Why I Don’t Share Details of My Financial Life Online

by Miranda Marquit · 16 comments

It’s a fairly common practice amongst personal finance bloggers to offer all the details of their financial life online. From sharing net worth, to counting down the days until debt freedom is reached, there’s a lot of sharing going on.

And that’s ok, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I’ve been asked why I don’t share this information. Anyone who knows me is aware that I graduated from college with credit card debt — but they don’t know¬†how much. And I’m fine keeping it that way. I also don’t share how much I’m paying in student loans, or what I still owe on my car loan.

And, on the flip side, I don’t share information about earnings. It’s enough, I think, that people know I can make a living doing what I do, and that about 85% of it comes from being a professional blogger.

But I don’t share specific numbers, and for two (what I consider) good reasons:

1. I Don’t Want People to Know

Really, I just don’t want people to know. The debt part of my life is, frankly, a little embarrassing. I’m known, to some degree, for my work ethic and discipline. So it’s a little silly that the credit card debt got out of hand. Plus, I had a scholarship and a cushy job while in college. Why do I have student loan debt from my undergrad years?

When it comes to my income, I just don’t want people to know what I make. We live in a modest home. We drive reasonably priced cars. There’s no reason for our neighbors to know that we, technically, don’t “belong” in our neighborhood. Plus, there’s a certain element of just not wanting friends and family to know. Sharing that sort of information is an invitation to be hit up for money.

Do we discuss money at the dinner table? Sure. My husband and I talk about money, and we discuss important matters and financial concepts with our son. But we don’t go around sharing specifics about our situation with others outside our immediate family — not even our parents.

It’s just easier to not share that information, especially since I don’t want others to know what’s going on. Really, it’s none of their business.

2. I Don’t Want to Deal With an Audit

I also don’t want to put any information out there that could be found by the IRS and trigger an audit. I report all of my income (my accountant is regularly impressed by our honest reporting), so I don’t have much to worry about, but I still don’t want to deal with a possible audit. And publishing that information is just an invitation for closer inspection.

Do I think the IRS is going to find me on their own through what I share online? No. But there are rewards for whistleblowers, and just one whistleblower thinking that they know something that doesn’t mesh — and then using my net worth report to back it up — can tie you up in red tape for weeks (or months). Even if it turns out you’re clean and honest.

What do you think about sharing financial information? Where’s the line between being honest, and being a little too honest?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Big D August 20, 2013 at 6:45 am

I think sharing anything personal online is risky but especially financial info.

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Michelle August 20, 2013 at 6:50 am

I share my monthly extra income earnings. It does sometimes make me worried because I am throwing away all privacy and inviting everyone into our lives.

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Kali @CommonSenseMillennial August 20, 2013 at 6:54 am

This was a really interesting read.. I’m just getting into the financial blogging community, and one thing that really struck me was how much almost everyone shares on a regular basis. I think part of that is driven by culture (if you’re American or live in the States – asking about money has become just another topic of conversation and is not so much a taboo anymore), but I can’t say I fully understand why people are so compelled to give extensive detail on their budgets, income, net worth, and so on. It was nice reading a post from another perspective, and makes me feel better in that I’m not alone in being hesitant to share such information with my blog audience.

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Grayson @ Debt Roundup August 20, 2013 at 8:38 am

I have only shared the amount of credit card debt I was in. That doesn’t really worry me because it was debt, not income. I won’t tell people how much I make online or offline for that matter. I don’t tell people how much my net worth is. Somethings are better left private.

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Debt Blag August 20, 2013 at 10:54 am

Oh hi. I am one of the over sharers. I’m anonymous enough, but I’m sure anyone with a half hour to kill could find out everything about me using google.

I think how much someone shares has a lot to do with why they got into blogging about it in the first place. Some people have a lot of knowledge that they just want to get out there.

Some people — like me — blog for the extra accountability. I thrive off te extra motivation that I get from my readers cheering me along or judging me if I go astray.

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Steve August 20, 2013 at 11:04 am

This is a great post because it touches on what I struggle with frequently as a PF blogger: how much to share?

Call me old fashioned (for a millennial anyways) but I’m a bit uptight when it comes to identity and sharing information online. I’m just a little wary of sharing too much with too many people. Just like you, I don’t think most of it is anyone else’s business except mine.

I’m still trying to find that fine balance between sharing enough to make a positive impact and inspiration for others while also reining in my privacy.

It’s a tricky balance that I’ve yet to fully find, but reading your post definitely has got me thinking even more about it!

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Katie C. August 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

I’m an oversharer too, and I’m not anonymous. I didn’t tell readers how much my total debt was for my degree until I paid everything off. I shared the total in my “I’m debt free!” post. Same went for credit cards, though I didn’t start PF blogging until after I had paid them off. It is a little embarrassing. But I did share individual loan amounts when that information related to my goals.

Like Debt Blag said, I shared the numbers I did for accountability. Now I do it because it’s just not a big deal. I feel semi-hesitant to make public goals like saving a $10,000 emergency fund, mostly because I worry people IRL who read it and then see how frugal I am will judge me for that. But I get over it because being ultra-frugal for two years while paying off debt gave me a thicker skin. (My coworkers loved to make fun of my money goals and my decision to make my own laundry detergent.)

If the worst thing I have to worry about when blogging about money is some random person asking me for money, I’m okay with that risk. I like to see other people’s budgets for curiosity’s sake, but I also like to compare them to my own and find ways I could improve.

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Broke Millennial August 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

I fancy myself a relatively private person (despite the number of personal photos I put online) which is primarily the reason I don’t disclose my net worth/savings/side hustle income etc. Frankly, I just don’t think it’s anyone’s business and the IRS point is a good one too!

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Scott August 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Congratulations on having so much money that you don’t want your family to know how much you have.

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KM August 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Looks like you gave out enough information right here for people to judge you and form opinions about you. I am pretty paranoid though, so I don’t share anything like that, online or otherwise.

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Jeanette Perez-Marrero August 22, 2013 at 8:17 am

My income is so modest it doesn’t manner. I just want people to know you can live with far less than you think and be happy. You don’t need a BIG egg nest to retire. Just downsize, get out of debt and enjoy the free things in life. We enjoy the beach,picnics, get-togethers with friends, a yearly vacation and family. It’s enough for me, but I can understand other peoples expectations of retirement. Thinking you can having one full of extravagant spending and humongous houses and their upkeep is pretty unrealistic though…unless you are a millionaire…

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M.L August 22, 2013 at 9:26 am

I believe through blogging you are already sharing a lot. I think we all need to keep some things private. No one should know your income other than you and the IRS. I have two friends that found out what my salary (w/o bonus) and it created some resentment because they perceived that I was doing so well. Many people do not realize after trying to save, max out a 401K and IRA and still have some fun, it really is a tough balancing act.

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hannah August 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I’m with you, I’m a very private person when it comes to my income, debts and other financial details.
That said, it can be helpful when finance bloggers share all the details, I’ve learned from their examples and ideas. However I don’t think all the details are required to still learn and be motivated.
Keep on being private, I won’t judge you for it.

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fredjohnson August 26, 2013 at 8:31 am

If people online knew who I was then I wouldn’t say a word about my finances. But, they don’t, so I have no problem with it. I don’t mind talking about it because it might help someone else.

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Anna September 1, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I’m in agreement with you all the way. No one needs to know about your finances or financial information. It’s simply nobody’s business but your own.

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Sicorra September 9, 2013 at 10:25 am

I agree with you 100%. We do not share financial details with family or friends either. I think the most we have ever discussed is how much someone has paid for or sold their house for, but that is it.

You are right, many people share a lot online. Sometimes I wonder why they share their online income. Is it to attract more attention, both positive and negative? I often wonder how sharing their online income benefits anyone else anyways. Someone else just mentioned on Twitter that they avoid those posts because they really do not learn anything from them. I agree, and I agree that they sometimes simply come across as bragging, which is boring.

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