Don’t buck the trend, keep your salary a se­cret

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - AN­THONY KEANE

HERE’S a curly ques­tion for you: If you had the chance, would you want to know ex­actly how much money all your friends and fam­ily earn each year?

Be­fore your in­quis­i­tive — OK, nosy — mind shouts “show me the money”, think about the con­se­quences.

There’s a rea­son why talk­ing openly about how much we earn is still a ta­boo topic, and that is be­cause it can ruin re­la­tion­ships.

Noth­ing fraz­zles friend­ships like jeal­ousy, guilt or feel­ings of worth­less­ness or un­fair­ness.

And there are few things more un­fair than the wage dis- crep­an­cies in mod­ern so­ci­ety.

Most peo­ple feel cheated when they hear about hig­h­earn­ing CEOs bring­ing home mil­lions of bucks a year, while ev­ery­day Aus­tralians work long, hard hours with lit­tle chance of earn­ing any­thing near that.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, our av­er­age full-time in­come is $80,000 a year. When part­time work­ers are in­cluded, the av­er­age is closer to $60,000.

How­ever, be­cause av­er­ages skew wage num­bers higher, as some work­ers earn more than $1 mil­lion a year, the ABS fig­ures mask the fact that a large ma­jor­ity earn be­low $80,000.

Some pro­fes­sions are highly paid be­cause of the level of skill re­quired, while other hig­h­earn­ers are sim­ply lucky.

In Aus­tralia to­day, the only peo­ple whose wages are eas­ily dis­cov­ered are the se­nior ex­ec­u­tives of ma­jor pub­lic com­pa­nies, with de­tails of their pay­ments re­vealed in their an­nual re­ports.

For al­most ev­ery­one else, salaries re­main a se­cret, which is prob­a­bly a good thing.

If you found out your best friend, brother or sis­ter earned twice as much as you, would you see them dif­fer­ently?

If they earned half your wage, would you pity them or feel pres­sure to help them out fi­nan­cially? Would that make them feel bad about them­selves?

Know­ing what work col- leagues earn might help you when ask­ing for a pay rise, but also can cause fric­tion.

Avoid­ing salary talk doesn’t mean you should never dis­cuss money mat­ters with oth­ers.

There are plenty of other valu­able fi­nan­cial ques­tions you could try: where do they get their in­vest­ment ad­vice, how do they in­vest their su­per­an­nu­a­tion, how do they save money on mort­gages/shop­ping/other ex­penses?

Be­ing asked by some­one how much you earn can be tricky to an­swer, but there are some strate­gies:

them “not enough” and cre­ate a di­ver­sion by com- plain­ing about how you are a slave to the boss.

the ques­tion with a ques­tion: “How much do you think I earn?” and give noth­ing away.

blunt: “Why would you want to ask such a pri­vate ques­tion?”

Per­haps the sim­plest way to re­spond is to be hon­est and po­lite and tell them you don’t feel com­fort­able talk­ing about it.

Peo­ple to­day are more open than ever about their pri­vate lives — largely thanks to so­cial me­dia — but when it comes to your in­come, some things are bet­ter left un­said.

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