Childfreelife’s Weblog

{July 6, 2008}   Big Chunk 4: Upsize Your Career

If you want to add hundreds or even a thousand or two to your monthly budget. You can cut expenses drastically, like I covered before, downsize your mortgage or lease, downsize your transportation. Another option, or even better an option to use in concert with the others, is to upsize your income. There are several ways you can do this: In this article I will cover landing a raise; either a traditional raise, promotion, or untraditional raise.

A child-free person’s life is their own to do with as they please. If you are really behind on the bills, want to fund an education, or save up for emergencies, then committing to making more money is a great option. I believe it is best to go forward on all fronts. You can spend your free-time preparing to ask for a raise and committing to get in the most possible hours at work. Take advantage of not having kids to make it into work more often and to stay off the phone with family and focus on productivity.

Firstly, how does one earn a raise? One earns a raise by getting up the guts to ask. One plans how they will ask, how they will justify that they are worth the extra money, and by following through with asking. When you are preparing to ask for a raise. Polish up your resume. Focus on accomplishments not just duties and skills, you will mention these accomplishments to your boss when asking for the raise. And if your boss says “no” to a raise, you are all ready to go looking elsewhere for that raise!

You will need to be spot on for the month while you are preparing to ask. Do your best work, don’t goof off, get to work on time and don’t miss days. Then schedule a review time with your boss. Tell your boss what you have accomplished and improved upon. Ask your boss if he or she has any recommendations for you. Unless the recommendations are crippling, ask for a raise. Your boss won’t likely fire you for asking, and they will likely actually give you a raise or consider giving you one in the near future.

Don’t take a “no” to hard. You know you are worth the money, and you might have to go elsewhere to find it. If your boss made a recommendation for improvement, make the improvement, then follow up a month or two later and ask for that raise again! I followed this plan with my boss. I emailed him after 6 months of working, I covered my accomplishments in the email, and I asked to meet with him for a review. He passed me off on my supervisor, and she talked things over with me, told me I needed to gab with my coworkers less and offered me a dollar an hour raise. For the longest time, I was the only one in my department who earned a raise. Later on, when I was promoted, I asked for a raise, and I was told “No, not yet.” However, just a few months later when I pulled through on a new pet project for the partner, he emailed me with a new raise.

I kept reading that one of the main reasons women make less money than men is because women don’t ask for raises as much and don’t negotiate as hard. I decided to look into this. My friend was doing a report on the wage disparity, and I asked her to compare child-free/childless men and women. The wage gap disappeared. Perhaps this is because we miss less work, spend less time on emergency phone calls, and perhaps because of this we have an easier time asking for raises. Use your advantages! Get that raise, childfreebie!

You can give yourself an untraditional raise by opting into benefit programs at your work that you have not been using. Health insurance, tuition reimbursement, 401K matching, and etc. You usually have to put a little bit into these benefits. For health insurance there are sometimes employee paid premiums. Tuition reimbursement requires an upfront payment from you that will be repaid if you get a good grade. Be realistic with yourself, if the class is too hard for you to keep up your grade, then drop it before you end up paying full price for it. You are trying to get a raise not throw money down the hole. You can always sign up for a more introductory course and try again. 401K matching programs require you to put in a percent of your income and then your company matches that, but you don’t get to touch that cash until you retire. It is worth it, do it! Find a way to big chunk away expenses so you can afford to contribute the maximum match percentage. If there are benefits that you cannot use because they are for parents, ask your boss to include cafeteria options for folks to pick out: higher matching on 401K, lower premiums on health care, higher tuition reimbursements, more vacation time. Parents whose spouses get duplicate benefits can appreciate a cafeteria plan too.

At my former job, I opted into Health Insurance reimbursement immediately. While most of my coworkers dragged their feet. For every month they dragged their feet, I was making $170 more than them. I used my health insurance to have a surgery, pay for medicines, and get my teeth cleaned. Money well earned and well spent. Take advantage of benefits early and often.

Another way to give yourself a raise is to work more hours. Polish up your act. If you have been missing days or coming in late, stop! Arrive to work on time and ready to get started, come into work even if you are a little bit sick, dayquil can do wonders. If you have a health issue that is keeping you from being the best worker possible, it is time to consider paying to fix that. For example, do you need new glasses? Do you have insomnia? Do you face migraines? These sort of health issues are often treatable. Save up a few hundred dollars to go to the doctor and begin therapy (or get new glasses). If your productivity ups, so does your likelyhood of getting that raise. The extra days and minutes you are at work will add up to extra pay. The few hundred you spend getting your health fixed up a little, will pay themselves back quickly when you make it to work on time everyday. If you are salaried you can use your improvements to argue for a raise, if you are hourly the results in extra income is immediate.

Give yourself a raise by finding a better paying and more satisfying job. You polished up your resume when you prepared to ask for a raise. Now you have a document that is worth money! You have listed your accomplishments that make you a great employee. So go out there and apply! If you have the flexibility, consider applying to jobs in better markets. For example: Seattle is better than Portland for legal professionals. Surf around Craigslist and see what towns are offering the most openings and the highest pay for your career. Apply to many jobs. You have to spend an hour or so a week crafting cover letters and contacting companies. I saved myself a ton of time by adding a craigstlist RSS feed to my google reader and having monster email me openings that fit my criteria. When you are getting the openings right at your google station, (or yahoo, or other email and RSS feed reader combo), you can begin applying right away. Using feeds and emails, you can be one of the first to apply to new listings.

When you get called on interviews, you will have to dress up. If you don’t want to appear suspicious at work, should you work in a casual environment, have your nicer clothes in a bag or in your car. Wear something that can easily be dressed up and down on your way in and out of your work to and from the interview. And I recently figured out that scheduling your interviews as close to lunch as possible turns your interviews from appointments that take you away from work noticeably, and into long lunches that no one notices.

Don’t forget when you are out there applying to new jobs, that your own company might have openings that would spell promotion for you. Apply to those too, and take advantage of references from within the company to get a better chance at them. Go and speak directly your friends in the department and ask them for copies of their resumes. They already successfully landed the position you want, finding out what they emphasized on their resumes could be big help to re-crafting your own. When someone gives notice that they are retiring, quitting, taking family leave or is fired, go see the boss immediately and voice your interest in growing in the company, and your interest in that department. If you already have some cross training or education in that area, mention that too. You might be promoted right away so that the prior employee can train you, and there is no gap in coverage of the position.

Getting a raise is a big chunk way to add more money to your budget. But don’t just let the extra money disappear to random expenses. Keep your goals firmly in mind. Send your extra money to savings, debt reduction or towards goals like improving your health, education, retirement account or even your lifestyle with purpose.


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