Let's be honest. A lot of the “judgement” we pass on others is based on what they do or how much they earn.
Let's say you meet someone new at an event. When they tell you what they do for a living, it's not uncommon for you to do a quick mental calculation on how much they earn. When you have a good idea of what they are making, you may judge the clothing they're wearing, the car they drive, what they're eating, and so on.
If you are on a first date with someone and find out they are unemployed, your vibes may turn negative.
Need a Job That Accommodates Your Lifestyle? Get More Interviews >>
Of course, such first impressions deny you the opportunity to find out who they truly are.
I work a lot and I like what I do. Still, I don't want my identity to be defined by my job title.
Why Some People Want Personal Finances Kept Personal
I was listening to a podcast recently in which the host interviewed a couple who was about to embark on early retirement. What stood out to me in the interview was the moment the couple revealed that they never told their families about their goals for early retirement. Their family had no idea about their current situation.
When asked why they kept these personal details – not to mention such a huge financial milestone – from their family, the husband responded by saying that he didn't want his family judging them. He didn't want them expecting them to pick up certain responsibilities just because they had more than a million dollars in assets.
See How Your 401k Stacks up in Minutes — Start by Getting Your Free Analysis >>
As strange as that statement sounded, I completely understood where the couple was coming from. I would feel similarly about my family knowing my financial situation if I were to retire early.
I love helping my family out whenever I can. But I wouldn't want to be judged or viewed as someone who could afford X, Y, and Z just because I was able to build wealth. When someone has made a strong judgement about your financial situation – or even goes so far as to comment on what you're spending money on or tell you what they think you can afford – it can result in minor levels of irritation. It can sometimes even lead to big conflicts.
This is why I believe that, even as people are talking more candidly about topics like sex and relationships, personal finance has remained on the list of taboo topics to avoid at the dinner table like politics and religion.
Being More Open Can Be Helpful
While I don't believe everyone should disclose exactly how much money they earn or spend each month down to the penny, being a little more open to discussing personal finance can be quite beneficial. That is, as long as the people you talk to respect your privacy.
Start Managing Your Finances — Download This Personal Finance App >>
For example, I learn a ton from early retirees who are willing to share their story.
I believe that sharing basic tips, advice, and examples can be very motivating – even to your judgmental family members.
The main reason why I started writing about personal finance was to help educate and motivate other people. I was once inspired by someone's personal finance story. The knowledge I gained from their experience helped me become more successful.
This is why I love sites like CentSai and their efforts to educate others about money issues and viable solutions through personal stories. We can all become more financially successful if we open up and share with one another.
Unfortunately, opening up and being vulnerable also opens the door to being judged. If we can all establish a judgement-free zone and understand that we cannot fill in the blanks about someone's situation (even if we do know them well), it will save a lot of wasted energy and give all of us more room for growth.
Change your Perception of Other People
Like I said, judging people is not always right. But most of us do it all the time, anyway, because it can seem like such a natural instinct.
If you are going to pass judgement on someone, look at how they live their lives and who they are as a person. Are they kind and helpful to their friends and family? Do they show compassion? Are they creative? Do they have interesting hobbies?
Get Help With Budgeting Your Life — Download This Personal Finance App >>
If someone were to describe you without mentioning what you do for a living and how much you make, decide what you'd want them to say. Start viewing others based on those standards.
Money often complicates things, but you don't have to let it distort your perceptions of others.