One Way to Better Pay

December 26, 2011

You'll often hear me talk about wages being low in this country. What jobs are left, even some of those jobs in what's left of the almost non-existent manufacturing sector do not pay what they used to in terms of wages, benefits, and pensions. That's in part due to the fact that we've relied too heavily on credit to buy the things we need and want. Access to credit has given people a false sense of prosperity, and I think it has also given people a false sense of security. If people feel they have access to money, irrespective of whether or not it's actual money they have in the bank, they are less inclined to seek more pay from their jobs. From the perspective of many Americans, buying power gives the perception that what they are getting is sufficient. At least for the most part. The perception, of course, is not always the reality. It's only what we see to be the reality. Of course we all want more. But do we actually have the power to get more?

So, aside from buying more American made goods, and restoring manufacturing, how do we give a boost to our paychecks? I think we need to save more, and I think we need to be able to better comprehend what we can afford, and what we think we can afford. The two are not one in the same. But not understanding the difference, I think, gives more power to the companies we work for to pay us less money, and makes workers powerless to command more. Saving money has to have a part in getting this economy back together again.

I've said many times that everyone has a role in getting our country, and our economy back on the right track. The government does. The companies do. And so do we. Saving money, I think, is one of the roles we, ourselves have in setting things straight.

The fact is that saving money, and moreover having money gives us the freedom to choose. It's a term I've been using more and more often. When we do not have money available in the bank we become locked into our circumstances. We tend to be more willing to simply accept what's given to us because we don't have the power, as individuals, to do anything about it. We have to pay our mortgages, and our car notes, and we want to have all the gadgets we can get our hands on. We can go to the boss all we want and tell them that we think we're worth more pay. We can ask for better benefits, and we can look to companies to "do the right thing" and think more about the needs of their employees, not only while they are working for them, but after they've left the workforce. But the reality is that so long as we need them, and so long as we continue to allow ourselves to need them, the less power we have to say, when they choose not to budge on the issue of better pay and better benefits, it's not enough and simply walk away for greener pastures.

How much more power would one have if they could afford to say no to their boss when the boss says, "This is what you're going to get. Take it or leave it?" How much more would companies find themselves in a position to place more emphasis on the needs and wants of their employees if getting and keeping employees was more of an issue?

In the housing market right now we are in a buyer's market. Sellers can ask all they want for their house, but the buyers hold the cards. The seller cannot say to the buyer, "This is my price, take it or leave it." If the workforce was self-reliant, and if the workforce had less immediate need for the employer, and was not forced to simply take whatever is offered to them, the employers could also not simply say, "This is your pay and benefits, take it or leave it."

Sure, it's nice to have a big house. It's nice to have the car you want sitting in your driveway. It's nice to travel around the country, and perhaps even the world and have those experiences. But again, what if we cannot truly afford them? Today. How do we get to the point we want to eventually? By living within our means, and saving and investing what we earn above our means, so that when the time comes that there is money in the bank, we can have what we want, and have the power and the freedom to actually enjoy them without being locked into simply taking what's offered to us.

You could say that taking this path means giving up a good quality of life. What I say to that is that being in debt, and having to accept low pay, and having no real prospect for an opportunity to retire comfortably is really giving it all up. The reason the companies have the power to tell us what we're worth is because they don't need us as much as we need them. Through poor financial planning, and through overspending, and through taking on more credit than we can really afford to pay back, we simply cannot risk commanding more. We have literally painted ourselves into a corner, and the companies know it all too well.

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Comments 16 comments

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 4 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Good Hub Jim. To paraphrase a founder,"A penny saved is a penny earned."


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Absolutely. Money is power. The more of it one has, the more power one has to not only influence others, but to influence their own path and direction in life. When we don't have money, I think we compromise our very freedoms very directly, and if that's the commonality we face in our country going forward as we have necessarily done in the most recent past, that people have ultimately allowed their freedoms to be compromised in this way, I think it's a very scary path we're on as a country. Even scarier is that I DO think there's a very real point at which there is no turning back.

Great to hear from you, and thanks for stopping by.


Angela Kane profile image

Angela Kane 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Very good article about better pay. I think living within our means is a very simple and original plan that more people should follow.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Your premise is simple and sensible, Jim. But how do we take greed for what we cannot really afford out of the equation? That's the tough part. Too many folks try to keep up with the Joneses when the Joneses may be treading water themselves.


moonstruck4ever profile image

moonstruck4ever 4 years ago from somewhere in upstate New York

Very well written hub! Voted up and kudos to you.

Everyone could learn from this. Living within ones means is important in my never humble opinion. Saving for a "rainy day" is vital also.


ruthclark3 profile image

ruthclark3 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Excellent hub and timely subject matter. We, as a country, have lived beyond our means for too long and have forgotten how to postpone pleasure. Credit has all but destroyed us. We lack the discipline to save for the inevitable bumps in our financial roads. I have had to sort my wants from my needs more than once, and, while it isn't pleasant, it does bring a sense of satisfaction when I see results. Credit can't buy that. This rates a vote up.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Angela, and critical I think. Excess is really what got us into this fine mess we're in. Granted, when I read stories about people using pepper spray in department stores to get people out of the way of their bargains, it still makes me wonder where we really are...and whether or not we really are on such hard times. People in the Great Depression might have fought over a loaf of bread. :) Thanks for stopping by.


psychicdog.net profile image

psychicdog.net 4 years ago

Brilliantly put SB. What stood out for me was your comment on self reliance - most people keep getting what they get because they are relying on others to come up with it.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Drbj, that's the trickier part. People have gotten so locked into this false sense that saving means sacrificing. In reality, saving means having. I keep thinking about my Aunt who works at the post office with guys making $30+ an hour who say, "I can't afford to retire." They've lived for the day, and now they can't afford to enjoy it. What sets apart those who can retire at 55 and those who have to work until their 70? Saving. So, WHO's sacrificing? Seems to me it would be the non-savers.

BTW, I often wonder why money management is really not part of the curriculum in schools. To my mind it's probably more important than a college degree in life. You can make all the money in the world you want, but if you don't know the basic fundamentals behind managing it, it's not worth a cent. Certainly I think if we taught this concept in schools, we'd have more savers, people would have more money, and we'd be right along on this path to self-reliance and better wages and benefits, and a solid and sustainable economy.


moonstruck4ever profile image

moonstruck4ever 4 years ago from somewhere in upstate New York

Interesting hub SB. I agree about the saving. We save now. We never used to. But now we save and we save hard. I feel saving isn't a sacrifice but a necessity. It's a good feeling to have a nest egg even if it is only fiat dollars (well some of it). (grin)


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Moonstruck4ever, it's something I live by, and despite the tough markets, and winding up a bit upside down on my mortgage, it works. Course, we don't want to be Japan as far as our savings rate is concerned, because having too high a savings rate wouldn't necessarily be good for the economy either. But if the whole nation had freedom to choose, it would put the pressure where it's needed, and create a more competitive marketplace for workers who have more choice in whether or not a wage offered to them is acceptable or not.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I don't mean to sound like I'm for the housing bubble's outcome - but the buyer's market in homes is fair. I think it's fair because most homes are built to be ...chicken coops before too many generations have gone by.

Things are just made so poorly, planned obsolescence, and all of that....it's why Nokia could be one of the biggest companies in the world, and now in serious trouble.

planned obsolescence, and failing to stay ahead of that curve.

I don't care about crap products and trends and false senses of security. I want folks to care about things that last.

I'm as poor as they come. Of course I can enjoy it because I've no wife or children - so I'm coloured fortunate in that way.

Wealth is subjective - it was never objective.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Ruthclark, I sincerely hope that's a trend that's beginning to turn in the other direction. Granted, a slow economy has forced many into a bit more frugality and saving. The question becomes once the economy is better, will people return to their old ways.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Psychicdog, a sad reality in our country lately.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Moonstruct43ver, I think many more Americans are saving more these days, and that sort of trend is a good thing. I mean, I don't want to be like Japan, but having more in the bank does give us more power to choose, and I like that. Thanks for stopping by.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Wesman, it's funny you mention how houses are built nowadays. In pest control it's amazing how many people say when you ask them if they have any pest problems, "It's a brand new house." The reality is, those new houses aren't and weren't built near to the standards of the old ones, and the newer ones are sometimes EASIER for pests to get in than the older ones. I'll say the older homes do have more problems just because they're so old and over the years things have opened up a little bit—but with the newer homes things open up in very much less time.

As for wealth being subjective, I mainly agree with you. We define our own riches. If you feel like you're rich, you probably are. My only thing is that I want choice, and without money you generally limit what you can choose.

By the way, how can you say you're poor? You're in freakin' HVAC. Next to plumbers, I thought those guys were rolling in dough. :)

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