4 Signs That You’re Grossly Underpaid at Work

Sure, you like your job, but it’s also nice to be paid what you’re worth. Enjoying your job won’t pay the bills. If you feel like you’re underpaid, you’re not alone. Roughly two in five employees (about 39%) feel they aren’t receiving a fair salary at their current job, according to a Glassdoor survey. But how do you know you’re not getting paid enough? Here are some tell-tale signs.

1. You can’t pay all of your bills on time and in full

Stack of past due bills

Past due bills | Source: iStock

Does it seem like there’s never enough cash to pay all of your bills? If it seems like there’s always more month than money, you’ve got a problem and you might be underpaid. Not being able to pay your bills in full and on time is usually one of the first signs you’re not being paid enough.

Joan Concilio, former community manager for personal finance blog Man Vs. Debt, said if you’re in a situation where you can’t keep up with the bills, you’ll need to stop unnecessary spending immediately.

If you’re not making ends meet now, you need to put a freeze on any new expenses. Period. This is often the hardest part. In our lives right now, that means that even though our car is basically 110% of the way to deceased, we cannot take on a car payment. When my now-13-year-old daughter was first born, my financial status was more dire, and something like a new pair of shoes for her or for me would have meant the electric bill did not get paid. I have lived in the world of cardboard-in shoes, and while I don’t prefer to go back, sometimes you just have to put your foot down.

2. Your credit cards are at or near their limit

Credit card pile

Stack of credit cards | Source: iStock

Are your credit cards dangerously close to the limit? Relying too heavily on credit cards may work for the short-term, but over time you will just be digging yourself deeper in debt. If you’re finding that your credit card balances are getting out of control, contact your creditors immediately. You may want to think about enrolling in a debt hardship plan or asking about other debt programs your creditor may have available.

Attorney Kathleen Michon said even if you’re overwhelmed, it’s best not to run away from your responsibilities.

Whatever you do, don’t hide your head in the sand or sweep your bills under the bed. Even if you have no income, it almost always makes sense to contact your creditors and let them know your situation. Some creditors may be quite willing to work with you. For example, they might agree to a payment plan, allow you to skip a few payments and tack them onto the end of a loan term, or waive late fees.

3. You’re always asking to borrow money

Man with empty pockets

Broke man | Source: iStock

Are you always asking friends and family for a loan? This is another clear indication that you’re not bringing home enough cash. Make an effort to secure a better-paying job before you hurt your relationship with your loved ones in the event you can’t pay the loan back.

Casey Slide, contributor to personal finance site Money Crashers, said loans among friends and family can create a very stressful situation.

Loans to family and friends tend to be open-ended. The parties don’t reach an agreement for a timeline for repayments, and don’t include interest on the loan. Lenders don’t know when their money will be returned, and borrowers don’t know when to repay the loans. This leaves both parties in limbo, and doesn’t set any expectations. The uncertainty can lead to stress as the borrower may worry that the lender expects payment and the lender worries about when he or she will be repaid. When I loaned money to a family member, it delayed my decision to buy a house.

4. The numbers just don’t add up

Man calculates money on calculator along with piggy bank

Man with calculator | Source: iStock

You can get a better feel for whether you’re underpaid by doing a search online. If what you see doesn’t come close to what you’re currently getting, you just may have your answer. The best way to get an accurate view of what you should be earning is to speak to your predecessor (if possible), talk to recruiters, or use an online salary calculator. You can start with a calculator such as the one featured on Salary.com. Glassdoor is also another website to consider; the site features salary estimates from both current and former employees.

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