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Old 27.01.2012, 12:19
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Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

I am an American from Boston that just moved to Zurich with my husband who is Swiss. We are both in our mid 20s. I was always taught that personal finances were to be discussed only on a need to know basis, and that asking/ even wondering about the financial situation of others was wrong.
My husband and his parents are from Lugano, and I'm flattered his parent's are curious about America and my background in general, but they ask me questions like how much my parents make, what they pay for their house, their retirements options, about how much I paid for college/grad school, any loans from school, what's my health insurance policy and price etc. As my husband and I are buying furniture/appliances/supplies for our apartment, they are constantly asking how much we paid for everything, what card did we put it on etc. I understand children/families have different levels of independence/transparancy with their parents, but this is just annoying.
Have any other auslanders noticed a difference between the Swiss talking about money vs. family from their homeland?
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:22
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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I am an American from Boston that just moved to Zurich with my husband who is Swiss. We are both in our mid 20s. I was always taught that personal finances were to be discussed only on a need to know basis, and that asking/ even wondering about the financial situation of others was wrong.
My husband and his parents are from Lugano, and I'm flattered his parent's are curious about America and my background in general, but they ask me questions like how much my parents make, what they pay for their house, their retirements options, about how much I paid for college/grad school, any loans from school, what's my health insurance policy and price etc. As my husband and I are buying furniture/appliances/supplies for our apartment, they are constantly asking how much we paid for everything, what card did we put it on etc. I understand children/families have different levels of independence/transparancy with their parents, but this is just annoying.
Have any other auslanders noticed a difference between the Swiss talking about money vs. family from their homeland?
Start asking them exactly the same questions & ask for copies of recent bank statements & I suspect the conversation will stop never to be repeated.
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:26
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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Start asking them exactly the same questions & ask for copies of recent bank statements & I suspect the conversation will stop never to be repeated.
hahaha I could try that, I almost want to. I don't think they ask the questions to be intrusive, but more so out of curiosity. Is it true in CH that salary information is public?
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:27
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

Just because they ask doesn't mean you have to tell them!
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:27
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

It is strange in some cultures, but seriously, what's the problem?
My swiss in-laws know how much I make and it's no big deal.
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:31
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

It is not a big deal, I just don't think it is anyone's business besides my husband's. There are plenty of other things to talk about besides how much either of us makes.
I am actually looking for work at the moment, I can only imagine the questions I will get once I'm employed
I respect if others want to share that information, but I am not interested. I just didn't know if it was a cultural thing.
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:35
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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It is not a big deal, I just don't think it is anyone's business besides my husband's. There are plenty of other things to talk about besides how much either of us makes.
I am actually looking for work at the moment, I can only imagine the questions I will get once I'm employed
I respect if others want to share that information, but I am not interested. I just didn't know if it was a cultural thing.
It sounds like they are worried about your finances then. With you looking for work and buying new furniture on credit (you mentioned they asked what 'card' you put it on), I would be a concerned parent too.
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:37
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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It sounds like they are worried about your finances then. With you looking for work and buying new furniture on credit (you mentioned they asked what 'card' you put it on), I would be a concerned parent too.
Debit cards.
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:37
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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Is it true in CH that salary information is public?
No.

I suspect that it is indicative, as you suggest, of a slightly more open outlook on all things financial, and specifically an interest in comparing different ways of doing things. Not come across it myself, as most of our Swiss friends either own apartments or earn considerably less than we do, so they either assume, in the first case, that we're 'comfortably' well-off or in the latter they already know we must be on lots more than they are, so don't need to know more.

I do tend, I admit, to be more open about earnings than perhaps I should (I've already said too much) so I find it difficult dealing with colleagues who view such things as closely-guarded secrets.
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:55
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

I actually thought it was the opposite, a lot of American colleagues and friends have either announced their salary or asked mine e.g. "I make 72 hundred a month, what about you", its almost said in a boastful manner as an indicator of their success. In Britain that would never happen, and from what I've seen here people seem to be similarly squeamish about discussing their earnings.
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:05
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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e.g. "I make 72 hundred a month, what about you", its almost said in a boastful manner as an indicator of their success.
I'd be wary of boasting about such a little success

But yeah, it's a stereotypical American thing, I guess. Can't say I've ever come across it IRL though.
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:08
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

tell them to bugger off - in a slightly nicer way unless you dont like them.
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:12
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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It is not a big deal, I just don't think it is anyone's business besides my husband's. There are plenty of other things to talk about besides how much either of us makes.
I am actually looking for work at the moment, I can only imagine the questions I will get once I'm employed
I respect if others want to share that information, but I am not interested. I just didn't know if it was a cultural thing.
maybe you can ask how big the FIL's cock is etc.
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:13
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

I've found that the Swiss talk much less about money than most other cultures. The biggest taboo here seems to be debt - I've even heard Swiss exclaim genuine surprise upon discovering that a person has more liabilities than assets, and another who was amazed that not all auslanders here have a portfolio divided between gold/property/shares/bonds.

Sometimes we get the odd question about finances but it is very rare and I think usually motivated by genuine curiosity as to how foreigners live their lives than anything else.

My German in-laws however talk about geld quite a bit. Although they never directly ask what we earn they do often talk about the price of things.

Sounds like yours need a gentle change of subject next time it comes up. They might get the hint - a lot of folk here operate on the basis of keeping silent if you don't like whats being said.
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:13
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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I'd be wary of boasting about such a little success

But yeah, it's a stereotypical American thing, I guess. Can't say I've ever come across it IRL though.
A brilliant monologue from Alec Baldwin in my favourite film of all time, 'Glengarry Glen Ross'

Blake: That watch costs more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see pal, that's who I am, and you're nothing. Nice guy? I don't give a sh*t. Good father? F*** you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here - close! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you co***ker? You can't take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don't like it, leave!!

(jump to 2:50 )
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:21
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

It's so typically American, I've never heard it or done it. Maybe it's just the company you keep.
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:27
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

All the ideas like "Tell them to..." and so on will not work very well as one normally doesn't want to upset the inlaws if anything else is ok. Best way is to tell YOUR husband that you are not comfortable with the situation and then set up a strategy how to deal with it.
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:42
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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A brilliant monologue from Alec Baldwin in my favourite film of all time, 'Glengarry Glen Ross'

Blake: That watch costs more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see pal, that's who I am, and you're nothing. Nice guy? I don't give a sh*t. Good father? F*** you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here - close! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you co***ker? You can't take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don't like it, leave!!

(jump to 2:50 )
love that scene
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Old 27.01.2012, 13:56
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Re: Talking money with Swiss inlaws?

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All the ideas like "Tell them to..." and so on will not work very well as one normally doesn't want to upset the inlaws if anything else is ok. Best way is to tell YOUR husband that you are not comfortable with the situation and then set up a strategy how to deal with it.
I totally agree. I've talked about it with my husband and I feel better now (also from everyone's responses to my post), I just wasn't sure what to expect with future Swiss encounters. I'm still a newbie here.
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Old 27.01.2012, 14:22
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I wonder though if it's a Swiss thing or just a different family thing. I know Americans who discuss their finances in minute detail, and those who don't.
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