Home > Personal Finance > 5 Reasons You’re Making Less Money Than You Should

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


When money is tight, you have two main options – spend less or make more. Of course, the third option is the best: do both.

You can cut costs many ways. To make more you can ask for a raise, get a better paying job or take on side work. But if you find yourself constantly making less than your peers, even when you both have the same experience and qualifications, you may be an underearner. Here are five traits of underearners with some tips to turn it around.

1. You Undervalue Your Worth

This one may seem obvious. If you believe you’re not worth much, you’ll accept less. Underearners will accept a lower salary and sometimes even work for free. There’s nothing wrong with offering to work pro bono to establish yourself or give back. But if you find you’re always using your skills and never being rewarded, that’s a problem. Make sure you are getting something every time you use your skills. This doesn’t have to mean money. But if you are writing an article for free, get the byline so you can create a portfolio. Then you can use that to get paid opportunities.

2. You’re Oblivious

Underearners aren’t always aware of their financial situation. They may not realize they’re being undervalued because they don’t realize how much it costs to maintain their lifestyle. A simple budget can put it in perspective. You need to make sure that you’re not working and working but falling into debt. Also, underearners often don’t take a long term view of their finances. Factor in retirement and unexpected disruptions like a furlough, layoff or emergency. Having a complete picture of your own finances can help put your contribution and how you should be compensated into perspective. (If you want to get a glimpse of your debt profile, Credit.com has a free tool called the Credit Report Card that can tell you how your debt is impacting your credit scores.)

3. You Don’t Care

It may sound noble to say you don’t care about money. But studies show underearners actually think about (and even obsess about) money, or the lack of it, more than others. So while you can value other things over it, you can’t ignore money. Perhaps you think giving back is more important than having lots of money. But if you are properly compensated for your work, you can make more money and give more to charity.

4. You Work Hard, But Not Smart

Underearners tend to work a lot but are less productive than others. They log long hours but don’t seem to get anywhere. A great way to combat this problem is to be more organized. Create a list of what needs to get done and prioritize those items. If you find you’re spending a lot of time on the least important things, stop.

5. You Don’t Negotiate

Asking for more can be tough. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never get it. When starting a job or taking on a project, make sure you understand what it will take to get done. Then be able to clearly outline that to your employer. Being able to explain what you will be providing can help you ask for the correct compensation. Skipping the negotiation can lead to bitterness and unhappiness later. Negotiating may be unpleasant but it’s worth it in the end.

More on Managing Debt:

Image: BakiBG

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.


Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team