To be uncomfortable with people asking how much I earn?

(79 Posts)
digibouti Sun 17-Feb-13 20:03:33

Ok, it was just my mum. But still, I feel really uncomfortable saying it. Do other people know how much you earn?

kim147 Sun 17-Feb-13 23:48:36

I have no idea what my sister earns - but I think she's doing fine. Without the expense of a child to look after. Still, skiing holidays twice a year add up, don't they?

Corygal Sun 17-Feb-13 23:54:53

I think it's intrusive and rude to ask - and I'm not interested, even tho I am generally very nosy.

On the other hand I know wealthy couples who whimper constantly about poverty and who would be terrified if anyone knew how much they're worth. No one knowing can be a good cover for meanness.

BlatantLies Sun 17-Feb-13 23:59:03

No one knows my DHs and my income and they will never know it. My Dad would love to know but he is not quite brash enough to ask.

BackforGood Mon 18-Feb-13 00:07:38

YwouldNBU to be uncomfortable with random people asking how much you earn (as per thread title) as it's private and confidential. Depending on my mood, it would be either 'not enough' or 'why would you need to know that?'

However, whether it's rude for your Mum to ask, depends a bit on your family dynamics. I've had conversations with my sister, as she moved to a slightly different sort of job in the same profession as me, and I was interested to know if it made much difference to the salary, as to whether it might be something I'd want to look into - so there was a point to it, not just being nosy. OTOH, I've never had that conversation with my brother, who is in a different line of work altogether, as it's not relevant to me- not an area I'd think to get in to. So have to sit on the fence as to if it's U or not for your Mum to ask.

ShellyBoobs Mon 18-Feb-13 00:22:29

I don't get why anyone needs to ask what friends or family earn.

What reason can they possible have, other than them being nosey?

No good can ever come of it, surely.

GW297 Mon 18-Feb-13 00:38:39

Agree - everyone can find out how much teachers earn each year depending on their respective point on the pay scale if they are interested enough to do so online. I always wanted to know how much my parents earned and would love to know the salaries of some of my family and friends too (because I'm very nosey like that!)

BadLad Mon 18-Feb-13 03:22:25

For me, this is very much a case-by-case question.

My mother does often ask, and I don't mind it. She and my father spent quite a lot of money on my education, so her interest is only natural. If I was doing a very worthwhile job that didn't bring in a high salary, then I think she would drop it, but seeing as my jobs are not particularly satisfying but bring in quite a lof of pay, then I don't mind telling her.

As for other people, it depends very much on why they want to know. If it's some ambitious young person setting out in the same field, then I'm happily tell them if they ask, along with whatever else I can do to help them succeed.

On the other hand, if it's one of the people who seem to resent anyone having something they don't have, then I'll keep it to myself. And there are many such people in the UK and among expat Brits.

sleepywombat Mon 18-Feb-13 03:42:34

The embarrassment regarding money talk is an English thing apparently, according to 'Watching the English'. I don't really get it either.

I am sahm atm but was a teacher, so you could also look up my salary (as long as you knew how long I'd been teaching), but I was quite happy to talk about it if asked. Perhaps if I were earning the big bucks & still stingy (stinginess runs in the family regarless of wealth), I might be more reticent.

It is a British thing, replicated in former British colonies.

Compare this to Sweden where income tax returns are a matter of public record.

As for myself, I'll say how much I earn to whomever asks. It is not a particularly remarkable amount in either direction.

lottiegarbanzo Mon 18-Feb-13 04:51:30

I think the idea of vulgarity concerns talking about money altogether, not just salary and is a lot about people wanting to keep up appearances and smooth over internal cracks in their finances, at both ends of the income and privilege scale.

At the very wealthy end there seems to be a sense that knowing such details yourself is a bit grubby and unnecessary because of course you have enough and probably pay someone to keep track of the mundane details. At the other end there's a lot of pride about providing for the family despite set backs and not becoming destitute / dependent on the state. In between, I think we're all just trying to avoid petty jealousy and judgements. There's so much luck and timing involved in people's over all situation, especially with houses, that salary is only part of the picture.

fatcatrattrap Mon 18-Feb-13 10:11:41

The only people who know my salary are (1) DP; and (2) a couple of my friends who work in the same industry. We all tend to discuss salary with each other openly to make sure we are all getting paid fairly. However even with them we would never ask directly how much each other earns, but we have had conversations in the past where people have revealed their salaries voluntarily. I don't mind with those friends as there is a valid reason for them to know.

However a friend of mine (who works in a completely unrelated industry) recently asked me outright how much I earnt and I was shocked at her rudeness. She was just being nosy. I didn't want to tell her my salary because (1) she has no reason to need to know (2) I probably earn 3x more than her so actually think it's for the best she doesn't know!

If people knew how much I earn they would think I am better off than I am and that I have cash to splash - yes I earn a good wage, but I have a massive mortgage (my choice and not complaining about it) and various other commitments so I am really careful with my money and definitely do not have cash to splash!

whois Mon 18-Feb-13 10:37:28

I don't think it's rude or vulgar although I wouldn't ask a stranger/acquaintance because I know a lot of people (stupidly) think it is.

The world would be a much better place if people could make informed decisions and career choices if pay scales were more open.

I

Chunderella Mon 18-Feb-13 10:46:05

It would be much better if we were all more open about these things, for the reasons other posters have elucidated. However, we aren't, so YANBU for having absorbed common societal attitudes on the matter.

LoopDeLoops Mon 18-Feb-13 10:46:18

I don't care. I think we should be more open about it. I live in a culture where people are, works here. smile

secretwriter Mon 18-Feb-13 11:32:13

I agree with those who think we need to be more open about it in the UK. A lot of my friends are from other countries so it's not a taboo subject in my social circle.

It needn't be about nosiness or breeding resentment. E.g., one of our friends is on a much lower salary, so we don't mind covering her lunch sometimes and we try to choose affordable venues to meet up. And my DSis used to be on a very low income and we never expected her to contribute equally to big family costs as it was clear she couldn't afford it. But now, thankfully, she has a bigger family income, so she's happy to make an equal contribution. We probably wouldn't have felt comfortable with her paying so much if we didn't know her income had risen - and of course we're all happy for her.

I think it's sad that others have experienced hostility when their friends have revealed that they're on higher/lower incomes than expected. It just wouldn't happen in my circle as we're open about these things.

kimorama Mon 18-Feb-13 11:55:38

to most English money is a disguised taboo subject. Americans are easier.
BBC presenters will ner tell you what they are paid. (And you are paying them through TV license)

My family (DH, DB and DF) know what I am paid, and I know what their circumstances are too.

I have discussed it with colleagues in same industry. I think openess is a good thing. Where I work now, we have a grievance - 2 people, same job (came from different acquired companies), £15k difference in salary. Not healthy.

I wouldn't initiate a conversation about it with random friends though - could very easily come across as bragging as I earn quite a lot. And not sure what the point would be anyway.

Isandri Mon 18-Feb-13 12:28:17

I work in Norway. You can type my name into a a website and see how much I earned last year and how much tax I paid. If I lived in Norway you'd also be able to see how much I'd borrowed for a car etc and how much my mortgage was. It's like that for everyone who pays tax in Norway. Scandinavians are very relaxed about discussing salaries after how else would you know that your colleges at a similar job experience level are all being paid the same as you. Once you get used to it it's refreshing.

Thingiebob Mon 18-Feb-13 12:34:21

Those of you that think we should be more open about salaries, ask yourself why do you need to know that information about your friends?

Seriously? What are your reasons for requiring this info?

Yakshemash Mon 18-Feb-13 12:39:29

I don't need to know what my friends earn. I need to know what the man I share an office with, and who does ostensibly the same role as me earns.

Why the secrecy? You can look up the Land Registry and see what people have paid for their houses.

lottiegarbanzo Mon 18-Feb-13 12:43:43

I don't mind so much about salary and have probably touched on it in conversation with some friends, as relevant. I do think general transparency is a good thing, to promote equality.

Money over all though is, unfortunately, a sensitive subject in the UK. There is a strong grudging, envious streak in some people, who would rather begrudge someone else than think about doing something for themselves and who somehow think that anyone better off than them owes them something. That sounds like a particularly damning right wing sentiment, it isn't, it doesn't come from a crass assumption that poor people are lazy or anyone can get rich, rather that there's an element of the culture, at all levels, that assumes that others should subsidise them or be despised, 'well, it's all right for you, you've got it easy...'

Thingiebob Mon 18-Feb-13 12:53:51

Pay scales should be available within work places but no-one NEEDS to know what their friends earn.

It's heavily linked to class in the UK and knowing someone's salary is just another way of making judgements on people and their lifestyle.

Auntmaud Mon 18-Feb-13 13:06:25

I think it's fascinating, the whole topic. I think you can have a pretty good idea of friends income obviously form house/lifestyle etc. Our friends are all in a similar bracket to us which is easy because socialising isn't awkward when we go to a restaurant etc.

My Mil is hilarious. She is constantly banging on about how wealthy her DD is on £36 K a year. Likewise, I never discuss with non too close friends as it's private. i know people for whom £50k a year would be unimaginably well off so I am not likely to disclose our income to them!

Auntmaud Mon 18-Feb-13 13:07:43

I don't agree that colleagues should know anyone else's salary unless they choose to disclose it to them.

starsandunicorns Mon 18-Feb-13 13:12:43

Was never really asked for a long time however I now work for a angency and when I join a company for work for a day of week or longer the permant staff always ask and I find it bloody rude.

Alot use it as a way of saying they are better than me.( I would be on min wage and they are on 8 £ a hour for the same work)

If I say I dont talk about it its a contract between their company and the agency they then spourt stuff

' Well I know how much you get a hour anyway' I relpy with a smile and return to work

I dont ask people. Its personal to them. I do think some people ask to find out if they are higher then they can use it to feel superiour I try to avoid these type of people

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