Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
What if I told you that getting a raise gets you a lot more than just more money in your bank account? A raise isn’t just about brushing your shoulders off — it’s about gaining freedom without having to leave a job you love. Close your eyes and picture this: Feeling in control of your life and your future. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
In a study cited by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of Women Don’t Ask, if a woman doesn’t push to ask for more money in her first job, she stands to lose more than $500,000 by the time she reaches age 60. So if you want that raise, go ask for it. Otherwise you won’t be able to afford that time machine to go tell your younger self to ask for a raise sooner.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy peace of mind. That sounds great and all, but it does take a bit of work to figure out just how to scrape together enough money to buy that peace of mind. Like a really good pair of jeans, peace of mind requires self-knowledge, research, and comparisons before you put down your card. And how do you get there? Cutting costs is great, but increasing your earning is much more fun — and it's a way to crystalize habits that will get you making even more money in the future. You can spend less, or you can earn more — here’s how earning more can change your life. Go ahead. Ask for that raise.
If you have even a smidgen of credit card debt, then asking for a raise is in your best interest. Don't believe me? Keep this in mind: Every time you keep a balance on your card, your card gets dinged and all of a sudden bam! You owe even more money. Not only that, you owe it to The Man. You can end up paying hundreds of dollars just for the card to allow you to keep that balance — so pay it. Just pay it. ASAP. Then breathe your first sigh of relief. You're life is already starting to feel a little bit better.
It is important to set aside a “F*ck You fund,” or what's more traditionally known as an emergency fund. Basically, it's a savings account that sits separate from your checking account — and if you don't ask for a raise, chances are it's gonna sit there empty. The recommended emergency fund includes at least three months of expenses. When you have a cushion for financial independence, you’ll feel more secure. This money could get you out of a job you hate, or help you survive if you get laid off. Not to mention, having this money makes it much easier to get out of a toxic job, relationship, or living situation. With an emergency fund, you can’t get trapped anywhere... which is all the more reason to ask for that raise.
Once you’ve used your raise to help pay off your debt, and build an emergency fund, you can start investing and make even more money. That doesn’t necessarily mean immediately playing the stock market on your own – you can invest in other smart ways instead. One way is to increase your 401K contributions. If your company matches your contributions, you’re investing twice what you actually put in. You can also start a Roth IRA outside your company. The cool thing about both of these investment options is that even though your paycheck got bigger, you’ll have less taxable income to report. So, again, more of your money will go to you, and less will go to The Man (in this case, the government). Once you have maximized on these options, you can meet with a financial planner, or try out some cool investment apps like Acorns, Betterment, or Wealthfront.
Some of the oldest ways to invest money are: Real estate, livestock, and backing your favorite triumvir in the hope that he will become the next Emperor of Rome. Let’s choose real estate!. Paying rent every month can feel like chucking a wad of cash out the window and watching it hit the sidewalk below. With a raise, you can start saving to put a down payment on a place of your own, and stop paying someone else’s mortgage. Not to mention, buying a home is the ultimate way to feel like you’re truly adulting. By now, every time you exhale, you should feel more and more relief.
Smart women who make more can afford to spend on things that really matter — things that make their lives easier or better in a significant way. Maybe it’s vacations. Maybe you’d love to have a monthly cleaning service. Maybe it’s a monthly facial. Maybe it's adding a classic piece that will no doubt spend decades in your wardrobe. Maybe it’s a silent yoga retreat. Be strategic with your raise. Once you have committed to the steps above and have gotten your credit card debt, emergency funds, and investments all straightened out, you can identify and focus on things that will make your life better. You should feel these investments (and facials) taking stress out of your life. This is what buying peace of mind means.
Taking control of your finances and asking for a raise will make you feel like a new woman. Finally, you won’t need a stiff drink to look at your bank statement, and you’ll be less likely to go into overdraft. You’ll feel in control of, instead of overwhelmed by, your future. And when your salary goes up each time, you’ll have the confidence to negotiate more money in your next job.
If that works, congrats! You’re a boss b*tch. Own your awesomeness! First, make it even with the universe by singing out loud to Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women, burning some sage over your credit cards, and breathing deep the sweet, sweet scent of freedom. When that’s done you can celebrate your raise and the smart decisions you made with all that extra cash. You’re the proud owner of something elusive, hot, and classic — peace of mind.
Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.
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