HomeFinancial ExperiencesWhat are you worried about?

What are you worried about?

Screen shot 2009-11-19 at Nov 19, 2009, 8.04.58 PM

I’ve never really understood why asking people about money is off limits. What are people worried about? Why is it offensive to ask someone how much their new car cost, how big their mortgage is, or how much they are contributing to their 401K? Finances are often a “don’t ask, don’t tell” gig.

Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to be comfortable sharing their financial status with anyone that asks. Obviously if a stranger wants to know how much debt you have, you have my blessing to punch them in the face. Similarly, I believe salary should definitely be kept confidential within the work place (causes too much office drama if Pamela makes more than Carmen). Budgets Are Sexy wrote a great article highlighting the times it is NOT appropriate to ask someone about their income.

One of my favorite ways to learn is through conversation with friends and family. How the heck am I suppose to be financially educated if I can’t really talk about money with anyone I associate with? It’s not like the school systems teach the fundamental of finances. What are we scared of? Are our friends going to judge us because we make too much money, or not enough? Why are things like mortgages, student loans, and credit card debt never to be discussed?

I know where most of my friends stand in regards to their political and religious views, but for some strange reason I feel like they would shoot me if I asked “Have ya been saving for retirement?” Sure, there are situations in which discussing one’s financial situation is inappropriate, but I also believe there are times when finances NEED to be discussed, but aren’t, out of fear of the other party becoming offended. Screw that. I’m laying it all out there. My name is Debt Ninja and this is my financial situation…

Annual Income: $50,547
Cash in Savings: $18,755
Total Debt: $16,877
Percent of income contributed to retirement: 18% + (5% match)
Number of Credit Cards: 3
Annual burrito expenses: $600

You don’t have to be scared. My blog is a “safe place”. No one will judge you no matter what your financial situation. Are you feeling bold? Care to share your financial situation? Any thoughts on why finances are so taboo?

p.s. For those that haven’t commented before, today’s post would be a great day to come out of hiding 🙂



  1. I'm a pretty private person (and yet I blog…). At first I was hesitant about talking about how much we paid for our first house (we move in on the 30th!) but now? Meh. Anyone could MLS it and find out anyway so who the eff cares.

    When it comes to debt, income, savings, etc I am still hesitant. I guess that stems from my uber nosy and gossipy extended family. They can all go to hell in a handbasket: no, I'm not telling you (as in them) how much (er, little) money we make.

  2. I feel it's important, especially for young women, to discuss with each other how much they make – not as a contest, but as a gauge of fair compensation.

    Meanwhile, I feel like sharing today, so here we go!: My name is Sarah, and this is my financial situation:

    Annual Income: $45,000
    Cash in Savings: $2,972.00
    Total Debt: $10,386.96
    % of income contributed to retirement: 12%
    Number of Credit Cards: 2
    Annual Rent: $10,200.00

  3. 26 yrs old
    Annual Income: $53,000
    Cash in Savings: $2,558
    Stocks / Bonds: $4,875
    Vested 401k: $22, 345 (11% contributed)
    Student Loans: $14,000
    Car Loan: $14,350
    Number of CC: 3 (one never used, got it for the cash sign-up bonus)
    Rent: $1,000/month

  4. Cool – and Sarah – i agree…and to put this stuff in context, I'm 36 (today! Woohoo!)

    Annual Income: $74,000
    Cash in Savings: $17,500
    Total Debt: $165,000 ($145K is mortgage, $20K is BAD DEBT (Ha Ha – as if there's any other kind)
    Percent of income contributed to retirement: 6% (to get company match – will ramp back to 15% when my debt is paid)
    Number of Credit Cards: 0
    Annual breakfast taco expenses: $300

  5. Hmmm…many times I don't share because I don't want people thinking they can come to me first when they need money. I don't like people to think I'm doing really well because I think a lot of people translate that to "oh if I ever need help, I can go to her". Maybe that's crazy talk, but that's how I think. I think people with debt or a bad financial sitch don't talk about it, because, well, their embarrassed!! 🙂

    All my stats are on my blog (lol, didn't want to type them all out.) 🙂

  6. I 'm 30 and speak openly about my debt, but not about my salary/bonus generally.

    Annual income: $78,000, plus bonus (typically 5K)
    Cash in savings: $21,000
    Total Debt (get ready): $120,000. All student loan debt–no credit card, mortgage, car or other debt—and it doesn't feel like "good debt."
    Annual 401(K) contribution: $13,000
    Number of CC: 4
    Rent: $750/month

  7. Age: 26
    Income: $52,000
    Cash in savings: $15,000 (mostly for grad school over the next 2 years)
    Roth 401k: 10% of income. Currently $3,000.
    Employer stock: ~6% of income (no vesting yet)
    Debt: $0
    # of credit cards: 2
    Rent: $1000/month

  8. Is your income really 50,547? I didn't know you could get paid in "exact" numbers so-to-speak. I guess now would be a good time to go read your posts on Government salaries before my foot goes any farther into my mouth.

    Here goes:

    Age 23
    Income: $45,000
    Cash In Savings: $7,250. (Rounded…with interest its more, I think)
    Roth IRA: $2,520 (Again rounded…).
    401K: None, because my company is funky.
    Stock: $6,000 (Love to round, can you tell?)
    Debt $0 (Ok, ok, $340 from last week's shopping spree, but its being paid off next week!)
    # of credit cards: 7 (I rotate them…never use them simultaneously)
    Rent: Technically $170 (electric bill + phone bill). Yup, pretty sweet.
    Annual Burrito Expense: $416. (My friend and I get Chipotle every week…It's an addiction that I don't to cure)

  9. Here's combined info for me and my husband (prepare yourselves, it's nasty) – Both of us are 29.

    Income: $120,000 (includes annual bonus)
    Cash in Savings: $5,600
    Non-Mortgage Debt: Student Loans – $79,000 ; Dumb Furniture Store Credit: $3100 ; Auto – $18,000
    Mortgage Debt: $157,000

    Fixing to pay off Dumb Furniture Store Credit and about $11k of Auto Loan in the next week – Husband received fantastic bonus at work. Recently paid of about $5k in more stupid debt. Plan of Action after we kill the DFSC and the Auto Loan to kill the other auto loan by end of January and then start attacking the Student Loans.

    Can not WAIT to get rid of these bricks!

  10. @Carrie, On The Cheap That is a very strange way to think. All of my friends are doing better than I am. Most only have a mortgage to pay off , no credit card debt, and make more than I do. I would never, ever, ever think about asking to borrow money from a friend. Why? Well the same reason you mentioned that people in debt don't talk about their debts, it's embarassing!

  11. Wow i'm a little intimidated with the income that people have posted here. I'm not making quite as much as I'd like too, however my wife and I are able to pay all our bills, and save a nice amount every month. We have mutual funds, 401k, and online savings accounts that we are contributing too. My wife just paid off her student loan, and we paid off my credit card, which we're really exciting about. Next up is to knock out our auto loans, and my student loan!

  12. I’m 25 and I’ve been working for Uncle Sam for 3 years. I made a BUNCH of financial mistakes when I was in college…and made even worst ones after I graduated. Hell, until three years ago, I didn’t even know what a budget or emergency fund was!!

    But thanks to the PF Blog community I was able to turn things around!! 🙂

    So three years later, I’m happy to say this is where I stand
    Annual Income: $60,989
    Cash in Savings: $7,650
    Total Debt: $14,407 ($13,207 Student, $1,300 CC)
    TSP & IRA: $16,000 (rounded)
    Percent of income contributed to retirement: 15% (10% mine, 5% Match)
    Number of Credit Cards: too many to count but I only use 2: 1 for household stuff and one for my other expeses.
    Baconator: $200 *drools*

  13. I'm new to Punch Debt in the Face, Ninja, so forgive me if this is common knowledge, but why in the world do you have $18k in savings and $16k of debt? Why don't you just have $2k in savings and a triumphant fist?

    Income: $94,000
    Savings: $1,000
    Debt: $35,000
    Mortgage: $265,000
    401k: $80,000

  14. 29 yrs old
    Annual Income: $177,500 (2009, includes bonus)
    Cash in Savings: $18,000 (I aim to keep an emergency fund of about $15,000, so the excess will eventually go to debt)
    401k: About $57,000 (I get a 1% match each year — woo hoo!)
    (PS – assets look good, right? wait till you see the liabilities!)
    Student Loans: About $134,250 (I'm only in a rush to pay off about $67,000 of it — the rest is fixed at 3.25% or 1.625%)
    Mortgage: About $324,000
    HELOC: $62,250
    Debt at 0%: $12,673
    Number of CC: 3 (I pay off balances in full each month)

    My priority is to pay off my variable interest student loans while interest rates are low. I'm not sure about what will come next: probably student loan at 3.25%, HELOC (I'd pay this first, but I get a tax deduction for interest I pay on this…and because it's a HELOC, it's also sort of like an emergency fund if there is a big emergency — that is, one I pay it down), then my 30 year fixed mortgage.

  15. I am 30.

    Salary $43,600 (about $3800 extra in bonus)
    Savings $3500
    Student Loan $5300
    Credit Card debt $18000 (yikes)
    401k contribution 5%

  16. Annual Income: $31,500

    Cash In Savings: $10.01

    Total Debt: $31,000 (21,000 Student Loans, CC $4K, Car Loan $6K)

    IRA: $4,000

    Income contributed to Retirement: Zero as of now…just getting started.

    Number of Credit Cards: 3

  17. All my stats are on my blog. Since this is a safe place, I'm curious: has anyone ever donated on your "Donate" button above? Curious.

    • nope its not really there cause I think people will donate. I put it there for any easy way for advertisers to submit payment.

  18. Here, let me play and make everyone feel a million times better. 😀

    21 year old car addict.
    Current income: ~$13k. I am serious. (Retail student job FTL.)
    Cash Savings: Oh, was ~$1,800, 'til I spent a bit to "loan" myself enough for my car addiction… (Engine swapping.)
    Total debt: $2k car loan, ~$30k and counting(!!) student loans. Towards just a bachelor's… Yeah, fail-tastic, eh? I haven't even graduated yet, so the total's still going up. (I might get an Associate's out of my credits, if I'm lucky.)
    Investments: Around ~$3k I believe, taxed account, Roth IRA & 401(k). Contributing 4% to 401(k) for full 4% match.

    Soooooooooo yeah. I am married to a 24 year old Air Force jet engine mechanic, which is how I manage to get by and eat. 😉 Cash savings took a wollop for the whole swap, which will get paid back & the car loan will be paid off in a few months.

    Thanks for letting me do this, I miss writing about money a lot lately, so all my comments are coming out long-winded…. Sorry for that, haha.

  19. Age: 24
    City: San Francisco
    Income: $55,000
    401k: $11,000
    Debt: $33,000 (student loans)
    # of credit cards: 2 (1 is mine, 1 is parents' as backup)
    Annual Burrito Expense: guessing $520, for $10/week
    Rent: $1200/month

  20. Age: 31 Married with no kids
    Income: $68,000
    401k: $45,000 (10% contribution w/6% match on the $1)
    Savings: $7000
    Checking: $1000
    Investments: $2000
    Debt: Mortgage (car fully paid for)
    # of credit cards: 1
    Annual Burrito Expense: $8000

  21. Age: 41-Married
    From: Southern CA
    Combined Income: $112,000
    401-k: $265,000 (5% of income right now, no company match)
    Savings: a pathetic $2,000 (still baby-stepping)
    Debt: $18,000 (loan)
    # of credit cards: 7 (all paid off!)
    Mortgage Balance: $134,000
    Kids: 2–one in college, one in a private high school
    Annual Starbucks Expense: $312 😉

  22. Age: 23
    Annual Salary: $34,800
    Cash in Savings: $14,000
    Roth 401k (vested balance): $3,500
    Roth IRA: $10,000
    Debt: $0
    # of credit cards: 2 (paid in full each month)
    Annual Burrito Expense: Uhh… $100?
    Rent: $800/month

  23. Age: 26
    Annual Salary: $38,500
    Cash in Savings: $20,000
    Employer RRSP: $10,300 (I contribute 10%, employer matches 5%)
    Personal RRSP: $1135
    Debt: $0
    # of credit cards: 1 (paid in full each month)

  24. LoL… $600 annual burrito expense which is $12 a week…..

    If you invested that money for the next 40 years into your retirement account, at a 9% annual return, then accounted for 3% annual inflation, that would get you…. alot of burritos bro!

    Age: 28
    Income: $35,000 (I'm a trainee, yes still)
    Superannuation Account: $22,000
    Savings: $8500
    Checking: $500
    Investments: $3500
    Debt: None)
    # of credit cards: 12
    Annual Burrito Expense: $120

  25. Age: 25
    Income: $67,613
    Savings: $11,324 (currently contribute 20%)
    Checking: $1508
    TSP: $18,449 (currently contribute 5% and get 5% match)
    Roth: $786 (don't currently contribute)
    Debt: None
    # Credit Cards: 2 (paid in full each month)
    Rent: $935/month
    Charitable donations: $7,200/year+

  26. Age: 31, married, 1 kid.
    Income: $145,300
    Savings: $2100
    Personal RRSP: $3500
    Employer RRSP: $1700 (just started a few months ago)
    Mortgage: $379,000
    Other Debt: $6200 (wife's student loans)
    # of credit cards: 2 (only 1 is used for cash back however)

  27. I totally agree with Debt Ninja on this one. I don't know why personal finances are so taboo. I do agree with @Carrie, On The Cheap that people will look to me for financial help. It's not a big deal with my friends but I have had it happen with family members.

    I also have no problem posting my financial information on my blog since it's written anonymously. But here are my numbers:

    Annual Income: $72,000
    Cash in Savings: $36,000 (jhave a goal of saving $50,000 by December 2010). I have a post that explains why I want this much money.
    Total Debt: $24,000 (Student Loan)
    Percent of income contributed to retirement: 5% + (5% match)
    Number of Credit Cards: numerous, none with a balance though. I have 2 that I use and pay off in full each month for the rewards.

  28. Hey Ninja!
    First off, I want to thank you for creating this people-friendly blog about personal finances. I've been perusing your entries for a couple days now getting ideas and courage (yes, COURAGE) to punch debt in the face. My budgeting strategies usually consisted of an ambiguous estimation of how much credit (I should be shot) I had available. The classic situation that paying it off later in smaller amounts instead of now felt safer for some reason. Honestly, looking at it directly, I was just being stupid and undisciplined with my cash and credit. Since I've never commented before, I'm going to put my information out there as a step to tackle my debt.

    Age: 26
    City: San Diego
    Income: $56,000
    Cash in Savings: a whooping $540
    Percentage contributed to 401K: 12% (with 6% company matching)
    Debt: $28,000 ($7,000 CC debt, $20,000 Student Loans)
    # of credit cards: 8 (hangs head in shame – 3 CC, 5 Store Cards)
    Goal to pay off CC debt – Dec 2010
    Annual Burrito Expense: $400
    Rent: $520/month

    I am currently working with a good friend of mine to help me tackle my spending habits and paying off those credit cards. It is possible and I need to stop being afraid of my finances. I really appreciate what you've done here.

  29. Age: 26
    Income: $40500
    Roth: $1800
    401K: $2100
    Savings: $2200
    Checking: $450
    Debt: $46000 ($6000 car, $40,000 student loans..thanks grad school)
    # of credit cards: 3 ($0 balance)
    Luckily I live with my BF so we split all living expenses now..I've been able to seriously pay down my car loan since we shacked up in july!

    It's funny..I am able to pay off debt comfortably(not as fast as I'd like, but I'm making progress), saving about 15% either in retirement or a savings account, and I feel like I make chump change!

  30. Age: me 28, hubby 30
    Income (joint): $195,000
    Savings: $45,000
    401k (both): $70,000
    Equity in house: $100,000

    Debt (2 car loans): $28,000
    Mortgage: $312,000
    HELOC: $70,000

  31. Age: 32
    Income: $40,000 (with bonuses & extras, I should make around $45,000 in 2009)
    Savings: less than $1,000
    Investments: just started an IRA two months ago and have $500 in it.
    NO employer 401k or Investment matching *sigh*
    Debt: $27,000 (student loans, no completed degree), $13,500 (car loan) and $45,000 (mortgage – a worthless "underwater" condo and an even shittier management association)
    # of CC: 3 (total balance around $1,400 – my biggest goal this year was to pay these down! SUCCESS!)
    Alcohol Abuse: at least $2,000/year.
    I don't regularly eat burritos.

    Finally getting into the habit of doing automatic EFT with my IRA has instilled a habit of transferring $50 a week to savings as well. But, it just gets spent. After the credit cards are paid off, my "monthly payment" will go to savings.
    Goal for 2010.

  32. Age: 30
    Income: $100,000, plus bonuses
    Savings: $1,000
    Roth IRA: $4,995
    Traditional IRA: $2,160
    Credit Cards: $6,200
    Car Loan: $9,661
    Student Loans: get ready for it–$187,000
    # of CC: 3
    Burrito Habit: don't even wanna know

    It might seem silly that I think I'm doing well, but I do. I've paid off over $37,000 in debt since 2006, when my loans came due, and for most of that time on a substantially smaller salary. My work doesn't offer a 401k, but I'd definitely contribute if I could. I'll pay off the credit cards by August 2010, and hopefully the car by May 2011, and one of my small student loans at the end of the year. Thanks for your blog; I just found it and I really enjoy it.

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