The basics of FIRE go like this:
- Maximize your income
- Minimize your spending
- Save the difference
- the higher your savings rate, the shorter your time to FI
A lot of people focus on minimizing the spending because this is something we a have more control over. However it is also possible to increase income sometimes. In fact I quite successfully did that and in this post I explore how I did that.
There are a few basic ways to increase income:
- Ask for a raise at work
- Jump to another job
- Start a side hustle
The Side Hustle
The side hustle is probably the easier of the three because this is something that you have complete control over. I have a side hustle but frankly with my work schedule, I have little time to put into it. So instead lets look at the other two options.
Jump to another job
There is nothing wrong with this option, and it is worth pursuing from time to time. Employers are used to employees moving jobs every few years. The important thing to remember is to always make sure its for more money, a better title and better working conditions. The only time you can go ‘backwards’ is if you are BaristaFI or similar and are getting close to or at the end of wealth accumulation.
Ask for a Raise
This is the most difficult option, because how do you go about asking for a raise and what happens if they say no? If you get a no, you haven’t lost anything and if the job really goes sideways, you have your Fuck You money. I’ve done this twice so far in my professional career with mixed results. I feel like the first time I tried (and failed) was because of a lack of prep. The second and most recent time was successful and there has been no fall out from it.
The first thing to do is make a list of your accomplishments and if possible assign a value to them. For instance, I am a network engineer and through various upgrades to our global network design I was able to shave about $0.5M from our operating expenses. That is the sort of line item you should be aiming for.
Once you have a few line items that show what you have done for the company, the next step is to perform a salary survey online. I used Glassdoor, Salary.com and Linkedin, plus a few others (this will vary by industry I suspect), and put together a median salary number based on job title and responsibilities, years of experience, certifications etc. Depending on your field, there may be other factors to consider.
Once you have the salary survey and have your median number, you can draft your email. When I drafted mine, I first listed the accomplishments, then asked for the raise. After that I listed my reference materials.
How Did it Work Out For Me?
In my case I demonstrated that I was about $20k underpaid compared to my peers. After some consideration by HR and our CIO the raise was approved. It was not as much as I asked for because of course not, we can’t have that now, but it was substantial – so always ask for more than you need.
Of course I am now in the position of being just under median salary so once I again I am going to break out my email, and update it, and see if it works again.