You can decide what you spend your money on, I might not agree, but I will accept your spending habits. If you want to spend the majority of your income on travel if you’re buying all the new gadgets. Okay, your choice is fine by me.
But there is one thing that I will tell absolutely every single person: negotiate your salary to the max at your job!
This is money earned the easy way. You don’t have to work any harder, you don’t have to pass some kind of test, and you don’t have to put in more than 10 minutes of your time. All you have to do is ask.
This will have such a big effect on your life. It’s incredible. If you want to shortcut your way to financial freedom, you have just found something very significant! If you want to reach financial independence shortly, you would have to work on the following:
If you don’t
It Doesn’t Have To Come Naturally
I understand if you’re thinking: I don’t want to do it. I truly do. But if I can do it, you can!
When I grew up, they told me; don’t ask for anything. When I was young, my mom always told me: ‘Children who ask get skipped’ (this is the translation of a Dutch proverb, I hope it is a-okay to use it like this in English). It implies that kids who ask for anything are rude, so yeah, I never asked for anything.
I didn’t ask when I didn’t understand something at school (high school & university), I didn’t ask when I wanted something to drink, and I didn’t ask when I wanted something in general.
Also, I never spoke up when my teachers asked
What Turned Me Around
Then I did an internship at a Big Four company while studying. They paid me €450 euros per month, while a lot of others got around €750 for the same job. They insulted me, but still, I didn’t ask for more.
Luckily I have more outspoken friends, who told me that I was crazy for not saying anything and that I go more against what people told me in general. So right then and there, I vowed that something like that would never happen to me again.
Since the intern situation, I’m always asking for more money. Despite the way my personality is shaped and how shy I was in the past, I’m still asking for more money. I’ve negotiated my salary ever since.
I’m telling everyone to ask for more money; my friends, my colleagues, everyone who wants to hear it!
Reasons To Do it Scared
I don’t care if you’re scared as hell, so was I when I did it both times: do it scared!
Here are some reasons to feel the fear and do it anyway:
1. You may have the same job as your coworker, but you’re having different salaries
The intern incident got me realize that you can do the exact same job as your coworkers, only you get paid less.
Storytime: The other day, I discussed with my colleague how his performance review went. He told me that he was promoted – very excited, so then he told me his old salary. I found out that we started out with very different salaries. I earned around €200 more per month at that time than he did.
We’re in the same company, both just graduated, and we did the exact same job. Yet I made 2.5k more yearly.
2. It sets the baseline for your career
Continuing with the example above, about me and my colleague. After his – and my – promotion. I asked for more again. He didn’t. Now my wage is around 5k more yearly, still in the same job and with the same job title.
This is mostly because I already started higher than he did. So when I got promoted, I already started higher than he did, so my steps on the next salary scale are higher than his.
3. Companies won’t look out for you
What companies want is the best person for the job, with the lowest wage possible. They will try to get you for your minimum amount.
That is the quote from Rich Dad Poor Dad: Companies will pay their employees just enough so that they won’t quit. Employees will just work hard enough so that they don’t get fired.
This implies that you should look out for yourself when you’re starting a (new) job. No one will do it for you!
4. Closing the Gender Pay Gap
Everyone should negotiate their salary, but especially women and minorities should be on the lookout for this. Women earn on average 80 ct for every dollar a man earns.
5. What is the worst thing that could happen?
Ask yourself: what is the worst thing that could happen?
Probably the worst thing that could happen is that they would say no. Well, I have some news for you; when you don’t ask for a higher salary, you’re already fulfilling your worst-case scenario. If you’re not asking, you’re sure as anything that they will say no.
Mistakes I’ve Made When Negotiating My Salary
Saying yes right away
A lot of people say yes right away because they are afraid that the opportunity will be lost if they try and negotiate. I also made these mistakes.
Very unnecessary if you ask me as there’s a very high chance of success if you just ask. If you’re not convinced yet, go back to the point above and try to read them again!
Not knowing what you want to earn
When I went to one of my first real job interviews, they asked me what I wanted to earn. I hadn’t thought about it, so then I just said some salary that someone told me was average for recent graduates.
It sounded good to me at that time, but afterward, when I checked on Glassdoor, I could’ve asked for much more for that position.
Ask exactly what you want
The thing is that you need to ask for more than you want to earn. If you want to earn 50k, you ask for 55k or more. Mostly they meet halfway, so if you’re asking exactly for what you want, your salary will come out much lower.
If you ask for a bit higher, both parties are compromising and happy if the outcome is somewhere in the middle (exactly what you had in mind!).
Are you going to negotiate your next salary? What are your main takeaways?
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
- Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
- Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
- Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.