Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Do you know how much your friends make?

Talking about money and salaries was much more common among my friends when we were just out of college and looking for our first jobs. Perhaps it’s because we were all on equal ground – around same age, student loan debt, and looking for our first jobs – that made it seem less intimidating.

Now that my friends are in their late 20’s and early 30’s and we’ve been in the work force for almost a decade (!), we don’t talk about exact numbers as much as we used to. They’ll say “I make in the range of X” or “I got a 10%” raise” without saying how much they now make. And so in turn, I use vague references about my salary and finances too.

However, since I have this blog, anyone can poke around and see how much money I currently make (and how much I’ve made in the past), as well as pretty much any other financial detail of my life. And I’m okay with that because I’ve always been pretty open when it comes to talking about money with my close friends. If someone asks me a question, I’ll happily answer (and as a PF nerd, I’m always hopeful for an engaging financial conversation). But as a rule, I don’t bring up anything to do with personal finance or salaries unless specifically asked.

Knowledge is power

Simply knowing what a friend or co-worker is earning will not result in a raise for you. That’s not how it works. But it could help you negotiate more confidently during your next performance review or job search if you know what other people with similar experience in similar industries are making. There have been countless instances where I’ve reached out to my friends in marketing to ask about their salary range and responsibilities, and I’ve been approached often as well to provide the same sort of information. Sometimes we don’t talk specific numbers, but just being able to pass along information seems to help.

If you’re not comfortable talking about money with your friends just yet, at least be sure to check out websites like Glassdoor, which can help you see what others are making in similar jobs within your city. I just pulled the below screenshot from Glassdoor after searching for Marketing Manager salaries in Vancouver. Now, that’s not my exact job title, but it’s close enough. And I feel good knowing that my salary falls comfortably within the range below.

glassdoor

But there are other benefits to knowing what your friends make besides helping each other with job searches and raise negotiations. It can also give us each other a greater understanding of how much to spend when going out to restaurants or traveling. If my friend knows what I make, perhaps she will understand my budget and how much I’m comfortable spending when we are together.

Honesty has consequences

While talking about salaries with close friends can be a good decision, it can also have negative effects as well. Depending on what your relationship is with someone, finding out how much they make might bring on feelings of jealousy. It could also inspire resentment within the friendship when you start to notice small examples of what one person has that the other person doesn’t (like a designer purse, or dining in fancier restaurants, etc.) – a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality.

I wouldn’t be comfortable talking about my salary or details about my finances with people I’m not close to. But I do think it’s beneficial to have open discussions about salary ranges, responsibilities, negotiation strategies, promotions, etc. with people you trust who are doing similar work or are within the same industry as you.

Do you know how much money your friends are making?

 

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


Comments

  1. Liquid says:

    I wonder why Vancouver salaries for just about any job seem to be lower than other parts of the country lol.

    I don’t know how much my friends make since I’ve never felt the need to ask them. I have never shared my salary with anyone else either. I think it puts one at a disadvantage if his or her number gets out there. But I do feel comfortable giving people a range, like mid-five figures. :)

    I also think learning about a friend’s lifestyle habit is a better indicator of their spending patterns than how much money that person earns.

  2. With my long time friends we can talk salary but we never disclose our net worth. My salary is already public so I don’t care sharing it with them.

  3. Anya says:

    I know what teacher friends make because hubby’s a teacher and I’m familiar with the pay scale. I also know what a doctor friend makes because I did his taxes for a couple of years. This one hurt – I won’t lie. There’s some jealousy but only because I know I could retire very early on a salary like that. But the biggest reason is how obscene it is. I’m sure you’re familiar with the state of our healthcare system and one thing that’s off-limits is physician pay. Yes, they worked hard to get there, a select few do very difficult work (surgeons), but there’s a difference between being fairly compensated and making more $$ than you know what to do with. Furthermore, I crunch numbers in the healthcare industry so I see the greed and the profit margins.

  4. Bria says:

    Yes, I do know how much money many of my friends and colleagues make, and in my profession (law), I encourage the discussion. I have come to find that many of my colleagues have questions about what salaries are competitive, how salaries increase in our profession with experience, and what is a fair salary in our city (I’m in Calgary). Where your employer is non-unionized and salaries are not publically or internally available through a grid or otherwise, how else would you know if you are being paid fairly? In my experience, being open about salaries and benefits has only been advantageous. When I moved to Calgary 2 years ago, it certainly helped me decide where to work when I was able to call up my former classmates and have some frank discussions about salaries and work expectations at mid-sized v. national law firms.

    In addition to the points you mentioned, I think for us women gender wage parity is a big reason to keep talking. The statics continue to show that men are paid more. Keeping an open discussion amongst our colleagues and peers will help keep a pulse on what is (unfortunately) still a live issue. In my view, it’s less likely to happen if we keep talking.

    Good post!

  5. lynn ling says:

    I like to know, not out of the want to compare anything but curiosity and it’s a knowledge (like what skills should I learn or teach the kids in the community center, which corporation treat their staff better).

    I never ask openly but mostly people who have left a company are more open to talk about the range employees are paid in the previous company.

    If my friend hesitate to disclose (just a range) after asking me about financial question – I feel like I got “cheated” into giving advice.

  6. Peter says:

    Salaries can bring up heated debates. When anyone finds out for the first time what teachers make? And how they work only 8 months a year and get that number? It equals to about $150 an hour for their 6 hour day that they actually work. Coupled with PA days and Christmas and March Break which most in the private sector do not get off. Makes you think. Google it, there is heated discussion on teacher salaries.

  7. I know a lot about my friends salaries, because a lot of us are starting to get to the point where we have a stable income and have financial goals to hit. One friends group is very much women in tech, so we all make about the same when adjusted for experience, cost of living, etc, but then have different goals with going out to eat, social goals, whatever. We don’t judge each other for it, but just give advice when asked.

    Another friends group has a lot more disparity, due to age and types of jobs. While the initial conversations are uncomfortable, now it’s so much easier to admit that I am saving money and don’t want to spend money on brunch, and instead let’s do a free hike/museum/window shopping?

    However, we are a generation that grew up with Facebook, Instagram, so many oversharing is in our nature. However, there’s been a ton of positive discussion – encouraging each other to negotiate salaries, learning from others future plans, financial mistakes, etc. Worth the uncomfortable moments!

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