How to negotiate a salary raise and other perks

Canadian dollars!

Canadian dollars!

Even though I’ve admitted to not being a careerist, and not wanting to climb the career ladder, it doesn’t mean I don’t ask for raises and other perks!

I don’t want more responsibilities or stress, I just want more money please! :mrgreen:

Because why not? I work hard, and the worst answer I could get is a “no”.

I’ve had many many jobs in my life, working in different industries, and in almost every job I’ve had, I’ve asked for a raise.

I haven’t always gotten the raise, but I certainly didn’t lose anything in trying. It wasn’t always comfortable asking either, but it comes with practice. Practice also means the next time will be easier! At the very least, I always felt elated and empowered by the simple act of asking.

When a simple 2-minute conversation can equate to thousands of extra dollars/euros, it’s worth it to do!

These are my pointers for asking for a raise:

  • Don’t actually ask – state that you would like a raise
  • Be casual about it
  • Bring it up in conversation – you don’t need to start with it or make it the only topic of the conversation
  • Don’t justify why you deserve a raise, just believe you do and it will come across
  • Have a number/range in mind to make things concrete
  • Choose a good time, because it will make you feel more confident

The timing helps, but shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not-ask if you really want a raise. For me, it was when I made the company $1 Million in a few weeks. I ‘asked’ for a raise 2 days after the numbers were released.

Money is not everything

While more money is good, there are other perks that may require negotiating. In my mind, perks are something you should approach differently from raises.

For example, I work from home on Fridays, but would also like to work from home on Mondays.

I won’t just go to my boss and state that I want this. I will ask. As in: “Can I work from home on Mondays?” instead of “I want to work from home on Mondays“. Justifying why is also fine, as long as it benefits the company. “I’m more productive when I work from home since I don’t get roped into superfluous meetings on those days.

Apparently, it’s very bold to ask for 2 home office days at my company. But I don’t care. It’s a question, so I’m going to ask!

I asked to work from home on Mondays and Fridays earlier this year, but was only given Friday. The reason being that since I was new in my role (my current team stole me from another team in January), it was helpful for the team to interact with me in person.

Fair enough, but now that I’m well into 5 months at my new job, it’s time to re-visit this Monday-issue. Let’s see what happens.

I could very well not get my raise or my 2 home office days per week. But that’s okay – no harm done. Both are important to me, so I feel I owe it to myself to speak up about it. If I don’t get my requests met, I may take other measures. Like applying to other jobs to use as leverage. It’s more effort, but I’m great at interviews so not unpleasant for me to do. I’ve done this before and it always works! ūüėČ

Living on one income

oneincome

To support our ability to FIRE in 7 years, we know that we need to get in there and start investing.

Last month I started off with a bulk purchase of index funds, and bought another small batch with my last pay cheque. But I still paid my share of the expenses.

Until now.

We decided that I will now invest 100% of my income to our index fund strategy!

While not a huge shift, it’s a start that’s easy to execute and understand.

Ideally, I would like it if we switched and invested Mr. German’s higher income into stocks, while living off of my pay.

But Mr. German is still hesitant of stock investing and likes the security of having lots of cash. This is something I too had to confront within myself, so I’m not trying to push him at all.

We’ll see how things flow organically.

There’s no right answer, just a difference of speeds and comfort levels.

I feel so lucky that this non-‘problem’ is ours. I’m more than happy and excited to be able to invest 100% of my next pay!

8 + 1 frugal lifestyle choices

frugality

Fortunately, being frugal comes naturally to both me and Mr. German.

Which is great because it makes life easier to be on the same page. I would say that we approach frugality differently, with me focussing on optimizing our lives, and him focussing on buying good quality things.

Sometimes we experience a lot of tension in our approaches when they clash, but in the end, I am grateful that we both want to save money and not be wasteful. Plus, Mr. German is very cute and stubborn so he often wins. ūüėõ

Here is a list of 8 frugal things we do:

  1. Saving on rent by living in a cheap city with a bad reputation. While this sounds depressing, we are enjoying it! We pay¬†610 EUR per month¬†to live in a 65 sqm (700 sq ft) flat. It’s only a 20 min train ride to the rich city next door where everyone wants to live. I will admit, it was very tempting to move to the rich city, but then we would be paying at least¬†50% more than¬†what we are paying now. Neither of us work in this rich city, though I pass through it everyday on my commute.
  2. Furnishing our flat almost entirely with used furniture. And it looks great, if I do say so myself!! If we wanted to sell all our furniture now, we would likely turn a profit as we bought everything at low prices, even on the used market.
  3. Packing our lunches to work. We cook a lot, and make extra dinner to bring to work the next day. Since we both work in the middle of nowhere (not in the same office), the alternative would be relying on our cafeterias for lunch, which is blechhh!
  4. Eating whole, vegan food! Yep, there are a whole bunch of tasty things we can make using plants. It’s not only cheaper, but also healthy and compassionate.¬†Our estimated food budget is 200 EUR per month for dried staples (variety of beans, rice and spices) and mostly organic fruits and veggies.
  5. Using public transit. I commute to work by train, so have a monthly pass (88 EUR) that also lets me bring a passenger with me for free on week nights, weekends, and public holidays. Germany is great for that! On these days, we rarely use the car because the train is just so much easier.
  6. Buying groceries on foot. We literally live across the street from a Lidl (discount grocery store), and Aldi (another discounter) is also a few steps away. Every time we want something, we walk over to buy it. You would think this is normal, but a lot of our neighbours still drive to buy their food even though it’s right there. *sigh* There is also a Netto, Real, and Edeka nearby that we’ll walk 10-20 minutes to if we want something specific.
  7. Home hair cuts / cheap hair cuts. I cut Mr. German’s hair every few weeks! I’m no expert, but it turns out alright (most of the time!). Mr. German has also cut my hair before, and I’ve tried to cut my own hair before too. But I prefer to get my hair done professionally by my very talented hairdresser friend/life saver¬†who charges me only 20 EUR. This happens about¬†2-3x a year as I keep my hair a bit longer than shoulder length, which is a very low maintenance hair style for me.
  8. Entertaining ourselves with physical activity to counteract our sedentary jobs. Everyday we either bike or take a walk in the forest that’s only 800m from our doorstep. We’ve also taken up long boarding which is really fun, and spent about 100 EUR in mostly 2nd hand gear to get ourselves started (this can all be sold to break even if we lose interest); we play tennis in empty parking lots since there are no tennis courts near us (!), and I’ve started running 3x a week to train for my mini-marathon.
  9. Volunteering to walk dogs at the shelter. This is the 9th bullet point on my list of 8. I’m adding it here because we intend to do this very soon, we just haven’t yet. We’re big dog lovers but unfortunately are not able to look after dogs at this stage (rarely home, travel a lot, small rental apt with no dogs allowed). Instead, we’d like to help out and get some dog-time. I know I’ll fall in love with all of them, which will be heart wrenching – but it’s not about me, it’s about them!

Writing out this list made me feel good. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit stressed about the whole FIRE thing. I just needed a pick me up and to remember that it’s a journey that requires one step at a time!

Concrete fitness goals

Me running in my favourite park

Me running in my favourite park

Training for my mini 6K marathon next month is going well.

I’ve been consistently running 3x per week, and have worked up from not ever running, to running 3K quite comfortably.

Today, I ran 3.3K, walked 2K, and ran another 2K. So ran 5.3K in total. I’m pretty pooped now, but am also feeling great!

My goal is to run the entire 6K marathon without stopping. It’s an ambitious goal for me, but also a realistic one. I don’t have any time-goals, I just want to challenge myself to consistently keep at it, which is my problem with fitness goals.

Make it measurable!

To be able to hit this 6K mark, I want to continue training 3x per week, and also at least 5 push ups per day to strengthen my core. Strengthening my core helps me carry myself better, which means better breathing.

There, now that I wrote it down here, I actually have to do it!!

Making fitness goals is daunting to me, but I feel it is also directly related to my FIRE goals. It’s all doable, it just requires prioritization and consistency.

That’s how I want to live my life. To identify what’s truly important to me, and to keep trying my best to be where I want to be.

Negotiating a salary raise

Today, I casually mentioned to my boss that I want a raise.

I’ve been working at my company for¬†almost a year now,¬†and¬†wanted to celebrate that.

Especially¬†since the project I’ve been¬†working¬†on has generated the company $1 Million over the last few weeks. This was announced at our big team¬†meeting 2 days ago, so I’m striking while¬†the iron is hot! (I was a central part of the project)

My boss agrees with me that I should get a raise, but has to investigate with her boss and HR first.

In Germany, I get the sense that most people won’t ask for raises if they are satisfied with their pay.¬†I am satisfied with my pay, but I know that if I don’t ask, I won’t get it. So I may as well ask.

While I’m not a very career-oriented person, I do¬†work hard and am not afraid to leverage that. It feels comfortable to me.

My company doesn’t give out raises so easily though, but I’ll see how it goes.¬†Asking for raises is the best way to celebrate work anniversaries, in my opinion.

An ode to my job

thankful

Sometimes I can get pretty down on my job.

Especially when things get stressful. I resent that I have to put up with it all, and early retirement can’t come soon enough.

But that’s the wrong attitude. It also makes it difficult for me to endure.

I am VERY grateful to even have a job, let alone a good job. It’s not so easy to find work as an immigrant, especially for one who doesn’t speak the dominant language (well).

My job actually requires a PhD in the field, which I don’t have. Instead I have a mildly (as in 1%) related Master’s degree. A Master’s is considered the minimum level of education in Germany, like how North Americans view Bachelor’s degrees.

The step from a Master’s to a PhD is huge, and Germans love credentialed papers. So having a Master’s is not overly impressive when I’m applying to a job requiring a PhD.

But I got it! I was lucky, because I’m GREAT at interviews. I made everyone love me. No joke, that’s exactly what happened. No one cared about my [lack of] skills, they just thought I was a super person and they were right! :mrgreen:

This also means that I fit in with the corporate culture at my company, which makes it a pleasant environment for me. I’ve worked in companies where I didn’t feel I fit in, and that was much harder.

My job also gives me the chance to connect with people and make friends. It can get lonely as an expat when your whole life revolves around 1 person (your partner), because you lack a network and don’t speak the main language.

Having a job really lets me forge a life that is independent from my husband, and that’s healthy for me and our relationship.

I feel very productive at my job too. This feeling of productivity is essential for me to feel happy, not just at work, but in life. I don’t like to feel stagnant.

There are also functional perks to having my job, asides from getting paid. Like having a company iPhone + a sleek new laptop (also allowed for personal use), free German lessons, running marathons, receiving monthly investment contributions, and travel. Even though work-travel is not very fun, but I put it in anyway because sometimes it’s fun and I appreciate getting out of Germany once in a while, and not on my dime.

Of course, I’m also grateful to have a stable income so that I can plan for an early retirement. This is a HUGE privilege in itself, and the gravity is not lost on me.

Anyone interested in writing an ode to their jobs? I’m curious to read it. I can guess at what sucks about your job, but what’s great about it? What do you appreciate about your job? Other than a paycheque, how does your job help you reach your goals? Is this the best/worst job you’ve ever had? Please leave me a comment if you blog about it. Inquiring minds want to know!

Marathon training

Me running in my favourite park

Me running in my favourite park

I’m training for a marathon! Not just an early retirement marathon, but a physical, lactic acid build up kind of marathon.

While financial goals are not hard for me to make/keep, my fitness goals often go to the wayside.

Actually I don’t make any fitness goals asides from “I need to move more“, because I’m too intimidated to be more specific. :/

That’s why I decided to sign up for a local marathon when my company offered to sponsor their employees. It’s good PR to show their presence, and I’ll get a free t-shirt out of it too.

Yes, I’m a corporate @#%$*!

But I’ve always wanted to push myself to run a marathon, and now I have no excuses.

Just like I’m pushing myself to strive for early retirement. They feel similar to me because they both require discipline, focus, grit, endurance, and introspective honesty. It’s also not impossible for the average person (me!) to achieve. It just requires the right kind of prioritization.

I’m not the best runner out there, but I’m slowly starting to train. I ran 3.1km (2 miles) today in 25 minutes, which (don’t laugh) was a big deal for me.

Luckily this run is only 6km. It’s also next month so I have time to work up to facing this goal.

I’m a little nervous, but also feel excited and blessed to be able to try. Life is grand. ūüôā