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Salary Thoughts

August 22, 2011

I don’t really talk about my salary on my blog anymore.  This at least partially because I am somewhat… embarrassed?   It isn’t that I don’t make a good salary, but I sincerely think that for my experience, education, efforts, and performance at work I am not paid fairly.  As a personal finance blogger, I know this my responsibility.  It is something that I could/should do something about, but I don’t.

Why do I think this?  First, my company cried “recession” and didn’t allow any promotions through last year, except for very special cases.  My annual raise was still  good, but my title is behind where it should be.  In my day-to-day work, titles are irrelevant and I feel valued and respected despite the lack of official promotion.  But in my paycheck, I know it counts.  It has to.  My manager is doing everything he can (I do not blame him) but so far this year, he hasn’t been allowed to submit people for the promotion cycle.  I’m frustrated.

Second, I know people with equivalent education/experience who are making significantly more.  I’m also confident I could do their jobs at least as well as them.  (These people do not work at my company.)  I’m not entirely confident I could easily find a job like this, but I certainly could try.

Third, I know that I work a lot harder than some senior people and that the results I get are not so un-equivalent… but they get paid SO MUCH more.  This is something I accept as part of the system, and actually, is less and less true after several rounds of layoffs.  Still, my point stands.  I think my company is getting quite a bargain on me right now.  On me, and on several other younger people who are doing great work.

However…  I really don’t plan to do anything about it right now.  I don’t want to hear people telling me how I need to do this or that, because right now, I’m not ready.  I’m not ready to make a bold move, even if it could net me more cash.  I’m ok with waiting to see how this year’s promotion cycle goes.   I get job emails every now and then to see what is out there, but I feel like I’ve got some great potential right now, the right people know me and think I do good work, and… I just am not ready to jeaopordize that for money.  I also am 90% sure it will be fruitless without obtaining a competing offer.  Getting a competing offer is probably possible, but it is a lot of work.

I also was really hesitant about posting this at all, because it seems like I keep hearing enthusiastic cheers of “I got a raise!  I got a promotion!” from the pf world.  I am happy for it, but I am also jealous.  It is totally silly to compare myself to that – everyone’s job & careers are different and have no relevance on MINE!  I’ve gotten healthy raises each year in this Great Recession, and I should be thankful of that.  (I also have a habit of studying work histories of successful people and wondering if I’m getting behind and should have accomplished more by now.) Still, it makes me feel like something of a failure that I’m unable to get what I want.  I hate that.

Also… times are tough.  Layoffs are happening, pay freezes are happening, etc., etc.  Should I even be thinking this (even if I don’t plan to do anything with it!)?  Maybe not.  Maybe I shouldn’t.   Still, it frustrates me to get all these emails about various upper level management changes in position while I feel like the worker bees at the bottom don’t get what they deserve.

Have you ever felt underpaid, but unwilling to fight for more?  Does anyone EVER feel like they are paid appropriately?  

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2011 8:30 am

    I totally get what you are saying. I am currently making peanuts, but I know that I would be making almost the same anywhere I go right now because the salary is dictated by the industry. I am currently working on my account designation at the moment and am planning to leave to go to industry as soon as I get my designation, which will significantly increase my salary. But at the moment it is what it is, for me anyway. However, if I felt that something could be done about my salary, I would definitely fight for it.

  2. Bonnie permalink
    August 22, 2011 8:32 am

    I definitely wish I made more money, but I’m actually doing well for my industry and are of the country, which is traditionally low-paying. I am REALLY unhappy with my job, though, and am frustrated that after over a year of hardcore looking for a job, I still haven’t found anything, even after several phone interviews and dozens (or more) of applications. Then I feel guilty for being frustrated when I HAVE a job and there are a lot of people applying for the same jobs who have nothing right now and would kill to have my soul-sucking position. I’m just glad I’m not about to graduate from college. Those folks really have it rough. Would love to quit and spend 8 hours a day looking for something I love, but who can do that in this economy, even with a nice e-fund?

    • August 23, 2011 7:42 am

      Totally agree. I’m really torn about how I feel, because all things considered, I’m very VERY lucky.

      Another reason I’m not excited to do something about it is that I could very well hunt for a competing offer for a year and NOT find one. I looked for about a month and only got interest from somewhere in Boston. Not the plan…

  3. Bonnie permalink
    August 22, 2011 8:33 am

    Make that ‘area’ of the country.

  4. tom permalink
    August 22, 2011 8:47 am

    Your concerns are completely understandable. I think you might be looking at upper management through rose colored glasses. They are actually getting demotions, believe it or not. Executive positions are getting cut as well. That is the “behind the scenes” meaning of all of the changes up top.

    On the plus side, when you are ready for the next thing, you’ll have a great resume built and a lot of “stories” to tell in the interview.

    • SP permalink*
      August 22, 2011 10:41 am

      Probably true about upper management. I get all these emails that talk about the positive things happening there, rather than the demotions/cuts. Whenever I get one, I just get annoyed, as no one is explaining what it all really means (probably for good reason).

      It is frustrating, but my best move is to sit tight.

  5. August 22, 2011 9:16 am

    I haven’t had a raise since 2008. They never cut our salary but they did take away all of the match to our 401(k) which was brutal. There’s talk that they will reinstate at least salary raises this year but who knows anymore?

  6. August 22, 2011 9:17 am

    Every industry is so different and every city too! Some places just haven’t bounced back and some have and employer’s are just riding out paying their employee’s lower salaries as long as they can.

    Unfortunately for those companies, really great people such as yourself will likely just stop waiting after this year and just find other employment if they don’t start getting their salaries back up to par.

    Good luck!

    • August 23, 2011 7:44 am

      It’s true – they are performing a balancing act. How much can they get away with without losing good people when the economy recovers? And honestly, t think they are doing a good job of balancing, as I haven’t seen any star performers walking out the door.

      No one knows how much longer the economy will be in such dire straights, but everyone is a little scared until that happens.

  7. August 22, 2011 11:14 am

    When I changed jobs earlier this year, I took a 40% paycut. I now live in an area with a much lower cost of living, and I do believe that my new company is paying me as much as they can afford (I’m making more than the last person who was here, which is rare). But I felt underpaid at my last job too! Maybe there’s no amount of money that will ever feel like ‘enough’.

    In my case, I was able to balance out the difference in pay with the difference in stress – basically, I don’t have any with this job, and the last job had me working 60-70 hour weeks and caused insomnia from stress. The extra 40% income didn’t help offset the cost of living, so I’m trying to focus on the lovely area I’m now able to live in and the fact that I leave every day at 5 pm with no evil glares coming from anyone. That helps a lot.

    Basically, what makes the difference for me is to try not to compare what I’m making or what title I have or where I’m at with anyone else – I know that it only makes me unhappy, and it doesn’t help me get competitive so I can “catch up” or anything like that (unfortunately).

    • August 23, 2011 7:46 am

      Yes – when the only current complaint I have is a little bit too little money, that isn’t enough to get me to move in this economy. The hours are fair, I’m treated with respect & freedom (somewhat flexible hours, etc.), and the work is good, and I’m generally not stressed about work.

      Comparing is something I like to do in some areas of my life to help motivate me, i.e., “if he/she can do it, so can I!!!”, but in other areas, it just is not useful. This is clearly one of the not useful areas.

  8. August 22, 2011 2:46 pm

    I think I’m paid fairly given the lack of money in this industry and my experience/age. I also know there isn’t a lot of potential to make much more, and that might be a reason to change directions later on. At the same time, I really enjoy what I do, so I’m not sure if that’s a trade I’d be eager to make.

  9. August 22, 2011 4:47 pm

    Oh jeez. I just had a LONG conversation with my sister about this. The only thing I really don’t like about my job (I’m a high school teacher) is the pay – not just that I feel like I don’t make enough but that no matter how hard I work, it won’t be reflected in my pay. I only get a raise when the BS politics between the union and the school board say so, and that’s when everyone gets a raise…including the teachers who suck!

    So I feel you. So frustrating.

  10. August 22, 2011 5:54 pm

    I’m underpaid.. but due for a raise soon, we’ll see where it ends up. I am seriously disappointed with my full-time income right now and that’s taking its toll on me. I’ve looked briefly at jobs out there but I’m not in the mood to do something that would bore me to death just for a better paycheque. I have a really unique & cool job, and I LOVE it, but I get depressed every payday.

    Management knows I’m disgruntled and negotiations seem permanently in the works, but nothing’s been sorted out quite yet.

  11. findingserenity2010 permalink
    August 24, 2011 8:21 am

    I hear ya – everywhere I look on in the PF-blog-o-verse, I’m seeing the same pattern. Good news for everyone getting raises or finding their dream jobs …. but back at the ranch, I’m still getting by with hourly pay.

    Yeah, I used to be a part-time teacher for a living. I left because I couldn’t survive on the money they were paying me. I was working 4 jobs last year.

    I would cry poverty now except I’m now working full-time and 1 job, which is a huge improvement. Sure, my pay is somewhere around $9 an hour after figuring in taxes, but it’s much better than what I had. On the positive side, I don’t live in a big city, and I am on the ground floor experience-wise in the financial sector. Once I get more experience, I would expect a pay raise, but we’ll see.

  12. August 25, 2011 5:44 pm

    A bit late on commenting, but I felt the SAME way when I was at my old job in San Diego. I was making $35K base and it was completely ridiculous for working in finance. I felt used…which is a lot of the reason I left. Now that I’m in NYC, I’m making more (currently at $51K) but I also believe this is on the low-end for what I -should- be making. My ideal rang is $60K, and I know I can get there eventually!

    But yes, like others have said, I am VERY glad I have a solid job and that I recently increased my salary by $16K! You’ll get there – keep going. Or honestly…LOOK AROUND. Because you just never know! 🙂

  13. August 25, 2011 6:11 pm

    I had been living in Norfolk, VA since 1997 when I was in the Navy. I got out in 2002, ran a retail computer business and stayed above water. Being self employed taught me valuable lessons but I needed a break. After 3 years, I closed up shop (literally) and became a police officer for the city. Economy was decent when I joined in 2005 but got worse slowly overtime. Pay raise stopped, benefits decreased to almost minimum and moral was awful. What do you do? I moved. I moved to a place with better economy and cost of living. I moved to a city north of Dallas TX and became a police officer there. I got a $12k pay raise and my rent is about $700.00 cheaper a month. I have a lot more time to spend with my family and to work on my new PF blog, . You would be surprise of how salaries change even by moving one city over. Just keep your head up, don’t be jealous of others. Work hard and you will figure everything out.


  14. August 26, 2011 11:18 am

    I feel fairly paid now and am also lucky to have a job in banking where I’m still getting raises every year despite what’s been going on in the economy since 2008. I also fell into a position where I have very flexible hours and like my colleagues – which is certainly not typical in my industry. So I don’t plan to look around anytime soon. If I make a change it’ll be because I’m changing career paths altogether.

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