It’s an unfortunate part of life, but becoming an adult also means taking financial responsibility for yourself. So we go out, find a job, and start paying the bills.
Or at least that’s the plan.
A 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 19 percent of employees had trouble making ends meet every month. And among employed young adults, ages 18-24, 32 percent were unable to save any money in the previous year.
It takes time to figure out a budget and learn how to live within your means, but many young adults don’t even try for more money during their first salary negotiation. A 2015 NerdWallet survey found that 62 percent of recent college graduates didn’t attempt to negotiate after receiving their first job offer.
It’d be great if employers just automatically offered you enough money to live comfortably, however that’s not always the case. It’s up to you to calculate what you need to maintain financial independence and then try to reach an agreement that’s as close to that number as possible.
Here are four real-life considerations you need to take into account in a salary negotiation:
Relocation and housing expenses
If your new job is in the same city you currently live in, you already know how much your rent is and what the cost of living is like in your area. However, if you’re moving for the job, it’s important to do research about the new city as early as possible. That way, you’ll know how much you’ll need to make in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
For instance, based on 2015 research from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, if you plan to live in Kentucky, you’ll need to make the equivalent of $13.14 an hour to pay for the average two bedroom apartment. That’s the state with lowest average rental cost in the U.S. If you move to California you’ll need to make almost double that to pay rent.
Checking out apartments in the area you’re moving to on Craigslist gives you an even better idea of what rent typically runs and what target salary you should shoot for. Also, know that many organizations offer some kind of relocation assistance. But you might have to ask for the extra money during your salary negotiation.
Depending on how far you have to travel to get to the office, your travel expenses can begin to add up. Whether you decide to take public transportation or drive to work, you need to know how much it’s going to cost to go and earn your paycheck every day.
For example, if you have a 10-mile commute each way — which 2015 Brookings Institute research found was the average in many American metro areas — that’s 100 miles a week, to and from work. Not to mention, there’s the cost of car insurance. And if you have to drive on toll roads, getting to work can get expensive very quickly.
For many new graduates, the burden of paying back student loans is overwhelming. A 2015 study by Student Loan Hero found that one in four college graduates still live with their parents because of the financial strain of their loans. One in nine would eat a tarantula if it helped pay off their debt faster.
Once you’ve decided which repayment plan is right for you, find out how much you’ll have to pay each month. There’s a good chance that, after rent, loan payments could be your biggest expense, so be sure to know how much you’ll need.
Also remember to ask if your new organization has any kind of loan repayment assistance. It might not be offered to all employees or it might require you to take an overall salary cut, but it’s a fantastic perk to have.
If you’re lucky enough to still be covered by your parents’ insurance, it’ll definitely put less stress on your bank account. However, remember that eventually you’ll need your own. The sudden extra cost won’t necessarily coincide with a raise in pay, either.
Some employers offer coverage or assistance paying for company group plans. Before you enter your salary negotiation, get all the information on the benefits you qualify for, so you’ll know what portion of health care costs will fall on your shoulders.
If your employer doesn’t offer any kind of health insurance, and you need to shop for it on your own, know that a low monthly premium isn’t always the best option for your long-term finances. Sure, a plan like that will be cheaper if you never get sick, but you’ll face higher copays if you do need to see a doctor. Fully research all your options, and find someone you trust to answer any questions you may have.
Getting a new job and becoming more adult can be very exciting. But, financially, it can also be a little scary. The best way to start taking control of your money is confidently negotiating the right salary for your lifestyle. Take the time to calculate how much new and unfamiliar expenses will cost you, so you’ll know when you’ve reached the right deal.
What other real-life considerations should be taken into account before a salary negotiations? Share in the comments below!
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