Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Spending Recap: Jan 21-27, 2013

Monday 21st
+ $160.61 freelance income
$8 parking
$40.04 gas
$41.78 groceries

Tuesday 22nd
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 23rd
No Spend Day!

Thursday 24th
+ $93.75 freelance income
$21.56 dinner (for 2)

Friday 25th
$9.87 lunch
$20 dinner

Saturday 26th
No Spend Day!

Sunday 27th
$40.12 gas
$41.67 Canadian Tire

Freelance Income: + $254.36
Expenses– $223.04

TOTAL: + $31.32

Another normal week of spending. I started playing field hockey again which requires me to drive to Coquitlam twice/week. This is a little bit annoying because it costs me a lot in gas. But I really enjoy it, so I’ll keep doing it. I’m thinking of playing for a different club next year, but I really like the Coquitlam organization. So we’ll see.

Thursday evening Nic and I went to a local Pecha Kucha event, and it was pretty fun! I treated him to dinner in celebration of my first pay cheque at my new job. :)

Then, everything was going fine until Sunday, when I was a victim of impulse spending at Canadian Tire. I was just there getting a key cut, but ended up walking out with a frying pan for $29.99 (Reg. price $55.99), and some all-purpose cleaning spray. They weren’t technically impulse purchases because I don’t own a frying pan, and I ran out of cleaning spray, but I was only planning on buying a new key. :| I guess it could have been worse.

How was your week of spending?

Truth: if you don’t ask, you won’t get

Last week, I tweeted something that’s been on my mind for a while now:

It’s something that I really try to practice in my everyday life… sometimes I go after things that are completely outrageous. And sure there are plenty of times where I don’t get what I want. But there are always those times, those unbelievable I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me moments where I actually do get what I ask for. And it’s because of those moments that I keep asking.

I think this is especially important when it comes to a career. I might be shy in my everyday life, but the workforce is competitive, and if you’re not actively asking for (and going after) what you want, somebody else is bound to get it over you.

Take your salary for example. Did you negotiate your starting wage, or did you just take what was offered to you?

In my experience, you are always worth more than the first offer. Every company expects you to negotiate, and if you don’t ask for more, the company isn’t going to just give it to you. I mean, you wouldn’t take the sticker price when buying a car from a dealership, would you? And if you buy anything off Craigslist, you would always try haggling – because you know they’re asking for more than they would accept. Right? :)

Sure, it’s hard at first – especially for women. I had such anxiety about it when I first entered the work force, and since then I’ve been called everything from greedy and bossy, to confident and assertive. But asking for fair compensation does not make you selfish or bitchy or aggressive. It makes you smart because you’re asking for what you rightfully deserve.

I have never taken a job offer without negotiating first, and I have never been turned down. In most cases, I end up $2,000 to $4,000 ahead. Sometimes I have it written in my contract to get an automatic raise after a certain period of time, or a year-end bonus. A few thousand dollars may not seem like much now, but in the long run, it can add up. Your raises, bonuses, and future earning power are dictated by how you negotiate your starting salary with a company. And that few thousand dollar gap has the possibility of becoming bigger in the future – leaving you farther behind how much you are truly worth.

Of course, when you’re negotiating your salary you have to have solid reasons why you think you deserve more. So try to evaluate your skill set and years of experience compared to other people in your field. Then try to formulate a salary range for your job. You don’t need an exact number, just a rough estimate. Check out websites like Glass Door and Payscale to help you get started. I also like looking at job postings on LinkedIn or Eluta, as well as asking friends and family to find out what other companies are willing to pay for a similar position.

Related: How 20-somethings should ask for a pay raise

The worse thing that can happen is they say no

And so what? If they say no, and you are comfortable with the salary being offered then go ahead and take it. But before you do, perhaps you can try to negotiate an automatic raise after a certain period of time, or more vacation time in lieu of a raise. I’ve only successfully negotiated more vacation time once in my career, and it was because they said no to my salary pitch. But now that I look back on it, that one extra week of vacation was worth way more to me than a few extra thousand dollars a year. so I was extremely happy.

Nobody works for free, and the reason that most of us have a job is to generate an income. You deserve to be fairly compensated. But if you don’t ask for it, you likely won’t get it.

Thoughts? What has your experience been negotiating your salary?

How to beef up your net worth before 30

Note: this is a guest post from Martin over at Studenomics.

Krystal recently wrote about what your net worth should be by 30. At the end of the article she highlighted a few possible goals to aim for before 30:

    • Setting aside at least 10% of our income towards retirement. Preferably more.
    • 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses saved in an easily accessible emergency fund.
    • No debt – other than a mortgage or student loan.

I wanted to write about what I’ve been doing recently to ensure that I beef up my net worth so that it’s as high as possible by the time I hit 30.

Invest in yourself.

This goes without saying. I truly believe that your 20s are the best time to invest in yourself. The more that you learn, the more valuable that you’ll become. Whenever anyone asks me anything about investing money, I ALWAYS suggest that they invest in themselves.

How can you invest in yourself?

    • Formal education. This is anything related to college. You can earn a new degree, attend graduate school, or earn certificates.
    • Attend conferences. I’ve gone out of my way to attend as many conferences as possible so that I could meet successful people in the field. This has greatly helped me with spotting opportunities and trying new ideas out.
    • Buy books, courses, and anything that allows you to learn. Learning is key. There’s nothing I enjoy more that a good book and a cold beer. A book will go for $20 and it comes with thousands of dollars of information.

I’m trying to enroll in a few fitness-related classes coming up just so that I can improve how I approach training. If you invest in yourself in your 20s you won’t regret it.

Invest in income generating assets.

Do you have any assets that generate an income? I invested my money into a rental property at an early age because older friends always told me that it helps to have income generating assets. You don’t have to start off with a rental property. You can try to build a business or work on anything else that can help you make more money in the future.

Work harder to make extra money.

How hard are you working? Could you work a little harder? Are you blindly chasing passive income?

Too many of my friends are blindly going after passive income without actually increasing their real income. You could easily score a part-time gig or try to ask for more hours at your current job. Every dollar counts. When you make more money, you can really dent your debt.

Master your spending.

It’s not easy to be good with money. Trust me. After blogging about personal finance for over 4 years, I still make foolish mistakes. My only suggestion is that you take the major expenses (cars, insurance, monthly subscriptions) first and then you go after the daily battles. Just to combat my spending on food, I took the whole month of November to track how much money I spend on food.

If you can slowly improve your spending, it’ll benefit you in the long run because that’s going to mean more moolah in your savings account.

That’s what you can do to get the most out of your 20s and increase that net work. When I talk to older buddies, they often regret not taking their 20s seriously enough. It’s when you have the most energy and feel on top of the world. The only thing that can hold you back is you.

This was a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, where he recently wrote about the guide to conquering your money in your 20s.

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