Money Meltdowns You Need to Have (Only Once)
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Thankfully, unlike in this imaginary case, most of us switch jobs at least once before retirement. If you've already made this mistake, you now have a very powerful voice of reason to consult, one that will explain you are neither greedy nor pushy to ask for what you want and deserve. To that HR person? Go ahead and say thank you; it's polite. Just add a "but," as in: "but before I commit, I'd love to talk about salary range." And remember: The point is for you to negotiate. If you're in a field or at a company where there is no extra money to give, consider asking for vacation days or a better title. And, even if those don't work, the effort of asking will prevent your going through the equally hard-to-recover-from meltdown of regret.
Back in my thirties, I had gone through a similar situation, where I came to the register and was told a lumpy farmers'-market tomato cost $7 and I slunk my head down—and paid. Walking out, I vowed I would never do that again. But I wasn't sure how not to without screeching, "Are you crazy?!," or simply running out of the store to avoid the whole conflict. Developing your own gracious style of refusal for insane prices may very well be a life skill that we all need to develop in our brave, new economy. But if you're not sure what to say, feel free to use the line I came up with for the grapes: "Twenty-seven dollars? Twenty-seven dollars! No, thank you!"
Maybe you've gotten similar, though differently worded, advice from a fiscal expert—say, Suze Orman—who pointed out the importance of creating an emergency fund. Maybe you also told yourself you couldn't afford to save for such a fund (right now); or you really, really needed to spend that money (on something else); or, if you were really careful and hoped (really hard), nothing would happen. Until finally...something did. The rain day arrived and you got soaking wet. You needed a new car to get to your new job and you couldn't get one and the offer went to somebody else. Or: You wanted to break up with your boyfriend and move out, but you needed money (fast) for a deposit on a studio apartment that you didn't have. At this point, the money meltdown was no longer about the money you lacked. It was bigger and uglier. You had to stay in a job you didn't like. You had to stay too long with somebody you needed to leave or you had to move onto a friend's lumpy, moldy, stinky basement couch. You felt trapped and frustrated and sad, but also—once you finished yelling at yourself—a little wiser. Because spending a few weeks on a lumpy, moldy, stinky couch (trust me) will keep you from sleeping more than an hour each night—providing you with plenty of extra time to figure out how you will spend and save your money very, very, very differently in the future.
Next: 6 money mistakes everyone makes (at least once)