Are You Making What You’re Worth?

Make the salary you're worthWe all know that a huge step in paying off debt or building wealth is to make more money. Sometimes different jobs or opportunities come along that provide a way to earn some extra cash. However, it’s important that you don’t make the mistake of swapping your time or energy for less than you deserve. Ask yourself if you are making what you’re worth before taking on extra jobs.

Extra Income Opportunity

I will be attending an optometry meeting soon in a city a few hours away. It just so happened that another doctor in the area was looking for some vacation coverage for a couple of days while I was going to be in town. The conference was in the evening, so I emailed him for more details. I might as well try to earn some extra money if I’m there anyway, right?

It Doesn’t Pay What I’m Worth

I found out that the rate he was paying was about half of what I usually make at my regular jobs. I realize you don’t need to pay someone top dollar who isn’t going to form a long term relationship with your practice, but half price pay?

Then I started thinking that I should do it. Maybe I’m a wage snob? Even if it wasn’t what I normally make, it was still more than I would earn if I didn’t work at all. There are people who work minimum wage who probably don’t make that much in a week.

Maybe, but when you look at transportation, an extra night in a hotel, and self employment taxes, it really wasn’t worth my time. I could probably work on my blog for 16 hours and get just as much return at some point in the future. I emailed the doctor back and politely declined.

How Do You Know What You’re Worth?

I think it depends on a variety of things like experience, skills that set you apart from the competition, and what type of job you are applying for. I have 15 years of optometry experience, many of those are with high risk patients and with medical conditions. If an eye surgeon was looking for someone to follow her patients, I might move to the top of the list and could command a high rate of pay. Someone just looking for a person to hand out eyeglass prescriptions can hire any greenhorn just out of school, and my extra skills don’t amount to much in that situation.

When Should You Work For Less?

I might work for less if I am trying to build good will. If I had wanted a full time job at some point from this doctor, I could have taken the job for less pay to show my excellent skill set for future reference. It would be like giving away a few awesome blog posts to a big site in the hopes of getting a paid job down the road. You just have to be careful that you don’t get stuck into the trap of continually undervaluing your work.

There will always be someone who charges less than you. Sometimes people hiring are just looking for a warm body to do the job and will always hire based on cost, but many times employers are looking for quality, work ethic, or certain skills and will pay more. Grayson wrote a great post on Sprout Wealth about this recently. Make sure you believe why you are worth your asking price and know how to explain it. If you don’t own it, you can’t sell it to others.

Why Do I Always Seem To Make Less Than I’m Worth?

There are several reasons why some people consistently work for less than they are worth.

Debt – You may be in deep debt and live paycheck to paycheck. You cannot afford to refuse income, even if it’s a low income that won’t let you break out of the cycle. Here is where side hustling can get you ahead of the curve to start commanding a better salary or learning more skills to move up the ladder.

Outdated Skills – If I refused to use electronic records or keep up with current trends in eye care, my skills would become outdated and I’d be worth less. Just because you graduated or got certified in a certain field doesn’t mean you never have to improve yourself. Some jobs also may not have relevance in our technology driven society. A brick and mortar travel agent is going to struggle, but a good travel website with a relevant blog might do really well.

Wrong Degree/Skills For Geographic Area – I see kids from our area all the time who go off to school and major in something like art or biology and come home to work at the coffee shop. They might be skilled or talented, but no one is hiring those jobs here. If you want to live in the Four Corners area and make money right now, health care, industries that serve the elderly/retired population, and petroleum or civil engineering would be careers to consider. I’m not saying you can’t succeed with a different degree, but you might need to move to find a career in your field. A PhD in Physics won’t really earn any more money when you are waiting tables.

Poor Marketing/Customer Service – If I have to call or email repeatedly when I’m offering to pay you for work that you claim to be good at, don’t expect the job, and I’ll probably tell all my friends how awful you were. Go above and beyond to make yourself available and reliable.

I’m lucky that we have enough income and savings that I don’t have to take a job that doesn’t pay what I’m worth. If you consistently find yourself making less than you deserve, maybe it’s time to figure out why and make some changes.

Do you earn what you’re worth? Am I a snob for not taking that job?

Image:Freedigitalphotos.net/ddpavumba

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46 Comments

  1. Great question Kim. I honestly don’t feel I’m earning what I’m worth – though I don’t do too badly. The fact is that I’m entrepreneurial and am keen to set up my own business in the next year or two. For now, I’m left running someone else’s. So while I’m earning more than I ever have before, I genuinely believe that in time my skills could earn me far more. I just need to hang tight and be patient now while the savings build up…

  2. We had this chat at an NYC bloggers meet up! It’s incredibly important to know your worth and I think people so often undervalue themselves. I’ve set a limit about the least amount of money I’ll take and have to stand my ground (unless it’s a great opportunity).

    1. I think having an idea about your minimum is important. It’s hard to turn down work, but if your cost per hour turns out to be almost nothing, it’s not worth it.

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