psst! it’s not too late to add your voice to the our next life series! we’re keeping it purely opt-in, given all the obligatory sunshine blogger posts that went around this summer, but we’d love to add more voices and dreams to the list. so far, since steve and courtney at think save retire kicked off the series, we’ve had great contributions from maggie at northern expenditure, kara at from frugal to free, and my countdown to freedom. who’s next? (and let us know if we missed anyone!)
today’s post comes with some questions for you guys, so if you don’t feel like reading the middle part, skip down to the q’s at the end, and let us know what you think in the comments.
one of our earliest posts on this blog was about how we don’t share our numbers. it’s not because we don’t like and trust you guys. it’s mostly because, one day not too far off in the distance, we will drop this whole anonymous charade, and we don’t want all the details of our finances attached to our names and faces.
“there go apu and manjula.* they are the stingiest rich people i’ve ever seen!”
*not our real names, as any simpsons fan knows
in our culture, money comes with meaning and prejudgments. having x amount means you’re supposed to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, spend a certain way. we don’t want those expectations to precede us. we’re great tippers, but if you expect us to order the lobster and dom perignon every time we dine out (or ever), then you’ll think we’re the most miserly of the misers when we share an entree and stick with water. or, as has happened to bloggers who’ve shared personal details on their blogs, we don’t want anyone to come rob our house, thinking we must have faberge eggs and mink stoles stashed somewhere. that’s not how we roll, as y’all already know. you don’t save up the big bucks required to retire early and permanently by spending extravagantly. but we’re realistic that it will be easy for anyone to find our address once we unveil ourselves, given that we live in a small town, and i have a name with an uncommon spelling. we’re not fearful people, we’re just trying to be smart about it.
so, overall, we’re still confident that not sharing our numbers is the right call for us.
it keeps getting harder not to share certain things, just because it would make talking about certain concepts a lot easier. sure, we can dance around the numbers themselves, and talk percentages, like we did in the asset allocation post. but sometimes i just want to lament on twitter how many dollars we’re currently down in the recent market rollercoaster ride (mostly downhills, not many ups), even though it’s not “real” down since we’re not selling a thing. or we want to be able to blog about certain topics that just make no sense without talking real — or at least plausibly real — dollars, like the calculations we’re making around health care and subsidies in our retirement planning. the closest we’ve come is sharing what we spend on groceries. (btw — we’ve spent under $600 all three months since we wrote this, which is a great improvement!)
we’ve tried hard to talk no numbers ever, but are realizing that that’s just not practical, if our goal is to shine a light on our thinking and planning for early retirement. the problem is that it is very easy to extrapolate one thing from another. as soon as you know our retirement budget, the fact that we plan to follow the 4 percent rule roughly (or closer to 3 percent), and our asset allocation percentages, you now have a pretty thorough breakdown of our full financial picture. so we want to be careful about which numbers we share.
and it’s not all for selfish reasons. we truly believe that what we’re doing can be done by just about anyone who has had the benefit of a college education (just because it’s so much harder to get ahead financially without one) and who is willing to be focused and disciplined over the course of many years. we’re all nodding our heads at the concept, right? but if we attach numbers to it, some readers could see what we earn as unattainable, even though we’re sure there are plenty of finance bloggers who earn more, and that could alienate them. the worst thing of all would be for someone to say, “well of course they could retire early, they make $XX! but what does that have to do with me?” we always want to be able to focus on the concepts, not our specifics. and the concepts truly are universal: pay off debt quickly, spend much less than you earn, invest the difference wisely, retire early. the biggest differences are just timeline to retirement, and how much you’ll be able to spend when you get there.
so. this is where the questions come in. we’d love to hear from you, our generous and thoughtful readers, some of whom write your own blogs and tackle this same question, and some of whom read plenty of blogs besides ours. either way, you think about finances, and make the decision in real life whether to talk about money with friends, family and coworkers, whether to talk about it in concept only, or whether to sidestep the subject altogether. we’re eager to hear your thoughts on any or all of these questions:
- for those who don’t share all of your numbers, what are elements of your finances that you are comfortable sharing, either online or in real life?
- do you share more in real life than online, or view them as one and the same?
- if you’re a person who is an open book on finances, what got you to that way of thinking?
- do you care one way or another whether we share our numbers? (we suspect not, since this has never been a “here’s how you maximize this financial thing” sort of blog, but we’re curious. one of the biggest early retirement blogs of all doesn’t share income or savings numbers, and it’s clearly not hurting them!)
thanks for your input! sending out a big virtual hug to all of you for reading! you’re what keeps us writing. :-)
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Categories: the process
I could care less if you share or don’t share your numbers. There is a fun voyeuristic part of seeing each others numbers and comparing how everyone does against each other – but its so ‘keeping up with the Jonses’ in just a different way – and isn’t that what most of us in the FI community are trying to get away from? Most of the reason I like to see budget break downs is to see if I can track or hone our budget better, or if there is something important I am forgetting about. But as for your big number – hey that is your business :)
You’ve hit on the paradox! We’re all trying not to compare, but there is so much natural comparison in the FI space when people share their numbers. Not wanting to trigger the urge to compare was something we talked about in our first post about not sharing numbers, and it’s worth remembering. Thanks for letting us know that you don’t care one way or the other if we share them. :-) Have you gotten any news yet on your job???
Addressing your questions:
for those who don’t share all of your numbers, what are elements of your finances that you are comfortable sharing, either online or in real life?
I’m happy to share percentages of income on line but not real numbers – first off for the reasons of privacy and security, but also because of perceptions – I could be perceived as rich, poor, middle-of-the-road – depending on the reader’s POV – and that colours the reader’s reaction to the post.
do you share more in real life than online, or view them as one and the same?
Only with family and close friends. They all know how much we have, but I wouldn’t tell a new acquaintance or a stranger.
do you care one way or another whether we share our numbers? Not at all. I don’t think it’s necessary: your blog is interesting and inspirational and it’s the thinking, planning, and methods that matter, not the numbers.
I had to laugh about the ‘rich people are expected to behave in a certain way’ comment. It’s so true. I have friends who won’t drink tap water – just because ‘no-one drinks tap water’. I also once stopped off in a lawyer’s office to get a form notarized – I was wearing my usual jeans and shirt, sans logo. Realizing I was carrying almost no cash, I mentioned this to the secretary, to see if I needed to run out to the ATM while the lawyer was notarizing the letter. The lawyer overheard, came out, looked at me, and said, ‘no, it’s ok, I won’t charge you” . Hmmm…maybe I looked a little too casual/ratty?
Haha — If looking too ratty or casual got you free lawyer fees, that’s a win in our books! :-)
Thanks, Marian, for these thoughtful answers, and for your nice compliment! It’s helpful to hear other views on these questions, and to hear what seems like consensus that no one cares if we divulge our numbers. :-)
It’s funny because I’m in a really similar position – I’m thinking about becoming less pseudo-anonymous and just going full on “This is me in real life” on my blog, which makes me second guess a lot of my earlier bravado about sharing numbers.
That said, the only spending numbers I’ve shared so far are along the lines of your grocery number. They’re all fixed monthly costs, which if anyone were to ask me in real life, I would tell them in a heartbeat. You want to know how much I spend on rent in a month? Nooooo problem. I think I will still avoid sharing my exact income or savings numbers, opting for percentages instead, and I’m going to make sure not to give too detailed a look at my total spending in a given time period, because duh, the percentage quickly gives the rest away!
I tend to view online and real life as one and the same, partially because I work in digital marketing and the Google search results for my name are basically my resume, haha – that means that I’m well aware anything I share online under my full name is immediately something anyone who wants to check up on me in “real life” can access and see. But! Because I see it that way, I couldn’t care less what other people share, in the same way that I wouldn’t harass a friend if they didn’t want to tell me how much they made this year.
And lastly, I’m working on my next life post – I’ll probably send it out next week! Spoiler alert: it’s basically to become that man in Texas who has a farm, rescues dogs and built a dog train to drive them around town. *That’s* the dream. (If you haven’t seen the video in the past few weeks, it’s worth a look – SO cute!)
Can’t wait to read your next life post! I am totally onboard (pun intended) with your dog train vision. I always tell the Mr. that if something tragic happens to him, I’m going to adopt 100 chihuahuas from all the shelters, and have roaming flocks of little yappy dogs surrounding me at all times. (How this is supposed to motivate him not to take big risks, I am not sure.)
It’s a tough question, on what to share, but it seems like you’ve found a good middle ground. I think we’ll probably share more stuff like that (expenses in broad strokes), and maybe hint more at some of our savings targets, but not talk income ever. And my actual name is the same way — insta resume via Google! That’s a huge reason why my name doesn’t show up here. :-)
For me, I do not mind one way, or the other if numbers are revealed or not. At a younger age (where extreme early retirement is not on my radar quite yet), I still feel I have a TON of foundation work of financial concepts to break through before really pursuing something on the fast track. I don’t really like to view retirement as reaching a certain end number because once you decide to fully retire, you can become creative in ways with the dollar amount you have in order to pursue that stage of life (considering you have been thinking creatively outside societal norms to get to that place – why not continue the streak?). So much of money to me encompasses the psychological aspects, the emotions, feelings – which is what keeps me coming back to your corner of the internet. :) I may be just one segment of viewers that seeks this out, but there are many different outcomes to reaching F.I. that when it is strictly a numbers game it tends to get monotonous for me. I want to learn all of the things that happen in between, because that is what varies from person to person.
I love your perspective, Alyssa. All of it is so true — that this stuff is so personal, that you can always be creative with your finances in ways that make the numbers matter a lot less. Thanks for reading, and always sharing such thoughtful comments!
I just recently shared my net worth as I passed a personal milestone, but I have yet to share any income/expense information. If family or friends ask, I’m honest. I’m not bashful when it comes to that sort of thing. In all honesty I think people need to be more transparent with this sort of thing, to get people (not people like us) to be more proactive with their finances. Maybe I’m just afraid people will see my income and expenses and tell me how un-frugal I am :( I assume in the near future I’m going to start sharing those types of things, but personally I’m not there yet.
As for you guys, do what makes you comfortable. If it’s going to make you uncomfortable to share, then don’t do it. If it’s going to be a big weight off your shoulders – then I say go for it! Either way, I’ll still read.
I hadn’t thought about your unfrugal point, but maybe that’s subconsciously on our minds as well. Because we are definitely not as frugally optimized in our spending as lots of folks. I wonder, too, how much of it is a factor of where we live. In the past, when we were surrounded by affluence in cities, we might not have cared so much. But it seems somehow different in our small town. But thanks for saying you’d read either way! :-)
Sharing your numbers is really a personal choice. I like seeing others numbers because it helps me with our numbers. maybe I’ve overlooked something. In general I like see others POVs on their finances and see what I can learn from them. I share my numbers and sometime get questions on them, but they are my numbers, my choices and may not work for you.
This is where we feel like hypocrites, because — like you — we actually love seeing other people’s numbers. That net worth tracker that J. Money maintains? We definitely check in on that once in a while. But we just don’t feel quite right sharing ours.
Numbers are tough. Being young and just starting out, I have less apprehension about sharing them. I post my net worth, but it’s not a complete picture. I don’t include cash, travel savings or any of Hubs’ accounts. I rarely post expenses. I don’t post any income information. Interestingly, in real life, I’ve shared the opposite. When I got my job, I told my family what my income was going to be. I’m also more open about expenses in real life, because those numbers are true to the market I live in. Perhaps this is why I haven’t told anyone about my blog. It puts all the pieces together!
As for your numbers, what does it bring to the table? There is always the voyuer factor, but what else? I track mine to try to maintain the progress I had when I was paying off debt. Saving for a big goal hasn’t been fun for me, so tracking my overall net worth progress is encouraging. For you, you plan to quit no matter what the numbers are. I wouldn’t add them,
Though if you need to vent numbers, feel free to DM me on Twitter. I can handle the truth 😉
Haha — I might take you up on that venting offer! And, actually, I’m not sure I know the answer to this — do you plan to be anonymous on your blog forever? I think that makes a difference in terms of comfort sharing things. Funny how the IRL conversation is different — our parents know what we earn, but not what we have saved. Whereas here, most people can probably guess the ballpark of what we’re trying to save (since it’s pretty consistent for most FIRE bloggers), but we’d never ever share income.
Anonymity is my biggest road block right now. Sadly, I’ve consciously not commented on blogs I love so I can possibly share them with non-blogging friends. Because what, I think they’ll go through the comments, see Kate, read my comment, connect that it’s me and confront me about it? It all sounds ridiculous when I write it down. But the anonymity is a big issue and I don’t quite know what to do with it.
It only sounds a little ridiculous. :-) I totally get it, and would probably feel the same way if I had work friends with whom I talk finance! And, if it makes you feel better, we’ve only shared the blog URL with one couple, even though quite a few of our friends know our deal. Not sure why that is, but there you go!
We share some numbers, as you know, but not all of the numbers. I give ballparks of our incomes and expenses, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing everything. That being said, I also don’t care about your real numbers. I think you would be fine sharing snippets because if you plan to reveal your true identities after retiring early, people are going to know you’re both stingy and filthy rich! :) But you don’t have to. (PS – still jealous of your food budget!)
Remember our food budget is just for the two of us! And we travel almost half of each week. I’m a little terrified of what it will cost once we no longer travel so much for work. :-X
Thanks for the great feedback on numbers. Signed, those stingy and filthy rich people. :-)
Yeah, a family of five in Alaska with no work paying for any food… I suppose it’s justified. :)
Signed, the stingy and less filthy rich person.
Haha… should have said: The stingy and aspiring filthy rich people. :-)
I share a good amount of numbers but that’s simply because my income is so low. I think in the FIRE community I’m a stand out- most people make double or triple my salary. I like showing the other side. My savings and investments are low too. I plan to move away from specific numbers once I get to a certain level of money but I’m a long way from that as of now. I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable sharing net worth online though.
I love that you show your numbers for just the reason you said — because it helps people who don’t earn a lot see that so much is possible — paying off debt, saving for big goals. And makes sense that you wouldn’t ever want to share the total, especially with your name and face up there! :-)
Our budget is about the most detailed we get with sharing numbers. If you have a calculator you can figure out the rest or close to it just by simple addition and/or subtraction. I think we might share our target number somewhere too, but it’s purely specific to us, as you can see with the spreadsheet we use. You could model it for you and have a totally different number.
We thought about adding our info to Bare Budget Guy’s – bare your budget thingy, but it was way too specific for us, mainly for the exact reasons you mentioned above. We don’t keep our Faberge eggs in the house, but they don’t know that! ;) Haha
Also, when we shared our savings goal for this year, which is still a stretch, we did get a comment that was almost exactly, “well it’s easy when you make enough to save that much.” To which I say, Bull-sh!t. It’s easy to spend the hell out of it, but it takes a lot of discipline and managing where it goes to not spend the hell out of it and actually invest and put it towards a bigger goal. Rather, put it towards a nebulous concept you can’t take out for the weekend and enjoy, or sit and admire the beauty of. I don’t get a warm fuzzy when I check personal capital – I look at it, shrug my shoulders and get back to life.
Anyway, I don’t care if you guys share all some or none of your numbers, that’s your choice and you don’t have to justify it with me. Regardless of how much or little you share someone’s going to bitch about it being too much or too little.
I agree with you on calling BS on that hater. It is crazy how easy it is to spend loads of money, especially because once you hit a certain point, prices start to become meaningless. And then you start to believe that you DESERVE all that money, and a certain lifestyle, and everyone around you is living a certain way. We’ve been there, and know that first hand. If you earn a modest amount, no one questions why you want to be frugal, but if you earn a lot, you have to justify every moment when you aren’t spending frivolously. It’s totally backwards. Sorry — you triggered this little mini rant! :-) Question for you guys — Do you plan to stay Mr. and Mrs. SSC forever, or will you unveil yourselves after you reach your FFLC? And thanks for the good input on this!
I have to say we will most likely not be Mr. and Mrs. SSC forever. Granted our industry is a bit bigger, but it wouldn’t take much to figure out who we are if we used our names, and I’d rather not have any of my superiors come across this blog until we are set. :) Not that they are trolling the PF blog space, but who knows…
Once we hit our FFLC we will start using our first names, plus they’re way shorter to type than Mr. SSC.
That’s great! I’ll be excited to learn more about the “real” SSC family, since we love reading your blog and following your progress. :-)
Great article topic. For us, we are a bit of an open book. I’ve personally always been that way, though my wife is a little more reserved, but not by much. While we are both well aware of the negatives that could befall us by divulging too much information in our lives (whether in the blogosphere or otherwise), I suppose it just doesn’t bother us enough to change the way we’re doing things.
But, sharing your numbers is a very personal decision. We have no problem doing it, but that doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way, and everybody has their own situation that they need to deal with.
I understand if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your numbers. Personally, I would be more interested in following your progress towards your end goal more than the numbers themselves. So, what about sharing a percentage number that describes how close you are to your goal? So, you might be 75% of the way towards your goal, and you’re happy to publish that number. But, since you haven’t revealed what your goal actually is, you still maintain that anonymity that you guys tend to prefer. Just a suggestion.
All this said, after my wife and I retire next year, we will probably take our net worth numbers down because, quite frankly, they won’t matter after that point. We’ve already achieved our goal and the site will no longer follow our progress in pursuit of that goal. They are only there for illustration purposes and represent how close we are to the goal (though, I will say that our goal is TIME based, not MONEY based, so even this argument doesn’t hold much water if you get right down to it).
I admire you guys for being so open with your finances, and agree that it’s a matter of personal preference. But we’re for sure glad that you and others share your numbers, since that helps us contextualize and think through our own projections. I love your suggestion about sharing percentage progress, and will think about how best to share that. That would also give us a good way to rant when the markets are going the wrong way without talking real numbers. :-) (Don’t worry — we stop at complaining, and maybe buy more shares. We don’t do anything stupid!)
It makes sense that you’d pull the numbers down once you quit, and I would think that a lot about your blog will necessarily change, too. You’re getting a year head start on us, so we’ll be eager to live vicariously (and a little jealously) through you! ;-)
Hello, Here is how I approach the things, I hope it can inspire you a little
For the time being, I share everything expressed in percentages. our net worth is expressed as a percentage of the goal we have to be FI. We are the only ones knowing that number. Off course, it will be close to the 4pct SWR. It gives you an indication, nothing more.
I do not have the need to share the deatils of all our bills, just the savingsrate is enough. Telling the world how much fluctaution in EUR there is on my portfolio is not on my mind. I do not even know the number, as I do only look once a month to the net worth number. I guess that is why I do not feel like shouting: I do not look, so I do not know…
In real life, I share even less. There is no share your numbers culture in Belgium. I think I do not share it with my mother either.
I do not care at all if a blogger shares his numbers or not. I do like to know what type of assets they invest in, but as mentioned, you do some asset allocation posts with pct. this is fine for me. The reason I like to know the assets, is to have an idea on the kind of investor you are: similar like me, or different. I also am curious to see if I can learn something
I hope this helps
That’s very helpful, and similar to what Steve suggested. We’ll figure out how best to share the percentage of goal soon! Thanks!
I still avoid specific numbers since I’m publishing so publicly, but if we blogged anonymously, I would probably share the details. It’s a give and take between anonymous transparency and protecting your privacy if you blog under your names.
That’s definitely how we feel, too — although projecting forward to when we won’t be anonymous anymore! :-)
I don’t think other people’s numbers are necessary for meaningful financial conversation. When it comes down to it, the $$ figure is so deeply peronal and unique, it’s hard to relate one person to another. I think talking in ranges/ types is productive, for example a $100K home vs a $400K home, but specific dollar figures don’t have that much meaning to another person. It’s the process that counts, not the pawns.
I share my $$ figures only because it makes it easier for me to see how far I’ve come and where I stand, and thus draw more meaningful conclusions to share with others.
That makes sense, to talk about ranges. When we pay off our house in a couple of years, for example, I know that’s going to feel like a huge accomplishment. Yesterday, I read on a blog how someone had paid off their mortgage in 3 years, which is awesome… but then you drill down and learn it was a $90,000 mortgage, they contributed nothing to retirement while they were paying it off, and they even drained their emergency fund to do it. It’s still awesome what they did, but just a different accomplishment than what we’re after, and we need to share some ranges to make that all make sense. But that’s still a few years away. :-) Thanks for weighing in!
I think it’s cool not sharing your numbers, don’t think there’s a real need. We haven’t shared salaries or net worth or how much we have saved, or how much we save every month, either. The only think DTG puts on the blog of real numbers is side income.. Because once that’s consistently high enough to cover expenses, then it means we can retire basically any time and keep investing the money we already have set aside.
As far as family and friends, I think maybe my parents and brother have an idea of what we have, but they don’t know full details. We don’t talk numbers with anyone in person ever, would be much more willing to post it on the blog. It’s hard to talk real numbers with people without coming off like a douchebag that’s bragging about how well off we are, especially when pretty much everyone else in our extended families are struggling to pay bills and have loads of debt. I wish I could help with teaching them more concepts about FI, but the fact that we’re military and have been far away for so many years makes it difficult. I wouldn’t really be nervous about breaking in or anything like that, though, just for sharing your numbers. Anyone who reads the blog already is going to assume (correctly) that you have a lot of money, and they’ll know it won’t be in your house. So if they’re going to do something crazy, they’re going to do it regardless of knowing hard numbers or having a general idea that you’re well off and retiring early.. But my guess is you won’t have that problem :)
Several great points! We don’t ever actually talk numbers with real life friends and family, but do talk money concepts quite regularly, or maybe share savings percentages and that sort of thing. And you’re right, too, about potential burglars. Maybe it’s actually fraudsters we should all be worried about? ;-)
I’ll piggy back off the Mrs’ comment and say we don’t even track our numbers all that closely, though we do have a ballpark idea of our net worth. I enjoy tracking our side income mostly to show it is possible to make a decent living without a full time, high paying corporate job. As I’m doing it, I’m realizing we could work much less and still maintain the lifestyle we want (and I think it’ll happen much, much sooner than we thought a year or even a few months ago).
As for you guys, I don’t think it’s a big deal if you don’t share your numbers and it doesn’t detract from your message at all.
Wow — y0u guys don’t track your net worth?!?! Isn’t that the great joy of FIRE bloggers??? :-) It’s so awesome that you guys are on the fast track to much less work. We keep wondering if we’d be happier doing part time work for longer, as opposed to full-time work for this one last concentrated burst, but keep deciding that it’s better just to get it over with… but it’s taking its toll big time. I can definitely see the virtues of a flexible schedule or a limited work schedule. Thanks for the input on our numbers, too! I think we’ll try to share more in the way of percentages, but keep the actual numbers to ourselves, as we’ve been doing.
It certainly is up to each of us to post what we are comfortable with. I am sure most readers follow many blogs, some that talk specifics numbers and those that are more general. I know I do and both have helped me get to where I am.
I’ve chosen to remain somewhat anonymous online but share very specific numbers. I think I made this decision based on where I am in the FI process. The wife and I are debt free, have put together a detail 5-9 year plan that we are now throwing large chunks of money at.
Writing about it in detail helps me to think through the process as it pertains to our financial details and keeps us accountable to our goals.
We can definitely see that side: how sharing your numbers would be motivating, and help keep you accountable. We already know how much this blog and the great community around it have helped us speed up our plans, so we see that side for sure! But like you said, you’re more anonymous, which changes the dynamic. Thanks for the great input!
This post hits close to home. I actually had a post scheduled for today titled “My Numbers,” and then a few days ago, I opted not to post it. I’m not really sure if I want to go into those details yet. Mostly because I don’t know how my blog will evolve over time and if I’ll later regret a full disclosure decision. I don’t mind discussing some things, e.g. grocery budget, etc., but everything? Not sure I’m ready to go there yet. I didn’t even think about the fact that what you disclose may alienate your readers- that’s an excellent point you made. So, no real advice for you, just that I’m in a similar position.
That’s a big decision you’re tackling with! Fortunately, there’s no rush, so you should wait to hit publish on that post until you’re 100% sure. As you said, you don’t later want to regret a full disclosure. But sharing your numbers might also be a great thing for you. Take as much time as you need to make that decision! :-)
Since I share so many details, I would never go public with this blog and use my real name. I couldn’t care less if you guys share your numbers! Personally, I share mine because it’s part of the point I’m trying to broadcast, but there are plenty of other things I don’t share like the city/state/timezone I live in or my specific income information. I definitely notice that I get fewer comments than other blogs that aren’t as high income or who don’t disclose their numbers if they are, but I’d rather stay true to the story I’m trying to tell. Surprisingly, I haven’t gotten any comments from haters!
Offline, I will only share strategies, rather than actual net worth numbers. For example, I would tell some number of friends when I pay off my mortgage and I tell people (if it comes up) that I max out my 401(k) and Roth IRA. But I would never tell people the whole picture. I’ve occasionally (while drunk…) mentioned that I plan to retire in my thirties to friends, but it mostly doesn’t get a good reception, so I try to not do that very often. Or when friends complain about how much rent is and they try to keep it under 50% of their net when my housing costs are about 4% of our combined gross income… :/
I’m pretty sure that no one I know in real life would guess exactly how much money I have. My boyfriend really had no idea either and he knew lots about my finances before we fully opened up!
It would be cool to see some sort of your progress towards FI though!
All of what you said matches us exactly — except that we don’t plan to stay anonymous here, and therefore aren’t planning to share numbers. And, in case we’ve never said it to you before, your housing numbers are crazy awesome. Major high fives. :-)
Based on the great comments, we’re definitely thinking about how to share our progress more effectively without real numbers. Thanks for weighing in!
Thanks! It seems crazy now to me that our housing costs are that low as that wasn’t what it was when Ibought! My base salary is about 45% higher now than it was when I started condo hunting, so this place has become much more affordable over the last several years :) The purchase price of this place was just over 3x my gross income the year I started looking! My housing costs were not 4% of my gross income when I bought – it was closer to 15%. But a variety of salary increases, a refinance, and my boyfriend moving in made this place wonderfully affordable. It’s pretty sweet because we have such a nice place!!
So awesome. :-) Similar to us in that we bought when we earned less (and, in truth, it was our second place at the time — but once we sold the first place, our retirement house started seeming crazy affordable!).
I’m not very interested in other peoples’ numbers, but I like how you share your retirement date as that is something so fun to look forward to.
I *so* wanted to be open and share my own numbers when I started my blog. I was determined to air it all out and be a financial exhibitionist. And then I held back. Mostly because my friends read my blog, and none of them are early retirement types. I just didn’t want money to create a barrier between us. Sometimes I still think it was a mistake to share my blog with people who know me in person, and that I should move elsewhere and to blog anonymously.
It struck me that it’s easier to share low or average numbers rather than high numbers, because I perceive it to feel less threatening (to others) that way.
Wow — I hadn’t considered what you’ve run into, though it makes sense that having IRL friends reading your blog would change the dynamic! If you do start another one that’s super secret, please email us with the new URL, so we know where to find you! :-)
As you know, I share my financial goals progress with dollar values, but I don’t think I will be comfortable sharing my income or even the details of my net worth/portfolio online. I’m willing to do it in percentages but not in specific dollar amounts. I don’t have other reasons behind it except for I don’t feel comfortable or confident doing that, at least not yet. And I definitely share more online than in real life, because no one around me is interested to talk about money. In saying that, I don’t think I’d mind sharing specifics if anyone asks me in person.
I’m not bothered that you guys don’t share your numbers, I don’t think any of your readers are. :) I come here for your words – numbers or no numbers, it will stay the same. Happy Monday to you guys! Sorry, I’m always late to the party these days. :D
That all makes total sense! And thanks for your nice note about why you read — and no need to apologize for the timing of your comments. We always love hearing from you, whenever that might be. ;-)
We share our net worth because I am very serious about living a “different” career path at a net worth that would not make us FI. I believe we have probably a million dollar gap in between financially unhindered and financially independent, and I think its important to share that journey too. If you can share your perspective without your numbers do that, but if you can’t its time to strip down for the world.
Makes sense! Given that our path is a bit more conventional, to the extent that FIRE is ever conventional!, I think we’re finding ways to keep sharing our journey without sharing our numbers. But let us know if you disagree! I definitely admire those, like you, that do share! :-)
I’m happy sharing everything in real life, basically! Online I’m comfortable sharing how much and on what we spend. Not salary or networth.
Online I’m an open book emotionally in regard to my *thoughts* and *feelings* about money. Offline I’m more comfortable talking numbers than feelings.
I’m Asian. We are pretty open about money.
(And I don’t really care what bloggers do or don’t reveal numbers wise!)
Isn’t it interesting how different online and real life are, in terms of this stuff? We’re so similar — happy to share the feelings online, happy to share the numbers in real life. :-) Thanks for weighing in!
I don’t think you need to share everything.
I didn’t share for 4 years and only started sharing our net worth 2 years ago. Previously, I was sharing our monthly cash flow and net worth gain in percentage. I still do that, but now I share our net worth once a year.
Sharing net worth is a bit scary because it’s not that difficult to find out where we live and where our kid goes to school. Kind of scary…
You’re totally right that we don’t need to share everything! We’ve started sharing our mortgage balance since we plan to have our house paid off before we quit next year. And we’ve been sharing other random numbers. But yeah, that net worth share IS scary! And we live in a small town, which I do think makes it a very different dynamic. :-) If we still lived in the big city, we’d probably feel differently!
This is a really interesting question which I thought about a lot before deciding to do my own sharing. I am attempting to share everything with as much detail as possible because it makes the point a lot easier to illustrate I suppose. I would love for the topic of money to not be so taboo, so this is my way to contribute a little to that I guess.
You know some companies are even starting to make salaries public, https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/0914-salary-transparency.aspx since transparency is such a growing topic for management these days. I find this particularly useful for women, who tend to still make pennies on the dollar for similar jobs for their male counterparts. But at the same time I can see how this would just add to the stress of some people because by comparing themselves now they “feel” less rich than before. mmm.
That said, I don’t share my identity as I too have some security concerns. But at the end of the day, I like it because it allows me to use my blog as my personal financial journey and look back at our progress (and have my kids learn from the experience) and i have found it particularly interesting to see blogs of people with real data.
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have financial management education at school (why dont we teach this, pretty much the only practical skill other than cooking and basic life skills that we ALL will need no matter what we do?). Ever since discovering the early FIRE community, I have been talking to my friends and colleagues a lot more openly about money. I don’t share details unless they ask, but I know just by having the convos at least two have started looking a lot more closely to their finances and making major changes.
I think if we weren’t planning to unmask ourselves after we quit, we’d probably be tons more game to share. Because we agree with you — we don’t think the taboos around money are ultimately helpful for anyone. But at the same time, since we do earn more than a lot of folks, we don’t want to suggest inadvertently that you need our level of income to do what we’re doing — we’re just maybe on a faster timeline or able to do it all less frugally than some others do. Total respect for everyone who does share, though!
what is important is that you provide extremely useful information that does not need the actual $$ around it. and hey, we are still talking about money right! un-tabooing it as we go ;).
So true! Let’s keep busting those taboos! :-)
The numbers don’t matter – especially since what I will require is probably different than what you require, whether it’s $10/ yr. difference or $10K/yr. difference, whatever. The principal/method as you say is what is ultimately important. You could be ornery and give really phony numbers like we’ve saved up $22, 345.97 so we’re retiring, bah,hahaha, just to see who would catch on. Actually, the numbers that don’t really mater or mater, but indirectly, such as groceries or the electric bill, I share (mostly in person, I’m not a financial blogger.) As far as income or savings totals, that’s personal. Kinda like when some folks share a little too much about their health issues and procedures, sharing certain things about personal finances should just be kept private.:)
PS ~ Since finding you, going back through some of the older posts so please forgive the commenting on older posts. Sometimes if something strikes a chord, just need to send a note on it.
Glad you agree! I’m totally with you — some of this stuff is truly personal (you all don’t need our TMI details!), and some of it just fuels comparison that we’d rather not get into. And thanks for going back and reading the older stuff! Love that you’re enjoying it. :-)
New to your site and love what i see…Lots of good opinions in the comments.
I would offer that there might be more value to your readers in releasing your numbers compared to releasing your identities. I’ve read several ‘retire early’ blogs which then show folks living on income way below what i would ever be willing to do. So for me, the actual numbers do matter for a frame of reference. To me there is a difference on someone who is willing to live on $35,000 a year and live in a RV versus someone with 2 or 3 times that much income to retire on. Real numbers also show others what is possible and can help frame their goals.
In the end, do what’s best for you guys.
We love providing value to readers, but that’s not fundamentally why we do this, and we’re eager to be “out” on our blog. So no numbers coming… sorry. ;-) But I understand what you’re saying 100%, and the good news is that several other folks in the community have started sharing their numbers, which are in the higher ranges of income now and planned spending in FIRE.
I put it all out there, slowly, and over time as we make progress toward our goals. I think sharing that information is more beneficial for others in similar situations. Plus, as public employees our salaries are 100% public knowledge, so other than what we spend you can find everything out about us. In the end, you learn if anyone even cares or if they care too much. I think sharing is a positive to remove the mystical nature of early retirement and financial independence.
I wrote more about this, a while after this post, and it explains my case a little better. ;-) https://ournextlife.com/2016/11/30/joneses/
I’m not a blogger (though consider it from time to time), and like you I enjoy seeing other’s numbers but it’s certainly not critical to understanding the concept. I started with MMM and continued with GCC, ROG, MF, jlcollnsnh… who all have shared to a different degree and they all make it work within their blog. Same with yours, I think percentage to goal is a nice thing to see on most but since you guys always had a date then technically your % was calendar-based. All moot now of course.
Funny story, we happened to be visiting SF when GCC held a meetup last September and it was a diverse crowd. A rather tight circle formed around him as he was peppered with questions until one guy asked about his NW. With some hesitation he actually did say it but clearly he didn’t seem too enthused at the question.
As for us, I like talking money but few people seem interested. One friend of ours will FIRE in a couple years also and we talk concepts a lot but no numbers. Another asked our goal number so I told him, and yet another friend at work asked about our timeline. We’re really unsure what to tell our neighbors when we’re no longer going to work since we live in a blue-collar neighborhood and don’t want that stigma but they must know as DINK engineers that we do alright. All bridges to cross one day.
Blogging is wonderful if you feel driven to do it, but it’s a huge amount of work and feels like a full-time job. Just food for thought. ;-) I’m not surprised someone asked Jeremy that question, though I’m slightly surprised he answered! I’ve caved and told a few people our numbers, but I much prefer not to be asked. Hahaha. And as for your neighbors, you never know what they think. We don’t “look wealthy” or “act wealthy,” so I doubt any of our neighbors give it a second thought! ;-) (It probably also helps that we live in a place where people do all kinds of non-traditional jobs, so seeing someone at home in the middle of a weekday doesn’t mean anything.)