When someone asks how much you make… do you tell them? The topic of income is usually taboo, but I bet almost everyone has been asked about their salary at least once in their lives. In college my friends and I talked openly and honestly about money. We discussed increasing book costs, rent, and utilities. I even remember celebrating the 15 cent raise of one of my roommates. No one objected to talking about money when we were working in low-paying, part-time jobs, but it seemed no one wanted to discuss salaries when we started our ‘real jobs.’ When graduation dates neared a few of my friends discussed their starting salaries, but most kept their new incomes to themselves.
Since I graduated from college quite a few people have indirectly asked about my salary. My mom, who works part time and makes very little money, started asking a lot of questions when my husband and I decided to purchase a beach house. Although I love my mom dearly, I was uncomfortable telling her my salary. In part, I just didn’t think she needed to know the answer, but mostly I was sad to tell her how much I made, because my income is so much greater than her own. When I told her I wouldn’t discuss it, she started listing numbers, $40,000… $60,000… $80,000. I finally told my mother and my father my salary, after I realized they were asking out of concern. They feared I couldn’t afford a second house. In fact, I drew up a spreadsheet of our income versus expenses to put their minds at ease.
So what do you do if someone crosses the taboo barrier. If someone asks how much you make, do you tell them? As a child, I remember a competitive friend of my father’s asking my dad how much he made. My father answered, “I make enough.” Since his retirement, my dad’s answer is roughly the same. Now when that same friend asks him about money, my dad simply answers, “I have enough.”
When asked about my own income, I steal my father’s line, and simply say “I make enough.” With close friends and family I often find this hard to do, but I’m fearful that people will think differently of me if they knew just how much my husband and I make.