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From diapers to high school yearbooks, there are all sorts of demands on your paycheck, and these never seem to let up. Sometimes the best way to bridge the gap is from within your current job. "Don't be afraid to talk about money, it's just another aspect of the job,"says Ken Glickman, a senior talent manager from East Lansing, Michigan. "Ask them to tell you the difference between merit raises and cost of living raises, how long you have to work before a possible promotion. Lay it on the line."
Be the worker your company needs before thinking about pursuing a raise. "You have to start out by being damned good," says Glickman. "You have to have a great attitude, you've got to do great work, you've got to go the extra mile, you've got to help people out, you have to be the best of the best -- and then you can talk about getting raises." Your performance may already justify a raise in your own eyes. Considering how your boss sees your contributions may help you deliver extra value.
Request the Raise
If you never ask, you'll never know. Set up a meeting with your boss and let her know the topic of your proposal in advance. While you may be thinking "raise," consider this meeting a fulfillment project based around how you can be more valuable. Writing for CIO.com, negotiation coach Jim Camp says that giving your boss permission to say no may be the strongest strategy you have to be heard clearly. Telling your boss that you're OK if she doesn't go along with your proposal shows maturity and business-like attitude. Consider your salary an ongoing business process and you may change the way your boss sees your work. You're not meeting to deliver ultimatums but to work toward mutual benefit
When your skill set lends itself to freelancing or consulting, building a part-time job using these may be the most logical way to boost a paycheck. Find clients who don't conflict with your current job. Let your boss know about any moonlighting work you're doing, says Glickman, to avoid a rude surprise if she finds out from another source. "You must tell them the ways you are being careful that it does not have anything to do with your work there. You want to be upfront and honest and they will respect that. Reassure them that you will not use any work time for this."
Consider Non-Salary Options
Don't forget nonsalary benefits that may allow you to get more mileage from your salary. Some options may be more palatable to your company than dishing out more dollars weekly. Consider increased vacation time, enhanced health plan coverage and pension improvements. Each of these may put more value into your job while extending your paycheck. Negotiating work-at-home time may not seem like a way to increase your salary, but fuel and maintenance savings add up when you no longer have the commute. Even asking for a new title may serve you as a resume addition down the road, while costing your company nothing.
You've got tax withheld from your paycheck and while you may receive a refund each spring, there may be ways to make additional tax savings, increasing your refund and putting more dollars back in your wallet. Credits such as the retirement savings contribution credit, child tax credit, child and dependent care credit and earned income credit can each add to your refund if you're eligible and are not already claiming these. If you commonly receive large refunds, you can put that money back into your paycheck by adjusting your withheld tax through your W-4 form, filed with your employer.