What's in Your Wallet?

That said, Kofke and Packer agreed that if they made more money themselves, they'd be less inclined to be as upfront about their salary with their peers.

"There are a lot of people hurting right now. I would not want others to think I was bragging or trying to make them feel bad," Kofke said.

And Packer admits that talking salary is "definitely a more sensitive topic" to broach with friends who are looking for work or clearly make less, such as those who are temping, waiting tables or in graduate school.

Obviously, the advantage of sharing salary with friends and colleagues is seeing whether you're being adequately compensated and swapping tips on salary negotiation, benefit packages and spending and saving habits.

The Upside of Transparency

Among Packer's friends, "401(k) matching is always a hot topic, and those who know more are always willing to help those who know less," he said. "Recently I helped a friend decide how much to put into her flexible spending account. If we had kept our mouths shut about our financial situations, she would have missed out on that."

But it's not just those on the lower end of the pay spectrum giving one another a leg up.

Tiffani Murray, a thirtysomething from Atlanta who makes $125,000 to $150,000 a year, is a firm believer in being open about her salary with "people who are all over the map in terms of ranges." As a result, she's been both giver and recipient of countless pieces of advice on salary negotiations and supplemental income.

"I would never suggest we take our salaries and wear them on a T-shirt," said Murray, a technology manager in the HR division of a consumer products company. "But I think that the stigma around sharing how much we make is dwindling with each new generation of the workforce."

The Moonlighting Effect

Like many workers today, Murray maintains a number of side projects. In fact, 20 to 25 percent of her annual income comes from her freelance writing and Web ventures. "One of the reasons I think people are becoming less guarded about salary is that more and more people are augmenting their income with money made from hobbies or passions," she said. "Salary may be one part of your portfolio, but there are now different [income] streams for many people out there, particularly in an economy where the standard 'job' is not as stable."

I know that after reading this, many of you will continue to shake your head in horror at the idea of comparing pay stubs with friends and colleagues outside your company. But I'd like to reiterate that Murray comfortably clears six figures a year and isn't shy about swapping negotiation and business tips with her pals. That's definitely the kind of friend with whom we could all stand to talk salary.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist and former cubicle dweller. She is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube". For more information, see Anti9to5Guide.com.

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