I was on twitter today when I came across an interesting article about people actually bragging about their 401(k) balances and it got me to thinking about those financial topics that are fair game to discuss publicly, and those that are still taboo except behind a moniker online.
My experience may be a bit different than most since I work in a financial planning office, so I am surrounded by the market, investments, estate planning and the balance sheets of high net worth individuals daily (if not hourly).
Financial Topics that Almost No One Wants to Talk About
Absolutely no one wants to talk about how much they make. I cringe at the very thought of talking about how much I make with friends and family. For some reason compensation seems like a taboo topic for almost everyone – even public employees where you can literally look up everything (in New York the site is – https://seethroughny.net/payrolls/). What I find very interesting is that most people are comfortable talking about how much they don’t make. Of course there are levels, if someone makes $50k they are very comfortable saying, “it isn’t like I make $120k” and if someone makes $200k they seem to be very comfortable saying it isn’t like they make $400k…all the way up.
No one wants to talk about the amount of debt they have. People have debt, like a lot of it. Credit card debt just hit another record high,
The average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from last year, according to Experian’s annual study on the state of credit and debt in America. Total credit card debt has reached its highest point ever, surpassing $1 trillion in 2017, according to a separate report by the Federal Reserve.
I am sure those with revolving debt skew the average, but that means you know someone that is likely skewing the average!
No one wants to talk about how much help they may receive from family and/or trusts. This one at least makes sense, but it is still something no one seems to talk about. Again, it is a topic people that people are very comfortable in saying that they don’t get outside help. I live in a particular area of the country where the help has to be rampant (either that or they are the ones skewing the above debt).
The big one – Net Worth! My guess is that most people don’t actually know their net worth, but even if they did it would not be a topic to share.
Should These Topics Be Open for Discussion?
I am not advocating that any of the above topics should be discussed at your next dinner party. I just find it odd in a world where people share almost everything online these topics are still so taboo.
What is my list missing?