Money Talks & The Good Life: Part 1 of 2

Don’t mind the detour but I’m talking puppies and money today!

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I am quite happy to share with you all we added a second Cane Corso to the family.  I stayed up with this cute fur ball last night and now it’s my husband’s turn for the night shift.  My newest kiddo is not actually the focus of today’s writing but I couldn’t help but share.  Month after month I make promises I’ll write more often and when I make you–my dear audience–wait, I owe you something special.  Hence sharing our good news.  Honestly, who doesn’t like seeing photos of puppies?! (Thanks for sticking around. If we lived closer, I might just bake you something, too.  I am quite handy in the kitchen and my friends enjoy the alcohol-infused treats I make plus the non-alcoholic versions.)

Tonight’s entry is really an appetizer; tomorrow’s blog post is the entrée.

I am on Refinery 29’s email list and there was an article that spoke a lot to me recently.  I graduated last year with my Master’s degree and the author Erin Lowry pointed to an area that is a bit of a weakness for me, the art of negotiating money.  As a veteran, I feel I am in a position many other veterans know as well.  When we served our pay was based on pay grade and time in service.  If you want to check how those numbers have changed over time, please look at the military pay charts on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website.  The amounts are not inclusive of all pay, just basic pay, but this information gives you a decent starting point to understand negotiation is not a thing.  If you want more money, you get yourself promoted ASAP.

For some military occupational specialities versus others, that’s a fairly easy task to accomplish.  I won’t go down that road today.

Her article resonated with me quite well recently as I’ve struggled to find a comfortable wage after separating from the Marine Corps.  After starting our family in 2010, I’ve become more financially focused as I realize money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to and many unexpected events–like my two bouts of unemployment–add further stress.  I try not to let money be the dominant factor to express I am a successful person but there is a level of financial stability I have not yet obtained that frustrates me.

The level of financial transparency through sites like Refinery 29 where people talk about the debt they carry, the cost of their mortgages, and how much income they make becomes a motivator for me to advocate for my particular needs.  In the almost four years in my current position, I never thought I needed to negotiate my pay.  In a couple different ways over the past year, I learned of pay discrepancies that I felt could not be overlooked.  Armed with the confidence my work prowess speaks for itself and I bring many useful lessons from my educational background directly into the work environment, I tackled one of the toughest conversations I’ve ever had.  I told my supervisor I am sick of getting grossly underpaid.  I don’t want to feel like I need to be one of those extremely frugal moms who gets a kick out of extreme couponing, making their own soaps and stuff, and shopping only secondhand.  (Trust me, I like food sales, but not couponing.  I like using a homemade vinegar cleaner and also using the heavy-duty store-bought name brand clog remover.  I equally like buying new things and finding something special on Thredup for $8.)

While working on my degree, my lower pay was not as much of a setback as I had the ability to use my GI Bill entitlement to compensate financially.  Without my tax-free cushion, I know I cannot yet afford certain experiences I’d truly like, such as saving for a trip to Hawaii or going on a cruise.  I am leery to put the cost of three plane tickets to visit family back east on a credit card because I know my husband won’t be employed for two more years while he completes his education.  I don’t want to cut back on some of my favorite gourmet ingredients, like the Trader Joe’s creamy Toscana soaked in Syrah, because I am more the woman who likes a killer home-cooked meal than a packed restaurant, even though I’m not getting the treat of being waited on and someone else cleans the dishes.  I just want to earn money to support my family and provide for the fun things in life as well.

In talking more about the good life tomorrow, I’ll focus a bit more on the positive numbers that compromise my good life and those pesky numbers that put a damper on where I want to be for personal and professional satisfaction.


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