How much did you earn last month?

This is adapted from the newsletter I sent out in May, which had the most responses ever. I learned SO much about people’s finances, and I opened up so much in response to their messages. I think it’s really important that we all start opening up a bit more so I thought I’d share this on the blog, too.

Opening up: How much did you earn last month?

I recently read Open Up* by Alex Holden (which I was sent by the publisher). It is all about how talking about money (in exact pounds and pence, not just in general terms) can have a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you.

I thought it was a really interesting, funny and though-provoking book, and I could 100% see why her arguments were valid in every single circumstance. It also really made me think about my own money story. And yet.

And yet, I still find it hard to share how much I earn. Talking about money is scary. There are VERY few people I would ask detailed financial questions of. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about why that might be. Here’s a bit about my relationship with money:

My family (as in my parents) are now, and have been for many years, very financially comfortable. I want to say up front that my journey with money has undoubtedly been easier than many other people’s and that I recognise my privilege in all of this. I am very grateful for the opportunities I had growing up.

I spent my first 9 years in the Caribbean, and things like electricity outages, water shortages, food shortages etc were pretty familiar to me. I took many a bath in a bucket as a small child. But we lived in a nice little house on a wonderful street that was full of other children. Times may have been tight at times back then, but I was certainly not aware of it.

Later on in life, I went to school with people who were way out of our income bracket. I spent my teenage years in Manhattan, where there were multiple kids in my class whose parents had bought or rented them their own apartment at 16 (one of which was in the gold-plated Trump building!!!). Probably half of my class had a summer house upstate or abroad. If you imagine the Gossip Girl kids, you won’t be far off my school.

I had pretty decent pocket money and got a good wage at my Sunday job. Plus I babysat once or twice a month. But the people around me always seemed to be overflowing with cash, which I certainly was not.

And that feeling continues to this day. A lot of my friends from my masters all went on to work at consultancies or in telecoms or IT – pursuing life in a creative industry was unlikely to earn me as much as them. And I’m okay with that, I’m actually really happy with how much I make now. I’d just really like to know what the gap in our income is. 

How much ARE people earning? Why does it feel like everyone I know is able to pay for All The Things – car, cleaner, multiple holidays a year, every TV subscription etc? Are they just making loads more than me or do they have loads of credit card debt? Is everyone just really way richer than us? How are people spending their money differently that means they seem to have so much more spare cash?

Asking someone these questions in person still feels completely taboo to me, and I think most people I know feel the same way. But maybe I’m being overly sensitive about it.

I did a poll recently on Instagram, where more people than I’d expected said they felt happy to talk about money. Are you? In which case: how much did you earn last month? How did you earn it? How much did you spend? What do you have left at the end of each month to save or spend as you like? How the hell are you affording your holidays??? Based on what I’ve written here, how much do you think I made (before tax) last month? You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine…

I would LOVE you to email me and tell me your answers, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing them in the comments. The more we talk about what we earn, the more comfortable we will be with what we have, and hopefully the better we’ll be at asking for more money in work situations, too.

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5 thoughts on “How much did you earn last month?”

  • Found this really interesting as I’ve been wanting to talk more about my earnings with others because as a freelancer my earnings are dramatically lower than what I could earn if I was employed full-time. And whilst I love my work far more than I ever did as a permanent member of staff and it allows me more flexibility around raising kids it is often hard to keep that in perspective when it feels like we are scraping by and relying on credit cards for cashflow etc.

    Last month I earnt £1,000 after expenses, working approximately 2 days a week (plus some evenings). Doesn’t include tax deductions but at the moment as a freelancer I’m unlikely to go above my personal allowance this year. My partner earnt about the same working approximately 3 days a week. I think both of us underestimated the amount of time spent drumming up clients and working on unpaid admin type stuff when you go freelance and need to get better at making sure our day rates cover that.

    In terms of spending we spent £2,500 last month so the shortfall was covered by credit card. Hoping this month will be a better one to get us out of that debt but I’m about to have our second child so not holding my breath!

    • Oof that is really tough. What kind of work do you do? Is it something you can either sell in a different way or increase your rates on? It’s so true that the admin stuff creeps in. I’ve found particularly when getting a new client, you can spend half a day going back and forth on email before you’ve even started! Are you in the Freelance Lifestylers Facebook group? The people in there are always really helpful if you need advice on raising rates and how to diversify what you do. My Frugal Year on Instagram is also a great person to follow for someone else’s money story. Really good luck with it. Congratulations on your second x

      • Ooo thanks for the Facebook recommendation and my frugal year. I do facilitation for workshops and run a few training courses – and yes I definitely need to up my rates but it’s hard to know where to pitch it. Need to find people in similar space to compare!

  • Great piece Katie! As you know, I’ve left a comfortable full time secure job recently to set up a business. It’s terrifying. But one positive thing is that for the first time probably ever I’m looking at my money squarely in the face. I have a lot of guilt and anxiety around money and it’s a relief that the discussion around it is opening up. Niamh x

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