If you’ve been a long-time reader of the Workable Wealth blog, you know our team advocates for taking charge of your finances, even when it’s uncomfortable, like asking for a raise. Nobody is as qualified as you to make the decisions necessary to move toward your goals and a life that has you excited to wake up each morning. One of the biggest areas we see women struggling to take responsibility for their own finances is their salary.
Talking about your salary can be intimidating, especially when reaching out to your boss about a raise. For a long time, women have been taught that asking for money is crass or rude, even if your performance and experience warrant a pay increase. Only 36% of women said they’ve asked for a raise according to a Marketplace-Edison poll.
Although asking for a raise isn’t always comfortable, and there’s no clear guarantee that you’ll get the salary increase you hoped for, it’s critical to advocate for yourself and your own financial well-being in the workplace. Between the gender wealth and wage gap, women are already at a disadvantage when it comes to earning a salary in line with their skillset. This makes it even more important for you to take charge of your income, and its ability to impact your long-term financial and lifestyle goals.
Understanding the Wage Gap
No matter which way you look at it, the gender wage gap is a persistent problem that has negatively impacted women for decades. According to recent studies, women earn on average 82% as much as their male counterparts in similar roles with similar levels of experience. In some states, this percentage is as low as 49%. This pay gap is seen across almost all states and all industries.
The unspoken rule that employees shouldn’t discuss their earnings continues to perpetuate the problem. Even if you feel like you make a comparable salary to your male peers, you may be surprised to find out that they make notably more than you do – you’ve just never talked about it before.
An even bigger problem is the gender wealth gap. This is talked about less than the gender wage gap, but equally important. On average, women own 32 cents for every dollar their male counterparts own. Although studies have shown that women tend to be better savers, it’s challenging to save more when they’re put at a disadvantage with lower earnings. Both the wage and the wealth gap are a problem that women, unfortunately, have been facing for a long time.
The good news is that by advocating for yourself in the workplace, you have the opportunity to stand up for your own earning potential and long-term financial wellness.
Why Ask For a Raise?
Still not convinced that you should ask for a raise? Let’s think about how an increased salary has the potential to impact your long-term savings. Imagine you ask for a $7,000 raise. After taxes, you’d take home an additional $5,000 per year. Assuming you take that $5,000 and put it towards your future self, that money could do a lot of work for you.
That’s a pretty significant impact on your retirement savings. Just by asking a question.
Even if you don’t have a plan to invest the raise you receive, think about what it could do for your short-term financial goals. A $7,000 raise could mean a boosted emergency savings, faster debt repayment, saving for your child’s education, or paying to take your whole family on an amazing vacation.
Knowing the “why” behind your raise request can help you clarify exactly what that extra money could mean to you. Understanding the impact an increased salary might have both on your short-term lifestyle and long-term goals can remove hesitation or mental blocks you may have when it comes to discussing your salary with your employer.
How to Ask for a Raise
Now that we’ve talked about the “why” behind asking for a raise, we need to talk about the “how.” Walking into your boss’s office and demanding a raise may sound empowering, but in reality, it likely won’t get you the results you want. Have a plan in place for asking for your raise, even if you (and your employer) know you deserve it.
Do Your Research
What do people in similar roles earn within your company? If your coworkers aren’t comfortable sharing, look up jobs on Glassdoor to get more information about salaries reported at your organization. Once you know what your company typically pays, take your research a step further: What do competitors pay people in your role, or who have your level of experience? Compare your research to your current pay – is there a notable gap?
Learn to Sell Yourself
Even if you’re the most qualified person at your organization to do your current job, that doesn’t necessarily matter in this conversation. General comments about your qualifications, experience, or skill set are valuable, but they won’t necessarily bag you the salary of your dreams. Instead, ask yourself how you could set up specific measurements and data to prove your success. A few questions to ask yourself might be:
Did I tackle any projects this year that made an impact on my team or the company as a whole?
Do I have clear metrics to track my performance such as sales numbers, productivity, or revenue generated?
Can I correlate my experience and skill set with monetary value to my company?
Has my performance improved since my last salary increase? How has this positively impacted my team and my company?
Picture this conversation as an interview. You’re essentially interviewing for a promotion – even if you stay in the same role.
Consider What You’re Willing to Walk Away With
In a perfect world, you’d have a conversation about getting a raise and your company would give you the exact number you asked for, and your role would stay consistent. However, you might find that you either receive a counter-offer for a lower increase, or your boss may grant the raise but request that you take on additional responsibilities.
Now is the time to get very clear with yourself on what you’re willing to take on, and what your ideal minimum raise would be. Knowing these things before going into a salary negotiation can help you to offer concise and timely responses if your boss asks you questions in the initial meeting or presents a counter-offer later on.
Conversations about salary increases can be hard! Practice whenever you can. Ask your friend, your mom, and your spouse or partner if they’d be willing to listen to the points you’ve pulled together. It might feel goofy to role-play this conversation, but it can be useful. If you have time to field potential questions or rebuttals from loved ones who are pretending to be your boss in a practice conversation, you’ll be better equipped in the meeting itself. For your own confidence walking into this meeting, practice is key.
Set You – and Your Boss – Up For Success
Don’t blindside them with a meeting about a salary increase without warning. Sending an email, or asking them face-to-face if they have time to schedule a meeting about your current role and compensation allows them time to prepare ahead of time. If you don’t give them adequate prep time, you may get shot down right out of the gate because they’re caught off guard and don’t have time to consider your request.
Remember: when push comes to shove, your income and your ability to reach your financial goals are solely dependent on you advocating for yourself. That raise isn’t going to ask for itself! Don’t be afraid to take charge of your future, and ask for the salary you deserve.
You got the job – congratulations! Going through an application process is never easy, and when you get an offer letter, it can be emotional – and give you a sense of validation.
Whether you’ve just landed the job of your dreams, or you’re switching career paths and excited for a new opportunity to rebuild, it can be challenging to hit “pause” and evaluate your offer before accepting. However, as exciting as your new opportunity is, it’s important to take a step back. First, you should consider the financial (and non-financial) pros and cons of your offer before taking the leap.
The Financial Side of a New Job Offer
When you take a closer look at your new job offer, it’s easy to start with something tangible – the dollars and cents. There are a few pieces of a job offer that impact your personal finances, and they’re all equally important.
It’s easy to get swept away by the annual salary listed in a job offer, but that’s not going to be your actual take-home pay. Before you accept, you’ll need to know whether or not the salary the hiring manager is offering you is going to meet your needs, and help you achieve your other financial and lifestyle goals. You might want to think about how an increased income will impact your taxes, or whether or not there are additional income-earning opportunities (like bonuses or stock options) available.
If you’ve been a full-time employee at your current company for a while, you may take some of your employee benefits for granted. For example, when your insurance coverage stays consistent for a long period of time, you might not think about how low copays or specific prescription coverage impacts your budget.
Don’t stop at asking your employer about health insurance coverage, either. Make sure that the benefits you’ll receive in your new role, from daycare or commuting stipends to financial planning support, are going to meet your needs.
Retirement Savings Options
How will your new employer help you to save for retirement? Whether they offer a company match through a 401(k) or another retirement plan or they have a pension in place, understand what they offer to their employees so that you can start taking advantage of saving options as soon as you start.
New or Additional Costs
Sometimes your dream job comes with a few new or additional costs. For example, if your new job is moving you to a new city in California from your midwestern hometown, you’re going to face different and additional costs – even if you’re thrilled with the change of pace. Be cognizant of the cost to commute to and from your new job, or the average price of rent or buying a home in a new area.
Even if you’re not relocating for your new job, there could still be cost changes for your family. Different hours may mean adjusted childcare needs, or working in a different part of town may require you to drive and pay for parking rather than take public transportation.
What is your potential new employer doing to help you grow in your role and your career? Continuing education is expensive to pay for yourself. If your employer is willing to front the cost of going back to school, attending conferences, or furthering your human capital, that’s a big benefit that can’t be ignored. Not only will it positively impact you in your new role, but it could also benefit you in your future career, as well.
The Non-Financial Side of a New Job Offer
Even if all of the numbers add up, and this is an incredible financial opportunity for you and your family, it’s important to make sure that your new job offer is still an ideal fit when you look at the non-financial side of your new employer.
Company Mission or Atmosphere
This might be tough to determine if you’ve only seen the positive side of the business through your application and interview process. It might be useful to request to job shadow for a day, or even half a day, before accepting the offer. This can give you a feel for what the corporate atmosphere might be like, and how an average day at work could look.
If the position you’ve applied for is remote, or if it’s not possible for you to job shadow for a day, you can do two things:
1. Ask if there are employees who would be on your team who would be willing to speak with you. Interviewing them about their experience, and the pros and cons of the job, can offer some insight. 2. Ask the hiring manager, or your future boss, what their goals are for the company. Knowing where they want to grow to, and how your role will help further their mission, can give you a sense for not only what your day-to-day might look like, but what big-picture decisions you can expect down the road.
Job Description and Expectations
If you’ve received an offer, the organization you’ve applied to obviously thinks you fit their needs – which is great! What’s not so great is that many companies fail to clearly outline job roles and expectations during the hiring process. They may know what type of expertise they want you to bring to the table, or duties they want you to fulfill, but haven’t communicated those in their job description or interviews.
The last thing you want is to walk into a new job that you’re super excited about, only to realize that your day-to-day is going to look significantly different than you had imagined. Even worse, you don’t want to accept this new job offer if you aren’t able to meet the company’s expectations. For example, if they expect you to be 100% familiar with a software or business process that you’ve never practiced, you may need to speak up and request training as part of your onboarding.
Career Path Options
Even if this role is your dream job, you probably won’t be satisfied in this role for forever. Most Workable Wealth readers are high-achievers, and that means that you’ll be looking for opportunities to continue your education and further your career over the next several years. If your career path wasn’t already discussed in the interview, now’s the time to ask. You don’t need to look for a clearly built promotion or career path process – but the company who’s offered you a job should have some idea of how you can grow in your new role, financially and professionally.
Vacation Time and Work/Life Balance Priorities
This can be an awkward topic to tackle, but it’s just as important as salary negotiation! If your job offer doesn’t come with the type of time off, or work/life balance flexibility you want or need, don’t be afraid to speak up. A dream job might be incredibly fulfilling, but without the flexibility, you need in your personal life, you may end up unhappy in the long run.
Take some time to think about what sort of vacation time or schedule flexibility will support your lifestyle goals or your family’s needs. If you’re going to negotiate for either a more flexible schedule, or different vacation time benefits, it can help to approach your future employer with clear reasoning behind your request.
Is the Job Right For You?
Taking the time to analyze a new job offer can help you make sure you’re signing on for a role that will be financially beneficial and personally fulfilling. Keep in mind that you won’t have an unlimited amount of time to review the job offer, so prioritize asking questions, or requesting changes to the offer, within a few days or a week of receiving your offer letter.
Building a business is tough work, and sometimes it can be hard to gauge what income goals you should be reaching for. This lack of clarity stems from two places:
1. Business owners aren’t sure what income goals make sense for their business because they’ve never done this before. It’s tough to know how much you should be striving to make when you have no past experiences to compare your business growth to! A lot of times, all a solopreneur has to work with are best guesses on what income goals are reasonable.
2. It can be demoralizing to set income goals (even reasonable ones) as a business owner. Self-doubt creeps in, and it feels easier to not set any goals at all. Negative questions start to rattle around in your mind: What if I don’t hit those goals? Does that devalue my business or my hard work?
The hard truth is that as a solopreneur, you need income goals to guide your business development decisions. To do this, you need to get clear on what a reasonable goal to aim for is, and what you actually need to support your business and your family.
The process of setting goals doesn’t have to be overwhelming! You can get started in four easy steps.
#1: Understand What You’re Building
Simon Sinek said it best: Start with why. When you know why you’re doing what you do, and what your long-term vision is for both yourself and your business, you’re better equipped to set income goals that reflect your “why.”
For example, let’s say you’ve started a small social media management business while your kids are in middle school. You’re passionate about the work you’re doing and the clients you’re able to connect with virtually, but your ultimate “why” is that you want to make enough money to put your kids through college debt-free. You already have some savings set aside for them, but your business over the next several years is going to be the primary contributor to that savings before they graduate high school. Then, when they’re all graduated from college, you plan on retiring.
That’s a big, exciting why!
Even if this example doesn’t resonate with you, don’t be afraid to dig deeper and ask yourself the hard questions about your why and your long-term goals:
Are you building your business to sell and make a profit in the next few years? Are you wanting your business to continue on after you’re gone? Is it a business that was born out of necessity because you had bills to pay? Will your business dissolve when you retire?
Knowing what you’re building, and why you’re building it, can help to guide your revenue goals. Remembering our example above, the income goals of a social media manager hustling to put her kids through college (but will retire after they’re graduated) are going to look different than someone who is building a large-scale marketing firm with multiple employees that will likely be passed on through a succession plan or bought out when the founder is ready to retire.
When you understand what you’re building, you can create a strategy around profit margins, equity, and spending patterns. Every decision you make will ultimately support your short and long-term business development goals.
#2: Understand What You Need
As a business owner, you need to know what you need to bring home for your family that allows you to meet your personal financial goals and obligations. This includes any household spending plus saving for travel, retirement, your children’s college education, and any other goals you might have.
It can be helpful to create two sets of numbers here:
What you need to bring home to survive.
What you need to bring home to meet all of your financial goals and obligations.
This information can help to guide your goal setting and gives you both an attainable income goal and a goal that you can “reach” for. It can also help you to set a more reasonable goal for yourself somewhere between these two numbers. Too many people feel the need to always strive for their “reach” goal, and are disappointed with anything less. The truth is, if you’re able to meet all of your family’s immediate needs and start growing toward big-picture savings goals simultaneously, you’ll feel less pressured and could actually find more success in the long run as you grow.
#3: Know Your Business Costs
No business is 100% free to run. Even if your business is low-cost, and all you need is you and your laptop, other expenses will inevitably crop up as you grow.
Some common expenses solopreneurs might need to consider are:
A computer security program, like McAfee or Norton Antivirus
A paid Dropbox account for document sharing with clients
A logo designed by a professional
Fees taken out of credit or debit card payments made through your payment processor or invoicing program
Childcare once a week so that you can take phone calls at your home office without interruptions
Materials to create the products you sell
Rent and utilities if you’re renting an office
Salary for your employees
Again, it can be helpful to make two lists. Your first list should be the bare-minimum expenses you need to run your business successfully. The second list should be the list of expenses that you’d have if you were spending in a way that aligned with your business development and long-term goals. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here. Ask yourself honestly: what do I need in order to run my business successfully? What would I spend revenue on if I knew it was going to help me grow?
#4: Build Your Income Goals
Once you know what it costs to run your business successfully, and how much you need to bring home you can start to create a strategy for generating income. For example, if you need to bring home $125,000 to your household and your business operating expenses are $70,000, here’s what your business income goals could look like:
Income Goal / Potential Gross Income: $250,000 (This accounts for the below) Business Operating Expenses: -$70,000 Potential Net Income: $180,000 Assume 30% Taxes: -$54,000 Take home income to you: $126,000
Keep in mind that this is a very basic example. It doesn’t take into consideration things like salaries, adjusting taxes for qualified retirement plan contributions, and more. However, it does help to point you in the right direction.
If you want to keep with our running theme of creating two gross income goals (one that’s the bare-minimum of what your business and your family needs, and one that’s a “reach” goal), feel free! It can be helpful to know what you absolutely need to make ends meet, and what you’d like to make to help you start living your best life.
A Word of Advice (Or Two)
When you’re setting income goals for your small business, remember that you can’t fall into the comparison trap – even with those who are in your same industry. Your income goals are going to be unique to you. Only you can know what you need personally and professionally to feel fulfilled.
It’s also important to remember that your income goal should be specific! Aiming for a “six figure” gross income for your small business isn’t specific enough. You need to aim for an amount that will net you an income that helps you to reach your personal goals, and live a happy and fulfilled life.
Still struggling? Setting income goals for your small business can be overwhelming, even when you know how to go about it! Finding the motivation to set these goals alone can be tough, especially when you’re a busy solopreneur.
Working with a financial planner who has experience helping business owners create a plan that reflects their personal and professional goals can be a big help. If you’re ready to change your relationship with money and start working your wealth, schedule a consultation by clicking here! I’d love to help you set goals that leave you feeling fulfilled, and build a strategy for achieving them.
There’s a lot of talk in the world of personal finance about the importance of having multiple income streams. On a high level, having multiple streams of income helping you reach your financial goals sounds pretty great. However, it can be tough to know where to start – especially if you’ve only ever worked a traditional 9-5 job. When you start building a strategy for creating different income streams, it’s important to know a few different things:
1. Why these different streams of income are important, or what goals they’re going to help you achieve 2. What types of income streams are available to you 3. What types of income projects make the most sense for you and your family
As always, the most important thing on this list is your why.
Why Should You Have Multiple Income Streams?
For most people, the income they receive from their full-time job is enough to cover most of their budgeting basics. Some months may be tighter than others, but they often feel stuck because they’re not sure how to consistently live more comfortably without asking for a raise every 3-6 months. This is where having multiple streams of income can help.
Developing different streams of income empowers you to reach your goals more quickly, protects you against the possibility of losing one income stream, and helps you to grow your wealth for the long-term. All of these things can be part of your why for developing multiple streams of income, but you should also think through tangible reasons and benefits that are relevant to you.
For example, are you looking to grow your cash flow each month to travel more? Do you want to use the extra income you’re earning to save for your child’s college education? Are you working toward a short-term savings goal, like a home purchase? Do you have a hefty debt load that you want to pay off ASAP? Knowing your unique “why” will help you to stay motivated, even when building multiple streams of income feels overwhelming or tiring.
If you’re single, your primary income is the only primary income you have to think about. However, if you and your partner share finances, one of you likely acts as the “breadwinner.” Many of my clients are women and are also the breadwinners in their families, but that’s not always the case. Regardless of who the primary income is coming from, the income itself usually checks a few boxes:
It covers all or most of your expenses
It’s a W-2 income, or a steady income from self-employment
It’s the most reliable of your income streams
Primary income is usually the paycheck that comes from your full-time job every other Friday. The benefits of having a steady primary income are that you can typically always count on it as a baseline for your budgeting and financial planning. However, if you’re 100% reliant on your primary income, you run the risk of financial instability if you should ever lose your job or become unable to work.
Many people look to increase their passive income first, for obvious reasons. Our full time work can be exhausting. When we pile on all of our other responsibilities, there aren’t very many hours left in the day to grow multiple, active income streams. Figuring out how to incorporate passive income into your financial plan is one of the best ways to start increasing your cash flow and growing toward your goals. However, not all passive income is created equal.
The Passive Income Myth
The idea of passive income is incredibly appealing for most people. In today’s world with increased access to resources and tools through Pinterest, podcasts, different blogs, and social media – there are hundreds of thousands of people out there selling the idea that they’ve “made it” overnight using passive income strategies. They might be promoting their recent blog, their sponsored podcast, or an affiliate program they’re participating in. There are two things to keep in mind here:
1. Nobody is an overnight success. 2. The “passive” income strategies they’re promoting usually aren’t 100% passive.
The truth is that passive income takes time in the vast majority of cases. Building a blog, selling affiliate courses, or selling an online product or services requires a big investment of time up front. With time, that investment can start to pay off, with minimal ongoing work from you. However, on the front end, these are definitely not “passive” income streams.
Interest and Dividends
One of the only true ways to earn passive income is to grow the money you currently have through investing. Dividends are the share of the profit you bring home as the part owner of a company (which you are when you purchase stock). Interest, on the other hand, is money you earn on a loan you give to a company. When you buy their stock, you’re technically loaning them funds, and those funds earn interest over time. Investments that earn interest, or pay dividends, tend to grow. The key is spending time in the market, and investing for the long-term rather than seeking a quick pay out.
Although you may need to spend some time up front coordinating your investments or working with a financial planner who manages them for you, adjusting your portfolio quarterly or annually to stay on track to meet your goals is by far the least time-consuming of other so-called “passive” income strategies you could pursue.
Many additional income streams that people choose to incorporate into their financial plan are relatively active. Although the revenue might be recurring, these revenue models require work on your part. How much work you’re willing to pour into these active income streams is entirely up to you! Some will require more than others, and some will be more enjoyable for you than others. Typically, I recommend that people pursue active income streams that energize them. This is especially true if you’re already working full time and have a limited amount of hours in a day to dedicate to this secondary income stream.
The “Side Hustle”
Most people who are pursuing an additional stream of income pursue a side hustle. This side hustle is a job or freelance work that you take on in addition to your full time career. In many cases, people’s side hustle evolves into their full time job, especially if they pursue something they’re passionate about. I’ve seen side hustles take many different forms. A few ideas might be:
Starting a monetized blog
Growing your social media presence and promoting products through affiliate programs
Selling a course or online product
Repurposing items and selling them for a profit on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay
Picking up freelance writing, editing, or graphic design work
Dog walking and pet sitting through the Rover app (or by advertising around your neighborhood)
Selling handmade products through sites like Etsy or in-person at your local farmer’s market
Purchasing a rental property and becoming hosts on sites like Airbnb or VRBO, or renting it out to long-term tenants (remember: this is a lot more labor-intensive than it sounds)
Side hustles can be tough work, but if you pursue work that you love doing, it will help keep you motivated even when you’re feeling the strain of working in addition to your full time job.
Adding Income Isn’t the Only Way
Although having multiple streams of income can help you achieve many of your financial goals, it isn’t the only way to free up cash flow, build your savings, or pay down debt more quickly. In fact in some cases it makes more sense to find ways you can cut expenses rather than burn yourself out trying to grow your income. Everyone’s situation is unique, which is why it’s so important to create a comprehensive financial plan that puts you on track to meet your goals without totally sacrificing a comfortable lifestyle, your values, or time with the ones you love.
Episode 60: Overcoming Industry Stereotypes in Your Career with Shannah Game
Do You Feel Like Career Stereotypes are Standing in Your Way?
***This is part 2 of a back-to-back podcast. To listen to part 1 visit Shannah’s podcast at Millennial Money Podcast.***
This week I sat down with CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, podcaster, lecturer, and award-winning financial strategist Shannah Game who is on a mission to revolutionize how millennials think, act, and feel about their finances.
Shannah Game is host to the universally popular and top-ranked iTunes podcast, “Millennial Money” with listeners in 164 countries and over 4 million total downloads. Millennial Money has helped millions of listeners demystify money topics in a playful and approachable way and features interviews with musicians, authors, chefs and entrepreneurs to help inspire listeners to go out and achieve their dreams regardless of their budget.
Aside from her podcast, she is an entrepreneur at heart, starting her first business, Hometown Cinema, Inc. at 19 while in college at Indiana University that helped over 130 students get jobs and internships in the entertainment industry. Shannah is a Lecturer in Finance in California State University Northridge, where she empowers students to take ownership over their money from a young age. She is also the owner of a company that creates original personal finance media content and is an accomplished financial writer and speaker. Her financial expertise has been highlighted in articles for Women’s Health, Money Magazine, Teen Vogue, MSN Money, Reuters, Bankrate.com, Refinery 29, CNBC and Yahoo! Finance to name a few.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
Shannah’s unique roa to becoming a CFP®
How Shannah’s career path lead her to become a professor for Cal State Northridge