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OT, talking about money

I used to work in finance and seem to always bring up money matters. Like how much things cost, things being too expensive, etc. I don't brag, never, but I feel like I discuss money or financial matters a bit too much.

What are some social guidelines on talking about money? I guess, what's the etiquette? I'm used to people divulging everything to me regarding finances that I guess I'm a little jaded.

Help :)


Thu. Jun 21, 4:04pm

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Funny, I hardly ever talk about money and I wonder if that is normal. We would have a great conversation OT! #;-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 4:58 PM

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I can't stand it when people ask what things cost, "oh, how much was that?" I had a friend who came through my house and asked what everything cost over and over. Tacky.

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 5:56 PM

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Ooooh my niece is like that. Every time I see her - everything she sees. You can literally see her tallying up the worth of everything around her. It's really, really offputting.

I do and don't talk about money. I like to talk strategy, tracking and investments, but I don't usually talk about how much things cost or ask what someone makes, etc. Knowing these things really has no value to me and seems nosey and a bit too personal.

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 7:08 PM

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That's a fun one...there aren't any sweeping generalizations, but here's how I handle it:

Rent/Mortgage: Usually a crass question, but here in Manhattan rent is something to commiserate over, and asking is just about the only way to figure out what a real market value is. However, I would never ask anyone in another town/city what their rent was. Mortgages, well, I don't ask but a lot of people are happy to brag about their great refinancing deal.

Salaries - I have a few friends/family who are open about it and a few who are reticent. I follow the other person's lead on that.

Clothes and home contents - I'd never ask. Besides, I've read studies about how we lie about what we paid because we feel guilty or don't want to appear foolish/shallow for paying $300 for a pair of shoes.

Electronics, cars, art - yes, I'd ask if it was something I was thinking about getting, and cost would not be the only question. I don't normally ask directly, it's more like "do you think it was worth the price tag", and that lets the person tell you what they paid if they want to.

Portfolio, investments, pension - nope, too private. Don't ask. Anything beyond "gotta love the Dow these days, my IRA looks healthier than I'm used to" is usually more than anyone wants to - or should - know about another's finances.

Debt - Of course I never bring it up with anyone, but friends and family often talk to me about this issue.

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 7:26 PM

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How about this: stop talking about it. Don't bring it up.

I'm pretty detailed with my money (tracking receipts, budget spreadsheets, etc.) and a lot of my friends come to me seeking advice, but I would never ask them flat out how much they're spending on clothes, food/alcohol, rent, etc.

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 8:37 PM

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My dh's mom talks about money so much. I can tell you how much my b-i-l and s-i-l make, what he paid for his car, how much the ring costs, wedding, etc.! I never ask for this information and can only imagine that she talks about my dh to other people the same way. We never tell anyone his salary, it's no one's business. I am tired of my own parents asking how come my kids don't go to private school, etc. They tell me that's what sacrafices are for! Hellooo, I haven't worked in over 10 years so I can stay home with my kids. I know all about sacrafice! (That was my choice, so if you happen to work, don't get all ruffled thinking I'm insulting anyone, I'm not.) I don't own very expensive things so maybe they think I've got loads of money hidden somewhere. I want to just scream sometimes!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 9:28 PM

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my mom's best friend is obsessed with money. It's really annoying. She has 2 grown kids, one who is a cop and makes around 70K now and a daughter that just grad college and makes nothing. She constantly buys her daughter things to help her "keep up". The girl was a senior in high school when she got her first louis vuitton. She is always telling my mom that so and so is rich and so and so has soo much money, mean while, she probably earns around 200K. My mom never brags or brings it up, even though she has every right as my husband and my income exceeds 7 figures! And we did it on our own, without hand outs. We purchase our own high end goods and are generous with our friends and family. I wish my mom would dump her friend! I guess the saying is true, those who talk about it, don't have it!

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 9:42 PM

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money

I agree, don't ask directly, but the indirect thing on if it was worth the price, so much more tasteful. Most people will offer what they paid, what a deal they got, etc. I never ask. I was brought up to think it is rude to talk about money. A lot of folks ask me about our finances, why we don't buy a house or why I drive an old volvo. The most I tell them is that we work within our budget and choose to spend our money where it really counts. And if they ask where might that be, then I might choose to answer glibly, such as why do you ask? or more directly, such as, by maintaining a debt free lifestyle. That usually makes people stop asking. Let the one without sin be the first to throw the stone, you know. If the familia comes and starts pricing out your stuff, let them know that it is rude or ask why is it important for them to know. I try to be polite to everyone but there are stopping points, and that would be one of them. Don't let them own you.

murph

Thursday, June 21, 2007, 9:57 PM

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the only people i talk about my finances with are: my spouse, my father and my lawyer. i don't want people to know how much my house cost and i don't want to know how much their's cost. i don't ask people how much they paid for anything. it makes me uncomfortable when people throw tidbits about "their portfolio" or about their "wealthy relatives" into a conversation b/c it seems like bragging to me. the only exception is: i enjoy hearing about/ talking about good shopping bargins. if i'm wearing something cute, and i got it for a steal, and someone says "that's so cute", i often blurt "thanks! it only cost $X". however, this isn't always safe. someone once told a friend i was "crass" for mentioning such information. so, OP, i guess every social group will have their own standard.

Friday, June 22, 2007, 6:36 AM

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Ooh - I love hearing all this input and it makes me think about what I do and say. I sometimes ask what people pay for things like services such as landscaping, roofing, etc. Do people consider that tacky? We seem to get gouged in our town b/c there's a lot of wealth and people will pay anything and prices reflect that (based on estimates people in neighboring towns get.) So, I'll ask and I certainly don't mind telling people what we paid for things like that. For me, it helps determine if it's a project I will even consider. Hmmm...now you have me thinking!

What's interesting is that while I don't want people to know what I paid for things like my house - they can easily find out with websites like Zillow. They can see how much profit the seller made, my taxes, etc.

Friday, June 22, 2007, 7:18 AM

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I think (I hope!) there is a difference between going through someone's house and asking what everything costs, and asking how much their new roof cost. I'm with 7:18 -- right now I'm figuring whether I can afford to get a new roof (or kitchen) myself. Although I suppose someone else might be trying to find out whether they can afford to refurnish their living room.

I guess that when someone asks you about your stuff, it isnt always about YOU. Income, though -- that's kind of rude!


Friday, June 22, 2007, 8:45 AM

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I was taught growing up that you don't make or invite comparisons, or say anything that even hints at that, or put people on the spot about money or property. I'm not terribly sensitive about it myself, and grew up in a locale where most people probably had a pretty good idea of everyone else's income (lots of government employees and consultant services types... the rates are fairly public). Still, you didn't talk about it much.
It's different when there is a logical purpose behind the conversation. You can say to someone, I'm thinking of remodeling the kitchen, what do cabinets cost anyway?, and they'll either plead ignorance or tell you whatever they know, and I really doubt they'll be bothered by it as long as it's their choice whether to mention that theirs cost X thousand. Give them space to say "the cheap ones cost $400 and the expensive ones cost $8000" if that's what they're comfortable with sharing, and you're unlikely to offend.

Friday, June 22, 2007, 11:21 AM

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off topic to on topic

Does your weight loss interest you? maybe instead of talking about money, talk about weight loss and proper foods to eat. You seem like a person who likes to talk about the things that interest you.

Friday, June 22, 2007, 11:05 PM

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