How Much Money Do You Make?

Negotiation is not a dirty word. Usually. 

Negotiation is not a dirty word. Usually. 

It's a pretty straightforward question. And yet, the thought of talking to other people about it makes me want to do this:

We're weird about money. If we think we make too little, we're embarrassed. If we make too much, we're also embarrassed. Spending money embarrasses us, too. Unless it doesn't, and then unabashedly talking about how much you spend makes everyone around you uncomfortable (is that a midwestern thing? Excuse me... is that a NORTHERN thing?).

But I want to talk about money, and for a lot of reasons. 

I got royally screwed at my first job out of college. I didn't know that until the week I quit, when I realized that someone working under me was getting paid more. 


was floored. One, because I was technically above her on the totem pole. Two, because I had a college degree in the specific field we were both working in (my coworker hadn't attended college). Three, because like a damn fool, I trusted my boss was compensating us based on things like education and skill. I took whatever was offered.

That third one is kind of true-- I was getting compensated based on skill, or lack thereof. Not only did I not know how to negotiate, I didn't even know I was supposed to negotiate. I can write a badass thesis and chug a pitcher of Spotted Cow like a champ, but college sure as hell didn't teach me a thing about negotiation, salaries or benefits.

It makes me sooooo angry!

But better to learn late than never. A decade after I graduated college, Sheryl Sandberg rolled around. God bless that woman! Have you read Lean In yet? Do it, even if you're a guy. Especially if you're a guy. It's a game-changer. It's changed the way I operate in any business setting. I lean in now. I'm even physically leaning in right this second! But at the moment, it's just to pick up a glass of wine. 

Most of us could use some help in the negotiation category. Aside from just knowing I should negotiate, simply understanding what other people make would help immensely. For example. I keep hearing teachers "make nothing"... but what does that mean? $20K a year? $40K? $60K? $100K, plus summers off? I just don't even know!

And PS, when it comes to compensation, everyone who's anyone says ask for what you're worth. How do I just come up with that number ex nihilo? I'd happily to ask for what I'm worth if I could just understand what I'm worth! Oh fer cryin' out loud!

The person hiring you knows what they're willing to pay AND what they're paying everyone else; you, on the other hand, probably have no idea what your peers earn... unless someone gets loose lipped after a few happy hour chardonnays.

Since we're all so weird about sharing salary info, here's what I'm proposing:

Please anonymously share your salary in the comments below. 

  • Age/Sex/Location
  • Job Title & Industry
  • Education
  • Years experience
  • Annual Salary (or hourly wage)
  • Additional benefits or perks
  • Did you negotiate for your pay?
  • Any other pertinent info you'd like to share

I know you can just Google salaries, but that's not specific enough. My dream is to get hundreds, thousands, a kajillion people commenting with what they're actually getting paid. That way, you could buzz through the comments and either A) realize you're getting underpaid; B) realize you've got it made in the shade; or C) maybe switch careers based on what some anonymous person claims they made on the internet. Who knows.

The point is, knowledge is power. 

Please share liberally through Facebook, Twitter, emails or wherever you're talking to people. The more contributions, the better off (and richer... or maybe we'll all have more vacation time! Weeee!) we'll all be. 


* * *

Want more job talk? How about the 10 things I've learned since quitting my awesome job? And since we're talking about life lessons, here's a few more things I wish I could tell my younger self.