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Openness regarding finances.
Old 12-05-2015, 08:42 PM   #1
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Openness regarding finances.

I'm curious what others' approach and rationale is when it comes to the level of detail about your finances you share with family and friends.

Beginning when I was a teenager, I believed the less people know about my finances the better. I thought that nothing could be gained by sharing details. For example, my friends expected me to always buy the gas because I had my dad's gas card. I learned to keep quiet.

In the last four years, I have been much more open about how close I am to FI. This started as part of a church group discussion on stewardship. And I became more comfortable talking to friends and family. I realized I had some knowledge and evidence I could use to teach and inspire others. For example, I bought a best friend Dave Ramsey's FPU for his wedding. My story and FPU has changed his life for the better.

Lately, however, I'm beginning to think my original approach was best. I've had a few experiences with my siblings in a small family business where my outside job and my financial success has made them feel they deserve a greater share of the business profits.

Curious how you all approach this?




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Old 12-05-2015, 08:47 PM   #2
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We have two grown kids, over 40. While I have never sat down and discussed finance with them, I think they have a pretty good idea where we stand. We are FI, and they know it. They also know about what we are worth, and when we die, about what we would leave. They also know that nothing is guaranteed, and we let them know that most of the time we are spending there inheritance.
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:52 PM   #3
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A few related threads:

Do You Talk With Friends about FIRE?
Finances and Discussing Money across Generations
How much do you let your adult children know about your finances.
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:53 PM   #4
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I am happy to talk investment theory with anyone but I never discuss my actual numbers - not savings, not salary, nothing - with anyone besides my wife and not even family. I just don't see what good could come from it. There are some family members who would expect us to give them money even though they have twice our income - they just squander it all, and when there's the inevitable emergency, they can't deal with it.
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:58 PM   #5
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I am happy to talk investment theory with anyone but I never discuss my actual numbers - not savings, not salary, nothing - with anyone besides my wife .....
Why would you let her know? Sounds like crazy talk.
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Old 12-05-2015, 09:12 PM   #6
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Lately, however, I'm beginning to think my original approach was best.
I agree, it was better. There's absolutely nothing to gain by sharing one's own "numbers"--at all.
If someone is talking about a financial-related issue, I may chime in. And I'll send them a link to a useful article or book. But I don't proselytize. When they stop asking questions, I stop talking.
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Old 12-06-2015, 01:45 AM   #7
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Honestly, I think if you can't share your situation with your close friends and family without them getting upset, then well they aren't very rational people lol. Unless you're trying to brag etc I don't understand why everyone wouldn't want to work together to improve their situation. Then again a lot of things in this world don't make a whole lot of sense. The constant hush hush about finances just perpetuates the problem even further IMO.

The people that say there is nothing to gain. There is something to gain. Helping other people understand what is possible through frugality, discipline and a long term mindset etc. If you don't convey what you have achieved with your own actual numbers to a certain extent then they may not believe it. It is like talking about an incredible sports record, but not sharing the numbers (how many goals someone scored for example in a certain period of time) or something to that effect.

I just have never understand people not want to sharing actual numbers. I would even consider cutting ties with someone overly jealous or resentful if they asked about my situation then behaved that way. When I hear about someone else's numbers yes it can be a little disheartening if they are so far ahead you may never catch up, but it can also be an inspiration to work harder etc. That is the way I think of it.

Then of course you assess the situation. Are they that wealthy because they inherited a lot of money etc, or did they just work really hard and were disciplined etc starting from 0 etc? Anyways, just some random thoughts.
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:04 AM   #8
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I just have never understand people not want to sharing actual numbers. I would even consider cutting ties with someone overly jealous or resentful if they asked about my situation then behaved that way.
But.... that's exactly the point. I want to avoid the people becoming jealous or resentful. I don't want to have to cut ties with my friends just because some people (many? most?) get weird about money. Better to just not get into these conversations.

I'm happy to talk investment theory and frugality. I'll just avoid any specifics about my own personal situation. That seems okay, although it's astonishing how many people don't agree with my ideas or even have any drive to FI or frugality.
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:25 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Legally_dead View Post
Lately, however, I'm beginning to think my original approach was best.



Your latest thinking is correct. Loose lips sink ships. Suppress the urge to feed your ego by discussing your personal success with others despite how interested they may seem and how good it makes you feel to share the good news. You'll be happier in the long run!

Discussing investing mechanics and techniques in general is fine.
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:31 AM   #10
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Yeah I understand what you're saying. I also think it can be used as a proxy though. If someone can not understand this simple concept without getting heated or they resent you for all the hard work you put in and discipline etc, then are they are they really your friend lol? A true friend would never resent you for something that did nothing to hurt them in any kind of way (stole from them or hindered in any kind of way their financial situation) by becoming FI. I am not saying tell your acquaintances, but if your closest friends and family cant handle this.. that is pretty sad. Unfortunately seems to be the case more often than not. Human nature I suppose lol but we should be able to override these stupid emotions to a certain extent you would think. I guess most people wouldn't care to. It's more like "you have more money than me and that is not fair so I'm going to be mad at you ha."

Just a counter argument because all I ever see is "don't share the numbers, don't share, don't share." I feel that any 30, 40, or 50 year old etc that behaves in such a way needs to grow up ha. But yeah I agree, probably best to not share in most cases!
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:23 AM   #11
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We haven't shared numbers with family, but they know we're doing well. We've taken the family on some cruises or other vacations so the family can have some quality time together. We also pay for one set of parents to live in an independent living facility. Those who are uncomfortable typically refuse the vacation offer. For the most part there's no resentment we can tell. We do sometimes get told what we should do to help,someone else, but we make our own choices.


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Old 12-06-2015, 06:18 AM   #12
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I doubt the issue would ever come up with me. Apart from a relatively early retirement and rather more travel than the average person, we lead a very modest lifestyle.

But if anyone ever did ask directly, I would just consider it idle curiosity and deflect it by changing the subject.

Serious conversations about money, religion or politics are often likely to end badly IMHO.
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Old 12-06-2015, 07:08 AM   #13
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I'm pretty private about our finances. While my siblings, friends and family are doing well so I think it is unlikely that I would be hit up for a loan or gift, why chance it and they have no real need to know. I think those who know us have an inkling in that we retired at a relatively early age and live well but not extravagantly.

Ditto with our kids. They know we are doing well but have no expectations. I've told them that if there is any inheritance then that is estimating error on my part (not totally true but just trying to set reasonable expectations) and when DW and I splurge occasionally we kid with them that it is coming out of their pockets.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:48 AM   #14
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DH and I are pretty discreet about what we have. My feeling is just that there are some people who might hear it 3rd-hand and decide to break into our house (they wouldn't find much) or, God forbid, kidnap a family member.

We did tell DS, who's 31, very frugal and making his own way in the world. He did joke once about cutting my brake lines, but when I sat down and told him and DDIL about how our trust would work and gave them the bottom line, DDIL was discreetly silent and DS' knee-jerk reaction was, "I don't want any of your money". My parents know but then they're the people who taught me to LBYM.


Siblings: haven't told them with the exception of the brother who will administer the trust if I can't. He's probably doing better than we are, as are some of the others. I might get bummed out if we shared numbers!

Our friends do not know, with the exception of one. She and her husband don't have a lot and when I told her what we were worth, she threw back her head and laughed (presumably because we drive used cars and don't live a flashy life at all). I knew then that I'd told the right friend. That was a few years ago and she hasn't hit me up for money.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:55 AM   #15
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My best friends know most because we discuss finances as their advice has helped a lot over the years. We are "in" it together but have similar jobs and thus similar salaries and thought process on finances.

My family unfortunately knows because when I was out of country I had to have items mailed there and well they opened it... ugg. yes dad I make 6 times what you do.. and it has never been pretty since.

I'm much more open with strangers and its easier to talk about finances with strangers (ie why I joined here). Other than my close circle of friends, its is always best to skip the conversation unless they want to talk stock tips. I know full well that just because someone lives a "great lifestyle" or a "mediocre lifestyle" one has no idea which is rich and which is poor. You have no idea if the neighbor is 3 years behind in back taxes even though their kids go to private school (well until they get SUPER drunk at the neighborhood Christmas party)... you get my idea. So unless you have a reason to discuss it, its just best not to.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:42 AM   #16
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People tend to tell me their finances, mostly to ask advice. I'm conditioned by my job to think it is no big deal to discuss your particulars. The one exception is salary. That's rarely discussed by anyone, me included, but debt, investable assets, monthly expenses, etc--all fair game.

I help my parents with theirs a good bit, because dad just retired and needed help getting a handle on their new budget. I did NOT learn LBYM from them, for sure!

People guess that we are doing okay since DH quit working, but I think most of them imagine I make way more than I actually do.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:54 AM   #17
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We do not discuss our financial situation with anyone, including our children.

We retired early, lead a simple life, but we do travel extensively. Once in a while we do get a comment cum enquiry but we ignore it. It it the Scottish Presyterian upbringing coming to the fore. DW says calls me the original dark horse.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:19 AM   #18
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Our one son knows our NW. He has just started his career and will make much more than us. He also knows we are spending his inheritance now.

I did make a comment to our cousins that "we have enough money, I do not have to work," as they have said the same to us. I wanted to see how it felt to say it out loud.

Vanguard FA said we are in 99% FI success category, and they do not give 100%.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:53 AM   #19
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Our financial position can be deduced from our lifestyle, ie retired, multiple homes, nice cars, clothes and trips. We don't flaunt nor hide our financial position. We never talk numbers though (other than with our daughter who is our only heir, even then only in a general way). Talking numbers will only cause resentment and envy. You can see this even in anonymous chat rooms like this one. The bigger the difference in wealth the more likely you are to experience resentment.

If asked, I will give general advice which would be clearly self evident to anyone with half a brain. Eg know where you spend your money, LBYM, you will need about 25x your expenses to retire, don't buy penny stocks, be debt free in retirement , a Canadian thing.
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:09 AM   #20
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Ooooh, another thread on who we talk to about money! Well, I'll play (again), because I like talking about money

The majority of my family are in England and I don't see them very often. However, there is a particularly well-bred set of protocols in place regarding such things in my family. I'm not sure how much of this is because we're English, and how much of it is specific to my family; I suspect a little of both. When talking about personal assets we tend to talk in general terms. Sometimes things will be quoted in terms of percentages and fractions but just as often, more qualitative terms will be used, such a "a modest amount". Occasionally, one of us will let slip with an actual amount but generally, that sort of behavior is seen as rather gauche. I have a SIL here in the US who is both financially literate and frugal. We talk about finances, and both have a good idea of the amount of each other's assets. It doesn't create any issues.

Personally, I wouldn't mind others knowing how much I have, down to the last penny, as I don't equate money with self-worth or strength of character (well, not much anyway). Trouble is, you can never tell how others are going to react either now, or down the road after they've had some time to stew on the knowledge that you've got a personal stash that is bigger/smaller than theirs. Folk who are not very financially literate aren't able to understand how it's possible to have, say, a million dollars, yet be living on an income of around $25K/year. Having a million dollars is a lot of money, so it must mean you're rich, yet $25K/year isn't much - probably less than they are making. How to equate the two? Many people can't do that.

Generally speaking, I give others information about my finances if and when they ask, speaking only in generalities. If they ask more detailed questions, I will give more detailed answers but will stop short of telling anyone how much I have, unless they are on my very short list of pre-screened and trusted people!
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