Why don’t we tell our kids how much money we earn?
It’s one of those things that it’s just not done, is it? Because talking about money is something that we don’t do.
Certainly that’s the way it always was here in the UK, anyway – where talking about money was (and still often is) seen as vulgar or gauche or rude, and can feel like a pretty awkward conversation to have.
If you’re not in the UK, of course I appreciate your experience growing up may have been different. But the culture here certainly means that for so many of us, the idea of sitting around the dinner table and talking about how much money you earn (or have) may well feel unlikely and/or downright uncomfortable.
To be fair, I think it’s becoming more common than it was.
But if one of your children turns around to you and says “mum, how much money do you earn?” – what’s the response you give? “I earn enough”? “Never you mind, it’s not polite to ask”? “Well, I earn more than some people, but not as much as others”? Do you say the actual figure and give them a number?
Do you WANT to tell your kids how much you earn?
And if not…why not?
My son’s 11 years old. To him, earning loads of money is all about what he can buy with it – because like most kids, he’s not concerned with having money for the future or worried about money running out.
To them, anybody over 30 years is old (remember feeling like that?!) and they’re not thinking about what happens in their later years, because it feels a million miles away.
But it’s funny how our kids judge how much money other people have got.
Like when my son comes home from school and says “so-and-so’s dad is loaded”. I say “well, why do you think he’s loaded?” and he says “well, he drives a Porsche”.
It’s interesting what they decide is the thing that shows that a person has money!
And when you explain that yes, they might be driving a Porsche, but it could well be on finance and they might not actually have any more money than any other household, you see the penny start to drop as they realise that having money isn’t all about appearing ‘loaded’.
But the reason we don’t talk about money is to do with mindset. There are various conspiracies out there that say it’s to do with the patriarchal society of keeping people in their place. And to some extent, that’s true.
When I worked as a manager in the corporate world, we were regularly told not to tell other people how much we were earning. Because in the days before greater transparency and equal pay (still a way to go of course, but it IS getting better) and paying people for their merit, workers were paid according to what management thought they had to pay, to get them to a) do the job and b) not leave.
Which meant you could have a manager at the same level, doing the exact same role in different stores or even within the same store, but all on different salaries.
Because if you could get one guy to work for £18,000 a year – but you knew you’d have to pay someone else £23,000 to get them to do the same job – you just did it. And then you’d keep the gross unfairness and potential mass dissatisfaction at bay, by telling everyone not to discuss what they earn and by repeatedly drumming in that your salary is something you keep confidential. So the guy on £18k never realises how much less he’s earning and so never kicks off and asks for a pay rise.
In this day and age, large corporations publish their statistics about diversity and the gender pay gap and various other bits and pieces. But as we all know, it was pretty common in years gone by to routinely pay women less than men and because they were salaried roles (and not like-for-like), there were various ways they could get away with this.
While things have changed to the degree they have – and continue to change – it’s no wonder that this pervading culture and message of “don’t talk about how much you earn” has stayed in our psyche, as a population overall. And it’s no wonder that it can feel SO hard to do it now!
As a business owner in the online world, it can feel like a totally different kettle of fish. It’s now become the norm to see people sharing their successes, posting on social media about how much money they’ve made or how big their launch was or sharing screenshots of their Stripe account.
If you hate seeing those kinds of posts in your feed or they’re not exactly your favourite thing, it’s completely understandable. Big launches and 6- or 7-figure turnover are NO sign of profitability or actual wealth, and of course we’ve been conditioned for a long time that talking about money is rude or bragging or vulgar. From chatting to clients and business owner friends, these kind of posts do seem like a pretty marmite thing to do.
The reality is that in the online space, talking about money in this way can work really well. Partly because being financially successful is a shared goal for many – especially if your business helps other people make more money, and you want to share your results and help potential clients see it’s possible for them too – and partly because social media is full of other people doing the exact same thing.
But what if you’re now earning 6-figures or multi 6-figures or more, and you’re meeting your old friend from school, who’s working in a job and earning £20,000 a year? Are you going to talk to them about how much money you made this year?
When they ask “how are things? How’s work going at the moment?” – are you going to tell them it’s brilliant? That you’ve just wrapped up your best launch ever, where you sold £120,000 of places of your course or program? Probably not. Because there’s that inbuilt feeling that we don’t like to brag, we don’t want to show off and we don’t want someone else to feel bad.
But by doing that we’re taking responsibility for somebody else’s feelings, which we just can’t do.
Because you have got NO way of knowing how your friend will react. If you tell them you’ve just closed a 6-figure launch, you don’t know whether they’ll congratulate you or make a flippant comment about lunch being on you. You don’t know whether they’ll smile to your face but really be seething quietly and bitch about you later. You don’t know whether they’ll feel completely over the moon and absolutely delighted for you and order a bottle of prosecco to celebrate your success together (the best kind of friends!).
And when it comes to stuff with our kids, I think we have the same sort of baggage.
If we tell our kids that we’re making good money – will they take it to mean they can have whatever they want? When you go to the shop and they ask for the latest piece of plastic tat, and you say no, do you want them to pop up and say “well, we can afford it, Mum”? Probably not.
Do you want them to think that making money is so easy, they don’t need to make an effort of school with their grades? Probably not. But then are we all subscribing to that feeling that we have to work hard to earn money…which we all know is not true?
I think the real reason we don’t speak to our children about how much we earn is that in some ways, we want to keep them protected. Kids aren’t known for their discretion, after all. If you tell your children that you’re making £90,000 a year, there’s a very real chance that conversation might come out at school with their peers.
And then somebody else’s kid might tell somebody else’s mum and then they might look at you funny when you’re stood outside the school. And I think because of that, we still have that need to keep it secret.
It’s all to do with the stuff in our minds. I think the biggest thing with mindset – the fear of being judged and what we tell ourselves about other people think about us – is that other people are not nearly as bothered about us and our lives as we think they are.
It’s perfectly feasible to post on Instagram about your amazing life, while going through the most horrendous things behind the scenes. And nobody will ever notice because they’re all so caught up in their own lives.
So to bring it back to the real question today: is there a problem with telling your kids how much money you make?
I don’t think there is, but I do think it needs to be as part of a conversation about what you do, how you help people and the fact that you make good money because you have such an impact in people’s lives. That you use your skills and gifts to create something amazing for your clients, which is why you get paid as well as you do. And that although you might not necessarily work as hard as some people might think you should, you work smart and leverage your time.
The bottom line is that talking to kids about money is so, so important. They need to understand that money isn’t just to be spent now, but that money can do real good in the world. And that by having more money, we have the opportunity to help more people and to build a safe, secure and fun-filled future for ourselves and our loved ones, rather than just thinking we have more opportunity to buy more stuff.
Money mindset is important for us all but it’s not something I spend a lot of time focusing on with my clients, because I’m not the expert. My expertise is finance – helping you to manage your money to create and grow your wealth, in a very practical way.
I can do the surface level stuff but ultimately, if you need to go deeper on this, you need someone whose gift is money mindset and whose specialism can give you the insights that I could never hope to do.
Because I KNOW that for business owners who are already earning 6-figures, multi 6-figures and beyond, we’re not just talking about the baggage from your childhood or what your parents said about rich people. We’re talking about the upper limit stuff and for that next-level mindset work, you need a next-level teacher.
So I’m really excited to have such an incredible partner in my programme!
When you join Magnetic Wealth, you’ll now also get regular sessions to blast through the things that have been keeping you from moving on to that next level of income, impact and wealth. And you’ll be given the confidence to talk about their money with family and friends and make a difference in more people’s lives.
Just click here to find out everything about Magnetic Wealth – or if you’d love to chat it through, here’s where to message me personally on Facebook!
Until next time,