(StatePoint) For U.S. workers, living expenses continue to generally outpace pay increases, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, a recent study by Randstad US and Apartment Guide found that 44 percent of employed Americans say their annual residential expenses (rent, mortgage, utilities, household maintenance, etc.) increase more than their salary does each year — and 37 percent of house, room and apartment renters claim the cost of their home is too high when compared to their income. This has resulted in long commutes, as well as a need to supplement expenses by taking on side gigs and seeking out roommates.
“The general rule of thumb is to spend less than 30 percent of your gross income on rent. Depending on your income level, this might not be possible in some desirable urban neighborhoods without making other lifestyle sacrifices. Be realistic in your housing selection and your salary will go much further,” said Emily Williams, senior data analyst for Apartment Guide.
On the other hand, if all this sounds familiar, it may be time to ask for a raise.
Based on the research, here are five clear signs that it could be time to ask for a raise:
1. You can’t afford a home with your current income. Twenty-six percent of workers currently rent, but plan to purchase a home when they get a raise at work.
2. You have a long commute to save on living costs. Twenty-four percent say they live far from their jobs because they can’t afford to live nearby.
3. You have more than one job. Twenty-eight percent say they have more than one job to supplement their living expenses.
4. You have multiple roommates. Twenty-one percent say they need more than one roommate to afford their current rent or mortgage.
5. You’re willing to relocate for a better opportunity. Fifty-six percent say they would move out of state for a better job opportunity.
Of course, needing a raise and deserving a raise are two very different things. In fact, the experts at Randstad US don’t actually recommend that you use any of these points to make the case for a raise with your boss. Instead, focus on your achievements and the value you bring to your company.
Here are a few tips to help you get a fair rate based on your level of experience:
• Quantify your value. Think of “value” not only in terms of tasks completed or sales made but also things like effective management, team building and timeliness.
• Know your worth. To learn more about your earning power, check out Randstad’s online salary center, available atrandstadusa.com/salary.
• Build (and present) your case. Don’t forget to share your vision on how you’ll continue contributing to the company’s future success.
“When it comes to salary negotiation, you need a strategy. Prepare ahead, think through tough questions your boss may have for you, and, most importantly, come with a number that you’re happy to walk away with,” said Jodi Chavez, group president of Randstad Professionals, Life Sciences and Tatum.