Galia Gichon on Huffington Post

by Galia Gichon on February 5, 2008

This article was recently posted on the Huffington Post as part of Ladies Who Launch. You can also see it on their site: Huffington Post.

TOP 5 Issues Women Have Regarding Compensation

I have been helping women tackle their spending and investing obstacles for close to fourteen years. My clients are smart and successful women from different backgrounds and professions. However, they share similar concerns about how much they are earning! While I focus on finding more money in their budget, developing positive money habits or understanding the latest mutual fund, I have also found that concentrating on making more money is just as important. Despite the fact that many of them have achieved enviable accomplishments, they still complain they are not making enough money! Even when I worked in the aggressive Wall Street arena, asking for more money was a challenge. Once we, as women, start asking for more money, better benefits and higher project fees, we will start to see the positive effects of the increased compensation seep into other areas of our personal finances.

We don’t talk about money. Unless it is about the great sweater I just got on sale. Most of us are scared to talk about their income, or we don’t want to deal with it and view it as a sign of insecurity. As a result, we do not have a good grasp of what our peers, colleagues and friends are getting paid. Even if I don’t want to discuss how much I earned last year or my recent bonus, there are ways I am still introducing more positive money discussions in my conversation. This can be as easy as mentioning the website I discovered about salary comparison or a great online savings account I found. I even researched my average market compensation at www.salary.com (Salary Wizard). I have also enlisted a friend to join me in a seminar on mutual funds. Next thing you know, we are discussing the latest article in Fortune Magazine at our next girl’s night out over a glass of wine.

We don’t ask for the raise or set higher fees as entrepreneurs. It is such as stereotype that we play the traditional role of the caretaker. But are we taking care of ourselves? Clearly not enough in the money department… As a result, I know I have not always asked for enough money in raises, I didn’t brag enough about my workplace accomplishments and I certainly did not question the size of the bonus I received. Entrepreneurial women are also known for not charging high enough rates and undercharging project fees on consulting projects. From now on, when I ask for a raise, higher salary or fee – I plan on tacking on 25% more than I had planned on asking. Even if my client doesn’t give me that amount, I will at least start from a higher amount when bargaining.

We don’t do enough market research on what they should truly be getting paid. Do your homework. My husband always reaches out to his network of old colleagues, or college classmates to help him get further. That is a great place to start but I can also take it a step further. I plan on talking to my peers much more. This doesn’t mean that I am asking my office mate what her bonus was last year but there is nothing wrong with asking if raises are given out more than once a year. I also plan on attending more networking events in my industry and personal network. Chances are I will find out about advances in my industry and how I can get paid for it. You never know who you will meet and it can only empower me to ask for more money next time the situation arises. I also keep a notebook of my accomplishments on an ongoing basis. When I worked for company, this was great ammunition when I had asked for a raise or higher bonus. Now that I work for myself, it really motivates me to command more money from my clients.

We don’t really focus on how much we need. Sure we know how much we need to pay our mortgage or rent. But do we know how much we should save annually to save for our child’s college education or to retire successfully? What if I want to go on vacation to Hawaii with my family – every year – or simply stave off the bag lady syndrome and sleep better at night. I recently scheduled an appointment with a fee-only independent financial planner and was enlightened to know exactly what I need to save for my retirement. Whether I save that or not, it takes the guesswork out of the equation and I know what I need to save. I know the life I want to live and if I am not earning enough for that life, that is a huge incentive for me to go out and ASK for it.

We don’t take into account our time off. I have taken off a few months here and there to be with my children and have worked with many women who took care of their parents. Just because I wasn’t earning an income at the time, doesn’t mean I can’t get paid for it. I had to make sure I was still investing in myself and my career. While I wasn’t working, I still networked in your industry, kept up on my business reading, and attended industry conferences. I took a consulting project to stay abreast of what was going on in my industry. A woman that works for me is working part-time and that is helping her stay in the job market as well. I have met many women that wanted to do something different. They were able to become motivated by taking a class, getting an internship or find a mentor in that new industry. I found that it really didn’t take that much time but when I was ready to go back to work, I had invested in myself and that paid off in dividends. At the same time, I also made an extra effort to take charge of your personal finances. My husband and I went over our life insurance, I made sure to understand every part of your assets and investments, and I had money saved in my own name and in my own IRA.

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