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I work in the IT department at a financial institution, and we recently hired a new person into our department. He's a quick learner and great to work with, but myself and another coworker have noticed a tendency to make assumptions about others' personal finances that are not exactly offensive, but still feel tone-deaf and invasive.

For example, when he was getting signed up for benefits and discussing whether to select a traditional or an HSA plan, he tried to tell me that I should sign up for the HSA (Health Savings Account) plan, on the assumption that I had several thousand dollars lying around to pay the high premiums on that plan like he does. I kind of shrugged it off and tried to change the subject, but this same behavior came up again when talking about cryptocurrency investments. I love having another cryptocurrency geek in the office, but it's hard not to resent his assumption that everyone has money lying around like he does to make large, risky investments like that.

I get paid fairly well in my current position, but I'm also saddled with quite a bit of student debt that eats into a chunk of my monthly income. I'm only a few years out of school, and am still getting my financial footing established, whereas this person seems like they have a lot of family money, and for his age (early 30s) it seems like he's pretty well-off (talking about doing thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum trades at once and being able to spend thousands of dollars on home renovations). I get the impression that this is what drives his assumptions about others' finances.

My question is, what's the best way to tell him that personal finances are a private matter, and that he shouldn't make so many assumptions about other peoples' situations or try to dictate what decisions others should make? I would like to just say "I'm too poor for that", but that would leave me feeling awkward and embarrassed.

In any workplace people are going to talk about benefits, and naturally at a financial institution money will always be a topic of conversation. I don't want to stifle any of that discussion, but the issue is that I want this person to be more cognizant of how most people's personal finances look a lot different than his own.

EDIT (in response to questions):

  • I'm not sure how well-off they actually are (since that's none of my business), but as far as I can tell they're being honest, from working with them for a few months they seem to be trustworthy.
  • I'm located in the US, where I know talking about finances is generally considered taboo, compared with other countries. Unlike other Americans, I don't see it as taboo but as something that should be treated sensitively.
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Let's start out with the question. "What's the best way to tell him that personal finances are a private matter, and that he shouldn't make so many assumptions about other peoples' situations or try to dictate what decisions others should make?"

You provide the answer in your question. If he starts talking to you about money, respond that "my personal finances are a private matter so I don't share details". If he tries to give you guidance on what you should do, there's no need to become defensive; just respond with the above again. After several people telling him the same thing, he should get in the mindset that people don't talk about their personal finances. Even if it's just you telling him that, he should eventually learn that such a topic doesn't get a response from you.

If you and he become close in the office, then perhaps a quiet 1-1 conversation would help. But you'd need to be somewhat close to each other; otherwise it will come across as you trying to tell him how to be at work - a practice that doesn't generally end well.

There's no need to correct his assumptions - that will only invite future conversations that you don't want. I think the end goal is that you don't want personal financial conversations; refusing to engage in them will resolve the rest of the issue you describe.

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"I need to review these plans for myself."

"Until I look over the plans myself, I can't be sure they fit my financial needs"

"That might be true, but I'll read over the plans. I like to make my own financial decisions."

After you assert enough times that you make your own financial decisions, they'll get the point.

Odds are that they analyzed all of the plans, according to their financial situation, and found an optimum solution for them. Remind them that you need to do the same for you.

They're trying to be helpful, and if you really want to be gracious, ask them for help on something that's not going to violate a personal boundary.

"Thanks, but what I really need right now is to know where I can get a decent cup of coffee."

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Start the conversation saying you're way smart when it comes to investments, it's really good. I love your advice but I need to rethink on my investment plans as I have other things in my mind for current financial Year. Plus everyone has their own plans and ways for better and smart ways of investments. It is good to advice people. But leave them to take the decision or stay away from it. Also believe not everyone would disclose their lifestyle to everyone. To the part how to keep people away from your financial investment:

  1. Personal savings are personal. I love to keep my profile low.

  2. I don't inquire personal investments & expect the same, as it causes lot of inconvenience to lots of people.

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