‘I Felt Staying in Debt And Earning Low Wages Was The Norm’
Don't make yourself comfortable with a low-wage or low-reward situation. Whether it's a raise or a better job, stand up and demand more if you deserve it.
Have you ever dated someone who was no good for you, but you just couldn’t seem to end the relationship, so it dragged on forever? Or maybe you have a friend who insisted on staying with a loser simply because it was “comfortable,” even though both parties knew the relationship was going nowhere.
Just as we do in our relationships with other people, we may sometimes settle for less in our relationship with our finances.
There are a few reasons why this happens:
Not Feeling Worthy
Growing up, finances were rocky in my family. Almost everyone I knew was struggling with money or faking as if they weren’t. My parents did the best they could when it came to raising us. But I knew there was nothing left for college if I had wanted to further my education.
I expected to take out student loans. That wasn’t the issue, but I accepted being in debt for a while and never even considered trying to achieve debt freedom.
It may sound silly, but at that time in my life, I felt that my fate was sealed. Staying in debt and earning low wages was the norm. I settled because I didn’t believe I was worthy of anything better.
Lack of Confidence
Lack of confidence not only lowers your self-esteem, but it can cause you to settle for your current unhappy situation when you don’t have to. You may be afraid to stand up for yourself. You might keep from asking for a raise or seeking out better paying jobs because you don’t believe in yourself or your abilities to begin with.
Kayla Sloan, a freelancer and the owner of the personal finance blog Shoeaholic No More, has dealt with lack of confidence before in her career.
“In the past, I’ve settled for less than my ideal rate when working with new freelance clients,” Kayla says.
Being Too Anxious
Sometimes good things in your life may not appear on your own terms. If you are too anxious, you may end up cutting yourself short.
“I settled for a lower-paying job because I was unemployed at the time due to the recession,” says Kristin, a business owner and Pinterest marketing expert who runs the website Believe In a Budget. “I was desperate to earn any kind of income. So I totally agreed to a job that had low wages and no benefits. In addition, I was also lacking in self-confidence. I had convinced myself that my self-worth value was low.”
Jason, a freelancer and owner of the personal finance blog The Butler Journal, had a similar experience.
“A few years ago, when I was deciding if I wanted to work full-time again, I took a part-time job paying barely above minimum wage,” Jason says.
“My savings account was getting very low and I didn’t even know what I wanted to do at that time. I just knew I needed money and fast.”
I admit that sometimes settling for less financially is the easier option. It’s much less stressful to settle for lower wages and get comfortable with your situation than to push for a raise.
“After a year and a half at a stressful job, I decided to take a pay cut to move to a much calmer work environment where there was less pressure,” says Erin, a freelancer who created the website Journey to Saving. “At first, it was worth the decrease in pay. I was getting close to burning out at my previous job. Ironically, though, the new job wasn’t fulfilling and challenging. I knew I needed to make more money to get ahead, so I made the jump to self-employment, where I could set my own rates.”
After realizing that settling for less wasn’t so easy to deal with long-term, Erin worked her way up in the freelancing world. She now enjoys work that is flexible, pays well, and is challenging.
Settling Holds You Back
Like Erin, the other people I interviewed agree that settling for less with our finances holds us back.
WHILE IT MAY PROVIDE A BRIEF SENSE OF COMFORT AT FIRST, SETTLING FOR LESS DENIES US WHAT WE DESERVE.
Kayla has since started confidently setting her rates based on the value that her work provides. She’s asked existing clients with whom she previously set lower rates for raises.
After becoming miserable at her lower-paying job, Kristin changed her mindset. She teamed up with a professional to work on her resume and started going after jobs that required higher qualifications in order to land the right one.
Jason refocused. He contacted people in his network, and tailored his resume when applying to various jobs in order to land one that meets his needs and more.
I started reading other websites and hearing stories about people who were able to dig themselves completely out of huge amounts of debt even when the odds were stacked against them. I soon realized that those people were no different from me. The only difference is that I was just wasting my time by self-doubting and feeling sorry for myself.
Something that all my interviewees have in common is the willingness to accept their shortcomings. They also possess the courage to risk failure by fearlessly going after what they truly want.
Selling yourself short for whatever reason is never a good strategy in the long run. It won’t help you get ahead or reach your goals.