There are two good ways to balance your budget. The first is to cut your expenditure. You can look for savings in your budget, try budgeting tricks to make sure that you stay on target every month, and pay down your debts to reduce your interest payments. This way takes discipline, but it is also guaranteed to get results. But what about the other end of your budget? What about your income? A pay rise at work can put your budget back into the black without having to sacrifice a thing. So long as you don’t increase your spending to match, it’s the perfect solution to a small budget deficit. In fact, even if you don’t have a shortfall, getting a raise is great. Money might not make you happy, but it’s still very useful, and you can always put it towards your retirement fund.
The problem with solving your budget issues through pay raises is that getting a raise isn’t easy. Employers aren’t usually in the habit of handing out money to anyone that asks for it. However, with the right negotiating tactics and the right preparation, you can maximise your chances of getting what you want.
Your first step, as in any negotiation process, should be research. Go online and find out how much other people working in your field earn. There are online tools out there like the one at Salary.com that will tell you how much people working in your field and living in your area are earning. You can also use job search websites to find out how much positions in your area are offering. In fact, it would even make sense to apply to some of them. After all, the best time to negotiate your pay is when you’re being hired. If you are paid significantly below the average in your current job, then getting a better job might be more likely than getting a big enough raise to bring you up to par. Being able to attract some interest from other employers is also a huge psychological boost when you negotiate. The most important thing to have in any negotiation is the willingness to walk away. If you are desperate enough to stay at the table when you are being fed scraps, people will continue to feed you scraps. Having interested recruiters on speed dial will take the edge off that desperation like nothing else.
Knowing what other people are paid isn’t enough, though. By definition, half of the people in your field are paid less than the average, and in some cases it’s because they aren’t worth the average. Think back to positive things that you have achieved at work. If you delivered a big project successfully, or if you landed some great new clients, or if your sales figures are setting the benchmark for everyone else, use that to your advantage. Demonstrate your value. If your employer would find it difficult to replace you, your position is that much stronger. You don’t want to turn this into a Powerpoint presentation, but having some supporting evidence is always good. Point to future potential as well as past results.
Never underestimate the power of silence. Demands and threats will get you nowhere, but silence can work miracles. This is especially important when you’re negotiating your pay during hiring, but it works in raise negotiations too. Never, under any circumstances, be the first to name a figure. If pushed, deflect. Say that you are willing to consider any reasonable offer, but don’t specify. If you are offered something that doesn’t sound high enough, say so. Counter with a researched offer, or just see how high they’ll go if you don’t tell them what you will settle for. Even if their initial offer is high enough for you, don’t jump straight at it. The appearance of desperation is bad for your negotiating position. Repeat the figure and pause for a second. This keeps you looking confident, and gives your employer a chance to raise their offer.
Finally, if they do say no, which is entirely possible, keep your emotions in check. Thank your employer for his time, say that you understand his position, and ask when you can revisit the issue. By raising the issue in the first place, you have laid a foundation for future negotiations.