Wages/Salary secrets why?

Reply Wed 11 May, 2005 07:57 pm
Hello all, I am recently trying to find my path in life and it seems today (more than ever), a person needs two incomes or one large income in order to get out of the parents house and begin their life. I live in Illinois and the cost of houses has skyrocketed, (my parents house is worth almost triple what they bought it for and they have never remodled or anything).

So, in order to get married, also very expensive, I am looking for a good job that is both secure and well paying. However, people (in general) are very secretive about their wages within a certain job. For example, I asked my graphic designer friend how much she makes and she was reluctant and then told me a lie im sure, and most people act this way. I completely understand it really isnt my business, I am just wondering why it is so secretive and a big deal. Everyone makes some amount of money, if I asked how much someone has saved in their accounts that, I can see being personal, but wages/salary, thats just part of life. I just want to know how much is required to live. any thoughts and comments are welcome
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Reply Wed 11 May, 2005 08:25 pm
Most folks are a little reluctant to share details of their own income - pretty understandable, from a privacy perspective.

A good place to look for wage-by-job-category info would be US Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics: Overview of BLS Statistics on Wages, Earnings, and Benefits. The Department of Labor and/or Department of Commerce for your own state will have good info as well.
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Green Witch
Reply Wed 11 May, 2005 08:37 pm
It does seem to be a social taboo to ask such a question. I think you have a very legitimate reason for wanting to know. Of course, some people can live very well on small incomes while others can't make ends meet with millions. Wages also vary depending on what part of the country you are living or even what part of a state. Example: NYC legal secretary makes about $65,000 per year, two hours away going northwest, a person with the same skills makes about $30,000. The only time I remember discussing salary with colleagues was when I worked in sales and it was posted each month who sold what and you could easily figure out how much a person made from that.

Lower wage jobs usually post the pay in want ads. The better the money the less likely you will see it advertised. Sometimes salary is adjusted based on experience. Your friend might make big bucks because of her talents and job history. A new person to the field would make much less. Salary can also be negotiated - try not to name your price, let the employer make an offer. Most people sell themselves too low.

You might want to check into sites like this one to compare:

I always liked the idea that you make yourself rich by making your wants few. You might also want to explore books like "Your Money or Your Life", I don't agree with the financial advice of the book, but the basic philosophy is a good one.
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abe froman
Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 12:35 am
thank you great responses it really is taboo any other toughts welcome!!!
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 07:37 am
I know at my current and all previous jobs that if you discuss your salary it is grounds for dismissal. This is because sometimes people within the same or similar position at a company can make a good amount of difference in salary. There can be a variety of reasons - experience level, performance level, demand and supply of the hiring market when that person was hired. Obviously if you found out John was making lots more money than you, doing the same job and he was a horrible worker this could cause a major problem.

However, outside of work discussing with your friends it is a very private matter. Maybe they are embarrassed that they make a low amount of money or maybe they don't want you to know that they make tons - you may look at them differently. I think if you want to know what sort of salary a certain position would pay; it may be a better approach to ask - what is a typical salary range for a graphic designer? Or ask them suggestions on how to make ends meet? I would not disclose to my friends my salary, and nor would I ever ask them what they made.
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material girl
Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 09:07 am
Ive noticed its a taboo as well.
A boss told me not to talk about wages(Im the lowest paid in a cr*ppy, no hope job)but the way I see it is its my job and if I want to disclose my wages to someone I will.

Yes I can see its no one else's business and I dont have to say anything if asked.And as previously stated people that do the same job can have serious differences in pay, thats when the arguments start.
I think its just office politics.

Bosses say its not the done thinkg to talk about it but really its because they dont want to have to deal with disgruntled employees with unfair pay.

I say, If your happy to talk about your wages then do it but dont expect anyone else to disclose theirs.
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Slappy Doo Hoo
Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 09:42 am
I don't care talking about it with good friends of mine, but I'd never just bring up how much money I make to someone I don't know well, unless they were interested in getting into a similar field/job.

But yea, some people may be embarrassed because they don't think they make enough, or some people who do make a good living may not want to tell people, either out of fear of "being looked at differently," or making the other person feel badly, knowing they make a lot less.

But it's easy to figure out generally what you should expect to make in certain fields and jobs. Go to monster.com, read a lot of job postings, and the message boards. Also the payscale sites listed above.

Also, if you're just starting out on your "career path," don't be overly obsessed with how much you're going to make starting out. Get into a field you genuinely like, and if you do well the money will come. Learn the business and always look for ways to improve and move up...don't "settle" because you're comfortable.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 04:55 pm
It's secretive because people tend measure the worth of others based on their income. That may seem silly but there is some minor merit in it too.

If an employer thinks person "a" is worth paying twice as much as they pay person "b" most people would think the employer is in a position to know something about them )i.e. they are smarter, better educated, etc..) that others may not know. A person's salary becomes a matter of self-worth and status.

Just go around the taboo. People are hestitant to tell you how much they make but if you ask "What sort of salary range do people in your field generally make?" most people will gladly give you a range and even expand on that with specifics for education, experience level and locations.
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Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 05:41 pm
if people tell you their personal secrets, they feel insecure that someone may try to ruin their lives... or take over their jobs... its just that feeling of insecurity, or security for that matter

"i'm secured and happy with my job, happy with my life, i won't let anyone take this away from me!"
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cicerone imposter
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 06:44 pm
Two topics most people will keep a secret or lie about are income and sex. Average income statistics may give one a general idea of the salary range, but it depends on location, demand and skills.

The best bet to increase your earning is by getting a college education. If you really want to be in the top rung, earn a graduate degree or work in one of the major professions that are known for high salaries such as doctors and lawyers. Lawyers working for some of the top law firms in the country earn close to $1 million/year.

Some people with unique special skills can also earn big bucks.
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