In Discussions, Money

Is talking about your net worth considered bragging?

We (I say ‘we’ loosely of course) personal finance bloggers (I’m a fringe one), are really odd people.

To normal folks who aren’t talking and thinking about money, budgeting and tracking expenses, and personal finance scores, we are really strange.

Not only that, we aren’t really jealous weirdos for the most part.

(Okay, I lied. I am jealous .. very slightly.. of some people.)

But really though, I am less jealous and more motivated by people I read and follow to think —

They’re right! Why am I doing stupid things with my money?

Time to take charge, stop spending so much and start plowing it into capital for dividends instead.

…but when I start getting  comments, and .. honestly, taking it quite personally when people who have only visited ONE blog post or ONE budget roundup, say things to me like:

Your post doesn’t say anything about how to reach what you’ve saved.

It sounds like one big brag.

… it makes me (A) a little upset, (B) a little angry and (C) mostly disappointed or sad.

Would it be better to announce to the world that I am $100,000 in the hole? More acceptable?

(For something worthy of course, like having a mortgage or paid for a health problem..)


When I was actually $60,000 in the hole for something “worthy” (student debt) I was lambasted for spending like a normal-ish new graduate who didn’t have a good grasp on money and being frugal.

It is like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

You can’t announce you have money — people call it bragging and then proceed to tell you that you’re out of touch.

You can’t announce you have debt — people look down on you and wonder WTF you “wasted” your money on and then proceed to berate or lecture you on your choices.

But I really don’t understand that, because when I was in debt, and starting off as a real newbie in the matters of money, I was INSPIRED.

I couldn’t believe people my age had actual savings. Like, REAL MONEY. I was in debt, so it seemed so far away.

I was jealous of course.

Mucho jealouso … but that sort of faded off to the side along with envy, and turned into the feeling of — why not me? but with only the slightest hint of green envy.

If you think about it, the main rules to having lots of money is pretty simple:

  1. Don’t spend more than you make
  2. Budget and track your expenses especially if you HAVE to (note: I don’t really have to, I just still like doing it to keep myself in line)
  3. Invest your money for the long-term, and as soon as possible
  4. Earn as much as you can by negotiating for higher salaries when you deserve it

How I got to where I am wasn’t by some guru money magic, some get rich quick secret trick or tip that “rich” people are hiding and only a few have discovered.

It is HARD WORK.

It is work to think about your money, to track what you are spending, to think about where you should invest it, how to save more money on fees, making your own lunch so that you don’t blow $20 a day on food… etc etc etc.

It is boring at first, but you could turn into a weirdo like me and end up finding it fun… so much fun that you track it all in monthly budget roundups.

It is also hard work to keep track of your accomplishments, to quantify how much you are crushing it at work and to prove it with concrete facts at your employee review.

Or, to have taken the risk like I have early on in my career, quit my job with no safety net, thousands in debt, and take a leap of faith to TRY and start my own business freelancing.

It all worked out for me, but it could have gone the other way, very quickly.

So, when I hear about people making money, saving it (normal people, like you and me), and I read about net worth updates from people in the personal finance blogosphere, I am three things:

  1. Happy I am not the only weirdo who loves tracking and being proud of what I have saved
  2. Happy that I have people whom I can use as benchmarks by age or income or net worth & track how well I am doing
  3. Happy that they are doing well because then I can learn from them — mistakes, the good stuff, everything!

So it makes me really sad to hear a remark like: Oh that’s just a brag post on how much you earn and how much you have saved, because it doesn’t really give you the whole picture of me.

My net worth doesn’t define me, but how I saved that money and got there does.

It isn’t bragging, it’s all fact.

My bank accounts don’t lie.

It doesn’t show how passionate I am about money, and especially about women my age who SHOULD CARE MORE about their money and DON’T because they think it is bragging, or it is distasteful to be proud of their accomplishments (why do men seem to not have this hang up?).


I even post these things, hoping that people will get motivated and inspired to care about their money the way I did when I was heavily in student debt, and do awesome things like these reader success stories:

I LOVE THESE STORIES.

You have no idea.

I LOVE getting emails from people who have read just ONE POST and decided they need to be a little more careful spending their money (I am a terrible role model for this, truth be told), and more assertive in asking for that raise they deserve (I am the boss of this one).

And that is the whole picture of me — the story of how I got here and what I did to make it, and how much I care about other people also learning from my mistakes and successes and maybe translating that into their life and environment.

It isn’t just my net worth and how much I have in the bank that matters.

It is the story that is more interesting, and that’s what I see and am inspired by, when I read other money blogs.

(With a slight green cast of envy. Natch.)


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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12 Comments

  1. S
    Sense

    Bragging?! It is very clear in all of your posts that you have worked and continue to work very very hard. If they don’t get that…yeah, eff ’em.

    I think the opposite: you are too hard on yourself sometimes. A common, recurring theme on your blog for the past few years is that you spent too much in a certain month and then feel bad about it.

    I think you are actually really frugal! Do you realize that a lot of the time, you are spending almost as little per month as a poor PhD student (me)?! I take home about $3K per month. That isn’t TOO far off what you spend, esp considering I don’t have a child to buy for.

    In other words, I spend about 85% of my take home. You spend < ~20% (factoring $3K-$5K spending per month and your income of $25K, from what I remember from your posts). If you are not a poor student (or other profession), and it is causing you stress to try to live like one, please release yourself from the pain. There is no need for other people to live like this unless you really, really want to!

    p.s. I would love to see what you would (hypothetically) choose to spend 85% of your salary on one month!!

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      *hugs* You’re the best. The voice of sane reason.

      I am hard on myself. I have to be, or else I start thinking I can spend all this money and I really can’t because I am a freelancer. I do not want to repeat what happened to me a year or two ago when I stopped and had to SELL INVESTMENTS to live. Gosh.. that really killed me. It did.

      I know I am doing well. But I need pressure and strain on me to stay in line or else, I will definitely spend like a rockstar.

      (Oh my. I am going to write that post)

      Reply
      1. S
        Sense

        I totally understand. That sounds terrifying! And I guess keeping the budget low means that when you are off contract, your ongoing costs stay low, and then when you are on contract, your savings are super high.

        Looking forward to the 85% post!

        Reply
  2. Alexis McKenzie

    I like that you keep it real. And you save a lot and spend lot – a rarity! But it’s refreshing. You’re not sacrificing – because you’ve earned that right – and you’re kicking butt!

    I love it. Makes me feel less alone but I can see how it wouldn’t appeal to the masses.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Nope. Not at all. Not appealing to those who are struggling. Trying to be conscious of that.

      Reply
  3. M
    Minh Thuy

    I believe people might think your posts are bragging if they haven’t backtracked far enough to know where you started. Then they lose track of how long it actually took you to get where you are today and things you had to do (that frankly, most people still wouldn’t do today i.e. sacrifice some spending luxuries). Now that you are in the net positive, earning well and saving well, people who don’t know better will be jealous.

    I am inspired by your earning potential, but I am not so jealous because you give insight to what you have to go through for it.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Thank you. I think that’s it — the lack of background and I try to repeat it over and over again but I feel like a broken record.

      It is pretty hellish. I work more than I should, and put a lot of pressure on myself.

      Reply
  4. T
    Tim

    Ugh, don’t get a me started on some of the nut job comments. If I hear one more person tell me I can’t retire because I don’t have enough saved I might punch someone (news flash folks I already retired in 2017 and I’m not going broke yet and if you read more you likely would understand how it all works).

    I tend to be a bit like you. I LOVE those few comments or emails that come in that tell you how much you helped someone. It makes me grin and feel like all the work on the blog for the last decade has been useful to someone which makes up for the crappy mean comments. And to be honest I at one point decided enough was enough and wrote out a comment policy and just delete crap that is an out right attack on someone else (or me). I can handle a debate or discussion I can’t handle name calling and useless shaming.

    And by the way, you are a bit of a oddity to some PF bloggers. You have an extremely high income compared to most (when you are working), you spend more that most but guess what: that is just you. You don’t have to justify it to anyone but you. Each person in life has things they spend money on because they love it (just ask the man saving nearly $1000 for all grain beer brewing equipment). It’s okay to have those and oddly I’m more worried about people that don’t spend money on some things. Like what is wrong with a person that won’t save up some money to spend on something to bring them joy. Are they punishing themselves, do they have a guilt complex or are they so out of touch with their lives that they assume FI will solve all their problems (it doesn’t by the way)? I rather be happy that have a higher net worth and so do you. It’s a good thing.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I would a thousand percent agree. I don’t love name calling and shaming but I like healthy discussions to open me up to other world views.

      Hence.. this post. I was feeling a bit of doubt. I mean I guess I could lie about my numbers and scale it down by 50% but…

      Reply
  5. A
    ArianaAuburn

    I have been reading your posts for years and yes I do feel envious, but I don’t see your posts as bragging. I see your posts as story telling from someone who was blessed for getting the opportunities to improve a situation and not be wasteful. Your posts gave me hope into going into the tech field and encouraged me to negotiate for my first-tech job. Your posts are a good read, and if people can’t take them at face-value, then people are idiots. It is not considered bragging if you show enthusiasm for what you have done. But it is very hard to display enthusiasm online.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      True. I need to put more happy faces perhaps. I just want people to make more money and save what they have, so I’m passing on my mistakes and learned lessons

      Reply

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