Do You Get Paid Enough Money?

Paper pay slip with tax and pension information
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Regardless of your position, title, or even salary level, if you are a working person you have probably asked yourself the question, “Am I getting paid enough?”

How to Determine Whether You Are Being Paid Enough

It’s the type of question that can arise during times of high stress or overwork, upon hearing about another vacation a peer or colleague is taking, or during a rough bout getting the checkbook in balance. It may even pop into your head randomly during the workday, like something you have been meaning to check on if you could only find the time. 

While the question of whether you are earning enough is a timeless one, it tends to arise more often during times of economic uncertainty. According to the Early Forecast: U.S. Salary Budget Increase from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), employers are cautious with salary budgets. Average pay increases are projected to remain at about 3% in the US in 2019.

So how can you tell whether you are truly earning what you are worth or you are not making enough money? Consider the following earning earmarks.

Peer Earnings

The first sign that you are not earning enough may come from peers at work. If you have been in the same job for a long time, starting salaries may have risen, outpacing your annual raises. It is known as pay compression, and it means someone joining your team today could be making the same or more than you do. Ironically, people who bounce from job to job are less vulnerable to pay compression than those who are most loyal and dedicated to one company.

To confirm whether your salary is still in line with your industry, job, and experience, conduct some research. Look at job listings on your company’s website for clues to what someone hired today would be making, or look at job boards to see a range for new hires in your industry.

Salary comparison sites like and can give you a sense of ranges for your job title and/or job responsibilities. can even show you salaries for job titles at your specific company or industry peers. If you are a senior member of your team but earning on the lower end of the range, you can use those numbers to build your case for a raise.

Your Value

Another way to determine whether you are earning what you are worth is to figure out what you would charge if you struck out on your own. If you could bill hourly for the work you do, what would that rate be?

To be sure, freelancers and consultants typically charge more for their work because they are responsible for their own overhead costs. But if you earn $25 per hour for work which your company charges its clients $150 an hour, you may have an argument for a raise.

If your earnings do seem in line with your hourly rate, consider increasing your skills with management training, an online course or adult education. By adding new abilities to your resume, you will be able to strengthen your case for a salary bump.

The Company

Workers who survived the downturn of 2008 know that salaries stagnate during uncertain economic times. (Those are the times when simply being employed makes you feel you are earning enough.) When companies are flush, however, compensation does not always bounce back as quickly as stock prices.

If you have a sense that your company is doing really well but your salary remains economically depressed, it’s time for a bit more research. Public companies must reveal quarterly and annual earnings, and it should be easy to find analysis on how the business is faring.

If you work for a private company, you can look to internal resources and reports. Has your group increased sales or revenue, reduced costs or garnered awards over the past year or two? These are all accomplishments that could merit a raise in pay.

The Job

While there is nothing like a big salary number, there are certain company benefits that may be worth as much or more than a pay increase. Consider things like vacation time, paid maternity and paternity, and sick leave when deciding whether you are earning enough.

Flexible work time, telecommuting, healthcare, pensions or generous 401(k) matching programs should be factored in as well.

If you simply hate your job, then no amount of money will be enough to make you love it. On the other hand, if you love it, you are very rich indeed.

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