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Should I Keep My Salary a Secret?

Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise while other times revealing your monthly paycheck could be your worst undoing. Let’s look at the pros and cons of concealing your salary from people.

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Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise while other times revealing your monthly paycheck could be your worst undoing. Let’s look at the pros and cons of concealing your salary from people.

Photo credit: Nakidore

How much do you earn at your job? With what you earn are you sure you’re making the right choice by spending that kind of money? Why are you being so stingy? We know you can afford more than what you’re contributing.

If you have ever revealed your income or you know someone who has, these statements have been thrown around to you or to them. This is the result of disclosing your salary to friends, peers and family.

Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise while other times revealing your monthly paycheck could be your worst undoing.

In this article, we explore the benefits of not disclosing how much you earn as well as the disadvantages of keeping it a secret.

The following are the pros and the cons:



You set the tone for people’s perception

If people don’t know how much you earn they won’t judge you when you spend money on different things. When you choose to live a minimalist lifestyle you’ll be free because your friends won’t call you stingy. On the other hand, if you decide to live a flashy life where you wear your salary on your sleeve, people will lack a basis for calling you wasteful.

There are people who choose to spend their disposable income on charity causes. But the hard reality about people is that regardless of whatever choice you make, they are bound to make unfavorable judgments. Since you have little control over the public’s inevitable discontentment, free yourself to make decisions that only favor you.

Even at home, if you conceal how much you earn, you can freely do things for your parents and siblings and restrict yourself to a budget. The kind of shopping you buy and the favors you afford them will solely be determined by your ability. As a bonus, it eliminates all animosity that might arise because of unmet expectations from your family.

In an African context, it’s also very common for the working member of the extended family to shoulder the financial burdens of the family. Sometimes it may not be possible or feasible to support additional members of the family due to personal financial obligations. That’s why you need to keep your income earnings under wraps so that you can keep those family relationships cordial. Then take only what you can afford and leave what you can’t.

If you love to keep a low profile

Let’s say you don’t love drawing attention to yourself. You like to maintain a low profile and go about your life without people all up in your business. Concealing your income is the best thing to do. It helps you live free and keeps people off your back.

For example, Berkshire Hathaway founder and billionaire Warren Buffet still lives in the modest home that he bought in 1958. Similarly, Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, who is worth $129 billion, still wears a t-shirt and jeans. He usually drives a VW hatchback to work.

You may not be a billionaire yet but you’d like to maintain frugality as a lifestyle regardless of how much you make. Non-disclosure will enable you to maintain a peaceful, happy manageable life. In 2014, Warren Buffet said that his life is happy because he doesn’t have too many assets that keep him awake at night.

Why employers would prefer non-disclosure

Revealing earnings could sow seeds of envy, jealousy and discord among colleagues in a workplace. For instance, you may have people doing the same job and working in the same department earning different salaries. Roberto Digiacomo who writes for Monster says that the salary differences may be a result of varying skill sets, industry time, specialties, time with the company, additional training.

From the employer’s point of view, discontentment in disgruntled employees could negatively impact productivity at the workplace.  It could also cause unnecessary tension and commotion among colleagues because some feel that others are getting paid more than what they truly deserve. The impact on the numbers will be unprecedented.

This is one of the main reasons you should keep your salary amount discreet.


If you must reveal

According to financial samurai, you can reveal your income to your peers (industry, level, experience) if it is equal to their median income up to +15%. If you make more, it’s better to keep it to yourself.

One benefit of revealing your income

Experts advise that discussing your salary sometimes helps you know how to price work. If you get interviewed for a vacancy in another company, you’ll be well informed when going for salary negotiations.

Moreover, when you gauge your grading amongst your peers and colleagues it reveals if you are being paid fairly. It also exposes existing discriminations if there are any.

All over the world, there has been a clamor for equal pay globally. The gender pay gap was exposed when people started revealing how much they make for their roles.

In 2019, BBC Newswatch host Samira Ahmed took her employer to the employment tribunal. She raised awareness and took legal action when she realized that her colleague Jeremy Vine was earning 85% more than her. Vine was taking home $4,087 per show while Sarah was earning $600 for every show. When the world caught wind of this, different people and particularly women came forward to express their solidarity with Sara.



Revealing or concealing what you make is a choice that has both positives and negatives. You need to weigh your options and see what you can live with. Should you choose to reveal, be ready to deal with the attention and scrutiny that comes with it. If you don’t have the stomach for it and you’d like to preserve your privacy, by all means, keep it under wraps. It all depends on you.

Written by

Wahome Ngatia

Peter Wahome Ngatia is an all rounded Marketing Specialist who deals in Graphic Design, Social Media, SEO and Content Writing. My passion is to use my skills and knowledge to help African businesses grow and thrive so that we can create employment for the youth. I also want to churn helpful content that inspires millennials to go hard after their dreams. Mantra: You learn more from failure than success.

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