How to Give Yourself a Raise Without Asking Your Boss

Date posted: Sept. 30, 2016

Photo Credit: William Iven


Budgeting, saving money, and cutting expenses are all important parts of improving your finances. But working with the money you already have is only half of the equation. The other half is earning more money. You can be an excellent budgeter, but if you are not earning very much, you’ll still have a hard time getting ahead.

Unfortunately, making more money isn’t always as easy as just asking your boss for a raise. Many factors go into securing a pay increase and sometimes it’s just not a viable option.

But that doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to your current rate of pay. There are many ways to maximize your earning potential without asking your boss for a raise.

Adjust Your Tax Withholding

Do you look forward to a large income tax refund every year? If so, that means your employer is withdrawing too much tax from your paycheque every pay period. You are overpaying, which is why you are getting large income tax refunds.

Most employers calculate how much tax to remove by using a formula laid out by the government, but you can ask your employer to adjust your tax withholding. By adjusting how much tax is deducted from each paycheque, you’ll receive more money every pay period, without asking for a raise. These funds can then be used to advance your financial situation, instead of being held by the government until income tax return time.

Use Your Benefits Fully

Most full-time jobs have a health and wellness benefits package that covers some or all of your dental care, eye care, prescription medication and more. But many Canadians don’t fully take advantage of these benefits. If you have benefits, ask for a booklet from your employer outlining your specific coverage and start taking advantage of that coverage.

Does your benefits package include massage therapy, physiotherapy, or acupuncture? If so, capitalize on that! These extra benefits help you stay healthy and active - so don’t leave them on the table. They are part of your overall compensation package and ought to be used that way.

Opt Out of Benefits

If you are single and have health and benefits coverage, that is great! But what if your spouse also has a similar benefits package through their job? If so, you may be doubling up on health insurance, and paying for more than you need.

If you and your spouse are both paying for health insurance, figure out who has the better package, and cancel the other one. There is no reason for both of your to have optional health insurance, especially in Canada, where everyone already has access to our universal health insurance. This simple step can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line, depending on the size of your organization.

Take Advantage of RRSP Matching

If you are one of the lucky Canadians with an employer that offers an RRSP matching program, congratulations! It’s time to start taking advantage of this free money.

If your employer offers a group RRSP, you can contribute money to it in pre-tax dollars deducted right off your paycheque. Your company will then match the amount you contributed, up to a certain percentage, for example up to 5% of your gross pay.

In the example above, if you choose to contribute 5% of your gross pay to your group RRSP, your employer will also contribute 5%. By taking advantage of this program, you are essentially giving yourself a 5% raise without asking your boss!

An additional benefit of this program is that you can use it to save for retirement.

For example, let’s assume you make $45,000 per year, and your employer offers a group RRSP matching program, and will match up to 5% of your gross pay.

You contribute the full 5% to your group RRSP, amounting to $2,250 per year. Your employer will also kick in $2,250 per year, for a total contribution of $4,500. If you invest that money every year at a 5% return per year for 25 years, you’ll end up with $222,969.82 saved for retirement!

If your employer offers an RRSP matching program and you haven’t enrolled yet, make sure to take the time to do so. If you don’t, you’ll never access the free money your employer is offering, and you are leaving potential income on the table.

Learning to save, budget and handle your money well is a great first step to getting your finances in order. But if you want to make real progress with your finances, earning more money is also important. By following the tips above, you’ll be able to maximize your earning potential, even without receiving a raise.

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