Working for a low wage usually brings about a lot of “woe is me” feelings and concerns from most everyone. Hell, I’ve been one of them! It wasn’t even that long ago when I use to feel that I deserved better and that I was way too smart for my shitty job. Why should I give a shit about this job, especially when the pay made it feel like it was barely worth it? What did my employers expect? That I would “do the shit” out of this job? As far I was concerned I was only here because I had to have some sort of job, I guess.
Well after a decade of continuous low paying wages, and recent paradigm shifts in my own life and how I see the world, I’ve come to the realization that any wage in this absolutely glorious country is a blessing. We’re lucky to be living where we are, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.
Anyway, onto the idea for this post.
Working for minimum wage is something a lot of us Maritimers are use to experiencing. As with the rest of the Western world, a lot of the jobs being created these days are service industry related. With the latest recession we saw a lot of these service jobs either disappear or shrink to part time. Job growth is coming back, but again, mostly part time, service industry jobs. It’s easy to bitch and complain about this short end of the stick. It’s easy to justify that making ends meet with minimum wage is not possible. You may be thinking this very thing as you jump into your financed car and pull on through your local Burger King’s drive-thru on your commute home from your service industry job. Well, it may not be exactly easy, but surviving on minimum wage is completely possible. In fact, if you have things set up properly, you could even RETIRE in less than 15 years while only working for minimum wage.
So, you’re working for that magical $10/hour, when suddenly it dawns on you, “Whoa, dude, I’ve finally stuck around this “Insert Retail/Service Franchise” job for a full year! It’s time to see if I get a yearly raise.” Now most respectable companies, and franchises, will provide their employees with an annual review, accompanied by a raise, which you totally deserve. I’m nearing this exact moment myself and I’m getting pretty jacked up on the fact that I will have gone from $10 to $10.15 to $10.30/hour over these past 6 months.
I’ve talked to a few coworkers about this monument-us occasion – the 30 cent raise – and the reaction is usually the same. A chuckle, a shrug, a roll of the eyes, and a reply similar to “ha, big deal, it’s basically nothing.” I’ll usually smile, half agree, and say something like “yah, I know eh. Seems silly.” But in my mind I’m already doing the math.
How can earning extra money, for doing the exact same job, ever be shrugged off? Now I know inflation will mess with the numbers and the example I’m going to breakdown, but really, let’s just forget about that for the sake of focusing on the positive side(s) of this great gift you’re about to receive. Plus, you’re already saving and investing a huge chunk of your take home pay, right? That savings is literally making you money right now. This will help to tame that pesky inflation thing.
Math time! I’ll take the numbers I mentioned in my “Surviving” post for this example, since this is actually what will be happening in my life.
- As I mentioned, I generally work between 22 and 27 hours a week, so to keep things simple I’ll take the average and say 25/week.
- I’ll also pretend I’m going from $10/hour right up to $10.30.
So, at $10/hour it’s easy to see that I make $250/week, before tax. Now, let’s add in that glorious raise. That gets me up to $257.50! I know, I know, it feels like you should be depressed about that number, right? But let’s take a closer look….
That works out to an extra $7.5 a week. Times that by 4 and we get $30/month. Times that by 12 and we get $360/year! Now let’s get the true number. Let’s multiply that by 52 – the number of weeks you’d actually work in a year – and you end up with $390! Three hundred and ninety extra dollars a year! That’s not so horrible, is it? (Plus, we haven’t even factored in working Stat holidays and etc…)
How about we think about it this way:
Again, you’ll see in my previous article that my rent is $345 a month, and my phone bill is $45.80 a month. So, that 30 cent/hour raise has basically slashed my expenses in a big way. It’s as if I only have to pay my rent and phone bill 11 months of the year now, instead of 12. I already had these bills covered, no problemo, while working at $10/hour, but now with that raise, it’s as if both Bell Mobility and my Landlord came knocking on my door.
“Hey, you Bastard, you know what? You’re such a gloriously reliable – and may I add extremely sexy – customer/tenant that this December your bills are ON US! And, you know, why not, EVERY December from here on out is going to be covered by us as well. That’s just how much we appreciate you.”
Or, similarly, it’s as if my gracious Employer decided to say “Hey, you know what you Bastard, during December were going to give you your paychecks, like we’ve been doing all year, but we’re also going to forward some extra cash to Mr Landlord and Mr Cellphone, on your behalf. When those bills don’t show up in the mail don’t even worry about it! We got ya covered brah”
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that deal any month of the year!
And this is the cycle of avoiding lifestyle inflation. Another year will go by, another review will arise, and another raise will appear on my check. So, 2015 will only have 11 months worth of Rent/Phone bills, and 2016 should only have 10. And so on, so on, so on…
2 thoughts on “Why Your 30 Cent Raise is Reason to Celebrate!”
Going through this right now. Although I’m trying to find a silver lining, gratitude being one, I am struggling. It’s hard not to think of that $0.30 raise as being more of a burden than a blessing. After they tax my gross income it adds up to roughly jack diddly. Not to mention that you get thrown into higher tax brackets regardless of what you don’t get to enjoy out of your paycheck a and hey, bonus, you end up paying into taxes. Yes it is a raise but it is one that does more harm than good.
I just had to stop my 401k. Wife is going tonight to take a doctors test to see if she’s pregnant and all I can think about is how my managers have been posting and sharing numbers all over the walls about how this is our most profitable year ever. I’m so glad they will be enjoying more steaks this year.
As for me, I am at a loss. I actually cried today. Not much but enough to be in some emotional pain. Later we will have our daily meeting where numbers of company success will be shared to which I will feel defeated again. We cut 4 high salaries this year and doubled the work. I don’t know if “woe is me” even covers it anymore. Gratitude is great but at 30 years old it is more about seeing your hard work pay off. Gratitude is for those who have yet to begin. It’s a sad day.
By your mention of a 401K I’m assuming you’re based in the US. I’m not familiar with the US tax situation, but in Canada when you get bumped up into a higher tax bracket it’s only that new amount of income that is taxed at that new rate, not the entirety of the annual income. That’s a common misconception I hear people making in Canada all the time…to the point where some people think they’d actually lose money by accepting a raise…it’s not true. Again, I’m not sure how the US is set up.
I’m in no way a professional that can offer any sort of real advice for dealing with emotional situations but I can tell you I’ve been down deep, very deep, in the darkness of depression. I’ve struggled through some dark thoughts and survived. It sounds like you should reach out to someone who can offer solid, actionable advice. Perhaps your work even offers this? That was my first step. I was working a job I really hated and it coincided with my depression. My frustration built up so much that I told my manager that I needed a leave of absence. It was then that my manager suggested I use their employee support system, which I hadn’t even realized existed. It was the first step in the right direction for sure.
I’m actually relatively new to the world of gratitude. It’s a rather large shift I’m trying to make in myself. I’m in the midst of changing careers, a complete 180 from the way I lived my 20’s. I’m now about to turn 32 and am still in college. On paper, and compared to my peers and friends I grew up with, I have very little to show for it. I’m way behind…but it’s ok. There was massive value in the experiences I lived through, and it help me develop into the person I am today. If I pause to think about it, even just 3 or 4 years ago I would never ever have imagined I would find contentment and peace of mind because I truly felt all my hard work in my previous passion/career hadn’t paid off, and that wasn’t fair.
I know this reply is long overdue, and I’ve been ignoring this blog as I go through my career/life transition. I hope all is well.