“Better not start spending that big raise you might be expecting this year,” says Doug Carroll, a reporter for USA Today.
For the last few years, a raise has been hard to come by. In fact, a job was not easy to come by, so one may not have expected a raise. A steady paycheck was good enough.
But Carroll, whose article was published April 27, 2014, in the Tennessean newspaper of Nashville, says eight of 10 businesses say they expect subdued wage growth in the next three years. By subdued, they mean 0 to 3 percent, adjusted for inflation, Carroll quotes a survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).
We can probably hear each other thinking the same thing: our cost of living goes up, but our paychecks don’t. And, if they do, they don’t go up enough to cover those extra costs.
Let’s put this in perspective. A salary was never designed to cover OUR costs. A salary is something an employer gave a person for work he does. What’s done with the money is the worker’s decision. In decades past, a worker figured out how to make a life with his given salary, and regular, if not annual, increases helped him better his life as time passed.
Combine the extra salary with the worker’s life efficiencies, such as paying off a mortgage, having children grow and leave the house etc. Now, examine today’s world. Raises are smaller. Those life efficiencies are getting fewer. Mortgages are more difficult to pay off because houses likely have dropped in value. In fact, foreclosures have skyrocketed in the last few years.
Children that grow into adults are leaving home later, if at all. Those adult children may be finding it difficult to support themselves, perhaps because they have lost a job and are having trouble finding another. If they do find another job, it is often for less money than they were making, compounding the difficulty of independence.
Financial upward mobility is more difficult to achieve because employment that may have been secure decades ago is far from secure now. We have to find multiple sources of income so that we are not so dependent on one job, or one employer.
The good news is there are many such income sources out there. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll find financial assistance in two ways: spending less and earning more.
It’s logical that high unemployment keeps wages down. It’s also logical that as employers’ non-wage costs rise – 31% of those surveyed by NABE reported rising material costs, Carroll reports – employees will pay for it with flat wages.
We can curse out our employers for not paying us enough. One might argue that we almost never get paid enough working for someone else. But cursing or blaming your employer wastes energy.
We have to manage our own financial situations ourselves. We have to continually look for jobs or other income that will better our lives. We also have to spend what we have wisely.
In fact, living BELOW one’s means may be the first step toward financial independence. If one lives below one’s means long enough, and invests wisely what he is not spending, eventually he can live better, if not the way he wants, regardless of his employment situation.
So, to paraphrase Chik-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy, earn your money, however much or little, honestly. Spend it wisely. And, if you are fortunate enough, give the rest away to worthy causes.

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