Should I Share my Net Worth?

net worthAfter many years of reading various personal finance blogs and related topics, I decided to finally start my own. That decision took me many months, since my biggest concern was maintaining my privacy. I finally got over that concern by setting up the blog in a very specific way, which admittedly ended up costing me more than most start-up blogs, but was right for me.

Before I talk about whether I should share my net worth details, I want to spend a little time on a related subject.

Anonymous Blogging

Everyone blogs for different reasons, as a refresher, here’s the list of reasons why I do it, straight from my about page:

  • Connect with the financial independence / retire early (FIRE) community
  • Hold myself accountable for maximizing my own freedom
  • Leverage this blog as a way to maximize my freedom
  • Document a personal finance philosophy that can some day be shared with my daughter
  • Ultimately inspire others to maximize their own freedom

Blogging anonymously does not prevent me from achieving any of the above objectives.

However, I have some very tangible reasons why I NEED to blog anonymously:

Work

I still work full-time and have a senior level position at a large corporation, with a relatively large number of people that work for me. I feel strongly that I should keep a clear separation between my work life and personal details in that type of environment. Knowing how far along I am relative to my financial journey could also jeopardize how my company treats me.

Family/Friends

Let’s face it, human beings by nature are judgmental. I don’t generally care what people think of me, however I’m also not naïve. I know that some of my existing relationships with family and friends could be altered if my financial details were transparent.

Honesty

Blogging this way allows me to be more open, and to share more information with readers. I’m a private person by nature, maybe even a bit of an introvert. If I were forced to speak about my financial details in public, I would feel very self conscious about it. Not because I have anything to be embarrassed about, but because I don’t like to ring my own bell.

This blog basically wouldn’t exist if I couldn’t do it anonymously, because it allows me to be more honest. Sounds kind of counterintuitive doesn’t it?!

Sharing Net Worth Details

I’m a goal-oriented person, with a fairly good handle on my personal finances. I saw a direct correlation between tracking net worth and its corresponding increase over the years. It’s an important number to know and can serve as a good trigger for various decisions, such as early retirement and financial independence.

5 Reasons to Share Net Worth Details

 

1-Credibility

One of my goals with this blog is to inspire others to maximize their freedom. It would be difficult to do so without demonstrating that I have a handle on my own finances. Being transparent about my own net worth details should help build that credibility.

2- Progress

Since I’ve been tracking my numbers from the beginning, I can leverage that information to show how I made progress over the years. Sharing those specific details could help others learn from both my mistakes and successes. I’m also halfway through my own journey, so I have the benefit of sharing many years of past experience, while still contemplating the best path for the future.

3-Reference Point

I can be yet another reference point for other seekers of financial freedom, like many others in the personal finance blogging community. It also helps me document my frame of mind at various points in my journey, which should be a good personal resource in the future.

4-Accountability

I’ve already crunched the numbers on how much money is enough to maintain my desired lifestyle. I have the ability to go past those amounts, but at the expense of the freedom years I desire. Publishing my net worth periodically would force me to hold myself accountable in a much more public way, and should help spur me to formally transition into financial independence.

5-Readers

Ultimately, this is a personal finance blog, with a travel bias. My assumption is that most readers are here to learn how to become financially independent or to share their own journey. It seems silly to exclude some of the key principles that can serve as a foundation for this blog, especially since I will be sharing enough details for people to eventually figure it out on their own.

 

3 Reasons NOT to Share Net Worth Details

 

1-Judgment

This is by far the most common reason why people avoid sharing personal financial details. They simply want to avoid the pressure of being judged. It could be because they’ve made some embarrassing mistakes in the past, or because they don’t want their success to be taken advantage of. No one enjoys the glare of the evil eye!

2-Feelings

People have many emotions tied up with money, and unfortunately many are negative. Feelings like shame, anger, envy, embarrassment, anxiety, and fear just to name a few. Once a number is put out there, I can run the risk of having those feelings block any useful information I may be trying to communicate. I could effectively mute my blog with certain readers.

3-Privacy

If my privacy were ever compromised, or if I someday decide to reveal the existence of this blog to family or friends, I would be leaving very little to one’s imagination. There is a risk associated with this, which I can only hope is overblown in my own mind.

A side word on Stealth Wealth

Many in the personal finance blogging community practice something known as Stealth Wealth. This is generally a segment of the population that would be considered wealthy by many common benchmarks. However, they behave and conduct themselves in a manner that “disguises” their wealth, by not overtly displaying it or discussing it.

I also subscribe to this concept, and in fact believe that it’s critical to achieving financial independence. Some might say that sharing net worth details and other personal financial information on a blog would run counter to this principle. In some cases that may be true, however I started this post by talking about anonymous blogging for a reason!

Whether I decide to share my net worth or not (I eventually did), the fact I’ve decided to blog anonymously still keeps me comfortably in the stealth wealth camp. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with 😉

Some Final Comments on Net Worth

Finally, the term ‘net worth’ is very misleading. Read at face value, it might imply that it somehow represents the total intrinsic value of an individual or household. That is not the case. It’s important to recognize that a net worth value is only ONE dimension in a complex financial organism, which should include income, expenses and other personal attributes.

In effect it’s a very personal number, that can’t be judged discretely. It’s only one piece of the total financial independence puzzle.

The only reason to track it and monitor its health is so you can achieve whatever overarching goal you have in mind. Mine is simply the pursuit of freedom.

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Readers, Do you think I should share my net worth details? What are your thoughts on this subject? Any comments on Anonymous blogging? Share your comments below!

Max

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