The dumbest excuses I used to …. not ask for more money

3 reasons to negotiate your pay

3 reasons to ask for a raise

3 reasons to negotiate your salary

I didn’t negotiate salary until age 26.

And the first time I asked for a raise was at age 28.

Don’t do that, guys.

I actually don’t really regret not negotiating my first couple of job offers. Why? Well, they fell into the categories described here on Ask A Manager.

But I do regret not asking for a raise earlier. The job that I held the longest? Prime opportunity! And sadly, a missed one.

3 (bad) reasons I didn’t push for more

I justified not asking for a raise or higher salary to myself for years. But you don’t get what you don’t ask for, and who doesn’t want more money?

I didn’t feel underpaid

I feel fortunate to have earned market rates. I never felt lowballed. I’ve never been through the wringer of learning that a co-worker made tons more money than me for doing the same job. And so I’ve never felt that particular burning motivation.

Sure, I felt I was getting fairly paid … but would more money have hurt? Definitely not.

And I think, in hindsight, there’s a fair chance I could’ve gotten more if I’d only asked.

Not having HR, not having reviews or any sort of structure around performance  … none of that is a good excuse. But also…

I was scared to ask

Asserting myself doesn’t come naturally, and unlike my parents who have no shame in bargaining for a deal, I can’t even bring myself to haggle at markets where it’s expected.

And my anchor points, deep down, I think skew low (baselining off things like the hourly rates at my first part-time jobs, the low-paying field I then went into, what my parents earned when I was growing up etc).

I just wanted to fly under the radar and do a good job, in a dying industry. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Ugh.

I thought it just seemed like a bad idea

Being employed in a industry struggling to make a profit, I felt lucky to have a job at all. I felt competent, but not outstanding.

I didn’t think that I had any concrete reasons to point to that proved why I deserved more; no ammo with which to back up a request for a raise.

The former may have been true, but what’s the worst that could have happened?

As for the latter, I’m pretty sure that was just imposter syndrome talking.

I can’t even tell you how searingly awkward it was to negotiate that first salary offer (err, and the next one…) and ask for that first raise. I wince when I recall them! But I was crazy proud of myself afterwards, not to mention a little bit richer.

And if you’re stuck in the cycle of underearning, breaking out will mean getting comfortable with asking for more.

Not that you need them, but just quickly…

3 good reasons to ask for more

Literally a couple of (painful, awkward) minutes could net you thousands more a year, and that compounds over time.

Their budgets are bigger than yours

A few grand might make a big difference in your life, but probably won’t affect their bottom line to the same degree. There’s usually some wiggle room, and you know what? Employers won’t be surprised if you negotiate – they expect you to advocate for yourself.

It sets a precedent for the future

Raises build on what’s come before. The more you earn now, the bigger those 2%, 3%, 5%, 10% bumps will be later on.

Raises aren’t a sure thing

You can’t count 100% on regular raises once you’re in. You’ve got the most leverage at the offer stage, so that’s the time to make the most of it.

Need more help on this front? Head over to The Luxe Strategist’s epic post on negotiating for yourself.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*


11 thoughts on “The dumbest excuses I used to …. not ask for more money

  • Reply Mrs. Adventure Rich October 25, 2017 at 22:11

    I have struggled here in the past. I am paid well and asking for more always seems ungrateful or greedy. But I have come to learn that negotiating is often respected and can be a great way to move forward or add options to your career!

    • Reply Handy Millennial November 12, 2017 at 03:01

      I agree with this Mrs. Adventure Rich. I feel the same way. Somehow I always think that asking for more would be ungrateful and disrespectful. A couple times I’ve found out that others at my company make more. So I guess that this logic doesnt always lead us to a good place 🙂

  • Reply The Luxe Strategist October 26, 2017 at 04:10

    Thank you for the shout out! I wrote it because sooooo many friends and roommates were NOT negotiating, and there needed to be a PSA.

    I can relate to the whole “I’m not that great of a worker and don’t deserve a raise.” That’s definitely stopped me a few times because I didn’t have a little portfolio of achievements and felt like I’d get denied.

    I’ve actually never asked for a raise! I’ve never stayed at a job for more than 2-3 years, so I just end up jumping ship to another job…

    • Reply eemusings October 26, 2017 at 12:59

      That has been part of it for me too! Big jumps by jumping ship.

  • Reply Amanda October 26, 2017 at 08:53

    I regret SO MUCH being too afraid to ask for a raise at my first job, especially when they added a whole other job to my job. At first, I was naive, but also was looking to gain as much experience as I could. So I didn`t feel right to ask for a raise. But when I hated the experience and became so overwhelmed by it, I should have stood up for myself then – by either telling my boss no, I did`t want that extra responsibility anymore, or by asking them to increase my pay since they increased my work. (In all honestly, I should have just left the job before it turned so toxic!)
    I`m now in a union environment, so asking for a raise is out of the question. Otherwise I`d be setting up a meeting with my current manager to discuss a raise, which I feel I more than deserve.

  • Reply Pamela October 26, 2017 at 14:57

    I’ve never negotiated salary or asked for a raise but I have done something that was money related and was very scared to do it. I work retail as an assistant manager at a mom and pop store. I’ve been assistant manager for years. Well the type of store I work in has busy times and slow times. When it is slow everyone is cut back in hours except the manager. It was very discouraging to see those low checks come around. After a long time of working up the courage, I finally talked to the “Pop” and asked if there was a way I could have a set number of hours. He agreed. But the best part was if we had a slower time I was still paid the agreed upon number. Sometimes as many as 10 additional hours. I still work at the same place and routinely work more hours now. But every now and again I am a few under and my pay is brought up. I caused myself a lot of stress working up the courage to ask…but I am so glad I did!

    • Reply eemusings October 26, 2017 at 16:00

      That’s amazing! Huge win, you should be damn proud.

  • Reply Eliza October 28, 2017 at 16:16

    I’m embarrassed to say that I failed to negotiate in just the last couple of months and I feel like a fool for doing it. I was going to, but then got guilted out of it at the last minute. The most annoying part is that since I started blogging, I’ve picked up a lot of skills that are perfectly suited to the project I’m on. So I actually am adding serious value that’s self taught, for free. At least it’s short term because I’ll be on maternity leave again in a month or so and then I will negotiate when I get back to work! But it still sets a terrible precedent.

  • Reply Jing October 31, 2017 at 07:18

    I am still struggling with this and I feel anxiety literally boiling up in me as year end reviews are coming in. I’ve thought all these same reasons, sometimes I feel my performance is not up to par with my coworkers, but I work hard, I try to grow in my role…is that enough? I always seem to find an excuse why I don’t deserve it but can’t seem to figure out if I truly need to do more or if it’s just my imposter syndrome speaking :/

  • Reply Serina aka Ms Frugal Ears November 3, 2017 at 14:13

    Some good arguments here. As a public servant, my salary is fixed. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t negotiate more in my side hustle writing job. Love the gentle push here with this.

  • Reply Femme November 6, 2017 at 08:24

    Freelance writing taught me to do this coming from a largely unionized field. The first time I negotiated a $1/hour pay bump in my old field for a contracting position, I felt accomplished, but also like I had crossed some line.

    Point of the story: I still struggle with these feelings! I think knowing other people in your industry do it helps a lot though.

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