Improving your finances doesn’t always have to be a question of saving money. Taking steps to increase your income is a legitimate option, and can make the books much easier to balance in the end. One of the most important strategies is to ask your boss for a raise: the worst that can usually happen is a “no”, but with proper preparation, you may be able to convince your boss to say yes. Here are some easy ways to improve your odds.
Ask for it: If you haven’t had a raise in a while, asking for one may just be the motivation your boss needs. Take a good look at your personnel file and see how you stand out from the crowd — be prepared to win over your boss. If you can demonstrate how you’ve saved your employer money, that’s a major plus. Showing that you’ve taken on leadership roles or brought in new clients are equally useful tactics.
Have an offer in hand: Looking for another employment opportunity can be a good option, even if you aren’t ready to leave your current job. Just having an offer in hand higher than your current salary can be enough to take to your boss. Ask him or her to match that higher rate — after all, a raise will probably be cheaper for your employer than the cost of looking for and training someone to fill your shoes.
Editor’s Note: Be careful with this approach. I was in the corporate world for a good number of years, worked for managers and managed others. Loyalty matters a great deal to many people. Those who show that they don’t want to work here either gets fired on the spot of in the near future. At the very least, those who don’t want to be there are given less opportunities. Instead of handing a competing job offer to your boss, you only need to keep the salary information for yourself as a reference point in your negotiation. If you want to move ahead in your career, never ever show that you don’t like your job.
Don’t just look for money: Bonuses and raises are nice, of course, but they aren’t the only way an employer can reward you. Take a look at your benefits package and see if there’s anything that would benefit you. Asking for an improvement to your benefits package can also be a key strategy if your employer is in a tight budget situation. As long as your improved benefits let you spend a little less money each month, it’s effectively the same as a raise.
Come up with a new project: While more of a long-term approach, developing a project of your own that will benefit your employer can be a useful route to a raise. If you’ve got a project in mind, you can bring it to your boss, present it and then make the argument that you’ll be taking on more responsibility and therefore deserve a raise.
Ask what it will take to get a raise: Your boss may not be prepared to offer you a raise right now. But if you go into his or her office and straight out ask what steps you need to take to get a raise, most supervisors are willing to map out a plan to get you that raise sooner rather than later.
Of course, all of these options are based on the assumption that you’re doing pretty well at your job. In the weeks leading up to your request, your work needs to be top-notch and, even after you have the raise in hand, you’ll probably have to prove to your employer that you earned it.
Editor’s Note: The trick is to make your boss feel good about giving you a raise. Never force them, because you aren’t looking for just one raise, but many raises down the road. Don’t always look short term, and always pave a smooth road for the future.