Day 2: Step 2



To more clearly see the relationship between your earnings and your lifestyle, we’d like you to recall the childhood game, M.A.S.H., which you would play to foresee whether you’d live in a mansion, apartment, shack or house; who you’d marry; what car you would drive; and how many kids you’d have. We’ve created a quiz based on the M.A.S.H. game that actually calculates how much your ideal life will cost you.

As you go through the M.A.S.H. calculator questions, choose the option that best fits your dream lifestyle. If, for any question, you see that your desired item—say, a condo in the city—is listed at a price point different from the cost of your ideal condo in the city, just select “other” and type in your own price. In general, let the price points guide you whenever you see several options you want to pick. Which price point most accurately reflects how you’d like to live?

Run through the M.A.S.H. calculator once to see what you get. Use it again to see whether different choices increase or decrease how much you’d need to earn.

If it looks like your ideal life will cost you more than you can currently afford, tweak your answers to see how you can get a life that would satisfy you, without requiring you to give up the career you love for a more lucrative one. If you’re finding the opposite—that you have extra income to spare, run through it again, adding in a few nice extras for yourself.

Above all, the numbers you get from this quiz are meant to be food for thought, so you see the relationship between your lifestyle choices and the salary you’ll need. If the results make you panic about your current income, don’t despair—we’ve got salary negotiating tips for you below.

Now that you’ve played the M.A.S.H. game, are you wondering how you’ll ever achieve your desired lifestyle? Even if you’re already on the path to achieving it, we still want you to try our tips. You can always direct any salary gains toward your retirement, helping to ensure that it will be long and stress-free. (More on that later.)

Ask for a Raise

We know, you don’t want to ruffle any feathers at work. You see these people every day, and you want to make your boss happy. But think of it this way: There is no downside to just asking. The worst your manager can do is say no. On the other hand, if you don’t ask, you will never know—and you may be missing out on a raise.

Start With a Little Research

Find out what would be fair compensation, so you make a reasonable request that will be seriously considered and not dismissed out of hand. and can show you how much money people in your position in your city normally command.

Channel John F. Kennedy

Ask not what your company can do for you, but what you can do (and have done) for your company. Create a list of work accomplishments and quantify their benefit—in dollars, if possible—to the company. Making a strong case for yourself will push your request beyond reasonable to a no-brainer.

Practice Beforehand

Ask friends who manage others to do a little role play with you, so you feel comfortable when you do finally talk with your superior.

Pick the Right Time

There are two factors to consider here. The first is your manager’s workload. You don’t want to make your request when she’s got too much on her plate. Wait until things calm down for her, so she won’t feel like you are burdening her with just another request. The second timing factor to consider is your recent performance. In the weeks preceding, make sure to fulfill all your supervisor’s wishes. You don’t want to demand a raise a few days after you failed to deliver on something important.

If you don’t get the raise, ask your boss how you can improve your performance in order to get one down the road. Or look for another job, even if it’s just to get a competing offer that prompts your current employer to offer you a raise. If the denial sours you on your company, start looking for a place that will appreciate your talents—and compensate you the way you deserve.

Which brings us to another excellent way to boost your income:

Salary Negotiations

The best time to boost your income is when you’re about to start a new job. All your future raises will be based on the number you nab in the beginning, so this is when you want to push for that extra $5,000 or $10,000.

As when negotiating a raise, you will want to do your research so you shoot for a number higher than average, but not so high as to put off your future employer. Again, you want to frame this in terms of the benefit to the company, not about what you want or need.

If you’re afraid of offending your future employer, remember that they will be impressed if you make a strong case for yourself. If you’re still nervous about it, keep practicing until it feels natural—and remember: no one will fight for you but you.

Making More Money on the Side

If you already know a raise won’t cut it for you, come up with new sources of income. Perhaps you can take on some freelance work in your industry. Maybe your closet is brimming with items that you know will fetch high prices on eBay. Or maybe you want to turn your jewelry-making hobby into a jewelry-making business.

Motivate yourself to think up new business ideas with a personal reward scheme. For instance, create a rule that for all extra income you bring in, half will go toward a financial priority such as paying down debt, building savings or investing for the future, and the other half will be used to treat yourself to something you’ve been lusting after.


  • Ruth G Gyllenh

    The quiz isn’t showing up. :(

  • Ruth G Gyllenh

    The quiz isn’t showing up. :(

  • Ruth G Gyllenh

    The quiz isn’t showing up. :(

  • Ruth G Gyllenh

    The quiz isn’t showing up. :(

  • Ruth G Gyllenh

    The quiz isn’t showing up. :(

  • Jess

    I can’t see the quiz either, just see “There was a problem. The quiz specified was not found.” :(

  • Jess

    I can’t see the quiz either, just see “There was a problem. The quiz specified was not found.” :(

  • Tiffany

    Hi everyone!
    The quiz is back up and running!  Thanks for your patience as we worked through this bug.

    Please let me know if you have any questions,


  • BrokeBloke

    The quiz has a flaw!!  I mean, it’s probably not a problem since I think only 0.00001% of LearnVesters will choose these options, but if you say you plan to retire single and have no kids, it still asks you lots of questions about raising those kids, educating those kids, etc (and there is no option to say none of the above). 

    • Anonymous

      Hi BrokeBloke,

      We’ve made those changes to reflect that. You’ll see now that one of the options in those two questions includes the possibility that you are not having kids. Thanks for taking our bootcamp!

  • LivinLarge

    Still a problem with the quiz….the answers are too polarized.  And, what’s the advice relative to me, do I need to ask for a raise or not.  I doubt seriously that the “advice” differs on the answers.

  • guest

    I’ve asked for a raise. got a promotion with no money instead. it’s discouraging, as I now do more work for less than I deserve.

  • guest

    All this did was give a name to the type of lifestyle I want (“American Dream”- No surprise there). It did nothing to tell me what income would support this or if my current income is sufficient. I know there are a lot of factors to consider but an estimate, ballpark figure or some type of tailored advice would have been helpful. 

  • Amy

    Quiz results aren’t showing up for me.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Amy,

      We tested this across multiple browsers and were not able to re-create your problem. Can you try clearing your cache and then re-taking the quiz? Let me know if that fixes the problem for you. If it doesn’t, can you let me know what browser you are using?


    • Anonymous

      Hi Amy,

      We tested this across multiple browsers and were not able to re-create your problem. Can you try clearing your cache and then re-taking the quiz? Let me know if that fixes the problem for you. If it doesn’t, can you let me know what browser you are using?


      • liz

        The results were showing up blank for me too.  I’m using Chrome.

  • Liz

    for retirement goals, it’s a huge leap from spending $40,000 a year to the next level up – $200,000.  What about an option for $80,000? $150,000?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Liz,

      That option includes the income you’ll be making from your part-time work. It’s phrased, “I’ll be working part-time for some extra income. (After part-time income, $40,000 a year),” so if you make $40,000 a year through your part-time work but spend $80,000, you’ll only be spending $40,000 a year.

      Let me know if you have further questions.


  • Saramarie9806

    I have usually been successful, when you ask a little high, they will usually meet in the middle.

  • Tiffany daSilva

    I always ask for more than what I really want. I tend to ask once a year for a raise as well, and if I don’t get it – I make sure I ask what it would take to get that raise and then I follow through. I also use new jobs as a way to increase my salary more substantially than an annual raise. (within reason of course)

  • Otonobo

    It’s not an option. My job is based on a union contract.

  • Ashley Burton

    Yes, I high balled it and didn’t get the job or I low balled it/accepted less and GOT the job! Amazing how that works! But I have received a small raise and maybe a chance for some commission on top of my base.

  • Katherene

    The quiz gives you a good ideal on how much money you will need for your lifestyle.  I enjoyed taking the quiz it was beneficial.  However, I did have to upgrade my operating system to the software Firesfox and Safari.

  • Peta

    Does the quiz answer for annual income mean total household income (me and my souse/partner combined) or is it the income that each person needs to average?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Peta,

      Great question. It’s just as it says: It gives you the “average annual household income,” so that would include income for both you and your spouse.

      Let us know if you need anything else!


  • Julie

    This isn’t much help to me…. I’m still a student and I am renting, so owning a place is not part of the equation now, and it is the present which I am concerned with. Not sure how I can get the quiz to work for me if the first question doesn’t apply. Any suggestions?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Julie,

      The calculator is really meant to show you the cost of your dream lifestyle, and to be food
      for thought. But if you want to make it specific to your particular situation at the moment, you can just answer “Other” for question #1 and then type in $0 for the cost of your home. 

      Enjoy, and let us know if you have any other questions!

      • Bella

        Would it be possible to make an option on the quiz for permanent renting?  Entering in $0 for the cost of a home doesn’t take monthly rent into consideration.  And even though it is easy enough to add this by hand, it seems like it will throw off the totals since this needs to be taken into account during retirement.  Plus, it does make those of who realize that we’ll never make enough money to own a home (even those of us with PhDs) feel like we’re not able to live our own version of the “American Dream” when the only options given are owning a home.

  • Msjonesbell

    I think the quiz is a good tool to help you think. It made me think of how many things we already have. I took it just based it on my income and desires because my husband is an artisi (performer) and is currently not bringing in much money, but is a great dad to his children because of the amount of quality time he can spend with them.

  • In_the_tall_pines

    What is going on?  I can’t do the quiz and I can’t get to the budget?  Do I have to pay money to use these things?  The person on Anderson said the budget was free.  Is it because the site is too busy.  I have high speed internet and I am ready to throw in the towel. 

    • Anonymous

      Hi there,

      You absolutely do not have to pay more money to take the quiz or get to the budget. You should see the quiz on this page. If not, if you email, our tech team will work with you to find out why. To access the budget, you just need to create an account, which costs nothing. Then you can link your accounts and set up a personalized budget that works for you. We hope you can find everything you need, and don’t hesitate to email us with anymore questions!

  • Tif P

    I looked up what others made in my field, wrote down what I had accomplished in a short time, and my future goals.  When I presented those items to my manager and store manager, they asked me how much I wanted to stay.  I shot high and they agreed!

  • Samantha Smock

    Also cannot see the quiz.

  • Mllnlnd

    I tried to get a higher salary when I was promoted and the boss said I had no experience, although I had the education to back up my knowledge. It didn’t feel right that I continue working in the position at the same rate of pay. I decided to go back to my old position after 90 days.

  • Stacy

    With a healthy dose of hardwork and confidence, asking for the raise is easier. Then, because everything is a negotiation, don’t go in with a question but be prepared to ask more than once and when the “big meeting happens”, present statements of fact…”I’ve worked hard to demonstrate my capabilities. That work is evidenced in the success of the following projects…I think a salary increase of $___ or ___% is reasonable.”  If your boss can’t go the whole way, ask if he’ll entertain another conversation in six months.

  • Claire Flanagan

    Every time I have had the guts to negotiate, I have earned more. Every time I haven’t…well, I have earned less!

  • Blackbirdgallery

    I have renegotiated my job 2 times and both times I received a significant raise.  I now make double what I did when I began working for the company!

  • Andrea2110

    Sadly there is no way to renegotiate how much you make working for an inner-city public school…

  • Kbear

    I did a lot of research before going into my yearly review. I checked the average salary for my job, made a bullet list of how I’d helped the company beyond my expected duties, and prepared what I’d say if they declined. Luckily I only had to mention a raise and was able to get it (they had already planned on giving me one!). I plan on being prepared now for every time I ask, just in case I’m not so lucky!

  • Harrell Catherine

    I didn’t understand the quiz.  The cost options did not relate to me.  Working and hiring a nanny?  What about just regular old fashioned child-care?

  • DP

    I went to my boss and told him I need to make extra $300/week. He asked me how i was going to do it. I told him that that’s why I came to him so he can advise me. He laughed because nobody has ever asked him for a raise the way i did Then he told me the things he wanted me to improve in (including being at work on time) and that he will think about it. After 2 weeks I got my raise. yuppiee!!!!

  • Young Gifted Black Broke

    I’ve asked for a raise and I was told that I didn’t do anything to deserve one. I was also encouraged not to apply for a better position in the company. The result was that I left the company.

  • Jeffrey Edson

    Never attempted one !