell each other what we make, what we’re saving, and how we’re investing,” without any context. It’s not recommended to go in quite so hard.
Instead, keep your eyes open for an opportunity. Start by talking about super, savings and investments and then, when you feel comfortable, disclose your wage and your plans for investing.
It may take a while for all of your friends to open up (and some may never), but once you get a good dialogue going the more comfortable you’ll all be with talking about money.
2. Affirm your worth
If your reason for not being open about how much you make and how much you’re putting away is because:
a) you’re embarrassed by your salary and
b) you’re not saving and feel uncomfortable admitting that, then it’s time to get over it.
We’re encouraging people to open up about their finances to better understand their value and figure out a way to get paid what they’re worth if that’s not already happening.
Saying aloud to someone other than your spouse or your parents that in two years, you
hope to be making just under six figures is liberating and goal-setting at the same time.
Holding yourself accountable to others and yourself even in this pretty relaxed way is good for your bottom line.
The suggestion here is not to send an email announcement with a screenshot of our latest
payslip, but the idea behind talking about your salary is to put transparency at the head of our movement for better financial decisions.
Approach the topic productively. Don’t just try to edge your income into every conversation you are part of, but try to have an open conversation regarding future planning and a more fair workplace for everyone.
If we want to be financially well, the best way to do it is together. A key part of this is honesty and transparency, and we need to let go of what we’ve previously considered being taboo. We all have money issues. Its time to be honest about it.
Find out how you can improve your financial wellness with Best Financial Friend today.