A job does not make a career; it is just one step along the journey to your ultimate objectives – be it job satisfaction, wish fulfillment or a steady income followed by a smooth transition into retirement.
Everyone’s path is different, and it might change course. But no matter where you are on your career path, when it comes to effectively managing the money that you make, your job is to:
- Use increased income to boost your savings
- Eliminate debt so you can focus on the things that really matter
- Inch yourself closer to your financial goals
Before you accept a job or negotiate your way into a new one, here are a few things to consider:
What’s (Not) In a Salary?
In a lot of ways, a salary is nothing but a number. After taxes and employee contributions chew their way through your bottom line, it can become a laughable number—one of those numbers that makes you wonder, “Where does it all go?”
Cheer up, because:
- If you’re making smart contributions to your company’s retirement plan and other flex-options, those dollars are cutting into your salary on a pretax basis
- Your expectation should be for your company to increase your salary annually…if your performance is up to the task, don’t be afraid to ask
- If you still feel that you’re not making what you’re worth, the Internet provides plenty of opportunities to compare your salary with others in your field (even within your department) so you can negotiate your way up the pay-scale.
Additional monetary benefits to look out for
Numbers not in your salary include bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing plans. Don't overlook the value in these – they can tack thousands of dollars onto your base pay.
Non-monetary benefits count too
Technological and other non-monetary benefits, like a mobile phone, laptop, tablet, etc., are also important to consider. Even if it doesn’t feel like a gain right away, the money you can save by having someone else pick up the tab for your phone service, or help you avoid having to buy a new computer, really add up.
Does the work fit into your balance?
Much lip service is paid to work/life balance, and for good reason. Technology has made it nearly impossible for us to leave the office totally and absolutely behind. The lines between our social, personal and professional lives become more and more blurred.
Before you accept a job offer…
Review the information you've gathered about the job and company. Then think back to the interview…what were your intuitions about the company, the position, and the people you’d be working with? What are the future prospects for the company, and what are your future prospects within it? A good approach to maximize your career satisfaction is to pick the company for the people, not the product; pick the job for the work, not the title.
In addition, when it comes to evaluating your career choices and new job offers, consider…
- The financial payoff to you
- The related costs of your job, including commuting, day-care expenses, clothing, schmoozing, etc.
- How you fit in with the company’s culture and over-arching mission
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
If you’re happy with the job, but less than keen on the salary, benefits and schedule, don’t be afraid to negotiate. You just might impress them with your pluckiness.
- Tell your potential employer specifically what it is that you want
- Be really specific, like state the amount of money you want and the exact hours you’d like to work
- Don’t forget about vacation or other time off, especially for a seasoned career change. A new hire out of college may not have the choice, but the rest of the universe should not have to start over.
- Make it clear that if the company accepts your terms, you are willing and able to accept the offer immediately
The company will either accept your counteroffer or reject it. They might even be willing to compromise. No matter what the outcome, negotiation gives you the opportunity to define your worth, find your footing, serve your immediate interests and save for your future ones.