Financial Voyeurs

You know how sometimes when you're standing at a bank machine doing your business, how some nosy person tries to look over your shoulder?

By DAVID SHAMAH
August 24, 2006 08:47
3 minute read.
computer 88

computer 88. (photo credit: )

You know how sometimes when you're standing at a bank machine doing your business, how some nosy person tries to look over your shoulder? Obnoxious, aren't they? I mean, you and I would never dream of doing such a thing, not in a million years! If so, you probably won't be interested in Networthiq.com. But first let's be honest: You would snoop if you could. Who wouldn't? Deep down (actually, you don't have to dig too deep), all of us are "financial voyeurs," dying to know just how he/she/they can afford to live like that. So, maybe you would be interested in Networthiq.com - the site where participants open up their financial histories, needs and worries to satisfy the curiosity of all comers. Nowadays, there are Internet social networking activities for every interest and activity, where total strangers get together on-line to collaborate in an area that interests them both. There are sites for social bookmarking, social gaming, social business networking, and even social movie and photo sharing. All these activities are fun, and can even be beneficial or enriching, both materially and mentally. But there are none - save for Networthiq.com - that dare to break the last taboo, to delve into the single area no man or woman dares tread. There are thousands of sites and chat rooms where people can go to discuss the most intimate details of intimacies, where the cloak of Internet anonymity allows them to be far more forthright in their language and ideas than they would in "real" life. But how many people would be willing to tell you how much they make, what their net worth and debt is, and what their financial plans for the future are? Sex is one thing - but when it comes to money, even the most flamboyant and unabashed personalities suddenly clam up, leaving you guessing about how much they make. Not at Networthiq.com, though. Networthiq encourages you to post information about your income, debt, mortgage, bills, loans, and financial plans - and encourages you to make that information public, so that a casual Web surfer can check out the site and see, for example, that Networthiq user Moominoid, for example, had $129,633 in cash in his possession this month, owed $7,050 on his credit card, and had a net worth of $321,637. Networthiq is not affiliated with any government tax authority and is not forcing these people to be forthright about their financial holdings; they're putting up their information because they want to! Apparently unconcerned about who is reading (could be the tax man himself!), they shine a bright light on their financial situations, awaiting comment on the thoughts and plans they post at the site. And that is the whole point - and the whole reason to use Networthiq.com. Many of the active users maintain their own Web sites or blogs with details of their financial struggles and successes. Many other users leave comments on the site itself. There are all sorts of tools on the site that allow you to see where you fit in with others of a similar age, field of employment, and earnings or savings level. Since the site is geared toward Americans, some of those tools may not be useful. But remember, we're not here for the voyeur aspect of money-gazing. The most important aspect of Networthiq - the part that everyone should , nay must, check out - are the individual stories by users of the site. The insights provided by Gaspar, for example, one of the site's more active users, should be a wakeup call to anyone interested in building and preserving a financial future. He's totally open about his earnings, investments, stock sales and purchases, and he, like many others at Networthiq, tells us in retrospect where he feels he went right - and, maybe more importantly for us, where he went wrong. Some people are struggling with loans, other with credit-card debts - but all are determined to get out of their financial holes and move from the site's Biggest Losers to Biggest Gainers column. We can only be humbled by their struggles - and learn from their experiences. Registration at http://www.networthiq.com is free for everyone. Ds@newzgeek.com


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