Author Topic: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?  (Read 4361 times)

geo_kale

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Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« on: May 30, 2017, 12:23:18 PM »
Hello all!

My boyfriend and I work for a small organization (about 100 employees) and for the past 9 months we have been the weirdos talking everyone's ears off about personal finance. We've had some interest from certain co-workers who ask for resources and guidance around topics like tracking expenses, budgeting and investing.

We really like our co-workers and get energized talking to them about these topics. We're thinking of starting a 5 o'clock Finance Club of sorts. This would be an after-hours gathering about once a month held at either a local park, our home or one of the facilities available at our workplace. We're thinking about putting together a curriculum starting with the basics such as "where is your money going" and graduating to topics like investing and basic tax knowledge, etc. It'd be like a book club that includes blog post reading, podcast listening and open discussion.

Keep in mind that these individuals aren't from the FIRE community...but may be future converts >:)

1. Has anyone else done something similar with their friends or colleagues?

2. What should we be thinking about? (Best practices/words of wisdom before we dive-in?)

3. Suggested resources? We've targeted the following: Your Money or Your Life, The Simple Path to Wealth, Common Sense Investing // Mad Fientist Podcast, Choose FI, Radical Personal Finance // Blog posts pertaining to the various topics we'll be discussing

boulder3381

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 12:48:28 PM »
My wife and I have FI conversation club with friends.  We disclose real numbers on income. Debt. Yearly expenses.   We've talked about our family history around money, why pursue FI,    vision of fi life.   None of above would I have shared at work.     

At work I started an FI. Slack channel to share article s. And information regarding our company's benefits and how I am or others are using benefits to Max.

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talltexan

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 12:50:45 PM »
I'm amazed at the things my co-workers are willing to share, as well as the things we aren't. %'s on 401(k)'s and mortgage rates seem fine.

Salaries and account balances don't.

Although one of my co-workers mentioned he owed ~$14,000 on a line of credit. It's like debt is okay, but positive balances aren't.

solon

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2017, 01:07:02 PM »
I think it's a great idea and I'd love to be involved with something like this at my work.

Just be prepared for some hard feelings when salary numbers start to come out.

geo_kale

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2017, 05:04:11 PM »
My wife and I have FI conversation club with friends.  We disclose real numbers on income. Debt. Yearly expenses.   We've talked about our family history around money, why pursue FI,    vision of fi life.   None of above would I have shared at work.     

I'm amazed at the things my co-workers are willing to share, as well as the things we aren't. %'s on 401(k)'s and mortgage rates seem fine.

Salaries and account balances don't.

Just be prepared for some hard feelings when salary numbers start to come out.


Good points about not sharing real numbers like salaries with co-workers. This is something I'll mention in the introductory meeting.

I definitely want to avoid hard feelings/comparisons/judgment

Abo345

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2017, 08:36:02 PM »
I would be careful doing a personal finance club at work. As others said, salary info or implying who gets paid more or less through discussions will create resentment. I work for an evil mega-corporation with a ton of politics and pettiness so other things to think about:

If the personal finance club were to be endorsed by management it could be misconstrued by some as a way to justify not giving better bonuses, benefits, etc. Someone is upset they got denied a raise? Manager tells them you don't need a higher salary, just go to the finance club and give up things like cable, eating out, buying stuff  you will be fine!

People with workaholic mentalities will see early retirement as not committed to the company, your job. They will not get it.

"why did so and so get the promotion instead of me? They have more savings and are planning on retiring by 40, they don't even need the money!"

Layoffs are coming up? Well if everyone knows you don't really need the money and have a nice cushy rainy day fund, well then it won't be a big deal if we lay you off instead of your other coworker who sucks at work but really "needs" the money and might lose their house if they miss a paycheck

Overall, I see it as a strength to not reveal all your cards so to speak at work. Investing clubs are fine, but personal finance clubs go into the too personal for work territory.

Zamboni

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2017, 09:01:12 PM »
I would not disclose my financial details to co-workers for some of the reasons that Abo345 mentioned above. Also, I once had a psycho boss who over time turned every piece of personal information she had about employees into gossip and twisted ammo in her petty battles . . . so now I don't share much at work.

We did have a scifi book club one place I worked that was fun, though. So I'm not against all work-related clubs.

marble_faun

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2017, 09:13:11 PM »
Yes -- your situation may be unique, but I would generally avoid running a personal finance club at work.

You all have the same employer, so you presumably have similar opportunities for advancement, salary increases, etc. However, different people will probably be in very different financial positions. That could get awkward right off the bat and raise a lot of resentment.

I might reduce opportunities for group discussion -- maybe create an email list for interested people, and send out an article or other worthy link to read once a week, planning it out for the year and creating a kind of syllabus. 

That of course reduces the social aspect you were going for, but it might be for the best.

mamagoose

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2017, 09:16:19 PM »
You could always host said group at your home instead of at work, and invite non-coworkers as well.

geo_kale

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2017, 10:09:26 PM »
Thanks for the feedback about potential pitfalls....I've never felt happier to work in government :)

We're all from very different departments and skill-sets including wastewater, civil engineering, community development, IT, etc. I believe this eliminates the workplace competition aspect that a few people mentioned.

The club/gathering will definitely be after-hours with no endorsement from our employer.

Based on the feedback we will definitely not be sharing numbers, and I think we'll keep it small - only inviting those who have shown a real interest in the subject.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2017, 10:20:51 AM »
I would be careful doing a personal finance club at work. As others said, salary info or implying who gets paid more or less through discussions will create resentment. I work for an evil mega-corporation with a ton of politics and pettiness so other things to think about:

If the personal finance club were to be endorsed by management it could be misconstrued by some as a way to justify not giving better bonuses, benefits, etc. Someone is upset they got denied a raise? Manager tells them you don't need a higher salary, just go to the finance club and give up things like cable, eating out, buying stuff  you will be fine!

People with workaholic mentalities will see early retirement as not committed to the company, your job. They will not get it.

"why did so and so get the promotion instead of me? They have more savings and are planning on retiring by 40, they don't even need the money!"

Layoffs are coming up? Well if everyone knows you don't really need the money and have a nice cushy rainy day fund, well then it won't be a big deal if we lay you off instead of your other coworker who sucks at work but really "needs" the money and might lose their house if they miss a paycheck

Overall, I see it as a strength to not reveal all your cards so to speak at work. Investing clubs are fine, but personal finance clubs go into the too personal for work territory.

+1

Case

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2017, 02:28:18 PM »
Thanks for the feedback about potential pitfalls....I've never felt happier to work in government :)

We're all from very different departments and skill-sets including wastewater, civil engineering, community development, IT, etc. I believe this eliminates the workplace competition aspect that a few people mentioned.

The club/gathering will definitely be after-hours with no endorsement from our employer.

Based on the feedback we will definitely not be sharing numbers, and I think we'll keep it small - only inviting those who have shown a real interest in the subject.


The problem with your plan is the personal part of the finance club.  Were it just a finance club in general, an investments club, etc... it would not be a big problem.  But by sharing any personal information or life goals that might be unalligned with the workplace, you open yourself to risk.  Is it a big risk?  That only you can determine; you have indicated a govt job, presumably with job security.  Perhaps risk is minimal.  Nonetheless, there is some risk, and so people here are risk averse and will advise otherwise.

Another aspect is that some people see work friends and RL friends as separate categories.  This again comes to risk, as well as the aspect that work friends can sometimes be forced relationships.  Again, only you can determine where you are here. 

The point is, to minimize risk, it's best not to shit where you eat.  Who knows how your relationships with oru friends/coworkers will change with time.  Who knows how real your job security is, even if it is a govt position.  I would fathom that the most common reason people here want to FIRE is that they dislike being attached to their jobs, and that there is a general feeling of distrust of the employer (can fire the worker whenever it wants).  Therefore, people here find solace by escaping as soon as possible, by saving up and minimizing risk in order to do this.  The reason I explain this is to explain how your plan is to some degree is at odds with this, or at least at odds with many mustachians.

Anyways, this is not meant as a criticism, but rather to play devil's advocate.  Hindsight is 20/20.  It seems that your intentions are either altruistic or social in nature.  These are good things, no doubt. 
« Last Edit: May 31, 2017, 03:07:19 PM by Case »

geo_kale

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2017, 07:06:00 PM »
Anyways, this is not meant as a criticism, but rather to play devil's advocate.  Hindsight is 20/20.  It seems that your intentions are either altruistic or social in nature.  These are good things, no doubt. 

Absolutely, and I appreciate you taking the time! Thus the reason I posed the question here. It's always nice to crowdsource advice, especially when the heart of my post is: "Am I being naive?". Majority answer = "YES". #storyofmylife :)

talltexan

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2017, 07:11:50 AM »
I should acknowledge that I was clued into the MMM community by a co-worker. I've had the most luck getting other co-workers excited about it when MMM wrote his brilliant refutation of the "If you're saving money in your 20's, you're doing it wrong" elite daily piece that was circulating a while ago.

My co-workers are fairly open about personal finance stuff, though. We're weird like that.

geo_kale

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2017, 08:18:41 AM »
I should acknowledge that I was clued into the MMM community by a co-worker. I've had the most luck getting other co-workers excited about it when MMM wrote his brilliant refutation of the "If you're saving money in your 20's, you're doing it wrong" elite daily piece that was circulating a while ago.

My co-workers are fairly open about personal finance stuff, though. We're weird like that.

Thanks for mentioning that article. I sort of remember the MMM version, but I don't think I ever read the Elite Daily original. I searched for Elite Daily's and only read the first two sentences before becoming very agitated. I'm looking forward to suffering through that one in full before re-reading MMM's response.

catccc

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2017, 08:23:31 AM »
Generally I agree with Abo345.  It could get weird. 

A year or so ago, my coworkers were discussing whether there was a cap on the 401K contributions as a % of income, someone stated it was 20%, I knew for a fact that it wasn't, so I said as much.  "No, if there's a cap, it's not 20%, because I put in more than 20% last year."  Then they all looked at me and it got weird for a few seconds.  I know what they were thinking.  "The sole breadwinner supporting her family of 4 can afford to put more than 20% of her salary into her 401K?" 

At the time, one of my coworkers knew I was interested in part time work and early retirement in the future, but I don't think she knows the extent/proximity of it.  Also, that same coworker is now my boss.  Luckily, she's cool so I don't think any of this poses a genuine problem.  But I could see other situations when it could.

Mgmny

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2017, 08:38:33 AM »
A year or so ago, my coworkers were discussing whether there was a cap on the 401K contributions as a % of income, someone stated it was 20%, I knew for a fact that it wasn't, so I said as much.  "No, if there's a cap, it's not 20%, because I put in more than 20% last year."  Then they all looked at me and it got weird for a few seconds.  I know what they were thinking.  "The sole breadwinner supporting her family of 4 can afford to put more than 20% of her salary into her 401K?" 

Alternatively, they could have been thinking, "Well, we know she makes less than $90,000 now." Because 20% of 90k WOULD be the cap in $. Maybe you're not in a position where those around you COULD be making $90k, but if it were possible, they could be thinking that.

I love talking about these things (at work or otherwise), and i've had people say things like, "My financial advisor told me to put 8% of my paycheck toward a Roth IRA to get the maximum benefit." What they don't realize is that by disclosing the percent, they've essentially told me they were salaried at $70k. You need to be tuned into maxes, caps, etc which the average person isn't, but still possible to extrapolate that information.

I am personally A OK with sharing my income with colleagues - if they ask, I tell. I typically don't ask my colleagues their income, because i know there is a traditional stigma from most people, but I am a firm believer that information is power. If someone asks me their income, i tell them and ask theirs.

catccc

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2017, 01:56:07 PM »
Alternatively, they could have been thinking, "Well, we know she makes less than $90,000 now." Because 20% of 90k WOULD be the cap in $. Maybe you're not in a position where those around you COULD be making $90k, but if it were possible, they could be thinking that.

I work in the accounting department and my coworkers all think along the lines of extrapolating things all the time, its in their nature.  I don't care if they know how much I make, it's in line with what everyone would expect.  (I actually am privy to everyone's salaries.)  I think mostly they just think I'm a weirdo for being so frugal.  Like I said, it isn't much of an issue for me, but it might be for others in different position.

LukeS

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2017, 03:21:03 PM »
Most of my coworkers are pretty open with asking or telling about finances - 401k contributions/balance, home price or rent, savings, alimony, auto finance or purchase price, credit cards, etc. But we all work under the same contract so we pretty well know what pay and benefits everyone has - it is probably harder to resent someone for doing well when they make the same wage and bennies as you.

I like the idea of that sort of club, I am going to see if anything like that exists in my area!
« Last Edit: June 04, 2017, 03:23:36 PM by LukeS »

Proud Foot

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2017, 12:41:24 PM »
I think something like that could be a good thing to do.  You could cover a lot of material and have good discussions without even bringing up salaries.  You could even make it a policy to not discuss salaries to keep from discouraging others or creating jealousy, resentment, other issues.  Anything from digging into the details of your benefits every year at enrollment time (HSA vs FSA, health insurance plans, dependent care accounts), learning the ins and outs of your 401k plans (matches, vesting, investments, etc). You could even get into details of how to save money on different expenses (groceries, cell phones, insurance).  All these could be discussed in depth without needing to discuss salaries.

talltexan

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Re: Personal Finance Club with Co-Workers?
« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2017, 06:54:01 AM »
I'm 37, and most of my co-workers were in their mid-50's, so I started multiplying all amounts of money by six whenever I spoke to them to reflect the time-difference via market returns.

So Ed enjoyed a delicious, frugal $9 lunch, while I had a hopelessly irresponsible $54 lunch (and we ordered the same thing).