Should We Tell Our Friends How Much Money We Make?

As I approach 30, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about finances. You know, stopping to pause before I purchase the $4 latte or $30 spin class (just writing that makes me cringe!). More generally, the budgeting and financial planning I’ve neglected since college and about which I am now in panic mode because 30 seems to be the arbitrary marker of “real” adulthood.

A major contributor to my anxiety regarding finances is that people don’t talk about them.  When my former boss (and friend) left my company, she told me flat out I’d been underpaid all year.

I would never have realized this without her bluntness, and probably would have negotiated a meager raise. Instead, I asked for—and got—a 40 percent raise. While this was exciting , it also showed me that I must have been very clearly underpaid to receive such a significant raise without objection.

I’m now feeling the same insecurity about savings. How much are my friends saving? Is it in their bank accounts or in investments? In a Wealthfront account or with a financial adviser? What should I be doing?

This morning, I came across an article in Forbes, It’s Time to Start Telling Our Friends How Much Money We Make. My initial reaction? “Oh, god...awk. ward.” But the argument is compelling:

"Knowing what other people in your field get paid is vital to stop the gender wage gap. And negotiating is more likely to become second nature during the job offer process if we talk about our earnings with others."

We know women tend to suffer from imposter syndrome, and we know that women are underpaid. If I had been more open with female friends in my field during my initial salary conversations, could I have avoided being underpaid for (at least) a year?

I think the answer to that question is yes, so I feel like I’m more open to talk about salary. Savings feels more uncomfortable to me because it feels like more of a personal reflection. Salary: something my experience, industry, and company decide. Savings: something my personal choices decide. It feels more personal and therefore, more off-limits.

So, I’m not ready to be an open book yet, but I think the argument for sharing your salary, especially with female friends in your industry, is a strong one. If sharing what I earn with another content marketing manager in San Francisco helps one woman make the salary she deserves to make, I’m in.

What do you think? Would you talk with your friends about your salary? Your savings? Do you think these conversations would impact the gender gap? I’d love to hear.