The Nude Selfie Of Personal Finance

Nude selfie 600 covered mac

The signs in the gym locker room are clear: Picture taking in the men’s room is strictly prohibited. Please inform the front desk of violations.

Yet every once in a while, some beefcake dude will stand there in front of the locker room mirror, whip out his phone, and snap a selfie.

I sort of get it. Taking pictures en route to a goal is a useful way to track progress. In body building that makes sense, chronicling the pursuit of ripped abs and big muscles.

For Mrs. RBD’s first pregnancy, we took a weekly belly picture. For each of our three kids, we photographed them next to a stuffed animal every month to track their amazing growth over the first year. We did this in the privacy of our own home.

Not these guys… they’re smack dab in the middle of the locker room, prime time Monday evening. I guess the camera can’t wait to capture chiseled muscles after an intense workout and fresh tan. Who needs privacy?

But, come on, a nude selfie in the locker room? Maybe these selfies are about more than fitness. Maybe they’re posting these online… Oh no, I just googled it, that was a bad idea. It’s definitely a thing. DO NOT google it.

Net Worth – The Nude Selfie of Personal Finance

My interests and goals revolve around family, travel, and building wealth.

For chronicling our lives we have a sweet SLR camerato take pictures and videos of our rapidly growing kids. Our travel photo albums contain shots from 45 countries around the world (here’re a few pictures).

And we use a free tool called Personal Capital to take a snapshot of our net worth every day. 

Tracking your net worth is like taking a nude selfie because it’s a snapshot of your financial life, in the buff. It’s full frontal exposure. Nothing is hidden.

The process of calculating it involves gathering all of your assets and debts in one place. Subtract one from the other and that’s your net worth. But the number isn’t the key.

The key is understanding and controlling all of the components. Taking a regular net worth selfie helps you take control of your financial life. That is what’s empowering about tracking net worth.

For a quick guide to calculating your own net worth, read this.

Sharing Net Worth Online?

I’m proud of our family and the kids are ridiculously cute and photogenic. So on occasion, we share a few pictures with our friends on Facebook. And we posted photo albums of our honeymoon in Asia and trip to Central America.

Net worth is the nude selfie of personal finance. Learn why, and how to calculate and grow yours. But I am far too bashful to post our net worth on the internet. I feel naked and vulnerable enough sharing my stock portfolio and some of the good and not-so-stellar financial calls I make from time to time. Sharing our net worth online would feel like posting a nude selfie to Facebook.

Our family’s net worth is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I consider it my life’s work. Jobs and careers come and go. Net worth is a constant wealth measuring stick.

Think of net worth as a carefully crafted machine running on compound interest, gaining speed as you navigate the rolling hills of life.

For now, at least, our family’s net worth remains hidden behind pasties.

But not everyone is so bashful. Did you know there’s a group of 200+ financial bloggers who share their net worth on the internet?

The ultimate nudist colony of net worth sharers can be found on the Rockstar Finance blogger net worth page. Bloggers from all walks of life, the fit and the financially flabby, fully expose their financial physiques to the world.

Regardless of financial girth, these are proud people who share their progress because they’ve chosen a better future through financial responsibility. And they aren’t afraid to show the washboard abs of success and stretch marks of poor decision making.

Sharing helps to keep them motivated and accountable while pursuing their financial goals. And their nude selfies inspire others to improve their own financial lives.

Some are spreadsheet wizards. Many others use Personal Capital to track progress and share the various charts and elaborate forecasting models.

But not all net worth exposure on the internet is consensual.

Magazine Probes the Lives of Wealthy Americans

You’ve all heard of the Forbes 400 Wealthiest Americans list. Each year, the reporters at Forbes Magazine dig deep into the lives of the richest Americans to estimate their net worths and publish the rankings.

The magazine says some billionaires open up their financial lives to the editors to help with the process. Others are less cooperative.

Presumably, most of these billionaires prefer financial privacy. Instead, they cope with the magazine prying into their financial lives every year in the name of selling magazines and internet ads.

Kind of intrusive, don’t you think?

Reminds me of some other people who pry into the lives of the rich and famous.

Remember the massive iPhone hack that netted nude selfies of dozens of celebrities? Hackers found their way into the iCloud photo accounts of targeted women celebrities and published private photos online. The celebrity victims certainly didn’t want those shared with the world.

Granted, plenty of celebrities (and probably a few billionaires) have willingly shared nude pictures when they want to. It comes down to personal choice and control over the decision to share.

And that’s what must be frustrating to the billionaires about Forbes conducting this annual exercise. Even though the information is sourced from the public domain (i.e. public real estate, court records, SEC filings etc) with journalistic integrity, the results may not be accurate and are not endorsed by all the ranked billionaires. Yet the estimated net worths are published for the world to read.

You could defend Forbes by saying, “I have little sympathy for billionaires. And If I were that rich, I’d want the world to know!”

But that’s like saying, “Hey, that actress is hot. So she should be proud to show it off.”

Wrong as both may be, the masses still want to look. So as long as there’s an audience, somebody will find a way to provide the goods and profit from it.

The Rear End

I’m scrawny. So it makes zero sense to report selfie-taking body builders to the front desk and risk my well-being. Maybe these guys are just so focused on their fitness goals that they’re oblivious to how inappropriate they are.

I can relate I suppose. I check my net worth at inappropriate moments of the day and don’t think twice about it. It’s easy, right from my smartphone. So I’ll whip it out and take a look while waiting at the doctor’s office, watching cartoons with the kids, or even at the gym.

But I certainly don’t share it in the locker room or post it on the internet. That takes balls.

Are you a part of the net worth nudist colony? What’s it like sharing your financial nude selfie for the world to see?

Featured photo via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain. Minor alteration.

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39 Responses to The Nude Selfie Of Personal Finance

  1. John C @ Action Economics August 24, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    I struggled for about two years with deciding whether or not to share my net worth. I started out sharing our growth of savings in terms of percentages, but it felt too vague and didn’t seem like it would be helpful to readers. I think people can get more value from my story if they can see the setbacks and advances in real time. I actually wish I had started sharing my actual numbers earlier. It isn’t to brag, or to have others feel sorry for me (depending on each persons perception), it is to show that it is possible to make changes and to improve over time, that it is possible to earn a modest income, raise 4 kids and still build a sizable net worth over time. At first I thought sharing our net worth might affect how friends and family treat us who know about the blog, but it didn’t. No one read a net worth post and thought , oh, John is loaded, let’s try to mooch off of him. Everyone I know offline is aware that I live fairly frugally and put a focus on improving my personal finances, and that I have for over a decade. I don’t think my net worth is a surprise to any of these people. It also shows directly how frugal I am in some areas. It shows that I am paying off the house aggressively. It shows that I am saving for retirement aggressively, and that I am driving an extremely modest vehicle in terms of income and assets.

    It’s a very personal decision to share these types of financial details, but ultimately I decided that it would be more beneficial to myself and to my readers to share. I share a snapshot every quarter, and compare it to the previous quarter.

    • Retire Before Dad August 24, 2016 at 8:35 am #

      John C,
      Thanks a lot for sharing your perspective. That’s awesome you’re seeing a benefit to sharing and it’s helping you to motivate you to reach your goal. It’s a very personal choice, and you are braver that I. From what you’ve said here, it makes me want to reconsider joining the colony.
      -RBD

  2. TheMoneyMine August 24, 2016 at 8:25 am #

    Excellent write up!
    I am not part of the personal finance nudist but I’ve thought about it several times. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve seen many bloggers publish their net worth and while it can be a motivation for some, I’ve always wondered if that would put others off. As in “they can’t relate with that number”.
    What I prefer to do instead is show progression and I’ve got a few posts in the works on that topic. Actual numbers aren’t as important as showing how making some decisions can impact the trend and make the net worth grow faster.
    In that regard, I like how Financial Samurai does it : it’s not in your face numbers, but he drops many hints here and there on how this works for him, for long time readers to have an idea, but just an idea, of how much is net worth is.

    • Retire Before Dad August 24, 2016 at 8:38 am #

      Money Mine,
      Good to hear from a fellow modest blogger. Yeah, I think they are ways to drop a lot of hints about where you stand financially. If someone poked around my blog enough, they could probably come up with a Forbes-esque estimate of my net worth. Don’t think any readers are that bored. I’m a big fan of the Samuari and the way he presents his personal finances. One of my favs!
      -RBD

  3. Ray Ray August 24, 2016 at 8:34 am #

    I let it all hang out 😉 but I do understand that some people are more bashful than others.

    • Retire Before Dad August 24, 2016 at 8:39 am #

      Ray Ray… Maybe you should join my gym!

    • Tim August 30, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

      I’m with Ray!! LOL

  4. brian503 August 24, 2016 at 8:34 am #

    lol. I never compared sharing my net worth to a nude selfie. I will not be sharing any revealing photos of myself. I do however share some photos of my life from time to time.

    We track a monthly budget and our net worth, to different view of our money. A day-to-day and the 10,000 foot view. I share it to be accountable to myself and family. I also like to get feedback from the community. I also think it’s important to be honest with my readers good or bad with how we are handling our money. If I’m going to offer advice on how to get out of debt, I think I should be transparent with my own cash.

    • Retire Before Dad August 24, 2016 at 8:43 am #

      DD,
      Good points. Transparency is important here on the Internet. I try to be transparent about my investments and some of the good and bad things I’ve done with money. Sometimes people believe that if someone has a blog they must know what they’re doing. That’s a cool thing about the nudist colony. No one claims to be an expert. Each share is a personal story saying, “here’s what I’m doing and here’s what actions I’m taking each day to improve my finances”.
      -RBD

  5. Dani August 24, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    As a reader and maybesomedaywannabe blogger, I see immense value in the real numbers. I follow many financial blogs (and they get jumbled in my head, but there’s a ton of good stuff, and the nuggets stand out), and I think it’s Paula Pant that posts her monthly income? I find it immensely helpful to see the numbers of someone who has invested in real estate and really is making it work, but also keeping it real.

    After reading the comments, I think I may need to go check out Samurai, now!

    • Retire Before Dad August 26, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      Dani,
      Thanks for being a reader. Yeah, so many different bloggers share what they do in different ways. Business income is always fascinating to me as well. The key to be successful in blogger (if you choose to become a blogger), is to be different by providing readers your own point of view. And keep in mind the adage that people go on the internet for 2 reasons, to solve problems and to be entertained. That’s what I strive to do here.
      -RBD

  6. Financial Velociraptor August 24, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    I share my NW monthly on the blog but I blog under a false name so I don’t feel too exposed.

  7. Tawcan August 24, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    I have been sharing more info about my life in n my blog lately but won’t be sharing our net worth anytime soon. That was one of the rules I set before starting my blog – not sharing net worth numbers.

    We only track our net worth every quarter via a spreadsheet. So definitely can’t just wip out my phone and check.

    • Retire Before Dad August 26, 2016 at 8:27 am #

      Tawcan,
      Have to set some limits somewhere. Yeah, we’re already sharing a lot about our lives here. Some of us feel the need to have a balance with providing transparency while keeping some privacy. Spreadsheet definitely does the job. I probably check mine too frequently with the app. But it’s not just a net worth checker, you can see everything about your financial life in one view instead of multiple accounts. Kind of like Mint, but better, and not as budget focused.
      -RBD

  8. The Money Commando August 24, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    I started my blog fairly recently and decided right from the beginning to track my investment income and net worth online. I’ve really enjoyed following the progress of others in the FIRE community and I figured this was my way to give back.

    If nothing else, it also helps hold me accountable for my decisions. And the more information other people have about me and my finances the better their feedback is going to be.

    • Retire Before Dad August 26, 2016 at 8:24 am #

      Money Commando,
      Welcome to the blogging community. Thanks for adding your 2 cents to the conversation.
      -RBD

  9. FerdiS August 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    I feel sharing my stock portfolio is enough. The other aspects of my personal financial life I’m not comfortable sharing. I like your analogy, though!

    Cheers
    FerdiS

  10. J. Money August 26, 2016 at 11:33 am #

    Haha… you sure know how to make a blogger blush 😉

    • Xyz from Financial Path August 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

      ahaha, I started reading and I was like: what is this getting to…

    • Retire Before Dad August 30, 2016 at 8:04 am #

      Now I’m the one blushing. Thanks for sharing on RockstarFinance.com!

  11. Matt Spillar August 26, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    Loved this writeup, so creative! I don’t think I’ll be sharing my net worth either. I’m happy to discuss it privately with friends, but putting it out there for everyone to see does seem to be overexposure

  12. Finance Solver August 28, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    Really funny analogy, love it! I haven’t shared my current net worth yet but I am planning to. The thing that I love is that I’m going to stay anonymous so that my friends will never find me out! 🙂

    • Retire Before Dad August 30, 2016 at 8:10 am #

      Sharing is a big crossover point. Once you do, you can’t go back! There is comfort in staying anonymous though. I wouldn’t want my friends to know either. Although I do share salary with a few.
      Thanks!
      -RBD

  13. zeejaythorne August 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    I am in the nudist colony with an incredibly high negative net-worth. It definitely helps me with motivation and focus. However, I do all of this under a pseudonym. I don’t want folks knowing who I am for safety and privacy. I’ve seen what happens to women on the internet. I don’t want that for me.

    • Retire Before Dad August 30, 2016 at 8:03 am #

      Being anonymous definitely takes some of the pressure off. If I weren’t anonymous, I don’t know if I’d admit Google naked bodybuilders! Stick with it. You’ll reverse the chat if you persevere.
      -RBD

  14. free2pursue August 30, 2016 at 8:42 am #

    You definitely echo how I feel about NW. The funny thing is that the majority of millionaires are often the most bashful, like the guy who has washboard abs and never takes off his shirt unless he’s at the beach in some vacation resort. You never know who lurks around you…and I’m fine with that. I wonder whether I’ll utter those words once I’m there…only those really close to me have any idea of my financial fitness…now give me 20? 😉

  15. Barbie August 30, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    This is so funny because as a woman who hits the gym regularly, I’ve NEVER seen a woman taking a selfie in the locker room nor are there any signs forbidding it! I am sure it must occur in some gyms but I bet women are less prone to it. I’ll admit though I’ve seen a lot of women in their yoga outfits posting to Instagram so maybe it isn’t as uncommon as I think. 😏

    I am not a financial blogger but I follow a lot of them and while I admire the ones who share real numbers, it feels risky to me. Hubby and I’ve been financially independent for a long time due to being high earners coupled with a frugal mindset but I’d never share numbers with anyone except with family. I’d worry about identity theft or some type of fraud although I know that can happen anyway.

    I enjoyed your post and it made me laugh!

    • Retire Before Dad August 30, 2016 at 9:30 am #

      Barbie,
      Thanks for your comments. I couldn’t believe the signs when I joined the gym. Like it was a problem! Then not a week later, I saw this guy breaking the rule. Then even funnier, another guy offered to take the picture for him!

      During some ‘research’ for this piece, I found a Cosmo article that said something like 90 of women take pictures of themselves on their phones. But I’m sure most of these are clothed!
      -RBD

  16. CoupleofCents August 30, 2016 at 9:36 am #

    I’ve just started my blog recently and have gone back and forth. Right now I feel like sharing my net worth would be too revealing. As much as I like reading other people who are more daring than I, at this point I’m just learning about blogging and want to protect myself.

    • Retire Before Dad August 30, 2016 at 9:50 am #

      Good call CoC. Learning to blog is enough to figure out for now. You can always go down the net worth route in the future.
      -RBD

  17. Stephanie August 30, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    I shared my net worth from the beginning of my blog (January of 2007) because of the reason I started my blog in the first place: I didn’t feel like there was anyone like me writing about their financial journey in a blog (at the time). I was 20 years old, had JUST dropped out of college because I ran out of money, no idea what I was going to do, and not enough money available to me to refill the gas in my car if I didn’t figure out some way to make income, fast.

    I’ve really enjoyed updating it, on the internet, over the years. I think it shows that you can come from humble beginnings, and it’s not all sunshine and roses, but progress is possible for anyone.

    But now I’m married and my husband is not so keen on sharing any information with anyone, ever 😉 So we maintain partially separate finances so that his net worth is not combined with mine, and doesn’t have to be published on the internet.

  18. Ruth Curcuru August 30, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    I guess I share a clothed picture; some things are private and kept under wraps–my 401K went up X% and we save Y% of our income. On the other hand, my Lending Club portfolio is $xxxxxx.xx and that is $YYY more than last time I reported. I write about Lending club so I show that off; my 401K is private, so your view is more like it is under my swimsuit.

  19. Jax August 30, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    That’s a really great analogy. I love reading other blogger’s net worth posts, and I love keeping track of mine, but I haven’t made the leap to sharing it. Partly because it’s not just about me, my partner and I share some assets so it is not only my information to share. I do share passive income numbers because I’ve been inspired by others and I think it could be useful for people looking at ways to earn extra money.

  20. Troy August 30, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    I only really follow blogs that post net worth figures. I get a real charge seeing the progress that can be made. It doesn’t make the articles on other blogs any less valid but it does keep me coming back.

    I have tracked my own net worth for the last 12 years and when I feel a bit flat I get motivated by seeing what has been achieved so far.

  21. Tim August 30, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

    I don’t have a blog to share mine on… I’ve thought a few times about creating my own blog… but then again.. I just like to keep doing what I do… and reading other blogs can be insightful. I don’t hide my net worth among friends, family or colleagues… Those who know me more know how I got here… Others think I’m loaded.. It all about where you decide to spend your money and savings… Either spending it or using it to work for you..

    My NW is approx. $650K age 34 on a $90K salary. I didn’t just get lucky it has been several years of hard work and savings.. I’m comfortable and will soon have my house paid off.. and I ask myself a lot.. what’s next? ( I don’t have the answer)

  22. Shaun August 31, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    I struggled with the decision to post my net worth online and finally decided to do so. Yes, it was a bit scary. On the other hand, it provides incentive to get your financial house in order. I actually just wrote a post about this subject that’s scheduled to be published in 3 weeks. I argue that posting your net worth online helps remove the stigma we have of talking about money. It also opens us up to suggestions and help from others who have been in similar situations.

  23. moneycounselor August 31, 2016 at 11:14 am #

    I’ve been advocating posting one’s net worth on Facebook. We all might be less tempted by conspicuous consumption we can’t afford if our friends and families knew our indulgences were debt-financed. 🙂

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