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.
1. What will be your primary residence?
- Please enter a numeric value.
2. Would you want to splurge on a second or vacation home?
- Please enter a numeric value.
3. What type of vehicle will/do you drive?
- Please enter a numeric value.
4. How often will you trade in your wheels for a newer model?
5. How many kids will/do you have?
6. Who will care for the kids?
7. Will you pay for your child's college?
8. How much do you like to spend on your appearance?
9. How will you spend your free time?
10. How much do you intend to travel?
11. How do you plan on spending your retirement?
12. Will you need to help pay for your parents' care?
Your Life Will Cost...
YOUR LIFE WILL COST:
YOUR AVERAGE ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME WILL NEED TO BE:
You're a Lean, Mean Budget Machine
You don't need material things to keep you happy. Just make sure that even though you're on a bare-bones budget you have some savings tucked away for unexpected expenses and retirement. If you make as little as you plan to spend, you may need that cushion. And be sure to take time to enjoy some of what you earn. Life shouldn't be all work and no play!
Everything's in Moderation!
Your lifetime spending falls within the range of that of the average American. But don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet! The average American is also more than $10,000 in debt and doesn't have enough saved for retirement. So, don't be average. Boost your earnings, cut your unnecessary costs and develop both short- and long-term savings plans. Then you'll be on a path to living comfortably within your means.
Dreaming the American Dream
While you won't live a lavish life of excess, you do plan on spending more in your lifetime than the average American. Create a financial plan so you can have the lifestyle you want while saving and investing for your larger expenses and retirement. This means boosting your income and cutting unnecessary spending so you have more room for the things that are important to you. These tips will help keep you living the good life!
Hey big spender!
Hey big spender! You have champagne tastes so make sure you have more than just a beer budget to match. This means boosting your income and cutting unnecessary spending so you have more room for the things that are important to you. Doing so will also help you cover unexpected expenses and retirement. And, if you're the primary breadwinner (good for you!) create a plan to lower or cover your expenses in the event you decide to cut back on your hours and spend more time at home.
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. Salary.com and GlassDoor.com 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.
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:
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.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH SALARY NEGOTIATION?