Talking about money makes most people kinda cringey. (Or, if it doesn't and you make a lot of money, you might be kind of a butthead.) But one would think: If you're willing to share a home and presumedly get naked with someone, you're close enough to tell that person how much you make at work, right? Well, for 19 percent of Americans (nearly 1 in 5 people), that's not the case. According to a survey from Bankrate.com, folks are still uncomfortable openly discussing their financial situations — and for many, that's true in the case of their work colleagues and even their live-in partners/spouses.
We found it interesting to note that despite campaigns to increase financial transparency in the workplace, Bankrate still reports that fewer than 1 in 4 (24 percent) of their respondents said they’ve shared their salary with a co-worker.
As Dow Scott, a human resources professor at Loyola University Chicago, told the brand, “What you’re being paid, I mean, it really reveals a lot about you. [...] It exposes people.”
Understandably then, many of us are more likely to be vulnerable around our loved ones. Survey says 54 percent have opened up about their salary with an immediate relative, and we can't dismiss the majority of people who have divulged their pay to their live-in partner or spouse.
Two other important, though not necessarily surprising, findings include the revelations that 1) men are slightly more chatty than women when it comes to revealing how much they're bringing home (at 29 percent telling their salary to a co-worker compared with 20 percent of women saying they've done the same) and 2) the younger you are, the more likely you are to talk about pay (58 percent of millennials have talked with a friend about take-home paycheck, versus 47 percent of Gen Xers and 33 percent of baby boomers).
Scott explains the former by telling Bankrate that, “Men assess communications about pay more positively than women. Men also have more positive perceptions of pay fairness and pay satisfaction.”
And if you're a member of the Millennial generation constantly accused of oversharing — on social media and IRL — the latter probably didn't startle you.
Ricardo Perez-Truglia, an assistant professor of economics at University of California Los Angeles, put it like this for Bankrate: “They’re posting pictures of what type of car they drive, where they go on vacation [...] Given that you’re already revealing all of that, I think that revealing what your salary is may not seem like a big deal. Whereas maybe for older generations where people were private about everything, being private about salary was even more important.”
But what does all this mean when it comes to how we should be talking about money, both in a professional setting with our coworkers and in a private setting with the person we've chosen as a business partner in life?
At work, Perez-Truglia recommended discussing salaries, but first confirming that the person with whom you're wanting to talk money also wants to talk money and is willing to reciprocate.
But remember that you'll need more than just information on what your professional peer makes to make a case to your boss when asking for your own raise. Resources like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and setting up a meeting with your company's HR, will give you a fuller picture of what you can feel justified in asking for given the market and your experience.
At home, you should be as absolutely-100-percent-no-excuses-thank-you-so-much transparent as possible with your live-in partner or spouse when it comes to money.
Whether you need to know what fiscal issues you're most likely to fight about, an explainer of complicated money terms, or want to figure out how to finally stop living paycheck to paycheck, we've got you. Now you can stop cringing, and start chatting!