6 Ways to Increase Your Current Salary
They say money can’t buy happiness, but a solid paycheck can certainly help you breathe easier. Knowing that your current cash flow puts you on track to achieve your personal finance goals? That’s the kind of peace of mind we all deserve.
But with 64% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck and inflation rising, many are struggling.(1) It’s hard out there! If your current salary is making it difficult for you to make ends meet or you just want to earn more cash, we’ve got some ideas. From promotions to employer benefits, here’s how you can get the most (dollars) out of your day job.
Ask for a raise
A little secret your employer doesn’t want you to know: you’re in a really good position to ask for a raise.
Last year’s “Great Resignation” led to employee shortages across many industries. As businesses competed for workers, many raised wages. Now, the resulting tight labor market is “boosting the bargaining power of the rest of the workforce,” says Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed.(2) With high competition for talent, your skills are needed and should be valued more than ever. Know your worth and ask for a raise! And don’t wait until your review comes around — timing is on your side.
But before you sit down to talk with your boss, let’s talk some dollars and sense. Just a few things to consider beforehand:
- Create a list of wins: A “win file,” as personal finance columnist Athena Valentine calls it.(3) You may start this list just to get a raise, but it’s smart to keep an ongoing one so that you can keep track of all of your accomplishments. Every time you clock a work victory or reach a milestone, write it down so that you’re ready to speak on specific instances where you’ve delivered value to your employer.
- Research comparable salaries: Search on sites like Glassdoor and talk to your coworkers. It used to be taboo to talk about what you make, but salary transparency can help remove pay gaps and bolster pay negotiations for those willing to share. Once you have a target range, ask for the high end of it so that there’s room to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties.
- Incorporate external factors: Inflation is real! And it’s an important factor that should be included in your request, especially if you can provide evidence of how the increased cost of living has directly affected your situation. If your employer says no to a regular raise, they may still be open to providing you a cost-of-living increase. Always good to have a backup plan.
- Know how to respond to “no”: A no is the worst thing that can happen when you ask for a raise…which is not that bad! You’ve raised the issue. That’s step one. Now, to better understand the likelihood of you getting a raise in the near future, you’ve got to follow up with some Qs. Ask your employer to provide you with the concrete goals you need to achieve to qualify for a raise. Don’t forget to set a date, too. Get a meeting on the calendar in the coming months to review your progress towards these goals.
Another great (but more labor- and time-intensive) way to get your money gains is to upskill. Deciding to learn a new skill shows initiative (and will look great in your win file!). Plus, putting the time and effort in to get a certification can help qualify you for a promotion and more $$$. Courses are often covered by employers — check to see if your job will pay for your education before you enroll.
Make the most of your benefits
They’re called benefits for a reason! Make sure yours are actually benefiting you and your wallet.
- Make conscious decisions: Many of us enroll in the same plans without taking the time to research and properly weigh more cost-effective options. Take an active role in electing your benefits every time an enrollment period comes around, as circumstances in your life might change from year to year that impact this decision.
- Take advantage of lifestyle benefits: Lots of employers go beyond the regular health coverage to offer lifestyle benefits. Your Human Resources department is responsible for informing you of all of these perks, but because they’re usually introduced during onboarding or annual info sessions with lots to process, it’s easy to overlook them and instead focus on more pressing offerings.Request a sit down with your Human Resources manager to make sure you understand all that’s available to you. There’s a wide range of non-traditional benefits these days, from pet insurance to gym memberships. Look for the big ones that can save you a pretty penny, like childcare benefits. According to the Center for American Progress, Families with infants would need to pay nearly $16,000 per year to cover the true cost of child care.(4) Offering onsite daycare, caregiving stipends, additional time off, or just a flexible schedule are all ways employers lend a hand in this department.
- Maximize financial benefits: If your employer offers partial or dollar-for-dollar 401(k) matching, that’s free money. FREE MONEY! Check the fine print and limitations and then contribute as much as you can to maximize returns from your company.
There are two types of employees: exempt and non-exempt. If you’re a salaried employee, you’re likely exempt and therefore do not qualify for overtime. But if you’re paid hourly, you’re probably entitled to overtime pay for any additional hours worked. Make sure you’re getting paid for the time you put in. If you’re working over 40 hours a week, the law requires employers to pay no less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.(5)
Work on the holidays
If you qualify for overtime, you may also qualify for special holiday pay. There aren’t federal or state laws that require holiday pay, but some employers do compensate extra on these days. Check with your employer to confirm your workplace’s policy.
Switch or supplement your job
Ok, the whole point of this article is to show you how to maximize your income at your current job — but if these tips aren’t cutting it, you might consider moving on to the next opportunity. Job hopping is one of the most effective ways to increase your salary. Think about it: if you stay at a company for a long period of time, you’ll likely get small increases of around 3% each year. If you simply switch to a new job, the average increase ranges from 10% to 20%.(6)
If you’ve got the time and energy, you might also consider adding a side hustle on top of your regular job. A secondary gig can help you reach more short-term financial needs, like saving for a car. And who knows, maybe setting up that Etsy shop is all you need to get noticed and never have to work your day job again. Any dreamers in the house?
Get your money right
Advocating for yourself and making money moves to up your income can empower you to reach all kinds of financial goals, like saving for an emergency fund, improving your credit, or simply feeling more financially stable. And the steps you take to increase your earning potential can also set you up for better opportunities down the road. Keep working, growing, and keep the cash flowing. You’ve got this.
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Zip’s editorial content is not written by a financial advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.