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When it's okay to lie
Some things you should fudge. Here's why.
March 11, 2005: 4:08 PM EST

NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Yes, honesty usually is the best policy. But there are exceptions. The following financial information is better kept to yourself.

Don't Tell: Your kids anything you don't want known

Young children, almost by definition, can't be discreet. They blab, plain and simple, and you don't need other parents in your car pool knowing what you make, what your house is worth or how much money you have in the bank.

Plus, kids can't put the numbers in perspective, so they may worry unduly about your financial situation -- or get an inflated sense of your riches. Neither outcome is good.

Don't Tell: A realtor what your best offer will be

Any good real estate agent knows how to make herself invaluable to you when you're shopping for a home. But when you start bidding on property, realize that she ceases to be your friend.

Unless she identifies herself as a buyer's agent, she has a legal duty (not to mention a monetary incentive) to get the seller the highest price. So be friendly, but keep your negotiating strategy to yourself.

Don't Tell: Relatives or friends your password

You know you shouldn't hand out sensitive financial information to strangers. But it's also a good idea to keep credit-card statements, ATM card PINs and similar access codes tucked away at home too.

A new study has found that relatives, friends and neighbors make up half of all known ID thieves. Of course, they're highly unlikely to be your relatives, but better safe than sorry.

Don't Tell: A job interviewer your salary

Why should you give a prospective employer an opening to start the negotiations with a lower offer than he or she might otherwise put forth?

You shouldn't lie outright about your salary. But you can skirt the issue by focusing on how much the new position should pay, given your skills and experience. If you're offered less than you earn now, however, be frank about the difference.  Top of page


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