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    Pay Transparency: What If ALL Salaries Were Public Knowledge?

    1. Holly@ClubThrifty

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I like it when others share their income, but I don’t believe anyone should be required to. I have gotten to the point where I think my income is really no one’s business. People look at you and your income and make all kinds of assumptions that aren’t really true – or they think they should be able to decide what you can/cannot afford. I quit doing income reports on my website because I got so many negative and judgmental comments. “How can you talk about frugality when you make so much?’….or “You shouldn’t complain about the cost of health care because you can afford it more than most people.”

    2. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:50 am

      The negative feedback and assumptions suck. I wonder how much of that would still exist if salary talk wasn’t so taboo.

    3. Natalie @ Financegirl

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:17 am

      LOVE this, Stefanie! I really wish salaries were not so secret. I think that money shouldn’t be a secret in general and I hope that through blogs and continued education people get more comfortable talking about it.

    4. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Agreed. I love ALL the money talk 🙂

    5. Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:18 am

      I’m from Europe and the information about public positions must be public here. However, no one ever talks about the private sector. I personally don’t publish my own income reports. I’m still working full time in a corporate field and I launched my blog 10 months ago. Although my blog generates me pretty decent income already, I don’t personally want to publish it in public income report. To be honest, I don’t always even calculate how much income I make every month. It highly depends on the client work I do and that is often project based and divided by several months.

    6. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:52 am

      My income fluctuates drastically too and I totally understand your hesitancy to share. Though I think if everyone shared, it wouldn’t be quite as daunting.

    7. Brian @DebtDiscipline

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:28 am

      In the corporate world its a slippery slope, because their are many factors that go into someone salary. Years of experience. years in position, etc. You could have two people in the same position making different salaries and if they knew that cause issues. I know when I learned about someone in a similar role making more money than me it made me angry, and it not always works out negotiating a higher salary for yourself when knowing this information. In general it might be a good idea, but you need to be ready to deal with the fall out.

    8. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 9:54 am

      The factors that go into the pay differences are why I think the transparency is so critical. If you know why, it’s easier to understand pay discrepancies and work toward a higher salary. That said, I have no doubt there would be fall out. But I wonder, if it became the norm, if potential backlash would continue to be an issue.

    9. Holly@ClubThrifty

      October 19th, 2015 at 10:15 am

      I agree with you, Brian!

      It’s also important to remember that not everyone deserves to make the same amount of money. Some people are worth more – they work harder, they are more dedicated, or they produce more results. A lot of people think everyone should earn the same no matter what. I disagree with that premise. We’re all in charge of our own lives and negotiating the best deal for ourselves. Focusing on what others make only breeds envy.

    10. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Focusing on what others make is what’s inspired me to work harder and more strategically- though I concede that certainly wouldn’t be everyone’s response

    11. Holly@ClubThrifty

      October 19th, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Oh, I’m the same way. When I see others succeed, it lights a fire! Unfortunately, that is not how it works for everyone. I know many people who see what others have and want the same – even if they haven’t worked as hard or invested as much of their time or energy. I wish more people would see other’s high earnings as motivation!

    12. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 11:43 am


    13. Chelsea

      October 19th, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Really nice points. I’ve never thought about this, but I LOVE when online entrepreneurs share their income reports… such an inspiration for the rest of us, no?

      I’ve drastically increased my income in 2015 too, and I’ve got big hopes for 2016. I don’t share my income online, but now I’m thinking what if I did? … I certainly think it would light a fire under my bum to hustle even harder to up those numbers.

      Also, I think if absolutely everyone’s salary was made public (or salary AND working hours), our nation would have way more entrepreneurs. It’s just so cool how you can sort of write your own check in proportion to how hard you’re willing to work.


    14. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      I can understand the hesitancy to share, but like you said, it can light a fire under you to hustle harder. I have a big goal of reaching six figures in 2016 and I have no idea how to make it happen, but I feel like tracking my progress here and staying accountable to my readers, may help.

    15. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

      October 19th, 2015 at 10:55 am

      I always hated when I worked for corporate America and they said to not share your pay information. I understand that some people may earn more than others for a reason, but if you have similar jobs and get similar results, there’s no reason why there should be a discrepancy. I left my company and came back two years later because they asked me to and I negotiated a gulp pay rate that they paid me and it made me wonder if I was screwed for the past 8 years that I worked there. I am a big fan of disclosing pay rates. If you are a high earner, good for you, I’m sure you earned it, but if you are doing the same job as your peer with the same results then your pay should be the same.

    16. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      I’m with you 100%. I’d love to see this trend catch on in more “traditional” work places.

    17. DC @ Young Adult Money

      October 19th, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      I’ve found sites like Glassdoor to be incredibly useful, and I credit it for giving me the confidence to ask for more money at work. I work at a huge corporation in a traditional field, finance, so it makes the salary data very applicable and usable for me and others in the same field.

    18. Stefanie

      October 19th, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      I wish there were similar resources for nontraditional work set ups- like freelancing. I know a lot of people are trying to start similar platforms specifically for those nontraditional mediums, but I think it’ll be a while before we get something really comprehensive

    19. EL @ Moneywatch101

      October 19th, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      This open talk about money is catching on in random spurts all around the media outlets. Will it change how corporate America handles pay or salaries for its employees, I doubt it. The reason its taboo is because the bottom line for millions of companies will take a hit as overhead costs account for big chunk of expenses. If they can save 5 thousand dollars paying someone less money, it will go to retained earnings, and not to that employee. Pay transparency might increase productivity for some, but is that really proven to help all organizations, If pay transparency becomes an new corporate culture trait. This is the reason companies won’t take the risk.

    20. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

      October 19th, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      While I don’t think financial talk should be taboo and I love what Jennifer posted about equality in pay and being mad at herself for not being a better negotiator (I too have been bad about this), I don’t like sharing my numbers and I don’t really get inspired or discouraged reading other people’s numbers. Maybe this is the Gen X in me and leaning towards privacy, but for some reason that’s just how I feel.

    21. Shannyn @ Frugal Beautiful

      October 19th, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      I love this, and I definitely think the conversation needs to happen more. It’s especially tricky for freelancers because there’s such a wide range of services offered. Knowing what others are charging can be eye-opening, though, and it does help you realize your value and what’s possible.

    22. Hannah

      October 20th, 2015 at 8:58 am

      Pay is very interesting, because on the one hand, I’ve long since surpassed the “happiness” income mark, so additional dollars aren’t particularly motivating. On the other hand, I’ve also negotiated my salary several times just because I can. However irrational, I attach a certain value to my salary and I am pretty happy to have less of an opportunity to compare.

      On the freelancing front though, even the vaguest of numbers have helped me out.

    23. Gordon Jesse

      October 20th, 2015 at 9:19 am

      I don’t get the taboo on revealing income. I once told a close friend of 40 years how much my son made as a performer on Broadway and she was shocked that I would tell her that. I wasn’t bragging, just making a point. She knows about how much people like that make, she was reacting solely to my telling her. It really surprised me.

    24. Aja McClanahan

      October 20th, 2015 at 9:38 am

      It depends on if the transparency is mandated or voluntary. Voluntary transparency is ideal. I am trying to get to the point where I can publish my numbers, but we live in the inner city and for safety sake choose not to at the moment. Hoping to change that.

    25. This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

      October 20th, 2015 at 10:52 am

      […] O’Connell wrote about and asked, “Pay Transparency: What if all salaries were public knowledge?” What do you think about the idea of “universal pay […]

    26. giulia

      October 20th, 2015 at 11:41 am

      I never had problems to say which was and which is my salary but for most people is a taboo, I like to read about some bloggers became financial bloggers and blog became full time job from side hustle is interesting…but I’m agree aabout equal pay (woman are paid 20% less than a man in the same position and this isn’t good), thanks for sharing!!!

    27. Jim Wang

      October 20th, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      Transparency only hurts the folks who benefit from it being opaque. In the short term, it might hurt some people’s feelings to know they are underpaid. They might even be upset at their co-workers who are being paid more, as if it was the co-worker’s fault for the pay disparity. In the end, workers benefit. There’s a reason why government works are paid on the same General Schedule pay scale – it simplifies things.

    28. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

      October 21st, 2015 at 11:17 am

      Good point and I do think transparency will ultimately benefits workers. I work in government and it’s pretty easy to know another person’s pay because it’s based on seniority and position. It simplifies things but it’s not necessarily always a good thing either. there is a lack of incentive to work harder when you are paid based on how long you’ve been there rather than based on merit.

    29. Michelle

      October 20th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      I LOVE reading income reports. Whenever I see that one has gone live, I click on over as fast as I can haha! Income reports are what helped motivate me. I don’t know if I would have ever even tried online freelancing for a living if it wasn’t for them.

    30. NZ Muse

      October 20th, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      I’ve always admired Buffer for making all its salaries transparent.

      I admit I personally get discouraged reading some bloggers’ huge numbers. I can’t lie.

      In real life, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at how willing coworkers are to discuss pay (blogged about this recently: And my new job is in the personal finance space, so it’s definitely not a taboo topic here – we talk about saving for retirement, insurance, buying a house, living costs, everything!

    31. Melanie @ Dear Debt

      October 20th, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      I have to credit you for opening my eyes to what freelance writers can make! I’ve doubled my salary since last year and it feels great! I appreciate you sharing your lows and highs in regards to salary. I think it’s refreshing to see that. I’m inspired by you to have my first 5 figure month, which is my goal for 2016.

    32. Stefanie

      October 21st, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      Melanie, this makes me SOOOO happy!!!

    33. Abigail @ipickuppennies

      October 21st, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      I’m still not comfortable sharing our numbers with my readers, though I’m sharing the progression of one savings account. And last year, I shared some account balances to explain how we paid cash for a car.

      I know it’s silly, but I can’t bring myself to disclose my income yet. I think it’s just because we were broke when I started the blog, so even though my readers have assured me they’re just happy for me, I can’t do it.

      Then again, I have no energy — emotional or physical — to add any new side hustles. So seeing other people’s results make a smidge envious (but mainly happy for them) because I can’t do more than what I’m doing right now.


      October 23rd, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      I share my income in my monthly reports! I think transparency is a great motivator as well! Seeing what others make in similar fields can give me a better idea of what my own worth should be.

    35. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank

      October 24th, 2015 at 12:39 am

      I just love finding out income report or budgeting of bloggers because I learn how they do it and pull it off even with smaller amount of budget. It feels great when you know they can, and it makes me feel like I can also do it, Stef.

    36. FF @ Femme Frugality

      October 24th, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      That makes me so mad when I hear that about private sector. Because banning that discussion is illegal. But it happens ALLLL the time.

      Full transparency, my best month this year was around 3k. But I also have been working my day job. The intensity at which I work has been going up lately, and I’m hoping to see my numbers go up with it.

    37. Hayley @ Disease Called Debt

      October 25th, 2015 at 5:36 am

      Like you, I’ve found online income reports incredibly useful. Without those income reports that I’ve read I would never have believed it was possible to make a lot of money through freelancing and in particular online. I have recently started reporting my freelancing earnings and I have mixed feelings about it but I’m going to keep going with it because I want my readers to know that it is possible to make decent money from home, through being self employed. I hated the 9-5 and felt trapped. Now things are so much better. I don’t earn massive amounts yet but I hope to one day and reporting my earnings keeps me on track with my goals of trying to earn more.

    38. Mel

      October 25th, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      I honestly never would’ve had a clue what to charge for freelancing/blogging work and I absolutely would’ve set the bar a lot lower for sponsored posts and advertising if I hadn’t seen other bloggers numbers before starting to do it myself. It made a huge difference.

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