I’ve never been squeamish talking about finances with friends and acquaintances (partly, I suspect, because of my lack of an internal dialog filter), but I have learned over time that not everybody else is as comfortable as I am, so I try not to use too many specifics when having financial discussions.
However, I think personal finance is one area where your friends can provide a lot of insight and assistance, in essence, be particularly friendly. An interesting thing happened on a Web forum where I hang out. The active population is in roughly the same age range, but we have varying demographic backgrounds. A thread came up about discussing your income and after a few issue-skirting posts to the thread, someone actually came out and described their financial situation in a nutshell, numbers intact. Then the floodgates opened and everybody else added their own.
This is by no means scientific, but I gleaned a few data points from the discussion:
- It’s possible to earn more than me and still be unhappy with your income
- Alternately, it’s possible to earn significantly less, and still be in better financial shape than I am
- Ambition and perception can lead to a higher salary, regardless of what I might think a person’s job is “worth”
- Compared to the vast majority of residents of Earth, we are filthy stinking rich
- A lot of us have no retirement plan, since we spent most of our 20s simply keeping ourselves housed and fed
- People with college degrees get paid more, even if the degree isn’t applicable to the job in question
- To earn what I am earning, I should probably be working a lot harder
- Salary isn’t everything
Have you had similar conversations with friends of yours? What did you learn?
Published or updated May 27, 2008.