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In this week’s ‘Is this a touchy subject?’ series, Ben Pechey get’s real about money and personal worth
Money. One word, that quite simply makes the world go round. No really! Who has it, wanting more, having too much, and knowing how to save. These are all things that affect our lives directly and indirectly. Whether we like it or not, our day to day lives revolve around money.
It can be an ugly and uncomfortable subject, yet here we are. Good thing this series is called Is this a Touchy Subject, because we’re getting deep into the green eyed monster. As a writer, I often turn to music for inspiration, and today is no different. Of the oeuvre of ABBA, ‘Money Money Money’ is one of my ultimate favourites, but screaming this out aged 6 I never knew the true implications of the words, despite the very first line making it clear that we are slaves to the currency of life. “I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay.” I assure you that the video is also a stunning piece of 70s culture, not to be missed. However, for those of you who have missed it I will fill you in, it is a fast paced trot around Stockholm in the pursuit of money. The video contrasts the reality of having to work for money versus the dream life. The song then goes on to tell us that, in reality, if we were all wealthy men, we’d be fine. Well I don’t know about you, but I am not one of those, nor do I know one who is considering me as a sensible investment.
43 years on from the time this song was written, we still live in a rich man’s world, and money seems to be one of the trickiest subjects to bring up, discuss and query. When it comes to the absolute richest, the Forbes World’s Billionaires list is the definitive list. In 2018 there were a record of 2,208 people on the list, of which, there were only 256 women. Just as Anni-Frid said, it really is a rich man’s world.
In this week’s IGTV portion of Is this a touchy subject, I talked about the disparity in the earnings of men and women, and why we should all be more open about money. But beyond the gender divide, when it comes to personal money matters, how do we all fare? Yes money is something of a touchy subject, but as Anni Fred said we must all work to pay the bills. At this juncture I must bring in some personal experience, it is what writers like myself do after all! In all honesty, I can count on one hand the amount of times I have actually felt positive and in control of a conversation about money. As a freelance writer, I work more than one job at all times to ensure that I keep afloat.
Asking for money for my words, is something I dread, even though I know I do not have to write for free. When it comes to asking for more money, we would all like more, but we have to be realistic. Yet sometimes good working relationships can get difficult when it comes to the money or lack of therein. How many of us have felt pushed into making decisions when it comes to asserting our worth? Having my words paid for is actually a tricky and murky path to tread. There is no industry standard, and although many publishers say they pay on experience, this is in reality a very different figure person to person. I will never forget my first paid writing job, I honestly thought I had hit the jackpot, straight out of University, and I was having my Carrie Bradshaw moment. Except in reality, I was literally working all day and night to just pay my bills.
This was a working relationship with someone who had taken a chance on me, when I was still in education. I owe that person a lot, they gave me so many opportunities, and made me a better writer. However, when it came to me realising my worth, it was clear that we had very different versions of the final bill. Because of this, I had to make a decision that many freelance writers and content creators find very difficult. I had to walk away. This was hard because as a grown up, walking away from anyone offering money seems ridiculous. Yet I decided that my own personal worth was more than that invoice, and I pulled the ultimate money saving tactic, and took my words elsewhere.
In this period of liberation I have gone on to write even better things for people who value my work for its true potential, which goes beyond money, and into making an actual difference.
When it comes to asking for more money, there is an easy way to build the case. You need to show your employer that you are worth the money. What have you done recently that has gone above and beyond your expectations? Speak to other people in your industry, does their pay match yours?
Take all of these factors into account when considering making a move for more money. All you can do is ask, the worst you will get is a no, and you’re ultimately showing your passion and dedication to your role, so this will ensure that you are being taken seriously.
I would also remind you to not confuse happiness with monetary reimbursement. If you think money will make your job more bearable, make sure that this is actually the issue. Beyond your pay packet, really consider if the position is for you. It might not be the money, it might be the job, not getting the pay rise could be the wake up call you needed.
So when it comes to money, I urge you always to speak up and make sure you get the best deal. We may have to work to earn, but that does not mean we have to settle for the short straw. I am in no way saying that you must leave your job immediately, far from it, but more to consider your true financial worth. In a rich mans world, we all have to work hard, and (hopefully) play even harder, so go out and get what you deserve. In an absolute twist of irony Anni-Frid is actually a Princess and goes by the title Princess Anni-Frid Synni of Reuss, Countess of Plauen, so you know, she’s fine too.