A Lot Of People Don't Tell Their Partner Their Salary, A New Survey Finds
It's no secret that talking about money isn't easy. Even if we know it's important, many of us feel uncomfortable or awkward — maybe even a little embarrassed — talking about our finances. And according to a new report from Bankrate.com, a personal finance website, we're even keeping our salaries a secret from those closest to us.
In fact, only 68 percent of people have told their spouse or live-in partner how much money they make, meaning 32 percent of us are keeping it a secret from the people we care about the most.
"Talking about money in a relationship is non-negotiable," Brianna McGurran, student loans and personal finance expert at NerdWallet, tells Bustle. "Consider it as important to the health of your partnership as supporting each other’s hobbies or being polite to each other’s moms. Opening up about your financial life means you’re showing each other the real you, and that honesty and vulnerability helps the relationship grow. Keeping secrets about money erodes trust, and avoiding the conversation for too long means you won’t have the tools to deal with money issues as they come up." Even if it doesn't seem like that big of a deal at first, not being open about money can be a form of secrecy that stifles communication. If you're at a point in your relationship where you're living together or married and you don't feel comfortable sharing your salary, it may be time to address the issue as soon as possible.
And, for women especially, it's so important to do — even beyond our relationships. "One of the biggest mistakes we see is women just don't talk about their money," Sylvia Kwan, chief investment officer at Ellevest, tells Bustle. "The implications of this are far-reaching — money plays a major role in our society, our politics, our work, even our relationships. If we shy away from talking about it, we put ourselves at a disadvantage. Money is power, and we need to get comfortable talking about it."
But, as this survey shows, we're just not quite there yet — although there may be some signs of improvement. Here's what else the survey found.
1. Millennials Are More Open About Sharing Their Salary Than Baby Boomers
While it's worrying to see how few people are being open with their partners, there are some encouraging signs that younger generations are more willing to be open. Forty-eight percent of Millennials had shared their salary with someone they were dating, compared to only 29 percent of baby boomers — and they were also more likely to share their salary with a colleague or friend.
2. 61% Haven't Shared It With A Romantic Partner Who We Don't Live With
If nearly a third of us haven't shared our salary with a partner who we live with, that number was much higher when it came to people we've dated, but not lived with. A huge 61 percent of those surveys haven't disclosed their salary to someone they were dating. Relationships can get pretty damn serious even if you're not living together, so that statistic is definitely a cause for concern.
3. Low Earners Were Less Likely To Share
Finally — and this may give some insight into why people are keeping quiet — lower earners were more likely to keep their salaries a secret than higher earners. This is presumably because they are more embarrassed about their salary, but if you're in a relationship where you live with someone and are building a life with them, it's important that you trust them enough to share your salary with them. Getting on the same financial page is crucial for the relationship to move forward.
While it's worrying to see how many of us keep something as fundamental as our salary a secret, it is heartening to see that younger generations are opening up. Talking about money is important and empowering, not just in your relationship but in your career and your life generally. So start with the person closest to you. If the relationship is going to move forward, it's important to start talking about money.