★ Why We Share Our Net Worth So Openly

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[Please welcome Mr. 1500 Days today, as he stops by to drop some knowledge on net worth
and why our community is so open to sharing theirs.]

Is the guy driving the fancy car wealthy? When I was a kid, I thought so. And I thought the same about my classmates whose parents took them on exotic vacations or lived in McMansions.

I realize now that I had the wrong perception of wealth. Often, the luxury car or big home are the byproducts of insecurity or hedonic adaptation. These folks are only wealthy superficially; the driveway gets a new car every 3 years while the 401(k) sits neglected.

Freedom Greater Than Stuff

Most wealth is stealth. The folks who are really loaded don’t flaunt it. There are plenty of millionaires who drive Honda Fits or Elements and Toyota Priuses.

What’s Your Net Worth?

Just because I understand wealth doesn’t mean that I’m any less obsessed with it. I admit to spending unhealthy amounts of time looking at the Rockstar Net Worth Tracker. It’s fascinating to know someone’s net worth and then investigate how it’s reflected (or not reflected) in their lifestyle.

Top Blogger Net Worth Tracker

Another aspect of the personal finance community that fascinates me is how open folks are about their finances. In a culture where most guard their nest egg number like it’s a deep dark secret, many in this community freely volunteer it. When I asked readers to reveal their net worth on my blog, I received a record number of comments:

189 of them, actually.

While I think it’s completely awesome that so many share their big number, I also wondered why they were so open. To find out, I came up with three questions and passed them around the personal finance blogger community.

Question #1: Why do you think the FI community is so incredibly open about their finances?

J.D. Roth (Money Boss): I think the FI/RE community is open about its finances because we recognize there’s no real reason for the perennial taboo on the topic. I think people in the past were afraid to talk about money because they were (a) afraid to compare themselves to others and (b) didn’t want to make others feel bad if they were lagging. But when you embrace and recognize the fundamental truth of the FI/RE movement — that you only achieve financial independence through creating a HUGE gap between your earning and spending — then you realize it doesn’t make sense to stay silent. EVERYONE in the community (at least everyone serious) is working hard to maximize “profit” (as I call it).

Now having said that, there’s still a danger that can come from comparing ourselves to others. “I’m not saving as much as MMM!” Or, worse, “Mr. 1500’s not serious because he does [fill in the blank]. He’s not hardcore like ME.” So, yes, we’re open, and generally we’re non-judgmental, but I do think even the FI/RE community can do with a little less dogmatism and a little more open-mindedness.

J$ (Budgets Are Sexy): Every day I’m blown away at how open and willing our community is in sharing their #s with the world. I’ve been blogging for over 9 years now and we’ve gone from maybe one out of every 10 or 15 bloggers sharing it to over 25%! Which we now know because we’re tracking it all in our new Blogger Directory. All the tricks and tips and thousands of other ways to manage your money is great, but seeing how it affects your money *in real time* when bloggers walk the walk is something entirely different. I’m in my 111th month in a row of sharing our numbers, and I’ll continue to do so because it completely changed both my finances and my life those fateful 9 years ago. The more we’re comfortable talking openly about this stuff the more everyone wins in the end.

Mrs. PoP (Planting Our Pennies): I’m not sure we can really speak for others, but for Mr. PoP and I, the reason we’re so open about our finances has probably changed over time.

At first, the openness (we’ve been publishing our spending and net worth every month for nearly 5 years now!) was a big reason that we were able to stay on track financially. Instead of having tiny angels and devils sitting on our shoulders to consult for various purchases, from the moment we started publishing our spending on our blog, we knew we had frugal third-party eyes looking over our purchases every month and we didn’t want to disappoint the people behind those frugal eyes! It really helped ingrain some of our spending tendencies as habit where they were more “stretch” goals when we started. So sharing that information was totally for our own benefit in those early years.

But as we went along, I think our openness became less about what we gained from it and more about paying it forward. We were so motivated by financial bloggers who came before us and set the stage by dropping their financial drawers (like J$ who still does!) that we feel like we’re doing a service by doing the same for others to see what one journey to financial independence looks like from month-to-month.

Kate (Cashville Skyline): The personal finance blogger community is candid about their money because it’s traditionally been such a taboo topic. By sharing details about our financial lives, we’re starting an important conversation. Plus, it’s juicy! Who wouldn’t want to take a peek into someone’s bank account?

Ryan (Quietly Crushing It): Generally, I think most personal finance bloggers are just numbers geeks and love talking about this stuff. I would love to talk about anything personal finance related if people around me were actually interested.

Michael (Financially Alert): I like seeing numbers, so I figure other people do too. If you don’t have a reference point, you can’t really measure yourself against anything. Furthermore, I think it’s helpful to see my journey as it unfolds. There will be months that my numbers will be UP and others when it is DOWN. Some of this will be caused by market fluctuations, and other times I may just make some big mistakes. This just goes to illustrate that financial growth isn’t necessarily a linear series of events. So, it’s not necessary to worry about the bumps in the road as long as we keep our eyes looking ahead.

Joe Udo (Retire by 40): I think it’s the domino effect. After a few people share their finance, I felt more comfortable about sharing mine. I’ve shared our net worth in the past, but in general, I don’t like sharing the net worth because it feels like showing off. I prefer to share my cash flow. That’s more relate-able to casual readers.

Mr. Tako (Mr. Tako Escapes): The internet provides a reasonable level of anonymity for the FI community. While nothing is completely anonymous, the vast majority of what’s said and done on the internet is free from the very real repercussions of being open about finances. In real life, there would be very real consequences if you expose your finances to everyone. You could lose friends, get passed up for promotions at work, or even have your family/neighbors dislike you. Then there’s always those people looking for a handout, or a free lunch. Who wants them hounding you all the time?

A little anonymity is a good thing.

Justin (Root of Good): I think people in the FI community are open to sharing net worth because it’s an objective measure of the progress we are making toward our goals. The goals are all different and require different amounts of money because our FI budgets vary so much. Some aim to live on a half million while others think they need 3-to-10 million to enjoy FI!


Question #2: Why are you open about your finances?

Gen Y Finance Guy: I think as a PF blogger or anyone talking about money you need to put your money where your mouth is. It adds a significant level of context to the things I write about. I also think that people resonate with real numbers (I know I do). Imagine how may financial advisers would never get any business if they had to disclose their own financial situation. We all need accountability in our lives and, in my opinion, transparency is the best policy for achieving that. I also think that people have a natural curiosity of these kinds of details, especially since they are so taboo in the broader community.

J.D. Roth (Money Boss): I’m open about MY personal finances because I’m open about everything. Some folks think I’m naive, but I’ve always been relatively trusting and sharing. It’s a reflection of my intentional positive approach to life. I don’t see what good it does to hide what I’m thinking and feeling and doing. Not everyone agrees with this approach, obviously, but there you go.

So, I’m open about my finances because I think it helps my readers understand where I’m coming from. They get to see the things I do well — and the things I struggle at.

Kate (Cashville Skyline): I want to show others that building wealth is possible at all income levels. The secret to building your financial assets isn’t necessarily earning a six-figure salary, it’s consistently saving and investing.

Ryan (Quietly Crushing It): First and foremost, it’s self-serving. It allows a place for me to calculate my net worth on a monthly basis and see where changes are happening in my portfolio. Since it’s public, I feel as though I need to get it out every month no matter what else is going on in my life. If it wasn’t, I’d probably put it off. Seeing 5 figure moves on a given month is also very motivating. Secondly, transparency is proof that this all works (i.e. high savings rates, investing in low-cost index funds, and thinking about tax implications).

Mr. Tako (Mr. Tako Escapes): Before I started my blog I spent a lot of time reading other FI blogs. There’s a few good blogs out there, but a lot of it comes across as really fake stuff:

Want to know my secret to early retirement? Just buy my book!

Take my online course and you too can boost your income in 90 days!

Basically a big money grab. How do we know those people are *really* financially independent? Honestly, we don’t.

I wanted to change a lot of that with my blog. The more *real* I can be, the better — ugly blemishes and all. Sharing my net worth is part of that. There’s just so much fake stuff on the internet. The more numbers and concrete details I can share about my FI life, the better I think it makes my blog.

Has that translated into a massively successful blog with millions of readers? Nope, but being “real” and means more to me than filling my pockets further.


Question #3: Do you think it helps others by sharing your big number?

J.D. Roth (Money Bo$S): I don’t think MY big number necessarily helps readers. But seeing how I relate to that number does. Seeing that I’m in no rush to spend my $1.6 million, but instead try to enjoy a modest lifestyle — and even struggle to keep my spending below a certain level — can help them understand that money doesn’t NEED to be spent immediately. It can be saved and savored, enjoyed in the future. I think it’s also useful for them to see that despite the fact that I’ve reached FI, I continue to work. The infamous Internet Retirement Police want everyone to believe it’s WRONG to work in retirement, but that’s bullshit.

Kate (Cashville Skyline): My net worth is certainly above average for my age (32), but I don’t personally consider it a high number. I think it’s helpful for other people to see the realities of the choices I’ve made — quitting my job three years ago and choosing self-employment after a layoff last summer. I’m still working on my liquid emergency fund and always looking for ways to earn and save more!

Ryan (Quietly Crushing It): It depends. I think readers may get ‘sticker shock’ when they see such a high net worth. I imagine readers focus too much on the specific number and compare it to their own net worth. It isn’t encouraging for people to see someone much younger than them who has had financial success. And no matter who you are, there is always going to be someone who has done it better. I’m not perfect either, I’ve made some bad financial decisions over the years and more recently took a 20K/year pay cut and left a job one month before a 5-figure bonus. As many others have written, money is just a tool and when you have enough, the exact dollar amount becomes less relevant.

Instead of coming up with excuses, the reaction of a reader should be thinking about what steps they can put into place to get on the path to financial independence. It’s much easier for people to make excuses instead of making changes in their own life.

The other piece I think that’s beneficial is digging into how people invest and digging into how they’ve structured their portfolio. For instance, a real estate investor may have 1-100 properties. They may have chosen to pay them off, or pay some of them off or maximize their leverage and seeing how that affects their portfolio is pretty interesting.

Alexander (Cash Flow Diaries): When I started sharing my net worth publicly, it was not just out of the blue that I decided to do this. I stumbled upon another blogger who was actively providing net worth updates and sharing info about all this assets and how he was growing his own net worth. At the time, I was shocked to have discovered this and from that second, I was hooked! I wanted so badly to be able to do what he was doing with his net worth. I wanted to watch it grow and show others that any Joe Blow is capable of becoming a financial success if you are motivated enough. With that being said, I know for a fact that sharing the big number helps others because it helped me personally.

Mr. Tako: Oh, absolutely (not that I think my number is all that big). A lot of people really wonder what it takes to have that FI life and be free of a job. They want to know the fine details of making it work. It’s not about showing off, it’s about being open and honest. The more detail we can share about how it’s done, the more everyone in the FI community benefits. Net worth is just part of that.

The amount of email and really detailed questions I get from the community has proved this point to me dozens of times over. People want to know the tiniest details — what’s in my portfolio, what yields I achieve to earn my dividend income, who is my ISP, and even where I shop for groceries. I’m going to do my best to give it to them.

Mrs. PoP (Planting Our Pennies): We hear pretty regularly from readers that even if their situation is different from ours, they still are able to draw motivation and affirmation from our sharing with them every month. Seeing in real time that the journey to financial independence is boring sometimes for the PoPs is a nice sanity check for someone else in the thick of it. Because no matter how you slice it, getting to financial independence takes time. Even for someone with a 75% savings rate, according to MMM’s table, there’s still a seven-year path to financial independence. While short for a career, seven years is still a long freaking time when you’re slogging through it working your tush off and it’s nice to feel like you’ve got some company along the way.

Justin (Root of Good): I’m open with my net worth simply because I don’t think it’s something that we should be ashamed of sharing in the context of discussing financial independence. It also demonstrates to others what it takes to FIRE and how even though our net worth goes up and down, we’re still able to enjoy our lives in early retirement without worrying about finances. I know I’ve helped a lot of people realize that they DON’T need several million dollars to be able to retire early, which means they can retire several years earlier than they thought!

Money is Only Money

At the beginning of the post, I asked this:

Is the guy driving the fancy car wealthy?

I was asking the wrong question. I should have asked this:

Is the guy driving the fancy car happy?

Stuff isn’t a recipe for happiness.

Happiness and Stuff

Now I’ll ask you a question:

What does money mean to you?

It’s not easy to answer this.

Our society worships money and the wealthy. Look no further than the mainstream media to see what I’m talking about:

  • If you’re over 40, you probably remember a TV show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
  • Younger readers, how about MTV’s Cribs?
  • How often have you seen this in a magazine or on a financial website:

The 100 Richest People in the World!

Meet America’s newest Billionaires Under 30!

We are a obsessed with money. And I get it; money is important. You can’t have financial independence if you don’t have the dollars.

But what does financial independence mean? Think about that one too.

Financial independence should be about living a life free from money worries. Money is not the end goal, but a tool to achieve a better life. Think of it as buying time instead of stuff.

Let’s take money off its pedestal and see it for what is really is: just a facilitator. If we all did this, perhaps more of us would be more open about our finances and we’d all be a lot better off.

Now time to get back to my net worth stalking


Author bio: Mr. 1500 writes about financial independence, early retirement and dinosaurs over at 1500Days.com. When not in front of a computer, find him with his family in the mountains of Colorado.

46 thoughts on “★ Why We Share Our Net Worth So Openly”

  1. Thanks for all these great insights, Mr. 1500. We’ve not openly stated our net worth, although based on other figures we’ve discussed on our blog it could easily be calculated.

    I’ve considered some of the possible negative consequences mentioned by Mr. Tako. Perhaps it’s just an ingrained belief that certain topics are off limits, like how much money you have, your age, your weight, and who you voted for.

    For us, money means two things: freedom and security.

    1. “For us, money means two things: freedom and security.”

      Agreed. That is the beginning and end of money for me too*.

      *Maybe I’ll lose my mind and buy an Acura NSX or Tesla some day. Just kidding. Maybe…

          1. whaaaaaa???? that’s amazing!!! did it feel weird being there WITHOUT one? i used to hit up parties that the Beard Club would throw before mine grew out, and always felt like a chump or a wannabe or both at the same time haha… still didn’t stop me from showing up though :)

          2. It was weird.
            Everyone was like: “Which NSX is yours?”
            I’m like: “I don’t have one. I came to stare at yours.”

            ***uncomfortable silence***

            And Beard Club? Who knew?

  2. I don’t share my numbers on the blog. Part of that is some friends and co-workers do know about the blog. Part of it is also it’s not really necessary in my case. Money buys options, and my focus is mostly about maximizing the happiness from those options throughout my life. Ie retirement isn’t my destination so other then perhaps proving I really live my point, what’s the point? Now if I was a retirement blog then that might change my decision.

    1. I wouldn’t share either if I was public, so I get it.

      “retirement isn’t my destination”

      I don’t think it should be anyone’s destination. The real destination is a wonderful life, full of meaning and contentment.

  3. Nice write up and a good insight to many of my FI mentors. I agree, that it’s not for comparing or judgement. It does help me stay the course and reinforces the “Why” (Simon Sinek) and to enjoy the process of being financially fit and free.

    Is tending to Net worth reporting on a monthly basis an effective use of time? I understand managing cash flow on a monthly basis (i.e. budgets) and find the process enjoyable. I cannot see the value of monthly net worth data if I’m a long haul investor. I look at net worth on a quarterly basis and can see an exciting trend since tracking since 1998. It’s enough information to see the effects of the monthly adjustments in spending and portfolio adjustments. Am I ready to share it on my own blog, No. I’m a coward hiding in the weeds on J.Money’s list.

    1. “Is tending to Net worth reporting on a monthly basis an effective use of time?”

      All it takes is a logon to Personal Capital. However, I would agree that it can be harmful. Outlook should be very long term, not monthly*.

      *I’m guilty of looking at Personal Capital daily. It is entertainment for me. Hey, don’t judge. I don’t watch any tv!

    2. I still track mine manually every month in a spreadsheet (takes 15 mins maybe?) and I find it super helpful, mainly because I have a memory like a gold fish and need constant reviewing to make sure things are going okay :) Plus, it’s fun to watch it fluctuate so much with the crazy markets these days, haha… even when it plummets I find it somewhat intriguing?

  4. Fervent Finance

    I keep going back and forth on the topic. I used to share when I thought I’d always remain anonymous, but now there is a possibility I’d like to come out from behind the curtain so I have stopped. Maybe it’s embarrassment that my number pales in comparison to others. Maybe it’s that my number is growing really fast and I don’t want to discourage others. Mainly I just have a bunch of excuses why I don’t want to share right now when in reality, sharing wouldn’t really change much of anything.

    1. Yeah, being anonymous and sharing net worth vs having your real name out there and sharing are two wayyy different things. I give all those who share under their real name major street cred as I’m too paranoid for that. Especially ever since having kids! There are some psychos out there and I’ve already come in contact to two too many over the years who’s threatened some pretty scary (and disturbing) stuff… You gotta go with what keeps you most comfortable for sure.

  5. We openly share our spending and savings levels with everyone. One could easily get an idea of our net worth from those numbers. I do think it’s useful for people to share more about there finances, and see what others are doing. Maybe one of these days we will share a little more. Or maybe we’ll keep it a financial burlesque show :)

  6. We don’t share it at least not yet. But its something I could see happening in the future as we get more comfortable sharing and keeping ourselves public ally accountable.

    As for money and what it means along with financial independence. To us it means freedom to do what we want to do.

    I was unemployed about a year ago and ended up watching our niece for a week. I loved that we could just go to the park and spend time together. So I cemented that we are on the right path. When we have our kids I want to be able to do that. Its really that simple.

  7. Hey, thanks for letting me a part of this post Mr. 1500. I really like how you covered the topic. The personal finance community is so diverse (who doesn’t like money?) that I think it’s important to cover a lot of different perspectives!

    What I found very interesting was how certain bloggers perspectives have changed over time — especially in response to what other bloggers are doing…like some kind of social pressure. Interesting stuff!

    1. Oh yeah – wait until you’ve been around the game for a decade! You see alll kinds of trends come and go….. net worths, blogrolls (i miss those), early retirement crews, minimalism, and most recently – everyone sharing how much they make off blogging + a million courses on how to start your own blog and make money. Something I actually don’t like because now you got all these people starting them in order to make $$$ vs out of passion/interest. Though of course it’s totally cool TO make money off it, just think it shouldn’t be at the top of the priorities – at least that’s my view.

  8. We’re not comfortable sharing our net worth because we have family members that read the blog and I wouldn’t want this to become a distraction or put a bigger burden on us, just because “we can”. Words like “can you make me a loan” and “can you do more” start to get tossed around you when people know that you have plenty of money in the bank.
    We leave clues along the way so that anyone smart enough to understand it can figure it out but use percentages for now. Would we disclose it at some point after retirement? Maybe, but for now stealth wealth all the way for us… :)

    1. “Maybe, but for now stealth wealth all the way for us… :)”

      Stealth wealth isn’t a bad thing! I also dread people asking me for money. My family discovered my blog, but no one has hit me up yet. A friend did though (Me: “No.“)

  9. I like sharing our numbers just because it gives people the whole context. Knowing our old income, plus all the choices we made = our net worth. Knowing our passive income + our monthly expenses= our lifestyle and options. It give frame of reference for them to put their own numbers in and see how they could get where they want. Saying we spend $2400 a month has no context until I explain our lifestyle, our fixed expenses, our family size. Then people get see the whole picture and adjust numbers as needed. Knowing we have $1000 a month from rental income, $1450 from a pension, and could take (at 4% withdrawl) $600 from our investments shows the flexibility and options we enjoy in our lifestyle design. I think the fact our numbers aren’t impressive in terms of old income or net worth, but we still have tons of financial freedom and options is encouraging to others. At least I hope so. =)

  10. This is the post I will now refer my readers to who comment that they could never share their numbers because they feel it is too raw. I totally get it!! At first I was afraid too, but I put it all out there and have been super successful in beating my own financial goals as a result. The number is not there to be compared with others, but to motivate and encourage. That being said, being a PF blog it is funny to see how the topic of money is still taboo. Based on my post stats, my net worth posts have the most readers but the fewest comments! People LOVE to read money but are still a bit heaistant to talk about it. I am so happy to see more and more folks posting their numbers and breaking that taboo wall down. Iit may be the Internet, but the PF community is a safe place to share. :)

  11. “I am so happy to see more and more folks posting their numbers and breaking that taboo wall down.”

    yes. Yes! YES!!! I hope that our openness encourages the same in others!

  12. This was an awesome and timely read, Mr. 1500. Thank you for putting it all together.

    This is timely for me as I am still trying to decide how much financial info. I will share since I do not blog anonymously. I love reading all the net worth reports (and blog income reports) and really appreciate the transparency, but I’m also a big scaredy-cat when it comes to safety, especially after having kids (see J. Money’s comment above). Still not sure where I will land on this, but reading this was helpful, nonetheless.

  13. I watched my dad be early retired via a package at work due to a management change over. I watched my mom retire early because the politics were destroying any love for the job. Both invested and planned well, and we’re able to retire early with no worries of them needing to move in with me. :) That’s part of what money and financial freedom mean to me. The industry I work in proves it has no loyalty to the employees, and my dad did work for 1 place for 32 years! Saving for the future will make me as able to roll with the punches as my parents did and be self sufficient. :)

  14. I’m not 100% comfortable with my numbers being easy to find for someone who knows me in person and then learns I have a blog. I have no problem with my readers knowing the details.

    So far, I’ve decided to avoid directly stating my net worth on my site, but instead revealing it in guest posts and here in the blog directory.

    Great post, Mr. 1500 & RSF. I’m glad to see you guys team up.


  15. I love the discussion that net worth brings up among the FI/RE community. I personally don’t share our net worth (it’s in the negative), but I do share monthly expense reports. I only started doing this several months ago, but I’ve found it keeps me honest and is one of the few times I look back over my purchases for the previous month. I hope to one day share our net worth, but since I write under my real name I don’t want it to affect our careers at all. Since it’s in the negative, I don’t see it being any use to anyone now, but maybe in ten years.

  16. Is there an option for non-bloggers to contribute on a monthly basis with net worth numbers? I don’t feel I have material (really the time) to start a blog but feel that putting my numbers out there would keep me honest on the journey.

    1. Not at the moment unfortunately :( Though really, the #’s themselves don’t really paint any pictures or help anyone – it’s the *background* and story/tips/game plan that’s what does it :) The essence of blogs, really. So if you ever do start one, please let us know! And believe me – every person has something helpful to contribute to our community here :)

  17. Great insights, thanks 1500.

    I am comfortable sharing my numbers, I think that nobody will come after me because of that :) At the same time, it keeps me super motivated to keep up.

    For me, money means freedom.


  18. I felt more comfortable discussing my net worth because it was near 0 at the time of the blog directory. I am now at positive $18,000. I think if I was sitting in the $1 or 2 million range I would be more hesitant, but who knows. I am not there yet.

    Great post. Thanks for surveying all of the bloggers and sharing it with us.

  19. Thanks for including me, I really appreciate it. Im not going to lie and say im not obsessed with checking my net worth monthly. I share mine monthly and get giddy watching it continually rise. I recently hit the half a mil mark and I felt very proud.

    Growing up with nothing and being able to get to these kinds of numbers through hard work ethic and smart financial decisions can be done by anyone and being able to see how others are doing it can be super motivating!

    I hope more and more people jump on the net worth sharing train!! :)

  20. I appreciate the bloggers that share their information with the rest of us. It’s been so motivating for me as I started my blog over the last few months. It has showed me that it is possible to reach FIRE, but I must put in the hard work.

    It’s also given me the confidence to be more open about my financial situation on my blog. I’m not sharing net worth or earnings (I don’t really have any). The majority of my net worth is tied up in my home anyway.

    I have shared some more personal details of financial blunders I’ve made and such. My wife and I are usually private people, so it was tough to do this. But, I know it has helped others, so I’m happy to do it.

  21. Money means freedom!! When we hit the 2 comma club last December I wanted to share it on my blog to announce that we had hit this major milestone but my husband was hesitant. I am not sure why exactly but I didn’t post about it. We are also a one car family and that one car is a 2007 Honda Fit which I still love. :) Your car is certainly not a reflection of your net worth.

  22. I make public how much me and my husband saves (that is the all important after all) but I am not publishing our exact NW for the reason others stated above, ironically this topic is more comfortable with fellow bloggers than friend and family.

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