How to Stop Missing Out On Free Money at Work

Do you like free money? I know I do. What if I were to tell you that you may be missing out on free money at work.

When I say you are missing out on money at work, I don’t mean a little bit of money. You could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of free dollars! What if I told you that you were missing out on $600,000 worth of free money!

Check out this post for details on how you may be missing out on free money at work and how to fix it!


Salary Negotiations

The first way that you are missing out on free money at work starts with your first job offer and it continues throughout the course of your career. Do you take the first offer that you are given? Or do you negotiate for a higher rate? After you’ve been at your job for a while, do you ask for a salary increase?

According to a study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, failing to negotiate on an initial job offer could mean missing out on over $600,000 in salary during a typical career. Yes, that was $600,000!

I don’t want you to miss out on that much money so check out these 4 steps to negotiate an initial salary offer as well as a future increase.

  • Research. The first step is to research a fair salary for your industry and location. I typically use resources online at and is excellent for providing the rate for the industry based upon experience as well as location. typically comes in handy when you want to look at how much the company is paying current employees. Employees can anonymously list their job title, experience, location, and salary.
  • Practice. After you have researched the salary, come up with speaking points as to your worth of that salary. Think about it. A job interview (or subsequent yearly review) is a chance for you to show your worth to a company. Are you worth the salary that you are asking for? Once you have come up with your speaking points, it is time to practice the conversation. Personally, I like to practice the conversation in the mirror as well as with a friend so that I am confident and comfortable with the negotiation.
  • Patience. Many times the person that you will be speaking with initially regarding salary negotiations is not the actual decision maker. Depending on the size of the company, a salary increase will need to be approved by various parties and managers. It is important to note that just because it may take time for a company to report to your initial salary negotiations does not mean that the answer is no. Patience can be tough especially when money is on the line; however, waiting for an answer may be good.

Flexibility. Ultimately, not every company will be able to honor the salary that you desire. However, you can negotiate other benefits with a potential or existing employer. For example, would working from home a few days a week sweeten the deal? Or additional vacation days? How about an increase in retirement benefits? If this is truly a position and company that you want to work for, be open to other benefits that they can provide.

According to, 75% of people who ask for an increase in salary end up getting a raise. Have you asked for a salary increase? How did it go? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments.


Employer Sponsored Retirement Plan

The next way that you are missing out on free money at work starts with the retirement plan sponsored by your employer. Many companies offer a match with their retirement program. A matching program is where you put a percentage of your salary into your employer-sponsored retirement plan (we’ll use 401k as the example going forward) and your employer will match that percentage.

For example, say your company matches at 3% of your salary:

If you make $50,000 annually, as long as you defer $1500 each year into to your 401k, your employer will match that amount and add another $1500.

Although $1500 may not seem like that much to miss out on, take into consideration the compounding interest of time being in the market.

  • For example, $1500 divided by the 12 months in the year is $125. Between your employer match and your salary deferral contributions, if you invest $125 each month for 30 years, you would have invested $45,000. Then take into consideration the growth of your investment based on time in the market. Therefore, say your investment grew an average of 8% annually over 30-years. Instead of having $45,000 your total would actually be $177,201.61.

If you make more than $50,000 annually, then you are missing out on additional free money at work.

Do you currently participate in your companies 401k? If not, why? Worried that you won’t be able to invest money out of your paycheck. First of all, the money automatically will come out of your paycheck. Therefore, you may not even realize it is gone. Secondly, the money that you defer goes into your retirement plan prior to taxes being taken out of your check. That means that even though you may be deferring 3% from each paycheck, it won’t feel as bad since it is lowering your taxable wage.

If you aren’t familiar with the offerings of your company, your assignment is to research your companies current 401k plan. Research if there is a matching program and, if there is a matching program, how much the company matches. In addition, find out the earliest time for you to enroll in the program. Some companies may have immediate eligibility while others may make you wait until your open enrollment period.

Honestly, I didn’t realize the importance of salary negotiations and 401k matching contributions until later in life. Therefore, I have personally missed out on free money at work. However, I don’t want you to experience the same misfortune.

Are you currently missing out on free money at work? If not, what advice do you have for others?

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