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Posts Tagged ‘making more money’

It’s all about the Benjamins (or euros or pesos or pounds) — are you saving?

In behavior, life, Money, women on March 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm

That’s the American $100 bill.

Saving money is my single greatest challenge. (That, and earning a lot more — like trying to double my income this year in a dying industry. No pressure!)

Today’s New York Times paints a grim picture of how tough it is to save money now, especially for younger people:

A new study from the Urban Institute finds that Ms. Brady and her peers up to roughly age 40 have accrued less wealth than their parents did at the same age, even as the average wealth of Americans has doubled over the last quarter-century.

Because wealth compounds over long periods of time — a dollar saved 10 years ago is worth much more than a dollar saved today — young adults probably face less secure futures for decades down the road, and even shakier retirements.

“In this country, the expectation is that every generation does better than the previous generation,” said Caroline Ratcliffe, an author of the study. “This is no longer the case. This generation might have less.” The authors said the situation facing young Americans might be unprecedented.

A broad range of economic factors has conspired to suppress wealth-building for younger American workers; the trend predates the Great Recession. Younger Americans are facing stagnant pay — the median income, when adjusted for inflation, has declined since its 1999 peak — as well as a housing collapse and soaring student loan debt.

I grew up in a family with good taste and the money to indulge it — cashmere and trips to Mexico or France, a nice house, decent used cars, good food. My maternal grandmother inherited an insane amount of money and ran through it as fast as she possibly could, blowing it on jewels and furs and gorgeously-decorated apartments and a limousine service with a thin driver named Raymond.

It’s weird to grow up around a lot of money and develop tastes for luxury — and then choose a field, journalism, that has rarely paid me enough to satisfy them.

Saving money is so boooooooooring!

And so utterly necessary.

American Buffalo (coin)

American Buffalo (coin) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I save 15-25 percent of my income every year, as does my husband. It means a lot of self-denial and self-discipline, certainly if your income is barely meeting your basic expenses, even pared to the bone.

I’d so much rather go to Paris and buy lots of pretty clothes and see Broadway shows and go away for romantic weekends. But to save the dough we need to retire — which we very much intend to do — demands it. Working freelance also means having no idea, most of the time, what my annual income will be. Not even next month’s.

So it means being aware at all times of what I’m earning, spending, saving and carrying in debt, (and at what rates of interest.) It’s only in the past three or four years — and I’m in my 50s — that saving diligently has finally felt worth it, as my retirement fund is now six figures.

It feels good! (Cue James Brown…)

James Brown (2001) during the NBA All Star Gam...

James Brown (2001) during the NBA All Star Game jam session (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s terrifying to plan so far ahead, to hope we’ll live that long, and healthily, to wonder if all this daily self-denial is even worth it. I get why people don’t.

Saving a ton is certainly easier if you also earn the maximum you possibly can. That might mean working two or three jobs for a while.

Many women, though, remain deeply uncomfortable asking for more money, whether in a salary negotiation or freelance gig. No one is going to hand it to us!

One of my favorite books — every woman who works must read it – is “Women Don’t Ask”, which examines the many reasons women continue to receive lower pay than men for the same work. Mostly because we’re too damn scared to ask for more! (Men do, almost every single time.)

The more I make, the more I can save. (And occasionally splurge.) That motivates me every single time to ask for more work and the highest possible rates for it.

Here’s an honest and moving post about money — and being in your 20s and needing/wanting a lot more of it.

Here’s a really interesting interview with an expert in behavioral finance who thinks we should be forced into saving by the government, as they do in Israel and Australia.

saving and spending

saving and spending (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

Do you save money?

Do you find it difficult?

Any tips you can share?

Why are women so scared to say “I’m awesome!”?

In behavior, business, journalism, life, Money, women, work on August 28, 2012 at 12:04 am
International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Let’s say you’ve got the degrees and education and skills and smarts to land a job interview at Google.

Then you blow the interview because…you’re too modest to toot your own horn.

Seriously?

So reports The New York Times:

Meanwhile, there is the very Google-y approach of gathering data on precisely when the company loses women, then digging deeper to figure out what is happening and to try to fix it…

Google’s spreadsheets, for example, showed that some women who applied for jobs did not make it past the phone interview. The reason was that the women did not flaunt their achievements, so interviewers judged them unaccomplished.

Google now asks interviewers to report candidates’ answers in more detail. Google also found that women who turned down job offers had interviewed only with men. Now, a woman interviewing at Google will meet other women during the hiring process.

A result: More women are being hired.

Once hired, technical women were not being promoted at the same rate as men. At Google, employees nominate themselves for promotions, but the data revealed that women were less likely to do so. So senior women at Google now host workshops to encourage women to nominate themselves, and they are promoted proportionally to men, Mr. Bock said.

I find this fascinating, infuriating and sad.

But not surprising.

A book I recommend to every woman is “Women Don’t Ask”, which, even though it focused on an elite group, (MBA students), intelligently explores women’s ambivalence about asking for more at work, whether perks, money, power or responsibility.

From the authors’ website:

Women are much less likely than men to ask for what they want and to use negotiation as a tool to promote their own ambitions or desires. Sara interviewed nearly 100 people all over the country—both men and women—and found the same thing. Men use negotiation to get ahead and get what they want between two and nine times as often as women do.

(I’ve added the bold and italics.)

Why must women negotiate?

– We live longer than men and need more income in  retirement to support us. The less we earn in our work-lives, the less we’ll have in old age.

– Women often take some time out to bear and raise children, lowering their lifetime earnings and reducing the amount they’ll receive from Social Security.

– Women who fail to ask for more — get less. No one’s going to offer you anything if you leave it on the table by not even asking for it.

Modesty is a charming quality. I prize it. But not at the literal expense of earning less or facing a shortened career with limited prospects.

Why do women fail to ask for more?

Fear of being disliked. Fear of others’ disapproval for being pushy. Fear we can’t actually do the job.

All of which, on some level, are bullshit.

I’ve been negotiating for more money and responsibility since I was a teenager writing for national publications and paying my own way through university on my earnings. This wasn’t money I was blowing on clothes and shoes and cool shit I didn’t need, but groceries, rent and utilities.

Oh, and tuition and books.

One day I was in the newsroom of the paper I wrote a weekly column for, earning $125 a week. I overheard my editor trying to dissuade a male columnist from dropping his column: “But you’ll lose $200 a week!”

That additional $300 a month, $3,600 a year, was serious coin in 1978, and just as valuable today.

Negotiating isn’t fun or easy, which is no excuse to avoid it.

If you feel you’ve got more to lose, or less to fall back on, you’re probably likely to take whatever they offer. When an editor recently called me to offer a magazine assignment, she initially offered me $1,500. I know the market and my skills and asked for more. She gave it. She could have refused.

So our ability to negotiate also relies on our level of self-confidence, our skills, our networks — and our comfort level knowing our market value and feeling at ease asking for the pay that reflects, and respects, it.

It’s easier, always, to grab the first (lowest) offer and run.

I grew up in a family of freelancers. No one had a paycheck or pension. Negotiation was normal, tough discussions typical, and we all knew that those hiring us would probably try to offer the least possible.

You can also out-source some of this. I’ve used agents and lawyers many times to negotiate on my behalf. Yes, it costs money. But well worth it.

You can’t get what you don’t ask for.

Do you negotiate?

How’s it working out?

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