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Don’t Expect a Big Pay Increase: Other Options

This article was written by in Career and Work, Salaries. 5 comments.


Hewitt Associates is saying that companies are not planning above average base pay increases in 2008 thanks to rising health insurance costs. This is the same reason I’ve heard over and over again.

Average employees have nothing to look forward to in terms of raises, as perhaps they shouldn’t have. Even above average employees will likely have nothing but a modest increase in base pay. There’s often discussion about how today’s company workers do not remain loyal to their companies for years on end, compared to previous generations of workers who have company loyalty ingrained in their philosophy. But loyalty has to be earned, and corporations must act in a way that shows their employees are their most valuable assets.

Here are some options if you’re not expecting an above-average pay increase but are happy in your current position.

Show me the money!

Two options for changing the company’s behavior:

Negotiate a higher bonus. Companies are starting to prepare their budgets for 2008. If you are a star performer — or if you just finished working on a successful project that has benefited the company in some way — now is the time to schedule a meeting to remind your boss of your recent accomplishments. While salary is a fixed cost for a company, there may be more room for negotiating one-time expenses like bonuses.

Negotiate something else. Working from home one day a week may save wear-and-tear on your vehicle, money for gas and tolls or mass transportation, and time. If this is a possiblity for you, find out if your company will approve it. Perhaps more vacation time would be a negotiable point.

Three options for changing your own behavior (giving yourself a raise):

Make fun money. Don’t rely on a company to provide you with more money. Find a way to make some extra money with your favorite hobby or activity. If you like what you do at work, do some related consulting on the side (steering clear of relationships conflicting with a non-compete agreement you may have signed at one point).

Revisit (or create) your budget. There are two reasons to want more money from your job — to save more for the future or to pay for increased expenses. Cut back on unnecessary expenses — perhaps expanded digital cable with premium channels or super high speed internet. Deposit the saved money into savings automatically each month or use it for a necessary expense. If you’ve never created a budget before, give it a try. You may be able to locate “lost” money on a monthly basis.

Adjust your withholding. If you find that you, like many households, receive a tax refund from the government every April, perhaps you would benefit from adjusting your withholding to be able to keep that money as you earn it. This way you’re not giving an interest-free loan to the government, and you have use of your money for paying expenses or investing. Use this withholding calculator to determine your optimal exemption amounts.

Whether or not your employer pays you more, your expenses will go up year after year (if not controlled and reduced) for any reason other than inflation and the second law of thermodynamics. The difference has to come from somewhere, and hopefully the solution does not involve the depletion of savings or the use of credit.

Published or updated July 5, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Hustler

tighten your budget and create side income are the best options. There are always methods to cut your bills. Side job could be as easy as sign on bonuses.

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avatar Compounding

Well, I have not yet stayed in a job for much longer than two years. This strategy has paid-off well for me, to this point. My last two job changes have each yielded ~20% pay increases for me. I will likely stay in my current position for at least three and one-half years, which is until I am 30, because I want my next move to be towards management, and I have a lot that I can do in my current position that will lend well towards a move in that direction.

However, these job changes do provide for interesting challenges. For instance, I would say that I have missed out on several thousands of dollars in opportunity to invest in 401(k) accounts, because of the waiting periods. Also, I am gone without insurance for a month here, and a month there, because of it.

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avatar Matt

As a general rule I find companies don’t like to give out big raises and if you look at it from their point of view it makes sense but sucks as an employee.

I think the best suggestion is to make money on the side – there are many ways to do it especially if you have hobbies that lend themselves to this.

Finally you can always change companies/jobs often just going to a competitor will give you 5-10% (though I guess that depends on your industry and where you live)

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avatar Jason

Another option is to negotiate for some short term (or immediately) vesting stock options. It is very much like a bonus, but easier on the companies balance sheet since they don’t have to allocate the money. This works very well with start-up tech companies, but likely will work just as well with more established companies.

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avatar thomas

“But loyalty has to be earned, and corporations must act in a way that shows their employees are their most valuable assets.”

Very good point, especially for the Gen Y crowd. Fortune magazine just had an article about Gen Y and the workforce. They have zero loyalty and will change jobs/quit for numerous reasons.

If your company is large enough, you could also look internally for a new position. Hopefully one that allows you to grow professionally and maybe even financially.

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