Author Topic: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement  (Read 11078 times)

Polket

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Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« on: December 26, 2013, 07:43:37 PM »
Hello Everyone,

I have been reading every word I can find after discovering this blog this past weekend and I am hoping to be a "mustachian". I have always been aware of the bullshit vanity/consumerism that exists in our society (just watch the Bravo channel) but its great to actually see this being something tangible in the form of this blog and community.

Here's my story:

I live in a very cheap local economy. I am 25 years old, I work in IT as a Sys Admin at a fast growing software company. I went to ITT-Tech from 08' to 10' which got my foot in the door. If anyone knows one thing about ITT-Tech, is that it's a for profit school system, which now I can give thanks for my $45k in student debt.

I have a second income as well officially as of last month, I am a professional musician so I play out multiple times a month. Income from that can be anywhere from an additional 400 to 2000 dollars in one month. During the summer can be up to 3,000.

Here's the run down.

- - Monthly Income: $1,900 at the bare minimum from job #1, with job #2 this combines up to $2,400 average after taxes. Could be up to $3,000, really depends on the month for shows.

cell - 110
rent - 475
electric - 33
student loan payment - 410
car payment - 260
gas for car - 200
Internet - 71
netflix - 8
food - 300-400
Clothes - generally 0, though sometimes I'll get a whole new fleet of jeans after they wear out, which can be like 150 dollars. Let's just say 30 bucks here average.
Bar / Going out - $40
Amazon - $40 (usually just random books)

- - total spending, $2,027

- - Investments so far: 401(k), my company matches up to 6%. I just started it 3 months ago, I have about $1,200 in there so far.

As for debt:

Student Loans: $45,000
Car loan: $7,500
- - Total debt, $52,500

I just signed up for Republic Wireless, and I love it so far. Doing the $25 monthly plan. Another obvious problem is my car situation. The gas is so high because its a sports car with an average of 18 MPG, I was 22 when I bought it (go figure) so I was all about showing off my new career by getting a crazy sports car. I'm also a car-nut, so this can be an issue for me. I live 10 minutes from work, a 35 minute bike ride, so in the summer I plan to ride my bike some more. Ultimately, I plan to sell my car, roll the extra dough I get from that after paying off the car loan into a junker to fart around in. Ultimate goal is no car payment, and knock gas consumption down to about 120 a month or so. With that, I would save $340 a month.

The food is pretty costly because I eat as best as I can, I have bad acid reflux on processed food, so I eat strictly whole foods/organic. I'm basically on the Paleo eating style, no bread or dense carbs. It helps my health and I feel great cause of it. I don't think I can sacrafice cutting down on this. Really all I buy is a ton of veggies and meat, nothing to outrageous like raw almond butter $20 bucks a jar or anything like that. Though I do get something outlandish like that once every 2 months just for kicks. My work has a salad bar and full blown diner. So I usually eat a big ass salad and salmon for lunch.

Now I think my plan is pretty sound so far, but now i'm saving only like what, 15% of my income? lol that is sad. The student loans are destroying me and at this rate I wouldn't have them paid off until 2035 or something ridiculous. It's only 45k but that's a ton in ratio to my income. I figure with the new musician gig I have, i can throw $1000 at it every month and have it paid off in 3 years and 10 months. Just in time to then start rolling cash into investments! After student loans are paid off I could be banking 55%.

I could get a higher paying job yes, I do have a few years under my belt in experience but the company I'm at has very good perks, though they do rather spend more on outlandish corporate parties rather than our compensation which is the sad part. And, the only high paying jobs in my area require 3rd shift/weekend hours which would destroy my musicianship which is a true passion for me.

Seems a lot of people on here have a wife or husband are each making 50k/yr +, whereas I'm sitting at a mere 30k/yr, no wife to help with expenses, and hoping for this awesome company I work for to start giving me big raises. It's been 3 years now at this job, average raise percentage is about 5%. I'm bumming over here because I don't think I'll get this done until I'm like 50 years old at this rate. I'm shooting for $700k - $1 million net worth. I have an expensive taste and I would like to have some nice stuff when I'm older. If i could double my pay in the next 5 years this could really happen. I'm shooting for 2 more years with this job before I pull my hair out, get new IT Certifications and hope to double my pay with a reasonable hourly job. Most IT jobs over 60k/yr require you to work 70 hours a week :(

Is this hopeless considering how much I make right now? Some people tell me to get a house to build equity, yeah right, that would put me further into the hole. Realistically, I'd be happy getting FI by the time i'm 40-45 years old.

Anyone have any advice they'd like to share? Are my ideas sound?

EDIT:: Oh and my car insurance is like 70 a month, but my mom pays that for me as her way of helping me. I'm an only child -shrug-. And I have a credit card, but I don't use it at all. Only when I travel and I try to pay it off after 3 months or so.

Thanks for reading!
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 08:23:22 PM by Polket »

iamlindoro

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2013, 08:04:23 PM »
You have some good things going for you-- Marketable skills, relatively little debt given the earning potential of those skills, and a positive attitude.

As I see it, your big problem is you don't earn nearly enough.  IT skills are highly marketable and you should consider looking in places where the wages are far better.  I've been working in IT for almost 20 years in the SF Bay Area-- you CAN make and save a fortune in some of the hot IT areas if you can keep your consumption in check-- it can be very hard when your peers are constantly wasting their money, but once you get in the groove, it is not hard at all.

This also causes me some serious concern:

Quote
I have an expensive taste and I would like to have some nice stuff when I'm older.

I am not sure what it means, since you spend s fair amount of time telling us you don't crave expensive things throughout the rest of the post.  I strongly, strongly recommend checking out or purchasing "The Millionaire Next Door," which is a really interesting and fast read about the traits and statistics of self-made millionaires in the USA.  In extreme short (but seriously get and read the book, I read it each year at Christmastime), the Millionaires in our society are the frugal people who don't look like millionaires-- having "an expensive taste" is the surest way to torpedo becoming what the book calls a PAW (Prodigious accumulator of wealth)-- Most millionaires never spend more than $195 on a suit, $50 on a watch, or $100 on a pair of shoes.  Many of them never make more than 70K in their best year. Get the book.  So, so, worth reading.

Finally, remember that FI is not about how much you make-- it's about how much you SAVE relative to what you make.  If you live a lifestyle that costs 18K a year, 36K will get you to retirement in a handful of years.  If you don't move, get rid of the debt ASAP.  Work long hours, extra jobs, whatever it takes.  Then start saving like a madman.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 08:06:59 PM by iamlindoro »

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2013, 08:13:58 PM »
Yeah, I wish I had an SF salary over here! I'm in Cleveland, and I can't find crap around here. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough since I'm still being optimistic about my current company.

You are definitely correct as to why you'd be confused about that statement. I think my fingers just ran off on a tangent. Basically let's say that my "expensive taste" would be cars. And i'm not talking Maserati's or Lambos. I'd love to own a decent garage to rebuild old cars on the side in the future and have some land, that isn't cheap around here. 

All good points. I'll definitely read that book, I've seen it referenced a lot on here and I put it in my next amazon book purchase. Gonna have to wait a bit till I have the cash.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 08:29:23 PM by Polket »

chasesfish

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2013, 04:59:00 AM »
I strongly, strongly recommend checking out or purchasing "The Millionaire Next Door," which is a really interesting and fast read about the traits and statistics of self-made millionaires in the USA.  In extreme short (but seriously get and read the book, I read it each year at Christmastime), the Millionaires in our society are the frugal people who don't look like millionaires-- having "an expensive taste" is the surest way to torpedo becoming what the book calls a PAW (Prodigious accumulator of wealth)-- Most millionaires never spend more than $195 on a suit, $50 on a watch, or $100 on a pair of shoes.  Many of them never make more than 70K in their best year. Get the book.  So, so, worth it.

+100000!!!

I picked up this book at 22 and it's been one of then to most influential books I've ever read, especially when I am dealing with clients who meet the profile.

You forgot to mention the caveat about shoes, if you wear suits for a living, those millionaires tend to buy $250 shoes that last forever based on a lower cost per wear and the ability to resole.

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2013, 06:47:07 AM »
Well, maybe i'll cheat my budget and get it even sooner, looks like a really great book. :P

I don't wear suits for a living, one of the perks at my job is we can wear whatever we want. But i'm sure a higher paying job would require it so that's a good point on the shoes.

Thanks for the replies guys, seems like I'm on a good path for now, just need more income.

FIence!

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2013, 06:54:39 AM »
Well, maybe i'll cheat my budget and get it even sooner, looks like a really great book. :P

No need to cheat your budget... get a library card, son! I am almost positive your library would have this book. If they don't, ask about inter-library loan. Really make sure you understand everything you can get out of the library system when you get your card. (For example, at my current library you can go online and request books from other libraries, and my home library will email me when they've arrived. In a previous town I lived in, you could "check out" free museum tickets and state park passes.) Using the library is one of the biggest ways I've saved money. I now get most of my magazines there instead of subscribing to them, too. Total outlay for getting several books, magazines, and dvds a week was about $5 in late fees for the past couple of years. If you want to count the new bike basket I bought to hold a bigger bag of books, the total for a year's worth of reading is still less than a new hardcover.

FIence!

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2013, 07:08:02 AM »
You have some good things going for you-- Marketable skills, relatively little debt given the earning potential of those skills, and a positive attitude.

As I see it, your big problem is you don't earn nearly enough.  IT skills are highly marketable and you should consider looking in places where the wages are far better.

I agree with this, but I also think you could do far better wage-wise right where you are in the meantime. Cleveland is pretty depressed wage-wise, but it's not like you're looking for IT work in North Dakota. Knowing nothing about other factors that might make you not qualified for a higher wage (for example, some people never get higher paying work for non-skill reasons like being bad at interviews or resume writing), it's surprising to me that you're making less than 30k when you do have some marketable skills. The plus side of staying in Ohio is that gloriously cheap rent you have. The potentially very low cost of living you have needs to be weighed against moving somewhere else where the extra income would get eaten up. If you like where you live, look for better paying work. If you don't, then start looking for other places to move with better employment prospects.

That said... I noticed you are "waiting" for a raise. Have you asked for one? If not--do that immediately. Well, prepare yourself for a review, ask your boss for a review, and then gun for a raise if she/he seems to agree you're worth it. No one will give you what you don't ask for.

The gas spending stuck out for me, but you've sort of addressed that you know it's crazy. So now you just need to act and get that down!

Another thing for me is the internet. $70 a month seems high. I'm paying like $30 a month for Comcast (and it was $20 a month for the first year). Are you in one of those areas where there's only one internet company and they can charge monopoly rates? If not, this should be lower. Call your current provider and ask for a lower price, and if they refuse call a new provider and see what they can do for you...

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2013, 07:32:05 AM »
Haha, yeah the library is a great idea. My ignorance has led me to ignore the library that is nicely located at the end of my street! I should really look into this, thanks for the reminder about that. I like to collect books too, but I have my whole life to do that. Library would be a great idea just for now.

I haven't asked for a raise at all no. I feel like I should just sit here and wait for one, and perhaps look for a newer high paying job in the meantime, and if the newer company doesn't give me what I want, I can then simply play hard to get and lean back on my current job until they offer something good. I'm afraid at the company I'm at now if I ask for a raise, they will sort of "black list" me so to speak and I will not be treated fair down the road. The reason I think that is because I've asked for a raise at a previous job before I graduated college, and they ended up firing me because of it; even though I was very reasonable and respectful about it.

Our reviews are coming up soon, perhaps when they say "this is how much your raise will be this year" I will complain and ask for more. I learned recently a member of my team is making $25/hr which irks me since i'm at $16 and I do just enough if not more than he does. I'm really personable and good in interviews, my resume is pretty rock solid. I also have some decent IT cert's and experience that could get me $50k a year. I'm just in a very cushy IT job right now and I think that is really just blinding me at this point of my real potential income.

I love where I live, so I don't plan on moving out of this region.

The cable is pretty high yeah, but it's because I have 60 Mbps down which is a ton of bandwidth. I've thought about reducing this to the 25 Mbps down which would still be like 50 bucks a month. I got the highest one I could get because of Netflix streaming, and I usually practice some of my skills and learn more for cert's messing around with the internet connection. Honestly, I have been ignorant on this front, and I probably could just monitor my actual bandwidth usage and drop it down.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 07:36:21 AM by Polket »

Rural

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2013, 07:52:35 AM »
I have no trouble streaming Netflix on 3 Mbps.

Free_at_50

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2013, 08:21:09 AM »
Hi Polket.  Getting more money from your employer for your services is more about how you ask for it IMO.   I would suggest when your at the library you look up a resource on how to ask for a raise.  In my case over the years I asked if I could have my salary reviewed based on my current tenure and contributions to the company.  When true, I would add that I love what I was doing and the company but that a yearly cost of living wasn't getting me where I thought I should be based on research I had done on sites like Salary.com.  If I was told they couldn't adjust my salary at the time I would at least ask if there was anything I could do to improve my salary at a later time.  Again if true, I would always end with the fact that I loved what I was doing and the company and would thank my boss for listening to me.  Over the years I recieved many increases.  :)  Good luck!

FIence!

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2013, 08:24:29 AM »
Our reviews are coming up soon, perhaps when they say "this is how much your raise will be this year" I will complain and ask for more. I learned recently a member of my team is making $25/hr which irks me since i'm at $16 and I do just enough if not more than he does.

You previously said that you like your company and feel like it has a future. Instead of complaining never, ever a good idea in a review unless you're on your way out!) I would tell them exactly that and frame your request for more money as part of that conversation. Say something to the effect of, "I'm really happy to be part of this company, and I'm excited about how quickly it's growing. I feel like my position has grown as well, so I'd like to talk about increasing my compensation at this point." If you're afraid of losing your job, I don't think this would be an offensive way to ask. While I'm not in Cleveland, my husband was recently looking for an IT job in the Detroit area, so I know how scarcity of employment really creates a culture where employers where act like giving you a desk to sit at is a favor. I won't tell you to go in with guns blazing, but if you frame it right asking should not be a problem.

Side note: As someone who has done employee reviews, I can assure you that unless you are in a union environment, you will get NOWHERE by saying things like "I want a raise because I've put in the time" or because someone else makes more money than you and it's not fair. Base your argument on what you've given to the company and what you'll give in the future! If they balk and won't give you a raise, you can be gracious and then start job hunting on the DL :)

Good luck!

LauraG

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2013, 08:55:09 AM »
What is the interest rate on your student loans? If it's reasonably low (below 5 percent, or even better below 4 percent) I'd look into income based repayment or one of the other income sensitive repayment plans. If your income remains low, your loan balance will be forgiven after 25 years. If your income rises, you will have more room in your budget to make repayments. Meanwhile, you can throw the difference into your 401k or, if it has a high interest rate, killing your car loan.

Income-based repayment is available for most types of student loans if your annual payment exceeds 15 percent of the difference between AGI and 150% of the federal poverty line for a family of your size. As a single person, 150% of the federal poverty line is $17,235. Assuming your AGI is about $30,000, your annual student loan payment of $4,920 is currently ~39% of your AGI. You can probably drop your payment to about $160/month. For more info, see http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans/income-based

Also, as others have pointed out, your monthly cell phone cost and internet cost are too high. You can reduce these by about half without noticing much difference.

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2013, 10:48:01 AM »
All very good points. I really do have no idea how to ask for a raise so I will definitely try to get some reading material on it. @Free_at_50 / FIence! I could totally see these approaches working for me here very good points.

@Rural well that definitely changes my mind lol.

@LauraG, good idea too but honestly I'd love to just be student debt free by the time I'm 29. Which now I can do with my new second income. I figure in the next 4 years until that point, I can focus on improving my skills in my career in the meantime and by then I should definitely be making a good boat load of money for investing in my 30s.

My student loans are all over 6% interest. I have one student loan that is with Chase which is 10.5% interest. Sallie Mae which is about 9%, and another private loan that I think is about 7 or 8%. The big chunk (about 30k) is a consolidated loan through the Dept. Of Education, that's 6%.

I'm definitely going to drop my cable bill this weekend and see how it is. I may even just go for the 5 Mbps connection. It's not like I have TV Cable sucking up all the bandwidth anyways.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 10:49:44 AM by Polket »

Daleth

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2013, 11:34:40 AM »
Yeah, I wish I had an SF salary over here! I'm in Cleveland, and I can't find crap around here. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough since I'm still being optimistic about my current company.

Dude, move 2.5 hours southeast to Pittsburgh, and you'll still be in low cost-of-living land, and an easy drive from family/friends in Cleveland, AND you'll ALSO be in... a good economy with lots of tech jobs! At least look at the job listings in Pittsburgh to get an idea, before settling for what you've got.

FIence!

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2013, 11:39:30 AM »
I'm definitely going to drop my cable bill this weekend and see how it is. I may even just go for the 5 Mbps connection. It's not like I have TV Cable sucking up all the bandwidth anyways.

Before you drop to a slower connection, you might try simply calling and asking if they can lower the bill. Again, totally depends on how much competition there is in the area for internet, but when I called and just asked if they had a lower rate available, they lowered my bill for the next 12 months. I've heard of people in other markets who get a flat no when they ask, so it totally varies. But hey, you can always drop to the lower speed if asking nicely for a lower price (and stating you're thinking about another provider, if there is one!) doesn't work. :)

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2013, 11:53:28 AM »
Yeah Pittsburgh definitely has a good market. Gotta remember though, I have a good thing going for my music here in Cleveland and playing awesome shows and developing a name for myself in the industry here. That's definitely valuable to me. When I'm retired I'll be playing music even more! So good points but farthest I'd move is Columbus. I'll look around and see whats out there for sure.

Well, the Cable company doesn't have much competition around here, especially in the city I'm in. It's primarily Cox and Time Warner, but Time Warner isn't really existent in my specific area. I'll see if I can muscle them a bit.

johlstei

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2013, 12:45:44 PM »
You are quite undervalued and would do much better if you move. Think of how much more time you'll have to spend on music if you retire in ten years because you moved somewhere that paid you fairly, even if it means starting over on that front. I obviously can't project my values onto you but with my value system the tradeoff seems quite clearly in favor of moving.

iamlindoro

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2013, 01:48:12 PM »
You are quite undervalued and would do much better if you move. Think of how much more time you'll have to spend on music if you retire in ten years because you moved somewhere that paid you fairly, even if it means starting over on that front. I obviously can't project my values onto you but with my value system the tradeoff seems quite clearly in favor of moving.

I agree with this.  The great part about music is that anyplace you would go and get paid handsomely for your IT, there will be a lively music scene because of the culture and community that surrounds greater wealth.  Your skills in both jobs are highly portable.  You might be able to progress, but you will quickly hit a salary ceiling where you live.  My first job out of school, I made 27K a year (in Boston).  15 years later, I am a consultant (because like you, my skills are portable and sought after) and make 10x that on a good year.

I guess the real lesson is that in an in-demand field, you can progress as far as you are motivated to progress.  These are your decisions and you have to make the ones you live with-- but if the primary goal is to retire early (and potentially wealthy), you are kneecapping yourself right out the gate.

StarryC

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2013, 03:04:59 PM »
You are living above your means.  Your current, reliable income is $1,900 a month and you are spending $2,027 a month.  You have a car loan for a car that is terrible for you financially because of the gas mileage.   Based on your analysis you have NO emergency fund or liquid savings. 

cell - 110  (So is this now $25 a month?)

car payment - 260 (What would the car sell for?  Would it pay off the loan?  Can you get rid of this somehow?  I know you love it, but which do you love more, this car, or months of freedom?  Could you get a car where the payment would be only $150 a month?)

Internet - 71 (I have DSL, with 1.5 mbps and 95% of the time have no trouble streaming netflix.  Drop it.  Spend no more than $30 a month on internet, looks like ATT is the provider for that)

food - 300-400 (I would stop buying organic.  It really doesn't matter for most things.  Can you do some bulk shopping for meat to get this down, like buy a cow from the Amish or something?  Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables that are local is more "paleo" than eating imported grapes in January, so make sure you aren't buying expensive stuff.  Seriously, it seems like if you could keep it under $275 a month that would still be pretty luxurious)

Amazon - $40 (usually just random books) (The library is OK FOREVER, not just "for now."  Seriously, if you ever want to read a book again, the library will STILL have it, in a year, and 5 years, and 10 years! $40 on books a month is crazy.  Get this down to 1 book a month for $10 or less. )

Total spending with these reductions $1,642.  Phew, at least then you will consistently be making more than you spend!  Then, you need an emergency fund. If your car broke down, or you had to move on short notice, or had some medical expenses, you need AT LEAST $1,000 in the bank, and $5,000 would be better. 




mm1970

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2013, 05:57:58 PM »
Quote
I haven't asked for a raise at all no. I feel like I should just sit here and wait for one, and perhaps look for a newer high paying job in the meantime, and if the newer company doesn't give me what I want, I can then simply play hard to get and lean back on my current job until they offer something good. I'm afraid at the company I'm at now if I ask for a raise, they will sort of "black list" me so to speak and I will not be treated fair down the road. The reason I think that is because I've asked for a raise at a previous job before I graduated college, and they ended up firing me because of it; even though I was very reasonable and respectful about it.

Our reviews are coming up soon, perhaps when they say "this is how much your raise will be this year" I will complain and ask for more. I learned recently a member of my team is making $25/hr which irks me since i'm at $16 and I do just enough if not more than he does. I'm really personable and good in interviews, my resume is pretty rock solid. I also have some decent IT cert's and experience that could get me $50k a year. I'm just in a very cushy IT job right now and I think that is really just blinding me at this point of my real potential income.

Sorry if this has been covered or is disjointed (typing while playing with kids and cooking dinner).

- Definitely ask for a raise.  The worst they can do really is say  no.  If a company would blacklist you for making more, then do you want to work for them?  Here is what has worked for me in the past - well, it's how I got my husband a bigger raise (I did the work for him).  Look up your skills, job title, and years of experience to figure out what the going rate is.  I generally use salary.com.  See where you fall.  You can either ask now or with the review.  My husband and a coworker did it with their reviews.  It worked for both.

- One thing that you can do with this information is simply state "my research shows that a fair salary for my position in this area is X, I'd like to be there".  That's what my husband did.  My coworker - I suggested asking the boss "I am at level X and I want to get promoted.  What additional responsibilities do I need to get this promotion?"  The three women that I was speaking to, explaining how to go about it, all said "that doesn't work, they will just tell you that this is the job and there is no room to move up".  The guy sitting in the cube next door was listening, unbeknownst to me.  He tried it, got promoted.

- If this doesn't work for your current company, then brush off the resume and start looking.  I know this is painful.  I personally hate job hunting.  However, when I am not happy, it is very useful to hone your interview skills and get an idea of what you are really worth "out there".  I recently have been very unhappy at work.  I have been unsuccessful in getting a raise, but I did get a job change.  I am continuing to look for a new job.  My current company and company president - well, he is just banking that I won't leave.  But I am relatively sure that if I find another job, he will offer me money to stay.  (So far pointing out the difference in salaries between me and others that are below me on the food chain has not worked - they make more than me).

- I can understand the fear of working longer hours.  I have been there.  But if not in your 20's, then when?  If increasing your hours by 50% gives you a 2x raise?  Is it worth it then?  Because at that point, you have to decide if it is or not, and if so, how long can you maintain the long hours.

- One thing I counsel my young engineers about is that you really should try to learn a lot when you are young and get as much money as you can.  Negotiate for your first job.  Negotiate for raises.  Pursue promotions and if your current company doesn't give them to you, look elsewhere.  Be willing to move.  Every single dollar more you get when you are young will usually translate for YEARS (okay, with the unstable economy, this isn't necessarily true - but the economy being what it is, more money is more important).  Meaning, if you can get an extra $5k a year RIGHT NOW that is an extra $50k that you have earned over 10 years.  And even more if you consider most places give you a % raise. 

Studies show that people who graduate in a down economy NEVER catch up to people who graduate later, but in an up economy.  Likewise, I am making $12k and $17k less than two women I work with.  They have more experience overall.  However, one of the men we work with, two years YOUNGER than me, makes $30k more than I do (at least).  This is sheer negotiation skill because he is no more experienced or effective than us.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2013, 06:16:26 PM »
Just going to touch on a few things that jumped out at me...

Go to your supervisor and ask for a raise - basically phrase it as "this is what I've worked on this past year and how many improvements and such I've made" and itemize specific instances if at all possible. Tell them that you like working for the company and hope it's mutual. Then tell them that you're really interested in getting a raise that might be a bit more than usual for your performance. Do all of this as nicely and politely as possible.

You say that you want them to just give you a raise... things don't usually happen that way. You have to ask. This translates to most areas of your life too - never assume a partner or friend or family member can read your mind or should just know what to do if there's something you want. That is a path paved with hurt feelings and angst and drama. Ask. Communicate what you'd like to have, and you'll be much more likely to get it.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 07:33:53 PM by Frankies Girl »

iamlindoro

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2013, 06:24:57 PM »
- If this doesn't work for your current company, then brush off the resume and start looking.  I know this is painful.  I personally hate job hunting.  However, when I am not happy, it is very useful to hone your interview skills and get an idea of what you are really worth "out there".  I recently have been very unhappy at work.  I have been unsuccessful in getting a raise, but I did get a job change.  I am continuing to look for a new job.  My current company and company president - well, he is just banking that I won't leave.  But I am relatively sure that if I find another job, he will offer me money to stay.  (So far pointing out the difference in salaries between me and others that are below me on the food chain has not worked - they make more than me).

- I can understand the fear of working longer hours.  I have been there.  But if not in your 20's, then when?  If increasing your hours by 50% gives you a 2x raise?  Is it worth it then?  Because at that point, you have to decide if it is or not, and if so, how long can you maintain the long hours.

This is all great advice, and something I've noticed over the years is that early career aggressive advancement and hard work unlocks the skills (professional and personal) that get you to the highest levels.  If you get to 40 years old and you're still a sys admin with 20 years of sys admin experience, you'll find it comparatively much harder than if you had changed jobs a few times early in your career to move into supervisory positions quickly.  You'll meet the right people to promote quickly, or develop the skills that make you a very highly paid consultant.  I did the former, then had enough contacts and clout to do the second.  Now I work 60 hour weeks some weeks, but I work them for the customers I want, charging top dollar, and I can reduce my workload any time I want a break (or fire a customer who is simply too much trouble).

golfer44

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2013, 06:44:08 PM »
Interesting posts. It seems like you know exactly what you should be doing, but make justifications to why you're doing otherwise.

I have no advice other than to see the mirror as your biggest obstacle to financial independence.

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2013, 12:27:37 AM »
Wow, you all pretty much nailed it. A lot of things I never thought of.

Looks like I really need to buckle down and try to advance myself. I think I've been really lazy and just accepting my crappy pay for the past couple of years. My thought a couple years ago was to stick with this job for a few years to build up my experience. I work at one of the toughest places to get hired into around here, so this on my resume 3 years running now is only helping me but it's definitely time to look for a raise and ask for it based on all of your replies/advice, or move on and take risks to get ahead. I'll consider moving away if the money is good, the trade-off is a great thing to note, I'll have plenty of time for music after I'm 40, but a good point in that I can play music anywhere. It's just hard finding a good high paying band. Hard thing is I'm an only child and psychologically I'm very close to my parents, who are divorced and also going through their own hardships that I want to support them through. I feel like being away from them a lot would cause me to travel home more which would be a lot of extra money being spent.

I'll make more use of the Library and lower my internet for sure. The car is on it's way out as soon as spring hits. I don't want to be in between cars during the winter when I can just ride my bike in the spring and not worry about not having a car for a week or so. Yeah i'm not really nailing home the "paleo" thing by buying organic fruits that aren't in season lol, I found a local farm via localharvest.org. I'll check it out sometime.

The car is worth $11-12 grand right now, I owe $7.5 on the loan, so I will have some cash left over to buy a used car outright. Emergency fund is going to definitely be on the radar starting now. I just paid off my credit card completely so I'll need a month or so to get stashing.

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

Daleth

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2013, 09:45:40 AM »
Yeah Pittsburgh definitely has a good market. Gotta remember though, I have a good thing going for my music here in Cleveland and playing awesome shows and developing a name for myself in the industry here. That's definitely valuable to me. When I'm retired I'll be playing music even more! So good points but farthest I'd move is Columbus.

Columbus is farther from Cleveland than Pittsburgh is. Google maps tells me Cleveland to Columbus is 150 miles, while Cleveland to Pittsburgh is 133 miles (and the drive is, correspondingly, 15 minutes shorter).

Also, about your parents--before you make major life decisions (like where to live) based on where your parents live, remember that parents move. Sometimes they move when they retire; sometimes they move when grandkids appear and they want to live closer; sometimes they move just because their kid moves. Parents are not trees. :) They can relocate and often do.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 09:51:13 AM by Daleth »

curler

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2013, 10:41:26 AM »
Parents are not trees. :) They can relocate and often do.

But everyone told me that I was an apple and that I had to fall close by to my tree.

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2014, 08:00:50 AM »
Hey Everyone,

I hope bumping old threads isn't a bad thing on this forum, if so I am sorry and give me a pass for being a newbie!

However, I wanted to share something with all of you.

I recently made this thread about how I only make 32k a year at my current job, even though I have a lot of IT experience and could make more. And as you can see from the situation above, it wasn't pretty.

This blog and community has given me the confidence to apply to better jobs that I thought were too far above me. Well I did just that and LANDED one. Now I'm proud to say I make 56k a year! And being in Cleveland, this is huge since our cost of living here is so low.

Thank you to everyone in this thread and this entire blog. This helped me push myself forward. It's like getting out of a bad fog I was in for a couple of years.

Now to pay off that debt and start investing!
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 08:02:25 AM by Polket »

pachnik

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2014, 08:07:15 AM »
Wow!  Congratulations on your new job. 

Good on you for taking the information you received here and running with it (running all the way to a better paying job!)


arebelspy

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2014, 08:16:05 AM »
Congrats!

Keep pushing, and set steady habits.  Time will will fly by, and if you've set things up right, it will be your friend, instead of enemy.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
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We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2014, 08:58:44 AM »
Thanks guys!

arebelspy: Time will will fly by, and if you've set things up right, it will be your friend, instead of enemy.

That is a great quote, so much truth said in that sentence.

@serpentstooth: I appreciate the offer! I play the drums, currently I'm in one of the voted best bands in Cleveland and we booked a ton of private parties and weddings this summer, the money situation from that will be more than what I imagined so I'm pretty set on that for this year. I feel that I'm pretty good, at least I'm told that from musicians with far more experience and caliber than me. So moving to a new area should be fairly easy and it would be a good tool to create new friends. Good to know your husband was able to cut through the saturated market and land some good gigs. Makes me push forward hearing that. Moving to a new area is still in my consideration for the future, we'll see what happens.

randymarsh

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2014, 10:42:26 AM »
I don't know much about the Cleveland job market, but I see tons of IT postings in Toledo, Cincy, Dayton, and Columbus. Rent is still cheap in those places.

32K isn't the max you're ever going to make. I'd say if you work in IT and only make 32K for most of your career, you're doing something very wrong. People in help desk make that.

Quote
hoping for this awesome company I work for to start giving me big raises. It's been 3 years now at this job, average raise percentage is about 5%

Stop hoping, companies rarely give you a big raise just because. These days you have to switch companies, otherwise they just dangle a carrot of "yeah in few months we'll discuss a raise...".

I don't know what your specific qualifications are, but the sysadmin positions I've seen for someone with 3 years of experience pay at least 40K, if not 50.

mxt0133

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2014, 10:51:37 AM »
Congrats on the raise!  But be careful of lifestyle inflation, whatever new income you have shove into your 401k and Roth IRA, then continue to tackle your debt.  Never stop analyzing your budget to see how you can do better.

Now that you got a new job, you might want to start looking into more certifications, pick a field, networking, security, cloud, ect.  THe IT field is constantly changing and if you stay at or close to the bleeding edge you can command a premium for your services.  That's how I have approached my career, not by getting certificates but by interviewing EVERY year.  If I don't get an offer that means my skills are not marketable.  That's how my brother who graduated with a psychology degree from a no name university became a network architect for the biggest telecom company in the US, simply by constantly updating his skills via certifications.
 

golfer44

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2014, 11:08:43 AM »
Congrats Polket! Great to hear.

bacchi

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #33 on: March 13, 2014, 12:38:13 PM »
This blog and community has given me the confidence to apply to better jobs that I thought were too far above me. Well I did just that and LANDED one. Now I'm proud to say I make 56k a year! And being in Cleveland, this is huge since our cost of living here is so low.

Yeah, that's more in line with a young sys admin's salary. Congrats.

randymarsh

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2014, 01:53:42 PM »
I should have read all the posts, I would have realized you stopped hoping and got yourself some more money. Good job!

Polket

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #35 on: March 13, 2014, 02:51:25 PM »
Congrats on the raise!  But be careful of lifestyle inflation, whatever new income you have shove into your 401k and Roth IRA, then continue to tackle your debt.  Never stop analyzing your budget to see how you can do better.

Now that you got a new job, you might want to start looking into more certifications, pick a field, networking, security, cloud, ect.  THe IT field is constantly changing and if you stay at or close to the bleeding edge you can command a premium for your services.  That's how I have approached my career, not by getting certificates but by interviewing EVERY year.  If I don't get an offer that means my skills are not marketable.  That's how my brother who graduated with a psychology degree from a no name university became a network architect for the biggest telecom company in the US, simply by constantly updating his skills via certifications.
 

Thanks! Yeah I'm gonna still live like I only still make 32k a year. My old habit would be going out and buying a brand new car and getting a bigger place but makes no sense. Sit back save big until i'm completely debt free, then buy a house within my means. Hope to retire by the time I'm 40/45.

I agree with the certs, good thing about this new job is they will pay to get me trained and certified in anything I'm working on for them. These guys are on the bleeding edge too and have a great IT budget, looking forward to learning more. That's the thing with IT you can't stop moving forward, you need to constantly learn new things every year.

Thanks guys.

wild wendella

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #36 on: March 14, 2014, 08:53:33 AM »
Congrats!  Out of curiosity, are you still loving Republic Wireless?  I'm looking to switch but have cold feet.  Also, I'm wary of the up front cost for the Moto X.

FIPurpose

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Re: Attain FI on 26-32k/yr? Need some advice/encouragement
« Reply #37 on: March 14, 2014, 10:43:55 AM »
This probably deserves another thread, but Republic Wireless just came out with a new phone for their plan. You can now get the Moto G for their $5 - $40 plans. They're offering that phone for $150. Is there a reason to not have Republic Wireless now?