Who Has Seen You Financially Nude?

I’m in the process of preparing a guest post for a large blog (I’m cold-emailing, so you can hope that it will be accepted!) and as a part of the post I state our net worth.  While I do spending updates here every month, per Kyle’s request I am a little cagey about how much we save (we stick with percentages) and we’ve never said exactly how much we have in savings.  So it’s a bit intimidating to publish the number that we’ve kept close to the vest – more so for Kyle than for me, really.  (But he did give his permission!  For the sake of page views.)  Even writing about meeting our first retirement savings milestone was a big reveal to us.

 

I think we’re way more open about our financial picture than most people are – which is not that surprising since we have this blog on the subject.  But even way before we started the blog we were very open with our peers.  Surviving in the DC area on $24k/year is no walk in the park, and neither is trying to accomplish everything we are here in Durham on our stipends.  We need the support and knowledge of our communities.

 

It’s easy to talk with our local friends about money.  Our grad school friends all make more or less the same amount of money that we do so there’s no awkwardness about admitting the low pay thingOur church friends usually have very similar values regarding how to view and treat money.  However, we don’t often go to the big picture, like our percentage-based budgeting, with our grad school friends, and we don’t often get down into numbers with our church friends, so no one necessarily sees the big picture.

 

We also talk with our parents about money occasionally, but those conversations can be a bit more fraught as we have different opinions on things like insurance and retirement planning.  We can’t get too far into these conversations without having to start backpedaling for fear of offending.  However, talking about retirement savings with my sister has really helped her along in her financial journey.

 

silouette with glovesBut in all those different types of conversations, our net worth has only come out once or twice.  If the various smaller conversations and what we write here consist of us showing a bit of knee or shoulder, we consider revealing our net worth to be getting completely naked.  And apparently we’re preparing to do that in front of the whole internet!  We’ll be going from a close friend or two knowing our net worth to potentially literally anyone.  At least it will just be a snapshot in time, though, and will become outdated quickly.

 

I guess the people I’m most apprehensive about seeing our net worth are friends and extended family members who are older/more established than us.  (Not that most of those people are immersed in the PF blogosphere!)  I’m not sure if they will be thinking more or less of us knowing how much we make and how much we’ve saved, but it might change how they view or interact with us.

 

I’m pretty unconcerned with how the people of the internet/the readers of this blog will view us, though.  If they think we’re doing awesome that would be nice to hear.  If they have some criticisms of what we’re up to I’ll be open to considering those.  I would be most disappointed for them to be bored or for the post to have little response.

 

What’s the most sensitive aspect of your financial picture (net worth for us)?  Who knows your balance sheet or income/spending, in whole or part?  How much do you reveal on your blog and would it be different if you were more anonymous?

 

photo from Free Digital Photos

 

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50 Responses to "Who Has Seen You Financially Nude?"

  1. Lucas says:

    I guess whatever sets you the most apart from other people is the thing that worries me the most about sharing. So if your income is close to everyone else (or lower) than that usually isn’t a big deal to talk about. As soon as your income, savings rate, networth, giving, etc. . go out of norm then it becomes a little more nerve racking to share them.

    Compared to my whole family (well except income from my dual doctor brother/sister in-law), my numbers are out of norm. I think for me the income, savings rate, and networth are the ones I am most concerned about sharing. Although it is difficult to discuss Financial independence with anyone without discussing savings rate, and usually everyone has been at least outwardly inspired that I have shared with.

    1. Emily says:

      I think I’m more nervous about revealing more success, either in income or savings or investment return or whatever. If we’re doing ‘worse’ than others I can feel OK about that because I have reasons/excuses to dismiss it. 🙂 Even saying we have a ‘low income’ as I do all the time, isn’t strictly true when you look at the local median but I can get away with it here because PF bloggers are way above the median/average when it comes to income.

      Our savings rate is out of line with different communities – way low for the FI people, way high for most people our age/with our income, reasonable for people thinking about a traditional retirement. I don’t mind saying it because people’s expectations are so different.

  2. We post our net worth every month, but we’re anonymous. The only people who know about the blog IRL are Mr PoP’s parents and they knew a good deal about our finances even before the blog.

    Would it be different if we weren’t anonymous? Probably. We’d probably use percentages or less meaningful language like “on budget” when we talk about our spending and saving but it’d be less useful for us and likely other people.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Reframing Receipts

    1. Emily says:

      I like that you guys are totally open, but I also like that we’re mostly not anonymous. 🙂 I like being able to connect with people IRL about subjects I’ve blogged about. I’m concerned we’ll have to become even more cagey when we have real jobs.

  3. Financially, I do pretty much put it all out there and have for a long time. My wife would prefer if I didn’t talk about it debt on the site, but she hasn’t vetoed it.
    There are certain things that I don’t really talk about online, but I also don’t talk about what those things are that I don’t talk about, so it is less obvious that I am avoiding them
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..What Is the True Cost of the Hidden Economy?

    1. Emily says:

      Haha now you’ve raised my curiosity! Nothing has come up for us so far, financially, that we haven’t been willing to vaguely mention at least.

  4. S. B. says:

    I always blogged anonymously to avoid the issues you talk about in this article. I’ve always posted my net worth, stock holdings, mortgage debt, etc, and don’t care if people want to discuss or criticize those numbers. However, I don’t want my family or my employer reading about the details of my financial life.

    While it’s true that the average person doesn’t read personal finance blogs, almost everyone googles the names of people they know for various different reasons. Hence, I’m pretty sure if you throw your name out there along with all those sorts of stats, Google will index and aggregate that info and then when people search for your name, that is what they will get.
    S. B. recently posted..Summer Solstice 2013 Update

    1. Emily says:

      The Googling issue is why I don’t use our last name or the name of our university on the blog. 🙂 I just tried the types of searches you suggested and thankfully Emily is a common enough first name that our blog was nowhere to be seen. However I am considering putting the blog on my resume/Linkedin.

  5. Although I have a blog, I’m still a pretty private person, thus I remain anonymous. I don’t disclose my net worth or expenses because I don’t feel comfortable in doing so. At least not yet.

    Nobody really knows our expenses/income except our immediately family. Most of my extended family is more established and have higer incomes, so I feel kind of embarrassed to disclose that info, because I don’t make as much as them.
    MakintheBacon recently posted..I Suck At Sales And I’m Okay With That

    1. Emily says:

      Being anonymous and not disclosing right now will give you the option of changing either later, should you decide to, so that’s pretty cool. Do you feel satisfied with your job – like, you love your career but you’re just in a low-paying industry? I’d be OK revealing in that case – I mean, that’s where we are now.

  6. Cash Rebel says:

    Interesting, what’s the blog you are going after? I think I’m pretty open about my finances on my blog. You could figure everything out if you really wanted to know my salary. But in real life, I don’t tell no one nothing. When people ask me how much I make or how much I save, I simply say “enough”. It’s not worth the awkward conversation that follows salary reveals. Plus it makes me seem more mysterious!
    Cash Rebel recently posted..Feeling blue? Why not move to Mexico?

    1. Emily says:

      I’d rather not say which blog for now. If it gets rejected I’ll just submit it somewhere else, so I hope it will be posted eventually somewhere!

      That must take a lot of restraint to say “enough” only! I’m too excited about PF to keep from blabbing. I think it’s a bit easier for us since I could say our household income and you wouldn’t know which part is mine vs. Kyle’s vs. from investments or whatever so that skirts the salary reveal.

  7. Michelle says:

    I used to be much more open on my blog. However, now that everyone knows that I have a blog, and W’s work friends seem to read it every single day, I am no longer as open about our finances.
    Michelle recently posted..Are you looking for successful freelancing tips?

    1. Emily says:

      That’s too bad. 🙁 Do you think your strategy will change after you switch to self-employment?

  8. Lauren says:

    At first, I thought “we’re open about our money, plenty of people have a good idea of what our net worth is.” But the more I’ve thought about it, I think the only ones who know are my parents, my uncle (our financial adviser), and maybe one (or two?) good friends. I think a lot of our friends might actually be over estimating what my husband makes (and it’s true, our research shows he could be making more doing what he’s doing, but the current benefits and opportunities for experience make his current position worth the smaller salary). I do think that if the situation arose to discuss our net worth with some one who doesn’t already know, I’d feel pretty comfortable sharing it because I’m proud of what we’ve done (even if our process hasn’t been perfect!). But then again, maybe that’s not actually true since I haven’t shared it with very many people!

    1. Emily says:

      That’s a good point that revealing your salary actually isn’t a perfect representation of your overall compensation. Someone could be taking home less money but have all kind of benefits at work with direct or indirect financial implications, like health care or retirement matches or free food/car/gym/cell phone. And basically all PhD students are making less than they are “worth” because they are trading extra compensation for the opportunity to work on the degree.

      Maybe you aren’t as comfortable as you think you are, or maybe you just haven’t run across people who seem to want to hear about it. Maybe you can reveal your net worth when we reveal ours!!

  9. I am wavering on this issue. I am only starting to establish my blog and to date it is anonymous (I do the same as you where I don’t put my last name, university’s name, etc). Even still, I am trying to figure out the balance between percentages and real, concrete numbers. I like seeing the dollar amounts other people are saving or spending, but I get a little itchy when I go to do it myself.

    Perhaps I’d feel better about it if I wasn’t digging myself out of debt and felt more positively about money,… but then that sounds like it might be bordering on bragging, which isn’t the case. I think it’s still a work in progress.

    1. Emily says:

      I think it’s exciting to see people’s financial situations clearly, either absolutely or in percentages, particularly when they are getting out of debt and generally making progress toward goals. If you want other people to do it you should participate, too! 😉

  10. I agree that it’s a little unsettling to be so open with this sort of information. I find the external motivation from posting our net worth & budget numbers outweighs the possible stigma from sharing the information broadly. Open accountability is a good thing for me, as an extrovert. I find myself wanting to save more & spend less, in part, to make sure our public announcements on our status are positive more often than not…
    Done by Forty recently posted..Lessons from Chip Kelly

    1. Emily says:

      I love the accountability, too! I never think it matters and then it always turns out to. I definitely think we’ve done better with controlling our spending since I’ve been posting our monthly reports, plus we’ve learned a lot from the PF blogosphere.

  11. The only person besides me that knows exactly what our assets and liabilities are is my wife. I don’t share with anyone else. I don’t know if my wife does or not. I assume if she does, it’s only with her parents, since we put them as trustees of our assets for our son until he is 25 years old, assuming we both die before he reaches that age.
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..Create a Living Will (aka, Advanced Health Care Directive) at No Cost

    1. Emily says:

      That makes sense, though it’s not something I’ve dealt with personally. Probably you should check to make sure your PILs have all the info they need!

  12. I had my first friend who didn’t know about my blog find me on Google a couple of weeks ago. I guess that’s a good thing, but it was really strange. Her response was very positive, and I’m not hiding anything, but it isn’t something I tell most people because the ones I have told usually think it’s odd. I don’t reveal net worth or income numbers, although you could probably put lots of it together if you are a regular reader and have also read my guest posts. I have the same fears as you. Some people would be offended that our net worth is high seems high. Some would say I’m a terrible PF person because it’s low. Ultimately, I try not to judge anyone who is brave enough to share. I am often inspired to do better if someone is doing really well, and I can certainly sympathize if they are not. Revealing numbers is a big step. Best of luck finding a big time site to run it.
    [email protected] recently posted..Should We Buy Another Rental Property?

    1. Emily says:

      Same for us, regular readers who are very interested can put together almost our whole situation, but I doubt many people follow that closely. I feel caught between communities, too, in terms of comparing ourselves to others.

      I’m glad the first person to ferret you out responded well! Much better than the converse.

  13. Matt Becker says:

    I haven’t revealed much in the way of real numbers on my blog. I really started my blog with an eye more towards helping a professional venture than as a personal journal, which has largely shaped my reasoning there. I think only really my wife and I know our full financial picture. I talk with my parents about different aspects of our finances and wouldn’t have a problem sharing the whole picture with them, it just hasn’t really come up. I don’t discuss money too often with friends except when they have the occasional question for me about their own situation.
    Matt Becker recently posted..The Peer-to-Peer Lending Numbers They Don’t Want You to See

    1. Emily says:

      I like your blog and I think your approach is working – the more professional/informational tone. But I think seeing a real person’s financial picture is inspiring in a different way and possibly more engaging.

  14. When we made very little money, life was an open book for all to see.

    Right now anybody know knows my name can look up my salary because it’s posted online. I don’t really feel the need to broadcast it or my net worth though– for one thing that would require doing a better job of keeping track of it.

    I’ve noticed when most folks on the anonymous internet divulge salaries that are higher than average, the public finance community tends to tune out. Not always, but it can cause a distraction.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Top 20 baby words

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for sharing your perspective! (And Mint makes it super easy to see our net worth. 🙂 )

      I’d like to understand your last paragraph but I don’t really get it… What you mean by the public finance community? What is the distraction? Do you suspect bloggers are exaggerating their salaries?

  15. Well in general talking about finances is a very sensitive topic. Regardless if it’s about your net-worth, budget, progress or failure. Writing about personal finances is a very brave thing to do, at least for me. it’s a given thing that some people will react negatively and others positively. Don’t be too affected by negative vibes though and focus on the goal.
    [email protected] recently posted..How to Lower Your Car Insurance Fees

  16. I keep my personal finances very personal because that is how I was raised. Many of my friends don’t know exact numbers. We all talk in generalities. My parents knew my finances until I got engaged. Now I’m not sure how I feel about them knowing my fiances financial details (not that there is anything to hide – she is amazing with money). I guess in time it will come out. It’s just something I don’t do.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted..Fast Food Workers Pay: How Much is Enough?

    1. Emily says:

      That’s nice that you talk with your friends even in generalities, though. Are they similar to you? I’m a bit wary of our parents knowing enough about our finances to butt in (well-meaningly, of course) so it’s good we keep them at a slight distance!

  17. My parents know about my financial situation in whole (mortgage, savings, spending etc.) I’m a little bit more conservative about my/our financial situation on the blog out of respect for bf who is a little more conservative and isn’t as comfortable with me “exposing” us completely. I guess we’re PG-13 if that makes sense?
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..$130 Saved My Relationship

    1. Emily says:

      Is there a specific reason why you’re so open with your parents (they give you advice, maybe)? Or just that you’re a very open family?

  18. […] Who Has Seen You Financially Nude? – Evolving Personal Finance Scandalous! Revealing numbers can make you feel vulnerable. Everyone has a different point of privacy when it comes to what they’re willing to reveal – it’s about finding and respecting your own. […]

  19. […] Evolving Personal Finance-Who has seen you financially nude? […]

  20. I guess the most sensitive part of our balance sheet right now is our debt load. We’ve not shared our debt “issue” with anyone but a close few, but more and more each week, people we know are finding the blog, whether through word of mouth or by accident, so our clothes are coming off quite quickly. 🙂 It’s difficult at times, but in a way it’s a relief, not having to fake it anymore. Good for you, Emily, for sharing what you’re doing to help others!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Stop Your Whining and Good Reads for the Week Ending 9-21-13

    1. Emily says:

      Do you use your full name on your blog or is it just obvious who you are once someone who knows you finds it? I would think as more of your friends see you NUDE you will get some “thank you – I’m in the same situation!” responses. I hope you will be encouraged by the process.

  21. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Who Has Seen You Financially Nude? – I’m considering revealing the number we’ve so far kept close to the vest. How […]

  22. […] Who Has Seen You Financially Nude? was featured in the Carnival of Financial Planning. […]

  23. Emily says:

    My post was accepted by Get Rich Slowly! I’ll let y’all know when it goes up. It’s part of the Reader Stories series.

  24. Am cagey about all my financial details. I rarely discuss them with friends or most family for that matter apart from those whose lifes or plans might depend on those numbers. Given that I guess sharing those numbers on the internet would be close to impossible; so no networth updates etc on the blog. My finances I suppose are my personal business.
    Congrats by the way on the acceptance of your post on GRS, looking forward to devouring those figures 🙂
    Simon @ Modest Money recently posted..EverBank Review – Exclusive Review of EverBank Online Banking

    1. Emily says:

      It’s no fun to be a voyeur but not contribute!

  25. […] I have a guest post up on Get Rich Slowly.  EPF readers, please check it out – this is the post in which I reveal our net worth!  Get Rich Slowly readers, thanks so much for surfing over to check us out.  If you want to hear […]

  26. […] before on EPF – or to anyone (other than Kyle), actually. This is more intimidating to me than sharing my net worth, even! In 2011, we had enough money to pay off my subsidized and deferred student loans, but […]

  27. Fiby says:

    I have been back and forth on this for a while with respect to my blog. I think eventually I will reveal more about my actual financial situation.

    I have told a few friends how much I make, mostly because they told me how much they make (they wanted my help with taxes). But I have never told anybody my net worth. Mostly because I have a higher net worth than most people my age and basically only one of my friends truly understands what I’m trying to do and how long it will take to reach my goals. The rest of my friends would just think why on earth are you sitting on that much money? Just spend it.

    Incidentally a keen reader of my blog would be able to put a lower bound on my net worth but I don’t think anybody has actually figured that out yet. Or if they have, they haven’t mentioned it.

    1. Emily says:

      Maybe you can express your net worth as a percentage of your goal when you discuss it, on your blog or off?

      1. Fiby says:

        Haha that’s a good idea, but unfortunately I don’t know how much I will need to be financially independent. There’s two big variables that I need to resolve first – I do want to get married and have kids.

        1. Emily says:

          I guess you could use your current status to calculate your number until it changes and tell people this is my % of my current goal, but I expect the goal to increase.

          1. FIby says:

            True. It seems like the best I can do with the information I have at the moment.

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