the process

why we don’t talk numbers

one of our favorite personal finance sites, rockstar finance, maintains a running tally of bloggers’ net worths. and they frequently ask bloggers to link up to it. while we love seeing how others are doing, we don’t share our numbers, and we have a few good reasons why we don’t:

1. comparison isn’t always helpful

seeing numbers immediately makes all of us compare ourselves — how do we measure up? what are they doing that i’m not? how much do they earn or spend? etc. we don’t want this blog to be about that. lots of others are documenting the rise and fall of their net worth, and for us, this is more about the mental and emotional journey of getting to early retirement and beyond. as soon as we post numbers, we know there will be haters who say that we only save what we do because we earn x, or that with x income we should actually be able to save much faster. truth is, this stuff is highly individual and personal, and what’s right for us in terms of saving and investing and spending is probably right for only us. we want to be able to relate to all of you reading (thank you!) in terms of the ideas, not the dollar figures.

2. we don’t plan to be anonymous forever

right now, while we still need our jobs to help bring our early retirement vision into reality, we’re blogging anonymously. but we can’t wait for the day when we can tell you more about us, and share pictures of us instead of this chain of landscape photos. and once we unveil ourselves, we don’t also want our net worth to be so easily found by those who might want to take advantage of us.

3. money is just weird like that

we deeply admire the many personal finance bloggers who share their numbers. in fact, we’re thankful for them (thank you!) for helping inspire us to do better, and to think about our own finances differently. we just still have this little taboo about talking real money. sure, we’ll talk abstract money all day long, and talk your ear off about our two-tiered retirement plan, why we invest in index funds instead of actively managed funds, what assumptions are going into our long-range retirement budgeting, and on and on. but none of those things are real dollars. because, again, real dollars are deeply personal. same reason we wouldn’t talk politics or religion here.

as hard as we’ve worked in our careers, and as loyal as we’ve been to our employers, we’ve been lucky in innumerable ways, from being born in a first-world country, to having access to good public schools, to having parents that saw the value early on of college and being prepared for it, to having had the ability to travel and adapt to different situations early on. we really could go on for a long time about the ways in which we got lucky in life. point is: as soon as we slap dollar figures on things, it all becomes a comparison (or, worse, a competition), and all of the actions we’ve taken or not taken come into question, when the reality is we’ve done a lot of smart things but been lucky in even more ways. (and, oh yeah, we’ve made plenty of dumb choices too. but we’ve been lucky that the consequences haven’t been worse.)  for us, if we were to share real dollars, we’d feel the need to constantly remind readers of all the ways the universe set us up for success, and we don’t think that would make for very interesting reading for you.

how about you? do you share your net worth, or other financial figures? we’d love to hear your pro/cons on the subject!

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Categories: the process

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32 replies »

  1. I agree with all your points :) If I weren’t anonymous online I don’t think I’d be posting up my net worth to be honest just ‘cuz it does get weird amongst family and friends (and DEF co-workers) as much as I wish it didn’t. Though on the other hand, none of my family/friends/old co-workers really even CARE about my blog to read cuz who likes learning about money for fun? Haha….

    And you’re right – lots of variables go into a net worth so def. hard to compare apples to apples even if you wanted to. I still think people like seeing others’ net worths just because we’re curious humans like that, but at the end of the day it’s a personal decision to make whether to divulge it yourself or not, so good for you for knowing where you stand and being OK with not sharing. Although now it makes me want to know what yours is even more – hah ;)

    Great post all around. Thanks for sharing my project and net worth tracker around!

    • Thanks for visiting, J. Money/Mr Rockstar! And of course we feel slightly hypocritical taking this position, given that we LOVE your tracker and so many of the PF blogs that list net worth. Definitely so helpful to see how others are doing on their journeys. Let’s just say, if we were on your tracker, that we wouldn’t be top 10, but we’d be in that next cluster. :-)

  2. This is one of my favorite themes! My question is WHY is money just weird like that? Does it have to be, or do we just make it like that? Now that I’m way more open than I used to be, I wonder what the big deal ever was. This is a topic I hope to tackle more in the future. And I have to say something on the savings rate – people HAVE to give more context than just letting everyone know they’re saving 80% of their income, otherwise it doesn’t provide much benefit to anyone. Income is a crucial component of that. If you’re going to put something out there, you gotta put it all out there!

    • Definitely good points! Our biggest concern is IRL friends and family — we don’t want our finances out in the open and create any weirdness there. Or, worst case, people try to take advantage. Agree with you on savings rates! Not helpful unless you know the full picture. Thanks for reading!

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  4. There’s no way to say for sure but I feel like it’s only a competition if people want to make it one. If you have the inner peace, no knowledge or hard number can shake you. I think it’s important to share real numbers for exactly the reason you mentioned – it helps people understand that they may have room for improvement! Especially in a world filled with people who assume Debt is just the way people do things, they would benefit a lot from knowing that there is another way!

    • I think if we were planning to stay anonymous forever, we would completely agree with you, and there’s a good chance we would share. But, given that we’re going to out ourselves next year when we quit our jobs, we’re going to keep the numbers to ourselves. That feels safer to us for a whole bunch of reasons. :-)

  5. This is a topic I have mixed feelings about… And I’ll start with I totally understand where you are coming from and support your rationale for a lot of reasons. As women, I wish we had more role models in our lives who made substantial incomes. I’ve read multiple articles, books and heard features on NPR that one of the things holding women back (and the reasons are so multi-layered) is that we don’t discuss money as freely as men and thus, we don’t know how much we are “worth” in the business sense and therefore leave a lot on the table in negotiations that our male counterparts may not. I want us to culturally change and embrace career success and not be afraid to ask for more. I’ll get off my soapbox now but there are other ways to affect this change. :)

    • I’m totally with you on that, though I don’t know that sharing our household finances would change any of that. ;-) I think if we did share numbers, I wouldn’t want to be “out” after we quit, nor would I share as much here as we share. So it was just a matter of picking which side I wanted to talk more about, and I think the numbers are the boring part. Hahaha.

      • Ya, I’m starting to pick up on that reading these old posts. In some ways, the numbers are the easy part. All this other stuff going on is complicated.

      • Absolutely. And btw, you get a medal for going back and reading the old stuff. I loved the lowercase, because it felt so different from my work writing, but man is it hard to read! ;-)

  6. There are some posts that look so lonely with no comments, but love how your blog has grown so organically and now there is some lively commentary after your posts. No medals necessary, just reading and opening my mind. Frankly, I think it must have been harder to type in all lowercase because those little pinky fingers are so used to reaching for the shift keys.

    • Haha, those poor early lonely posts. :-) Fortunately I knew going in that I’d have to build up a small library of posts before anyone would even CONSIDER reading! And it goes without saying that I NEVER imagined it would become anything like what it is now. I still can’t believe it. And it’s true on the pinky fingers — it’s nice not having to think about that anymore. ;-)

      • Oh thank goodness! I’ve just discovered you and I have started at the first blog and will read up to the current one. The no capitals was freaking me out!

      • You get a virtual medal if you actually get through them all. That is a monumental undertaking! ;-)

  7. I think the fear you have of sharing your net worth numbers will eventually subside and you will realize that it is just a bunch of worry that doesn’t add up to nothing. I think being fully transparent in your philosophy of life, ideas and viewpoints, etc as well as finances without the fear of being judged is another layer of freedom we all strive for. Good luck in your journey with financial freedom and early retirement.

  8. Just discovered your blog last night and wish I discovered it BEFORE I retired! Too busy working to “wander around” :-) Anyway, I totally agree with keeping financial info private. Invites too much envy, identity theft , etc. Besides, money is a relative concept. Income is influenced by a number of factors, especially the standard of living for the area/region you are working in. Absolute values are personal – what I may regard as a lot of money may be peanuts to someone else. Percentages are the best way to illustrate financial concepts. Best of luck in your next life!

    • So glad you found the blog! :-D I so agree with you! The values are so relative and are fairly meaningless between one person and the next.