demaerre / iStock.com
With the rise of social media, the lines between public and private life have become blurred. Topics that were once taboo are now being openly discussed on various social platforms, but when it comes to money, what is and isn’t OK to share? And, what is and isn’t OK to ask?
Here It Is: Our 2022 Small Business Spotlight
Find Out: 7 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Reach Your Retirement Goals
“Money is a very touchy subject! Overall, it’s best to avoid talking about money or finances with others,” said Julia Esteve Boyd, The Etiquette Consultant. “However, some cultures are very direct when it comes to this topic, so this can be problematic — and the same goes for social media because we are now connecting with people from all over the world. I would say, though, that there are always exceptions as there are with most ‘rules of etiquette.’ It could be a different scenario for an influencer, or if your personal brand/image is dependent on showing a public display of material possessions or lifestyle.”
GOBankingRates chatted with Esteve Boyd and more etiquette experts about money and social media, and whether or not the two should mix.
Is It Ever OK To Post About How Much You Spent on Something?
It’s become commonplace to post about everything from your morning latte to your new sneakers, but is it ever OK to share how much you paid for these things?
“There are so many factors that should be considered when posting price on social media,” said Jodi RR Smith, an etiquette consultant with Mannersmith. “The first to consider is, what is your motivation? Are you sharing how you scored a great deal on a trendy item? Are you trying to evoke jealously? Prove you are a success? People are often funny about money. You should think twice before automatically posting dollar amounts. Once you post, this then invites comments, some of which you may appreciate more than others.”
Esteve Boyd said to especially think twice about posting the cost of a pricey item.
“Some people will judge you if you spend more money on an article than they would,” she said. “It can be perceived as pretentious. There’s no shame in being able to afford an expensive item or showing the item on social media — i.e. a luxury handbag — but if you actively tell others the price, it can seem ostentatious, especially now that many people are suffering due to the cost of living rising. We are usually connecting with a broad spectrum of people with different finances, so sharing too much information can be considered boastful or tactless.”
Take Our Poll: Do You Tip for Service?
Esteve Boyd said it can be OK to share how much you spent on something if you’re sharing a good deal you got.
“After all, everyone loves a bargain,” she said. “If you share a great bargain, you are less likely to cause offense, resentment, jealousy, anger or any of the emotions people may feel when you share your luxury spending spree. You are perhaps sharing something that is more attainable.”
Maryanne Parker, an etiquette and protocol consultant with Manor of Manners, also believes that it’s OK to share prices if you got a good deal and are sharing the price with the intention of benefiting others.
“Sharing price tags on items, services or vacation packages might be a potential favor for some of your friends on social media, especially if we receive many messages or e-mails asking how much we spent for a particular item, service or vacation,” she said. “When this information is shared in a tasteful way, this can be very beneficial. For example: ‘Hi everyone! Many people have asked about my current vacation to The Caribbean. We booked the trip through so and so, they were extremely helpful and kind. [Although the trip] looks very luxurious, the price was one-third of the anticipated one. Highly recommended!’”
However, in general, Esteve Boyd recommends not sharing prices on social media.
“I would choose not to share the price of anything on social media,” she said. “I may share the purchase, just not the price — whether a bargain or not.”
Mona Zegarelli, M.S., a modern etiquette and communication expert and financial advisor, believes it’s fine to post about large purchases, but doesn’t recommend including information about how much you paid for them.
“It is a wonderful idea to post about achieving a goal, such as, ‘I worked and saved, and now I finally get to enjoy my new laptop!’ Or to post something like, ‘Bonus time at work means a new bag for me!’” she said. “Your friends and followers want to celebrate your happiness, but giving a price could take away from the real point of the post.”
Can You Ask Someone How Much They Paid for Something They Posted About It on Social Media?
If someone shares a recent purchase or photos of a trip they took on social media, is it fair game to ask them how much they paid for it?
“You can ask — they might not answer!” Esteve Boyd said. “Nowadays, there are some gray lines when it comes to social media etiquette. We can chat on social media with people that we admire and follow, and it feels as if we are friends, but the reality is different — we usually don’t know one another at all. Some influencers and brands really connect with their followers so would be happy to share; others will perhaps choose not to respond.”
Esteve Boyd said whether or not you can ask depends on how close you are with the poster.
“If you feel you have a strong connection with someone, then go ahead and ask,” she said. “Friends will usually be happy to share — close friends anyway. Again, as I mentioned, the world of social media has lured people into believing that because someone responds to their comments that they are indeed friends, but the reality is that nine times out of 10 they aren’t! Use caution with strangers or you can risk causing offense or embarrassment.”
If you do decide to ask someone how much they paid for something, it’s best to do so via a private message, Esteve Boyd said.
“If you ask in a public comment, the person may feel uncomfortable having to respond,” she said. “Asking privately means they can choose to tell you or not, but without the awkwardness of sharing with the world and risking judgment.”
Zegarelli said to be mindful of how you ask as well.
“Consider using phrases like, ‘Your new sunglasses are amazing! Could I ask where you purchased them? Any advice on how to find a great price on a pair for myself?’” she said. “If a person is posting about a purchase or something they love, then most often they would welcome a private message to learn how they found it. But if they do not respond, then do not ask again.”
Parker, however, believes it is never acceptable to ask someone how much they paid for something, whether they posted about it on social media or not.
“Asking somebody how much they paid for something is never appropriate — we cannot ask friends, relatives or strangers,” she said. “This is truly a personal matter.”
More From GOBankingRates