Age 23: $65,000
This was my first job out of school. I was offered $50,000 initially, counselled by the interviewing partner to “not ask for more than $50K“, and being a rebel, smelling a weasel, I negotiated an extra $15,000 by leveraging the other 2 offers I had and asking for WAY MORE than $50K.
I didn’t even really give a number as to how much more I wanted. I just knew if they really wanted me, they’d give me their max to seal the deal, and they did, a full $15K more which none of the other offers could come close to matching.
Everyone else, accepted at $50,000, grateful that they were even offered that much at 23 (which I am not denying is a BOATLOAD of money, but if there is more on the table to be had, why would I not ask for more of it?)
Now especially as a freelancer, I negotiate often, here are some posts I have written over the years:
- Negotiation 101: How to get the most out of your interview
- Negotiation: Freelancer versus Employee
- How I negotiated a $30K increase in my job offer
- Women ask for raises but don’t get them. Thoughts?
Age 25: $67,000 at the start and then $130/hour ($260K)
I got a raise of $2K after a year. WOO HOO. Not really. But if you think about it, my base is already getting bigger – $67K versus other employees who joined at the same time, only going up to $52K.
I was not pleased with the company at this point, but sucked it up and waited until I was fully vested to get their employer contribution match, and then quit a few months later to freelance, as I got so frustrated/fed up with the entire project and the managers I had (I had 4 of them overlooking my shoulder), that I quit on an impulse, with only $2000 saved.
I panicked the next day, but stayed calm – what is the worst that could happen? I get another job at another company making the same salary or more?
2 days later, I signed a new contract for $130/hour and started working. It was with that contract that I cleared the last $18K of my student loans in a single cheque.
Age 26: $0 (traveled for a year)
After that contract (it was gruelling, I worked a lot of over time and banked about $30K/month from it), I took a break and traveled for a year around Europe and Asia with my boyfriend (now partner).
It was pretty awesome, but in hindsight we should have held off for a year, took another contract as more of a buffer, as the recession hit the year after.
Age 27-28: $117.50/hour ($235K)
After our trip, I only had about $30K to live on, so I kept it simple and super cheap, unwilling to plow it into the market during the recession to buy things ‘on sale’ because I was so scared I’d have no money to live on.
After a year or so, I found another contract working in another city (I was Baby Bun-free), and we did the long distance thing again while I was there. The market was pretty depressed at this point so I couldn’t ask for more than that.
You may be wondering if that extra $0.50 makes a difference and it does. That’s an extra $1000/year. Every. Penny. Counts.
People who negotiate with me may think I am a penny pincher, but I don’t really give AF.
If $1K is peanuts to you, then give it to me. I’d rather have, hold and eat those peanuts.
Age 29: $325/hour ($650K) but I worked only 10 weeks
Then, I moved to the U.S. on a TN Visa, working for a company, but only lasted 10 weeks and chilled out the rest.
I lived in Dallas, Miami and mostly Manhattan for about a year before realizing the healthcare & benefits here would cost me an extra $2K/net a MONTH. That’s $24k/year, or let’s say $50K gross. It is far too much to cover even as a freelancer, and I quickly realized Canada had the best benefits and the best rates because of its universal healthcare.
For that time, I had asked for $325/hour, and got it. I did my 10-week stint, and then saw the rest of Manhattan like a tourist until my visitor’s visa ran out. I DID shop a lot, but ended up regretting a whole bunch of it when we had to move back to Canada because I should have realized our car wouldn’t fit all of this NEW stuff.
Age 30-31: $0 (chilled out)
So, after being in the U.S., I came back to Canada to re-settle either in Toronto or Montreal, and chilled out… so much that I got pregnant, and had my entire pregnancy and 7 months of maternity ‘leave’ unpaid for by the government and draining my savings, to have and care for Baby Bun (now, Little Bun).
By the 7th month, I was getting antsy and my savings were dwindling. I basically raided some of my investment accounts to keep living because I hadn’t expected to get pregnant (A), and (B), I didn’t save enough extra cash aside, a hard lesson to learn.
Age 32-35: $115/hour ($230K)
In the meantime, while on maternity, I was waiting for the PERFECT contract to come up, and went to a few interviews that were bust, although one called me back after I signed my second contract, asking me to come work for them as I was the best they’d found. Too late.
I went to this contract for less than what I’d normally take, because I was a teeny bit desperate for money at that point. I still got my BARE MINIMUM rate, but it wasn’t what I was used to.
Luckily, the project like all the others was crazy AF and I worked so much overtime I think I made over $300K gross, and netted $250K that year in my company.
I did negotiate up my rate sometime after, but I soon left because the client became toxic and really stressed me out with their nonsense.
I shored up all of my savings and investments again, and things were beautiful. I purchased a house in cash ($300K was my half), and a brand new luxury car in cash.
Age 36: $130/hour ($260K)
And now, here I am. Working at a new contract, asking for the rate I really want, and getting it. I had to negotiate that extra $5/hour out of them by again, leveraging other contract offers I had.
I am aiming for a $900K net worth by the end of the year, and to be a millionaire (and stay there) by the end of my contract.