Author Topic: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently  (Read 4426 times)

Malcat

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #50 on: May 13, 2021, 07:01:55 AM »
Listen to @Malcat .  She is spot on.

We do similar things for a living, I think, at least in some ways.  Put in firm boundaries, but it's good to give the other party the benefit of the doubt.  Your boss doesn't mean badly even though what he's proposing would hurt you.  So just put in a friendly yet very firm boundary around those discussions. 

You've learned, too, now the value of having those boundaries and of keeping that information very, very private.  You couldn't do so in a five-person company, but in general, you want to be very, very private about that, especially where you make your living.  I don't talk about it at work, especially with my boss.  I am very, very careful where and when I share that type of information, because very few people will agree.  And that's OK.

On the flip side, secrecy is just one form of boundary, it's a structural one, but you can also develop such good social boundaries that you don't strictly need secrecy boundaries.

I was very open about my personal finances in my professional world. With excellent boundaries and constructive conflict skills, you can be open about whatever you want.

People are going to make assumptions about your finances no matter what you do. If you opt for secrecy, then they'll draw all their own conclusions. If you are open about some aspects, then you control the conclusions they draw. Sometimes it's better to stick with their default, sometimes it isn't.

Having excellent boundaries and constructive conflict skills allows you to choose and handle whatever comes up.

As I said, it's like a super power.

ender

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #51 on: May 13, 2021, 07:03:37 AM »
On a related note, Iím part of the process for the HCE tests for my companyís 401k plans. I definitely judge people who are highly compensated and contribute very little (while being glad their poor financial skills help allow my 401k contributions to not be throttled). Iím also very impressed with lower paid people that maximize their 401ks. It makes me very proud but thereís absolutely no way I would ever discuss what I know about their 401k contributions with them!

Hey those non-contributing HCEs help everyone else out :)

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #52 on: May 13, 2021, 10:08:35 AM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

Malcat

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #53 on: May 13, 2021, 10:13:48 AM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

You still need boundaries to do that. What you are describing is constructive conflict, you've just specified the message.

Boundaries and constructive conflict skills are necessary no matter what your intended message or outcome. Whether you are looking to stay private, deflect, fit in, stand out, evangelize, or whatever. You still need boundaries and effective constructive conflict skills to execute any of that effectively.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #54 on: May 13, 2021, 11:14:01 AM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

You still need boundaries to do that. What you are describing is constructive conflict, you've just specified the message.

Boundaries and constructive conflict skills are necessary no matter what your intended message or outcome. Whether you are looking to stay private, deflect, fit in, stand out, evangelize, or whatever. You still need boundaries and effective constructive conflict skills to execute any of that effectively.
I hope I did not come across as minimizing the importance of boundaries.  Such was certainly not my intent!

My point is that the boundaries don't have to be set at "it shouldn't even be a topic of conversation" as many other posters have suggested.  That particular line in the sand may indeed be most appropriate for OP.  However, IMO it's worth considering the option of ceding just a little ground as a way to enable that constructive conflict.  Maintain a hard boundary, but pull it a little closer to yourself.  E.g. "sure, I'm willing to discuss how and why I put so much in my 401k, but how I spend my grocery money is off-limits."

Malcat

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #55 on: May 13, 2021, 12:35:46 PM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

You still need boundaries to do that. What you are describing is constructive conflict, you've just specified the message.

Boundaries and constructive conflict skills are necessary no matter what your intended message or outcome. Whether you are looking to stay private, deflect, fit in, stand out, evangelize, or whatever. You still need boundaries and effective constructive conflict skills to execute any of that effectively.
I hope I did not come across as minimizing the importance of boundaries.  Such was certainly not my intent!

My point is that the boundaries don't have to be set at "it shouldn't even be a topic of conversation" as many other posters have suggested.  That particular line in the sand may indeed be most appropriate for OP.  However, IMO it's worth considering the option of ceding just a little ground as a way to enable that constructive conflict.  Maintain a hard boundary, but pull it a little closer to yourself.  E.g. "sure, I'm willing to discuss how and why I put so much in my 401k, but how I spend my grocery money is off-limits."

Totally agree. Having boundaries doesn't mean being closed off. They actually help people be open.

sparkytheop

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #56 on: May 15, 2021, 01:34:58 PM »
I'm also in the trades, and there is definitely a different mindset that seems to be prevalent-- make good money, spend good money.  I've always based my saving/spending on my priorities (they change over stages of life, but travel and retirement savings have been constants).  I was always getting made fun of for driving an older car with peeling paint, but the thing got me from a to b and had decent gas mileage, my older phone, not having the latest tech/gadgets, etc.  Then I'd put in a leave slip for a couple weeks off to go on a big vacation, and I'd get the "must be nice" comments.  Well, sure, it is nice, but it's possible for me because I'm not pissing money away on all the things you're constantly ragging on me for.

We never had to buy our own tools, so never had to deal with that, but there have been other ways things pop up that are kind of similar.  My current crew actually talks money, saving, investing, etc, quite a bit, and we all seem to have a general idea of where most of us are financially.  Sure, I still get teased sometimes for not just blowing my money, but I'm not the only saver anymore.

Are you a union electrician? If I wasn't required to have tools and a vehicle I'd go car free and roll up to the jobsite on an ebike everyday. People could talk shit, but I'd be too busy watching my investments grow to care. I've considered the union but I've heard the electrical union is insanely competitive in Seattle and the carpentry union seems like it could be pretty awful.

Government (and no longer an electrician, but in a field that is similar and uses my electrical knowledge and background), though the government has its own union, so can be both.  Everything was provided.  However, I've worked alongside IBEW members, and they typically provide their own small hand tools (the basics, strippers, dikes, screw drivers, channel locks, etc), but the big tools and electrical tape were provided (though with one company they had to bring back the empty cardboard tube from a roll of tape to get a new roll...)

People will definitely talk shit.  I had one new kid tell me once that he heard I "was rich" (I was late 20s).  I asked him where he got that idea, and what was his definition of "rich"?  Heard it from coworkers, and his definition was "you have $30k in the bank".  I told him "Well, I'm a single parent and make the exact same wages as all these guys.  And, no, I don't quite have $30k in the bank (I left out that that was because I contributed a large portion to my retirement fund, and had just spent most my cash on a purchase of acreage.)  ETA: in that same conversation, I told the kid I'd been working since I was in fifth grade, but no one has ever given me money (so no inheritance or anything).

Some were just into making fun of me any way they could, so I didn't engage except maybe an occasional "different priorities" comment, or with the comments about my vacations that "must be nice" something like "well, that's what driving a rust-bucket can get you". 

My current crew actually has productive and interesting conversations around money.  They know more of my details than those in the past.  They also know that as soon as I hit my years (but not my age), I'm going to be putting in for any early retirement that comes around.  I'll be mid-40s, and while most are still completely shocked, there are a couple who get it and wish they would have set themselves up the same way.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2021, 01:37:59 PM by sparkytheop »

samanil

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #57 on: May 17, 2021, 01:47:05 PM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

That's an interesting approach. What makes me hesitant about that is it could cause envy and resentment in others.

Malcat

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #58 on: May 17, 2021, 01:57:54 PM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

That's an interesting approach. What makes me hesitant about that is it could cause envy and resentment in others.

It could, or it could not. It's really not effective to try and control people's responses to you though, you don't really have that power. The best thing you can do is just be clear in what you are willing to share and what you want to project about yourself.

You can't live in fear of people judging you based on what you do and say because there's no way to get through life without triggering negative feelings and responses in others.

Some people will judge you for what you have, some people will judge you for what you don't have. If you are genuinely a decent person, then only assholes will judge you and it's a waste of energy to worry about what they think.

Be a good, respectful person, have boundaries, and don't be afraid of being judged for living the way you believe in.

Morning Glory

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #59 on: May 17, 2021, 06:22:56 PM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

That's an interesting approach. What makes me hesitant about that is it could cause envy and resentment in others.

It could, or it could not. It's really not effective to try and control people's responses to you though, you don't really have that power. The best thing you can do is just be clear in what you are willing to share and what you want to project about yourself.

You can't live in fear of people judging you based on what you do and say because there's no way to get through life without triggering negative feelings and responses in others.

Some people will judge you for what you have, some people will judge you for what you don't have. If you are genuinely a decent person, then only assholes will judge you and it's a waste of energy to worry about what they think.

Be a good, respectful person, have boundaries, and don't be afraid of being judged for living the way you believe in.

Listen to Malcat!
 I have an example from my own life that might help. My  friend recently made a purchase that I would not have chosen to make, even if I had twice as much money.  I didn't say that, I just congratulated him on the purchase because I know he really wanted it and can afford it and generally makes good decisions and actually likes his job and doesn't to my knowledge hang around on personal finance forums where they frown on such things. Even if I thought he was making a really bad decision I would be very careful about the way in which I said something because it's not my fucking place

 It is not right for your boss to give you shit about what you choose to do with your money. It's bad manners. I'm not the most socially gracious or aware person and I freaking know that. You earned the money, it's not his any more.

Malcat

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #60 on: May 17, 2021, 07:15:19 PM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

That's an interesting approach. What makes me hesitant about that is it could cause envy and resentment in others.

It could, or it could not. It's really not effective to try and control people's responses to you though, you don't really have that power. The best thing you can do is just be clear in what you are willing to share and what you want to project about yourself.

You can't live in fear of people judging you based on what you do and say because there's no way to get through life without triggering negative feelings and responses in others.

Some people will judge you for what you have, some people will judge you for what you don't have. If you are genuinely a decent person, then only assholes will judge you and it's a waste of energy to worry about what they think.

Be a good, respectful person, have boundaries, and don't be afraid of being judged for living the way you believe in.

Listen to Malcat!
 I have an example from my own life that might help. My  friend recently made a purchase that I would not have chosen to make, even if I had twice as much money.  I didn't say that, I just congratulated him on the purchase because I know he really wanted it and can afford it and generally makes good decisions and actually likes his job and doesn't to my knowledge hang around on personal finance forums where they frown on such things. Even if I thought he was making a really bad decision I would be very careful about the way in which I said something because it's not my fucking place

 It is not right for your boss to give you shit about what you choose to do with your money. It's bad manners. I'm not the most socially gracious or aware person and I freaking know that. You earned the money, it's not his any more.

Again I'm going to give a counter example to prove my point.

Not saying anything about the large purchase is just one form of boundary to have, and there's nothing wrong with it.

In contrast, I have a very different relationship with my friends and would feel totally comfortable saying "holy fuck, I can't believe you spent that much, to me, that seems insane".

However, anyone who is my friend knows that I come from a place of profound respect. They know that what I mean is "I don't understand why you made that decision, I want to understand you". They know that because it's part of my boundaries that I make that clear to people.

My response isn't better or worse than Morning Glory's, we are just different people who manifest our respect for people in different ways. Anyone who knows either of us well enough would know we come from a place of love and respect.

The point is that there is no correct way to behave, there's just the way that honestly represents you as a good person. As long as you are consistently caring and respectful, the details of how you do that don't really matter at the end of the day.

Yes I piss people off, so does Morning Glory, so does everyone else. It's unavoidable. However, you will always garner the MOST respect that you can in this world if you staunchly live with integrity. And what that looks like in terms of behaviour is very individual.

Your boundaries and how you engage in conflict are how you communicate your level of integrity to the world. High integrity equals very strong boundaries. You cannot have integrity without strong boundaries.

samanil

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #61 on: May 19, 2021, 08:18:16 AM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

That's an interesting approach. What makes me hesitant about that is it could cause envy and resentment in others.

It could, or it could not. It's really not effective to try and control people's responses to you though, you don't really have that power. The best thing you can do is just be clear in what you are willing to share and what you want to project about yourself.

You can't live in fear of people judging you based on what you do and say because there's no way to get through life without triggering negative feelings and responses in others.

Some people will judge you for what you have, some people will judge you for what you don't have. If you are genuinely a decent person, then only assholes will judge you and it's a waste of energy to worry about what they think.

Be a good, respectful person, have boundaries, and don't be afraid of being judged for living the way you believe in.

Very well put! I agree, however I believe the fear stems from the fact that he is in control of the money that flows into my account ever other week. If he is resentful, maybe he would be less likely to give me a raise in the future.  Hence why I believe having 250k in the bank would make it much easier for me to implement these behaviors. Don't you think there is a degree of rationality in being fearful/censoring yourself with the person who has their hand on the money lever? Isn't that one of the big reasons for FIRE, so people can get over that dynamic? Not just philosophically, but practically, in the form of fuck you money?

Rosy

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #62 on: May 19, 2021, 10:04:05 AM »
You know your boss may treat you differently because you are different from his other four employees. He seems to value your contribution to the company or he wouldn't have given you a $5 raise p/h.
So what if he rags you a bit, it's a small company, he's probably surprised by and impressed with your savings rates.

I would definitely remind him now and then that a 401K is absolutely private financial information and that you certainly wouldn't want your co-workers to know about your private business.
Also, I'd say something to the effect that we all have different lifestyles and goals and yours happens to be focused on saving as much as you can while you are young and single without family obligations.

To his tool comment, I'd just say, "yup, you're right, I still want/need to buy more tools", but you know that the other guys have even less since they always borrow mine. They spend their money on cigarettes or whatever, I on the other hand have savings goals. Different priorities, that's all.
Some people are just not big spenders...

There is no reason to come across even remotely confrontational. Your situation is something easily addressed with polite but clear responses.
The cat is out of the bag on you maxing out your 401K contributions, so roll with it.
It's a good thing, be proud of it. You can say (or even sigh for effect:) that it ain't easy but that you are committed to your goals.
You are planning for your future, period - shrug, smile, leave it at that.

CONGRATS on making $100K happen so quickly by adding side-gigs and maintaining relentless focus.
While I like the term FU money I tend to think more in terms of FI means freedom and that is all I ever wanted.

Malcat

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Re: Boss sees my 401k contributions, treats me differently
« Reply #63 on: May 19, 2021, 12:29:37 PM »
I'll take a somewhat different tack on the situation.  Yes, boundaries are important, and you should decide where those boundaries are, and enforce them.  That said...

Your boss makes those comments because your behavior is outside the norm.  And I see it as an opportunity to evangelize without getting preachy.  For example, you could say something like "You're right, it's a lot.  Every paycheck, my retirement moves two weeks earlier!"

That's an interesting approach. What makes me hesitant about that is it could cause envy and resentment in others.

It could, or it could not. It's really not effective to try and control people's responses to you though, you don't really have that power. The best thing you can do is just be clear in what you are willing to share and what you want to project about yourself.

You can't live in fear of people judging you based on what you do and say because there's no way to get through life without triggering negative feelings and responses in others.

Some people will judge you for what you have, some people will judge you for what you don't have. If you are genuinely a decent person, then only assholes will judge you and it's a waste of energy to worry about what they think.

Be a good, respectful person, have boundaries, and don't be afraid of being judged for living the way you believe in.

Very well put! I agree, however I believe the fear stems from the fact that he is in control of the money that flows into my account ever other week. If he is resentful, maybe he would be less likely to give me a raise in the future.  Hence why I believe having 250k in the bank would make it much easier for me to implement these behaviors. Don't you think there is a degree of rationality in being fearful/censoring yourself with the person who has their hand on the money lever? Isn't that one of the big reasons for FIRE, so people can get over that dynamic? Not just philosophically, but practically, in the form of fuck you money?

Repeat after me: "I cannot control how my boss reacts to my autonomous, personal decisions".

Yes, financial security and FU money really do make it easier to stop worrying about the reactions of people that you can't control, but it isn't necessary.

Most people who figure out not to obsess about how others will react to things end up far more successful in their careers in the first place. That's why so many people spontaneously start excelling at work once they are financially secure, they feel comfortable enough to behave like a confident successful person behaves.

Focus on communicating respect to your boss, not worrying about what his reactions might be to petty little nonsense things.

When I tell you to engage in constructive conflict and establish boundaries, that doesn't mean get in a fight with him and tell him to mind his own business.

If you want to get the best result, then learning how to engage in conflict respectfully and maturely is your best bet.

So yes, there is a healthy level of concern for maintaining an excellent relationship with your employer, and learning how to communicate effectively is your best strategy for doing so.

At the end of the day though, you have no control over how they react, no matter what you do. So trying to do so is a HUGE waste of time.

The difference between caring about outcomes and caring about reactions is somewhat nuanced, but an important one to learn.