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How to Ask For a Raise Without Sounding Needy

Savvy Confessions: Asking For a Raise (It's Complicated)

This post was submitted (anonymously, as always) to our Savvy Confessions group. Got any advice? Leave it in the comments.

Hi, fellow Savvy Confessors. I've got an issue I've been struggling with that I could seriously use some help on. I am in a job where I am paid to be "available." I am paid salary (based on an hourly rate at 40 hours a week) regardless of how little or how much I work. Some weeks I work four hours, and some weeks I work 40. Sometimes I have whole weeks off at a time — but only with extremely last-minute notice. Usually, I don't know my schedule until late the night before or early in the morning the day of.

There have been only three times since I started this job almost two years ago that I have gone over 40 hours, but I was compensated for overtime. I am on the books and paid weekly via direct deposit, but receive absolutely no benefits — health, dental, 401(k), etc. After 20 months, I am still on the same salary as when I started. For the most part, it's an amazing job — the actual work is really rewarding, my boss is really nice and friendly, and (as you can see with my fluctuating schedule) I have plenty of downtime to myself. All in all — a really awesome job!!

So what's the problem? Read on.

So here is the downside — the salary I make does not fully cover my bills, let alone leave me any wiggle room for savings or an emergency cash fund. If I relied solely on this income alone, I would be short $200 every month after attempting to pay all of my bills. Now one of the reasons I took the job is because it provided me ample time to take on other freelance projects that I could do from home. I've created a budget with monthly goals to bring in extra work to cover the rest of my expenses as well as have money to pay down my credit card bill as well as put money into savings. But the truth is it is hard for me to find freelance work where people are comfortable with me getting it done "on my own time," aka whenever my employer decides I'm not needed.

So here is where I need the advice. What I want to say is "even though it seems at times that I am grossly overpaid for this job — if you calculate the hours I do work for the amount of money I am paid — but the truth of the matter is my job is to be available, which prohibits me from attaining enough other freelance work to bring in enough money. Therefore, I cannot afford this job on this salary. And if I cannot get more money for this job, I am going to have to look for another job that can provide me a higher salary."

Now everything I have read on the subject of asking for more money says approaching the conversation this way is a big no-no. I should not come in and say, "I need this. I need that. Here are my problems, etc." So please, any advice on how to broach this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Post your own questions or complaints completely anonymously in the Savvy Confessions group.

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Intrepid-traveler Intrepid-traveler 3 years
Hi there, you found some very good advice somewhere.  Forget all the crap in your post, you remind me of my daughter, you talk too much.  It is evident in reading your post.  Please don't take this as criticism. Make an apointment early in the work day,no Monday or Fridays.  Say as  little as possible.  The I'm no longer able to live on what I'm making   NOW, SHUT UP  You now have the advantage, big time.   If he stays silent don't cave, please don't cave.  Remember when he makes an offer it must be more than what you need to break even.  This on call thing, if you're in Manhatten there might be one other girl willing to do it, well maybe a few high end hookers.  Lastly, if you have a friend you can rehearse with, do it & good luck  JMH
futuralon futuralon 3 years
Looking at it another way, maybe your expenses are too high for your income. If you work to reduce your expenses, you can be in control. I do suggest you ask for a raise but first I would research what other people would make. If anything you deserve a few percent raise because the cost of living gets higher every year. But if you get a "no" or get fired over asking for more cash in, you at least know you've trimmed your cash out.
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