‘Telling my friends my salary helped me get a pay rise. Here’s how I did it.’

I was two years into a role at a previous company when I found out that my colleague who was doing the exact same job as me was earning $10K more than I was. It was shattering.

Before finding that out, I had endless meetings with management asking for a pay increase nearly on a weekly basis. I was taking on new projects and tasks and became the point person for two high-risk systems so I (rightfully) thought that I should probably get paid a little more since I’m taking on all this extra work.

The constant asking, checking and practising speeches was embarrassing and defeating. Eventually they offered me a $2,000 pay increase. Never wanting to go through that process again, I accepted. It was a few days later when I found out that my colleague (who was now doing less than I was) was earning $10K more this entire time.

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Luckily I had dinner that night with some close friends so I could vent about it.

"She’s being paid $10K more than me," I told them the minute I sat down.

"Ugh that’s so bad."

"You definitely have to take it up with your manager."

"How is that even legal?"

"You should quit!" (the last few quotes came out around our third glass of wine).


It was great having my friends on my side as they always are but there was just one issue. They didn’t actually know how much I made. All they knew was my role, and that I made $10K less than my colleague. Because of this, all the advice they could give me was very surface level.

After the fourth glass of wine. I blurted out, "I make $62K!" Straight away one of my friends said, "Okay, game plan." The wine induced hustle to put together a strategy was beautiful to see.

One of my friends went on to see how much money people were earning doing the same role (much more it turns out). One of them did a comparison and helped me make talking points. And one of them looked up an article titled "assertive language to use when asking for a pay rise."

Going back to my manager I negotiated another… $2,000. I know, very anticlimactic but it was $2,000 more from just disclosing to my friends how much I was earning.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the drunken strategy thought up the night before that got me that extra $2,000. It was my friends' wholehearted support which drove up my confidence to believe in myself that "yes, I deserve more money."

Soon after, I began finding out how much all my friends earned in their professions. It made us a tighter knit group and more respectful of each other's decisions.

I know some of my friends are only just able to just about pay their rent every week. I know some of them can go on lavish holidays at the expense of constantly working overtime. I know why some of them might decline a girls' night out because their pay-day unfortunately lines up with their mortgage repayment due dates.

Although finding out how much we all earn enriched our friendships, talking about money isn’t an easy thing to do. Here are some things to be aware of before disclosing your salary with your friends:


1. You first.

Someone has got to break the ice. If you haven’t told your friends your salary and you’re reading this article, then that person will probably be you. It’s slightly awkward and can be a little embarrassing but they are your friends for a reason and will be grateful to know something about you that has historically been labelled as being uncouth.

2. Your friends might be hesitant. That’s okay.

I know we’re in 2024 but money is still a very taboo topic, and that's true across generations. Your friends may be receptive to knowing your salary but might not want to share theirs. You have to be okay with that.

I still have a few friends who haven’t told me how much they earn while knowing my salary for the past few years. Our friendship hasn’t changed. In fact, I think I have the better deal because they’re constantly giving me advice on money and have built up my confidence every time I want to discuss my salary with my employer.

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3. Be mindful of their actions.

I would be lying if I said that talking about your salary doesn’t have a down-side to it. There will always be people who adjust the way they interact with you after knowing how much you make. Call them on it but be kind.

Money can be a very sensitive subject. Naturally as humans, when we find out something we’re not used to finding out, we don’t really know how to behave.

If your friends act differently and start doing things like choosing cheaper restaurants or telling you to not worry about getting them a birthday present (both have happened to me), their heart might be in the right place and you might welcome these changes but make them aware of their actions before it completely changes your entire relationship.


4. Assumptions will be made.

It’s true, for some people money means everything. There will be people who judge. 

"The only reason she owns property is because her parents are rich."

"The reason she goes out all the time is because she makes her dates pay for her meals."

"She can afford to buy that jacket because she doesn't pay rent."

These are all comments I’ve read about myself online and all are completely untrue. These are also from people who have no idea how much I actually earn. I can only imagine the assumptions people who know my salary make of me. 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spiral for a few months thinking about what people were saying behind closed doors. It’s my insecurity and something that I’ve come to terms with but it has prevented me from sharing details of my salary with certain people which is why I only disclose my current salary with the people who I trust the most.

There’s a reason so many corporations prevent their employees from discussing their salaries. Yes, assumptions will probably be made, but keeping your salary a secret only benefits the man. Telling my friends my salary has not only given me the confidence to discuss money with my employer but has also enriched my friendships and brought us closer together.

Have you ever talked to your friends about how much you earn? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

If you want more culture and zeitgeist opinions and advice from Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem

Feature image: Supplied.

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