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