7 biggest financial career mistakes you can ever make

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When your best friend raises her eyebrows at you — again — for not starting your investing strategy, your heart starts to race. When your partner lovingly offers to build a spreadsheet for you to understand how much you could be making, you roll your eyes in annoyance. When your dad wants to discuss how you can bargain for a promotion, you cut him off. If this sounds like your common reaction to money matters, you may be suffering from ‘Chrometophobia’.

This treatable condition is utterly common, considering 60% of people report feeling anxious over financial matters. While it could make you sweat, the sooner you give attention to this fear and overcome it, the wealthier you will be. And the sooner you will stop making these mega financial career mistakes that are already costing you a pretty penny:

Being afraid to ask for a raise

You’ve been killing it at work lately: performing above your numbers, getting the nod of approval from upper-management and otherwise, exceeding expectations. If you’ve been at your gig six months or more — you’re missing out on potential new income by not asking for a raise, according to CEO of Coastal Wealth, Jeremy Straub, CRPC, CFS. As he explains, professionals who take on more tasks than originally were scoped in their responsibilities ultimately saves the company money from having to hire another person. This gives them plenty of room to add some digits to your take-home pay.


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“A formal request for a raise allows you to highlight these positives to your supervisor and shed some light on things they might not have even noticed,” he continues. “If you feel like you deserve a raise, and have the facts to back up your request — ask for one! With such low unemployment, there isn’t a better time than now to ask.”

Accepting a job offer based only on salary

Especially when you’ve been unemployed for a hot second, or you’re applying for your first job ever, getting a job offer is exciting. That being said Kelly Lannan, the vice president of Young Investors at Fidelity Investments stresses the importance of a ‘pause’ before you sign on the dotted line. How come? Too many people are dazzled by a significant salary increase that they don’t fully evaluate the other financial factors that make up the total compensation.

“Beyond salary and a possible bonus, consider benefits like health insurance, paid leave, plus access to a retirement savings plans such as 401(k) or 403(b), and health savings accounts. All of these benefits impact the total financial package and should be weighed in your decision-making process,” she recommends.

… and not negotiating the offer

Sad but true, Lannan says most people don’t barter when they’re given a job offer. Though there are many factors that impact this — lack of confidence or not knowing where to start — there is never harm in asking. There is, though, plenty of missed opportunity (and money on the table!) by not being brave enough to push back.

“Failing to negotiate could potentially impact your entire salary history at that company, not just when you start, as raises are often a percentage increase of your current salary,” she explains. Here’s the fine print on this tactic though, according to Lannan: you can’t go into the chat blindly, and rather, need to do homework to make your case.

“Find data about how much people at a comparable position earn and then show why you bring more value than the average candidate. By providing some points as to why you are asking for a salary increase, you’re showing you are resourceful, informed and driven,” she notes.

Staying at a job you don’t like

If you ask Straub, there are three factors that define how happy someone is at their job: appropriate pay, opportunity to grow and enjoying what you do day-in and day-out. If two out of three of these necessities isn’t met, he encourages professionals to consider moving on.

After all, you’re less likely to be a superstar in the office if you don’t feel appreciated — whether in praise or dollars. This means you could be raking in the dough at a better gig, instead of wasting your time in your current. “You need to be fulfilled, both mentally and in your bank account, and if either of those is missing, you should make a change,” he adds.

Skipping your company’s 401(k) or 403(b) retirement savings plan

No matter if it’s your very first job or your 10th, when a 401(k) or 403(b) is offered to you, it’s always worth your attention. Though it can be difficult to think about retiring when you’re fresh out of college, the sooner you begin investing, the stronger your chances at a happy, comfortable retirement will be.

Lannan herself missed out on four years of investing since, at the age of 22, she couldn’t think about the stock market or the concept of not having to work. If you’re ever anxious or unsure of what your company is providing, ask a financial advisor or an HR executive to give you the run-down ASAP.

As the cofounder and CEO of Harness Wealth, David Snider, explains, “We all have a tendency to push off financial planning and key decision making.” So make it your challenge to invest (get it?) time this week in planning how you can build your net worth, create retirement independents and understand your risks and areas of potential growth — all of which contribute to financial stability.