How to Get the Raise You Want
Getting a root canal, going on a blind date, and asking for a raise. What do these three things have in common? They make the majority of us super uncomfortable. While this article isn’t going anywhere near those first two things, that last one—we can help you there!
We know you work hard for your money. And some days it feels like there’s not enough of it to go around. You think to yourself, If only I had a raise, I could save more money, pay off debt, start investing in my retirement, and (insert other money goal here). We get it.
So here’s info on how to get the raise you want, both by finding more money you already have and moving up at work.
How to Give Yourself a Raise
Not to be harsh, but before you start asking for more money at work, you should work at managing the money you already have. This isn’t a cop-out answer on how to get a raise. It’s an “It begins with you” answer. Because that’s the truth. Michael Jackson knew: You start with the person in the mirror.
When you stick a mirror in front of the way you treat your money, you’ll probably be surprised by how a few tweaks in your actions will free up money—making it feel like you just gave yourself a raise. (As MJ would say, “Come on. Make that change! HeHe!”)
1. Create a budget.
This may sound crazy, but budgeting can help you find money you didn’t even know you had. It happens all the time. That’s because a budget shows you where you’re spending money.
You’ll finally see that extra $200 you were literally eating away with all those random snacks. Or you’ll realize the $900 you spend on groceries every month could be $700 if you start being a little more intentional with meal planning and grocery-list-making .
When you budget, you tell your money what to do. You tell your $200 snack habit to shrink to a more reasonable $20. You put your grocery spending on a diet. You start spending less because you’re watching your spending.
You just rounded up more cash for your money goals. Welcome to Raisetown, USA. Population: You.
2. Quit paying for stuff you don’t use.
Be honest. How many video streaming services do you have? How many do you need? Cancel what you aren’t using right now. Get a library card. That free entertainment frees up money in your budget.
Then look in other areas of your life. Remember January 1? You signed up for a gym membership, a weekly personal trainer, and a kale-delivery group. You soon realized you prefer yoga at home and hate kale. It happens. But are you still paying the gym, trainer and kale guy? Don’t quit the health. Do quit all the services you just aren’t using any more.
3. Pay off your debt.
The best way to get ahead? Stop getting behind. Now apply that to your money. Using credit cards gets you behind in your finances. All it grows is your debt and your pile of stuff (that isn’t even really yours). Credit card companies lure you in with a low interest rate then bump it up. And you may have the best intentions to pay it off each month, but miss one payment, and that interest skyrockets to 30%!1
Grab your scissors—cut up your credit cards. Then start paying off all your debt. Keep more of your own money.
4. Review your insurance policies.
Checking up on your insurance to make sure your coverage is right is probably not at the top of your “Fun Things to Do” list. But it should be at the top of your priority list. Why? You need to make sure you have the right coverage and the best rates.
If you’ve had big life changes, you may need different coverage. Even if you haven’t, there could be a better deal out there. What if you’re overpaying? No, thank you.
For example, if you have whole life insurance, the better deal is term life. You pay on whole life for your whole life (hence the title). It’s a total rip-off, pretending to have a great savings plan that actually has a horrible rate of return. You could go from just $125,000 of coverage in whole life to $400,000 in term life and save $82 a month.2
Hey, if your boss offered you better benefits plus a $82 a month raise, you’d jump on it. Give yourself that bonus by switching to term life insurance.
How to Get a Raise at Work
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to get a raise in the workplace. We got these steps from our friend, the career expert and author Ken Coleman. Thanks, Ken!
1. Do a self-assessment.
This isn’t just a good practice to prep for your annual review or before talking to your leader about moving up in the company. You should do some level of self-assessment every month or so. Ask yourself a few important questions:
Am I meeting the expectations in current role?
In what ways am I going above and beyond in my current role?
In what ways am I missing the expectations of my current role?
If I were my boss, what would I expect to see happening in my role before giving a raise?
2. Get feedback from leaders and peers.
Ask others around you how to improve. Most of us don’t love getting feedback because it can feel like personal criticism, but this info will let us see if our own self-assessment is spot on. Plus, it helps us move forward to the next step.
Try questions from this list. The mix here should give you direction without feeling attacked.
What are some books you’d suggest I read to grow in my role?
What do you think is best way for me to step it up at work?
Can you think of a time when you grew a lot in your own career? What advice do you have for me from that experience?
What’s something actionable I could do this month to improve?
How can I work with you better in the future?
3. Work with your boss to create goals for growth.
Use what you learn from assessments and feedback to make a real game plan for growth. Create goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive.
In the best work environments, you have regular meetings with your leader. If this isn’t something on the schedule for you, ask if you can meet to talk through and make goals based on where you are and where you want to be.
Without this step, you’ll move about as quickly as a sloth at naptime. Don’t be a sloth. Wake up your dreams with actionable goals.
4. Be patient and work the plan.
Most people don’t work up from the mail room to the corner office in one day. And that’s not even what you’re trying to do. But you still have to have patience when you want a raise or a promotion. You have a plan in place and goals to get there. Now work those goals. And get there!
During this time, put yourself around people doing what you want to be doing more of, and watch how they act and react. Ask them questions. This is called the Proximity Principle, and it’s explained to the max in Ken Coleman’s latest book. If you’re wanting a new job or to advance at your current one, this is the read you need.
Dreams don’t come true overnight. They’re about determination. They’re about movement. They’re about grit. Apply those things to your budgeting, money management, and work ethic—and you can move on up at work and in life.