“If I made what she did of course I’d live better”
I’ve said this too many times to count since I started working in non profits. Especially when I started to get interested in personal finance, my low wage continually smacked me in the face. And every blog I read people would just talk about making extra money in side jobs or additional part time work or overtime hours.
Working in non profit is different than working anywhere else, and it has a hugely different impact on personal finance.
Non profit does not fit into typical personal finance formulas.
- In non profits there is no such thing as overtime.
- There are days when your supervisors ask you to finally take off your lieu time but then ask you to work a night event the next week.
- You have spent your day comforting a crying client, or being screamed at by a disgruntled man who wanders into your street front office.
You have been dealing with emails that criticize why your job even exists.
You love the work, or at least you don’t completely hate it yet, so you don’t say no. By the end of the day you have nothing left to bar tend, or babysit for cash. (If you do, all the power to you!)
In the non profit world, you are asked to give far more than you have, most if not all, of the time. You are not in it for the money, but wouldn’t it be nice to be ahead in your credit card bills once in a while?
When I first realized my salary was just over $1600 /month working full time in the most exhausting job I’ve ever had I was paralyzed. I felt frustrated by the effort I was putting in and all the sacrifices I felt I had to make. I shopped out of boredom and because I thought I deserved it from working so hard all week. I only got more behind in my credit cards and this took even more out of my small wage.
You don’t need to make more money, you need to spend it with a purpose.
You need to make a plan that has your values and priorities put to a dollar. Yes, if I made double the wage I did I would have been able to buy nicer clothes or a car that doesn’t break down every month, or a fancy vacation. But how much do those things actually cost? The difference with a non profit wage is that you can get all the things you want, but it just takes planning and time (and yes some sacrifice).
Make a budget, even if you are living paycheque to paycheque. Especially if you are living paycheque to paycheque. For a month, write down where you spend all of your money, down to the cent. Maybe you will see that ‘being so broke’ actually translates into eating out 20 times a month, or getting a latte every week, or drinking at home 5 times a week.
You don’t make enough in non profit to just throw your money away, not even remembering where it went!