Are you earning enough money? If you can’t say yes to all three questions…

  • Am I able to meet my basic needs?
  • Am I enjoying the quality of life I currently have?
  • Am I feeling grateful for my clients or job?

… then it might be time to ask for more.

Whether you’re a freelancer negotiating a contract with your client or an employee negotiating compensation with your boss, here’s what you need to do to get the money you want.

1.   Understand your why

The first step in any plan of action is to get really clear on your purpose. Why do you want to ask for more money? Perhaps you feel underpaid for the work that you do, or it could be that you’ve outgrown your pricing structure and need to charge more to be able to provide more value to your clients.

Notice how you feel when you think about your reasoning. If you feel uncomfortable, is it because of your personal issue around money, or is it because you don’t think it’s the right thing to do? The reasons given above are totally valid, but if you find that you’re asking simply because you feel entitled or because you spend everything you currently earn (and aren’t being responsible), asking for more money probably isn’t the right solution to your problem.

2.   Separate your self-worth from your net-worth

Like it or not, there is a strong correlation between a healthy sense of self-worth and financial satisfaction. I’m not saying that your value as a human being determines the value in your bank account, but it certainly is more difficult to ask for what you want when you don’t believe that you deserve it.

Here are a few common “mo’ money, mo’ problem” mindsets and new thoughts you can use to replace them.

Negative money mindset

How it shows up New money mantra

Confusion about money and self-worth.

“I’m not worth this much” “It’s a part of doing business, not a rating of my personal worth.”

Fear of asking for money.

“No one would pay this much”

“Someone will pay this much.”

Anxiety over communicating value of services. “It’s not worth this much”

“I help people accomplish what they cannot do themselves – I provide value.”


3.   Brush up on your negotiations skills

You might be thinking “This is going to be so hard!” but keep in mind negotiation is a skill. Remember the first time you tried driving a car? It was probably a nerve-wracking experience, but I’ll bet that by the time you got your license, driving had become second nature to you. Negotiating, like driving, is a skill that you can learn with a bit of practice.

There are countless resources on the web to help you become a master negotiator. Here are my top four tips to help you prepare for your big ask:

  • Be articulate. Know the specifics about the value you provide with concrete examples. It’s not enough to just say that you work hard, you need to back it up with facts and figures. That being said, your client or employer isn’t interested in listening to a long-form-essay so keep it concise. Check out this video with Marie Forleo and Ramit Sethi for a great example of how to articulate your value.
  • Be prepared. Research similar roles to understand what other people in your position do and how much they charge or earn. Once you know the range you’re working with, ask for an amount at the high end so that there is room to negotiate down. Prepare for counter offers by trying to anticipate what your client or boss might say and practice your response ahead of time.  It might even be worth working with a business coach or financial strategist to figure out the dollar range that makes sense for you and run through a mock-negotiation to make sure you feel prepared and confident.
  • Be quiet. Once you’ve stated your case and made the ask, sit back and wait for a response. Sitting in silence might feel agonizing so take a few deep breaths and count slowly to ten. Experienced negotiators know how to use silence to their advantage; don’t give away your power by filling it with nervous chatter.
  • Be flexible. In order to create a win-win situation you have to be clear on your must-haves versus things that are up for discussion. For every concession you make, you can ask for something in return. Non-monetary things like flexible work hours or having access to free parking could make a good deal great.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the thought of asking for more money, I encourage you to start small. Try adding 10% to your hourly bill rate, or asking for a 1-2% increase on your salary. Start small and the gains will add up over time.

Have you held you back from asking for more? Why?

What would you do differently now?

Share your experiences in the comments below!

Lisa Zamparo  is a  financial strategist and lifestyle optimist, as well as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), business coach and personal finance expert in Toronto who helps people make intentional decisions with their money. As a one-on-one coach, her personalized approach to financial planning helps her clients achieve their goals by aligning their spending with their priorities. As an inspirational educator, Lisa leads workshops  that infuse mindfulness principles with financial concepts delivered in a fun and approachable style.

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