can I ask for a salary cut, I don’t want to share a bed with my boss, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I ask for a salary cut?

Can I ask for a salary reduction if I feel that I’m overpaid? I currently make $140k/year salary in a tech job, but I feel that I am only worth $60k. I have my house and car paid off, and I have plenty of money in savings. I can live very comfortably on $60k per year. I am single, never married, no kids, and I plan to remain as such for the rest of my life. I don’t need all the money they are paying me, and I feel that the company is wasting it.

Nope. Companies don’t pay based on what your expenses are; they pay based on what the job is worth on the market. Asking for a salary reduction would come across really strangely — and if you say it’s because you feel your work isn’t worth what they’re paying you, unless you’re an obviously top performer you risk that they’ll start scrutinizing your work, looking for these alleged weaknesses.

Also, most companies have salary bands and employees’ salaries need to make sense within those bands. If they significantly lower your salary, it could create salary equity issues across the board. You’d also be creating downward pressure on your coworkers’ salaries too, which I assure you they won’t thank you for.

If you want to make less money, you can go into a lower-paying field … or you can donate a large portion of your earnings to worthwhile charities. But don’t ask for your salary in your current job to be cut.

should I ask for a pay cut if my work isn’t very good?

2. How do I get out of sharing a bed with my boss?

I am the manager of a small local retail shop. I have worked here in various roles for close to 15 years. Pam, the shop owner, is 70 and close to retirement but does not want to close the shop yet. She has been able to stay in business due to my continued employment. She is at the shop less than I am and I have taken over as many duties as possible for her. She is a very hard person to work for. She has issues letting go of control and has a brusque personality that comes off as very unpleasant to our staff and customers. She is also extremely frugal. I’ve put up with her for as long as I have because I really enjoy my job outside of her.

Traveling with her is a nightmare. I’ve heard horror stories from past employees about having to share a bed with her. She will typically cover meals but she dictates what you can order (as in, she gripes when you order soda instead of water.) On our last work trip, I requested that I get my own room. She only agreed if I paid half of the cost. I was not okay with this at all but went along to keep the peace. I was told that we have to travel again in May. I told her that this time, I’d prefer to share a room instead of paying for myself. (She took the $500 hotel fee from the last trip out of my paycheck.) All of the rooms in the hotel are booked except for one-bed rooms, so that means that I am now supposed to share a bed with her. I know that I probably sound like a frog in boiling water, but how do I confront this issue? I’m a wimp when it comes to confronting her, and I’ve seen enough of her financials to know that there’s not a huge amount of money laying around to book separate rooms while staying cost effective.

For the record: bed-sharing is an outrage. I’m not throwing around that term lightly. This isn’t “well, finances are tight and this will save money.” This is full-on bananapants / not okay / not even a little bit acceptable.

Here’s what to say: “I’m not willing to share a bed. If there are no rooms with two beds, I’ll need the company to cover a separate room for me.” If she gripes and tries to get you to pay for it again: “I shouldn’t have agreed to that last time. This is a business trip that I’m taking as part of my work here, and so it’s a business expense I can’t cover myself.” And if necessary: “Again, I’m happy to go, but I won’t waver on having my own bed. That’s a very normal thing for companies to provide on business travel, and it’s not something I can compromise on. Knowing that, does it still make sense for me to go?”

It sounds like you have a lot of leverage here, so use it! (And really, if the business can’t afford separate rooms — or at least a different hotel that provides two beds, at the bare minimum — then it can’t afford to send you both on the trip, period.)

3. I’m the only one doing a shared task

I am part of a small team that supports a large group of consultants. The consultants coordinate larger projects, and the support staff help with the individual tasks comprising these projects. Our manager assigned us (as a group) standing tasks, plus we have regular meetings where the consultants tell us what is coming down the pipeline and we fit those tasks around that. So we don’t have clearly delineated duties. It’s more like, “This is everything your group needs to do, how it gets divided up is up to you.”

Obviously, some weeks are busier than others. One specific task often falls to me. In the past six months, one coworker has never done the task and the other has done it twice. I have been assigned to other items, so the others really need to step up and start working this task. I have mentioned that it needs to be done (it’s more than two weeks overdue and should be done at least twice weekly), but my teammates always have a reason why they don’t do it (something else is more important, or they say they’ll get to it then never do). I’m frustrated for many reasons too long to write here. Short of tattling to the boss, how do I get them to do their part?

Try being direct: “For the last six months, I’ve been the only person doing X except for two times. I need others to step in and help. Cecil, can you plan on doing it the next few times? And Jane, can you take it after that? I can’t keep taking it 95% of the time.”

If that doesn’t work, you should talk to your boss. That’s not “tattling”; it’s bringing your boss a work issue that’s directly impacting you and your team’s workflow and requires her intervention.

4. Can I use my work computer to look for a new job?

I am currently job searching after being with the same company for almost two decades. My company-issued computer is my only computer as we’re allowed to use it for non-work-related things (within reason) so I do not have a personal computer but I have a personal tablet. Is it wrong to use my work computer to search for and apply for new jobs outside of the company? I don’t really have the funds for a new computer and using a tablet will have limitations, but it seems wrong to use my work computer to look for a new job outside of the company.

I wouldn’t say it’s wrong (especially since you have permission to use your computer for non-work-related things), but it’s a risk. Some companies will monitor what you do on their equipment, even outside of work hours — and even ones that don’t do that as a matter of routine can end up having reasons to look at your computer history (even reasons that have nothing to do with you personally). And while managers should generally assume some of their team might be looking around at any time, (a) in reality of some of them bristle when confronted with evidence of that, (b) even those who don’t bristle can still mentally write you off after finding out (meaning you won’t be as high on their list for good projects or professional development, and you could end up first on the list if they have to do lay-offs because you’re “planning on leaving anyway”), and (c) it’s not great for your employer to know specifics of your search. You also risk an additional layer of “she must be really checked out if she’s using her work computer to do it” annoyance in there.

You might decide you’re okay with the risk, but you should be aware it’s there. If you do decide to do it, definitely don’t do it on their network or during work hours.

5. Acknowledging bereavement

I work with multiple branches, overseeing work and offering guidance. I mostly work remotely but do visit each branch on occasion. Recently, I was scheduled to make the rounds of some branches. I received an email from my contact at one of them telling me that her father was in the last days of his life and she likely would not be there when I visited. I assured her that I completely understood and that she should definitely take whatever time she needed. Sure enough, she was not there when I arrived, and a condolence card was circulating. I signed the card.

Was that enough, or should I have acknowledged her loss in a more personal matter? We don’t talk often. Most of our communication is via email. I have sent a few work emails since but have not expressed any sympathy. When my parents passed, sometimes it was all I could do to hold it together at work, and well-meaning coworkers could destroy that with kind words. I didn’t want to be the person to do that to her.

If you were her manager, it wouldn’t be enough; in that case you should be checking in more on how she was doing. But as a relatively casual/not-very-frequent contact, you’re probably fine. Still, though, it would be thoughtful to add something like “I hope you and your family are doing okay” to your next email. (You’re right that some people don’t want to talk about it at all at work — but other people feel invisible if a devastating event isn’t acknowledged. Putting something in email that she doesn’t need to respond back to is a reasonable balance.)

{ 417 comments… read them below }

  1. Reality.Bites*

    It’s good that OP can get by on $60,000 but their job could disappear tomorrow. If their retirement isn’t fully funded yet, they are not being overpaid.

    1. Carl*

      Also, even if. The answer is (as Alison said) donate the excess to a worthy cause. Not, do the same job and let the rich owners have more money.

      1. KateM*

        OP can consider donating to owners of their own co0mpany as one of their options so they can decide which of the possible causes is the most worthy one. :)

        1. Carl*

          Good point. So few charities benefit rich people. Thankfully the government has stepped in to fill that need.

      2. They Might Be a Giant*

        Yeah, what a weird perspective. I mean, I’m in tech too, most of my friends are not, and I do compare my compensation to theirs and think that something is way out of wack – I definitely do not work twice as hard as they do, and what I produce is almost certainly *less* valuable to society than what they do. But my conclusion is that my friends should be getting paid more, not that I should volunteer myself to get similarly exploited by my CEO (who, by the way, for damn sure doesn’t work 300 times as hard as I do, either).

        1. Badger*

          Yeah in my opinion if (and only if) you could be forced to retire tomorrow for health reasons and be forced to make your house accessible with no monetary issues, then look into worthy causes to donate to. Those causes certainly need it more than your company.

        2. Lenora Rose*

          I can see wondering if you should take a salary cut IF you ARE the CEO being paid 300x what everyone else is paid, but somehow that’s ever the person who seems to think about this.

          Some other options for OP besides salary cut; Charity was addressed, and is a fantastic option. There are SO many charities right now that would love to receive the equivalent of half your salary, and if sending $80k to the local food bank feels weird, you can spread it around through multiple causes. But there’s also:

          Retirement savings plans. (We hear so much about folks struggling on a small pension). Travel savings plans. Renovations and repairs. Emergency disaster savings. Plus of course, the elephant in the US: if you’re in the US, that much extra income could vanish very fast with the wrong medical emergency.

          Making more money than you absolutely need used to be the middle class NORMAL, not an extraordinary thing that warrants punishing yourself because other people don’t have it. You want to have some funds to put away. You want to have some funds to support other people who are struggling. If your company is overspending on anything, it’s almost never actually the employees and workers.

          1. Avery*

            Some more spitballing of what LW can do with that money:
            Look into “informal” donations as well, not through a charity. Chuck $100 at someone’s GoFundMe, fund a bunch of Kickstarters, give some bills to your local homeless folks, if you see someone mentioning something they need offer to buy it for them, become the Secret Santa for local kids who need help getting presents… Charities do a lot of good, but donating person to person can do good, too.
            Or… enjoy that money! Take some fancy vacations! Buy those clothes you always wanted but thought you couldn’t justify to yourself! Get a bigger house or nicer car, if that’s your thing!
            And yes, definitely make sure you have enough in your personal savings before taking any of these steps to get rid of too much money. Maybe consult with a financial advisor about the specifics of retirement, emergency savings, etc. What you think may be sufficient and what will actually be sufficient if the worst happens may be two different numbers, and you don’t want to get caught off-guard by that at a time where you’re already struggling.

            1. InterPlanetJanet*

              Things to do with additional funds: Give money to the Oglala Lakota College for Nursing scholarships. Nurses are needed in the area, so you are not only providing a path to employment, you are providing needed medical assistance in an underserved area.

          2. Dorothy Zpornak*

            I’ve thought about trying to bargain with my salary by offering to take a pay cut in return for the company hiring more staff. Because honestly, while it’s nice to have the money, I’d rather have my sanity. The decrease in overtime and stress would be well worth it to me. Unfortunately, I’m not in the LW’s situation where I could afford to cut my salary to less than half — what I could afford to give up would not fund another FTE. But in LW’s case, I wonder if it would be possible to bargain salary for staff. Of course, the problem is you’d never have a guarantee — you’d never be able to enforce that they hire someone else.

        3. Laura*

          @They Might Be a Giant – exactly! I don’t work in tech, I’m a librarian and that whole field is underpaid, but one person in tech taking a lower salary doesn’t actually do anything to fix that!

          1. take the money! you've earned it*

            One person taking a lower salary doesn’t fix low salaries, but it can worsen low salaries. My first library had a much-beloved director. She sounds a lot like OP. She’d been the director for 20+ years and had been refusing raises for most of that time. This caused a bottleneck for everyone below her in the chain. “We can’t pay the asst. director more than the head, the head of reference can’t make more than the asst.,” and so on down the chain. When she finally retired and they hired her replacement the board was shocked to find out what the going rate really was.

      3. HailRobonia*

        Create a charitable fund for people who are forced to share beds with their boss on business trips.

        1. SunriseRuby*

          There MUST be a contest for naming this charity, and the overpaid OP can donate the prize money, too.

      4. Smithy*

        For the corporate world – 100% agree with this. But this is also incredibly important for ensuring that other people who get the same or similar jobs are also afforded that salary. And for people coming from different circumstances (i.e. have student/credit card debt, taking care of a number of dependents/family members, bills for significant medical care, etc etc etc), lowering your salary inevitably drops the overall salary band and put other people at risk of being told that a salary offer of 100k is incredible because there’s a long tenured, experienced employee making 60k. When that happens to the salaries across an industry – it depresses who’s able to work that sector because the salary is low and the expectation is that they’ll have family or spousal support to compensate.

        I will also add that if this offer is being done from a position of wanting to help the company – again – it really doesn’t. They’ll get used to being able to get XYZ talent at $60k when the market rate is $140k. Should you get ill, require leave, or leave the job for any reason – that company will not be prepared for a market rate short or long term replacement. And if they’re already financially struggling to the point where $80k is life or death money – the company is REALLY struggling.

        1. Abundant Shrimp*

          Yes that was my first thought. OP would be lowballing, not just themselves, but everyone they work with. Questions will be raised like “if Bugs thinks his work is only worth 60K, and Daffy does the same work as Bugs, then why on earth are we paying Duffy 140?”

          Also, times have changed, prices have gone up, and 60K does not go nearly as far as it did when I last made that amount 20 years ago. Back then it was untold riches, today, my 20-something children’s friends can barely afford rent on that kind of pay. I also recently learned that a lot of those children’s friends make close to what OP does. I would donate to charity, do home improvements and repairs, pad my retirement and emergency funds, or do one of the myriad other things that are a lot better and more sensible options than asking your manager for a more than 50% pay cut, OP.

          1. Smithy*

            Absolutely all of this.

            I will also add that right now it’s unclear if the OP supervises anyone, but if they were to start to supervise administrative/junior/support staff – being more familiar and comfortable with this type of salary band designation helps everyone else. If the OP is making $140k, that opens up lots of salaries less than $140k to those staff. If the OP has capped themselves at $60k, it both puts potential hires at being capped at less – or the OP being disconnected from what salary bands those staff members should/could be making.

            Again, this level of disconnect does ultimately harm the employer going forward with being less sophisticated in what the market rate is for staff and how to best grow/develop staff.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          And the way budgets work, if they don’t allocate that budget, and you leave, suddenly your boss or team or department won’t have the budget any more to hire at market rate.

        3. Chirpy*

          This, plus it’s a terrible idea to put out there that a single, childless person should be making less money than a married/children person. Sure, you don’t have kids to support, but neither do you have a spouse to fall back on, and rent for a one-bedroom apartment doesn’t change whether it’s for a single person or a couple.

          Build up your savings, then take a nice trip or donate to the homeless or something since you have extra money. You earned it, if you don’t need it, you can choose to do good elsewhere – but please don’t take away from other people’s ability to earn that much in similar roles.

      5. Random Dice*

        I’d like to recommend that OP1 spend the extra money on therapy.

        This is such an unusual proposal, it has ROOTS in something psychological. (I’m guessing OP1 is a woman, but even for a woman this is bizarre.) It’s fine to have unaddressed Stuff, we all do – but you have to address it, that’s what functional adulthood is about.

            1. Beacon of Nope*

              Why? It certainly rings true to me. I’m seeing echoes of that letter from the person who refused company provided pizza and walked five miles carrying heavy equipment. If a person feels undeserving of nice things, there is probably something behind that.

              1. Rose*

                Feeling it? Sure. Lots of people have imposter syndrome. But going so far as to seriously consider asking their boss for a salary cut over it? I can’t say that I’ve ever heard that one. If there’s ever a reason for therapy, turning the self-sabotaging thoughts in your head into action is it.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Yes. The future is not today–no one knows what they may suddenly need a lot of money for.

      I honestly think the OP should spend some that money on therapy; they are convinced they only deserve half of what they earn? OP, if that were true, you wouldn’t have your current job.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Mmh, we all know people who don’t deserve to earn what they do, and still have their jobs, so your second paragraph isn’t necessarily true.

        However, those never seem to be the people who think that about themselves, so it’s pretty unlikely that LW is in this case.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I wouldn’t necessarily assume they need therapy. Wages are rather random and while it’s possible this is a low self-esteem thing, it’s also possible that they simply don’t believe anybody should be earning $140,000 while there are people in the world hungry (there are an Irish taoiseach – prime minister – who cut his own salary by something like 40% when he became taoiseach and while politics are different, I am pretty sure that part of his reason was a moral objection to wealth; in his case, it was probably partly religious).

        That said, cutting her own salary is not the way to deal with it because the issue isn’t that there are rich people (and OK, $140,000 isn’t EXACTLY rich, but it’s coming close to the “high earners” category) but that there are poor people and it’s not like her employers are likely to redistribute the remaining $80,000 to the cleaners or whoever the lowest paid people in the country are or even use it to hire an extra person.

        She could probably do more for economic justice by donating it to charities that work with the homeless or development aid charities than by simply refusing it.

        And as others have said, a safety net is also important. The taoiseach mentioned above did, much later ask for a pension increase when he and his wife were in their 90s and he worried that they might not be able to cover full-time nursing care should one of them need it. The LW won’t have the option to just change her mind should something like that happen – medical needs, living longer than expected, lay-offs…

        1. JSPA*

          when you’re in public office, it’s good PR, a bully pulpit, a chance to walk the walk, an acknowlegement that your pay comes directly from taxes / the public purse…and protection in case you call for freezing or cutting the pay of other public employees and contractors.

          As a cog in the machine of a private company, pretty much none of this applies.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            And cynically, it’s something that rarely affects people in public office as they’re usually independently wealthy due to a pre-politics career in a high-earning field or family wealth.

        2. Anon today*

          Yep. Wage inequality is a very real and enduring problem in our society.

          My husband and I also have way more money than we need, and it’s an uncomfortable position to be in. We do give money to charity, and we pay a lot in taxes, and we save a lot for future. But we also know that the money we have directly contributes to the poverty of other people (in a very tangible way) and if we could change the system we absolutely would.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Right. I have two friends. One works in a fairly senior role at a women’s shelter. This job is very difficult, nights and weekends, a lot of emotional stress and occasional physical danger; her work has a huge value to society. She is an amazing employee who both manages to bring in money and conserve the money they have. She also has a Master’s degree. Another friend is a software designer for a government contractor. He has an undergraduate degree only. I’m sure he’s a good software designer but he works fully remote and rarely more than 35 hours in a week. He makes approximately four times what she does.

            1. Old Cynic*

              If I take my tech wages from the 90s and adjust for inflation, current tech salaries are 2-3 times what I made. And I’m not accounting for the stock options my colleagues get working for FANG companies.

              Yeah, I’m a little envious.

            2. CommanderBanana*

              I broke up with someone I was dating partially because he was making obscene money doing “tech stuff,” and while he was a very nice person and I’m sure good at what he did, the massive disparity in our salaries, combined with his and his friends’ obliviousness that everyone didn’t make what they did, grossed me out so much that I ended it.

          2. RW*

            Yup honestly I can relate to OP! At 30, I earn as much as both my parents put together. Sure, the work I do is important and requires training, but so is the work they do (albeit shorter training). Does make me feel awkward talking about money when I’m visiting, but the solution isn’t actually me earning less – it’s them being paid a fair wage for the work they do. I’d also love to change the system, but in terms of things I can actually do – I donate generously, assume I’m going to pay a bit more than my share for the Christmas food shop, and try to have an open hand when I see kickstarters/gofundmes floating around. And fundamentally, the person earning $140k is closer to the person earning $60k than to the billionaires, we should be teaming up together to change the system anywhere we can

            1. ariel*

              “the person earning $140k is closer to the person earning $60k than to the billionaires, we should be teaming up together to change the system anywhere we can.” – Love this framing, RW, 100%.

        3. LocationMatters*

          Depends on where you live. $140k is not a high paying job here, especially for tech, and someone who lives by themself and hasn’t paid off a mortgage would be not far over the “getting by” line here (in one of the highest cost of living areas in the US, granted). I get slightly less than that (work for a non-profit and took a paycut; I was supposed to get a no overtime needed + lots of time off but neither quite worked out) and I use an entire paycheck every month just to cover rent. Nothing else (no utilities, no food, no clothing, no other expenses, just literally my rent). And before my last raise one paycheck didn’t quite cover my rent.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I’m always somewhat puzzled by these discussions. I’m not sure that there’s anywhere in America that you can’t “get by” on $140K – like, you are earning that much and are literally only able to live in your car. It’s true that people may not be able to afford their preferred housing or what they consider the essential trappings of middle class life.

            1. JSPA*

              sure, you’re not Officially low income in san francisco unless you make less than 105K. (“Single-person households making under $105,000 a year are classified as “low income” in three Bay Area counties by California’s Department of Housing and Community Development.”) But if you signed a lease on a pretty basic 1 BR while making 180K, you can absolutely have cash flow problems at 140K.

            2. Lenora Rose*

              I have an issue with portraying getting by as “you actually have any apartment at all, you aren’t living in your car”.

              1. Sloanicota*

                Ok, fair. I’m probably salty because I was just reading an article by someone claiming they can’t get by on $250K a year in the Bay Area but it turned out their standard for that was nice house, expensive private school for multiple kids, and thousands of dollars in vacation a year. I don’t live in the Bay area myself but I do live in an expensive city and I certainly “get by” on a fraction of that. (Without living in my car).

                1. I Have RBF*

                  I “get by” on $135K in the SF Bay Area. I’m not living in my car, but I am helping out people who are not be able to afford even a studio on their own here. I can make a penny beg for mercy, and I have to in order to have money for “extras” like games and eating out. Being in tech, I have to keep a cash reserve in case I get laid off, which happens every few years.

                  IOTW, I’m not “poor”, but I’m still only barely holding on to the middle class, and that only because I got lucky when buying my house. I can’t go traveling any more, “eating out” means take out from a fast food place. I get paid every other week, and an extra paycheck goes toward paying down my credit cards, repairs on my house, or my “oh shit” fund. Even my HSA is being slowly drained by $300 even two weeks for part of my wife’s chemo drugs – this is on top of what Medicare pays.

                  I would move, but that’s expensive too, and places with cheaper housing don’t have the internet infrastructure that makes my job possible or the medical infrastructure that makes my wife’s cancer treatment relatively easy to reach.

                2. Lenora Rose*

                  Yes, there are definitely people whose ideas of “getting by” are extravagant — but I also know the apartment I used to rent for $600 in the early oughts is now more like $1600, and I’m not in a high cost of living place.

          2. I Have RBF*

            Yeah, I live in Silicon Valley, and I make $135K. I am nearly paycheck to paycheck, between my mortgage and utilities here (PG&E raises rates at twice the rate of inflation every damn year.) I am supporting a household of five people, four of whom are retired, disabled, or unemployable.

            Here my wage is barely adequate, but in some rural backwater with a cheaper house it would be darn good money. Unfortunately, I can’t move to a lower cost area because most do not have the network infrastructure for me to be able to do my job.

          3. Starbuck*

            Ugh, this happens every time there’s a thread about highly paid white collar employees, where people go on about how $100k + salaries are actually not that much in HCOL areas. Some of us also live in those same areas but make a fraction of that.

            1. I Have RBF*

              What about that makes the other not true?

              My roomies don’t make anywhere near my money, which is why they live with me.

              The point is that a $100K plus salary is barely making do in HCOL areas, therefore people making less are, by definition, struggling and need more money!

              You don’t get to say “Don’t complain about having badly fitting, worn out shoes that hurt your feet because someone else has no shoes.” Both can be a problem.

              You know what I got told when I complained about not making enough money in a HCOL area? “Find a better job.” So I did.

      3. Typing All The Time*

        Same. Life changes pretty quickly. OP, you could face a major life expense or get laid off yourself. Keep saving for your retirement. Support charities. Do you have nieces or nephews? Help to build funds for their schooling.

      4. Abundant Shrimp*

        They could definitely afford the best therapy! (saying this as I just found out that my therapist, whom I adore and who’s helped me greatly, does not take my new insurance and the portal that he bills me through does not even have an option to enter it into their system, so I’ll likely be paying out of pocket. I can afford it, but not without cutting down on other expenses, so I’m now scratching my head thinking about which ones to cut. If I were OP, it wouldn’t bother me at all!)

      5. Daisy-dog*

        I will say that I feel like my current job is easier than any job I’ve had before and it also pays the most. However, part of what makes it easier is my years of experience and overcoming many challenges/roadblocks over time – I just don’t remember that. It’s very hard to reconcile in my brain often, but not the thing that would cause me to need therapy. I still remember what it’s like to be jealous of people in non-customer facing roles (which I am now) from my past of customer facing roles that pay so much lower. Should the pay disparity be as big as it is? Absolutely not. Have I earned what I make now? Yes.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      But another side to this is that the job could be more likely to disappear (tech layoffs) for the people with the highest salaries…

      1. Cat Tree*

        $140k isn’t anywhere near a notably high salary in tech. At my company, entry level starts around $80k, and $140k is the lowest middle-manager. Senior individual contributors can make more than that. This salary probably doesn’t put him at the top of any list for layoffs.

        1. LocationMatters*

          Many individual contributors have been making well over 140k here for well more than a decade.

          1. Tech worker in SF*

            Agree with Cat Tree and LocationMatters. In SF I believe a salary of $100k for a dual parent household with two children is considered poverty-level given how much housing costs. $140k in tech is indeed pretty average, as weird as it may seem to people other industries and geographies. My previous company (which granted, is a high-paying tech company) was paying me that much as an individual contributor with four years of work experience.

          2. Abundant Shrimp*

            I heard 70K as starting pay and 100K as mid-level pay for Bay Area developers 10-15 years ago. And given the wildly high COL there even then, those were fair numbers. Now I’m starting to see these numbers in my, low-COL area; along with 120-140(or higher?) for senior level. LW1’s management will be very confused if LW1 gets to make their request to them.

      2. Max*

        Yeah, but going “hey, cut my salary in half” is going to be a huge red flag saying “we can safely lay this person off”.

    4. Office Secret Keeper*

      And there are so many unexpected costs that can hit suddenly. What if they are unable to work for a while or face high medical bills?

      1. Cat Tree*

        I have a parent in assisted living and it’s expensive! If LW eventually needs that kind of care, they’ll be glad to have extra cash saved up.

        1. Bast*

          Yes! Any type of medical care (if living in the US in particular) even with insurance can be back breaking. My father was diagnosed with cancer last year, and the medical bills, including one for a month long hospital stay after a transplant, have been astronomical, even with health insurance. My parents spent decades saving, only to have cancer decimate their savings. Any unexpected stay in a hospital, rehab facility, round the clock care, etc.

      2. Mentalrose*

        Medical bills is what I came to mention myself. OP should certainly donate some to a charity that feels right to them if they think they have too much money, but I would encourage them to save the larger portion of the extra against an emergency. Last summer, just as a fun cost example, I had to be flown to a hospital with a heart problem. 20 minutes in a helicopter cost over $90,000. Thank God for insurance but it does show exactly how quickly a medical issue can destroy your bank account.

        1. Bigger-the-hair…closer-to-god*

          My husband is a very high earner. Was diagnosed with esophageal cancer 1 year ago. Found the best doctors available. The top radiologist we found recommended a particular radiation. Our “top notch” insurance said NO. Hard no. Multiple appeals. A private check for $200k was required before radiation started. That was just radiation. No chemo, no surgery (2 week ICU stay), no ongoing cancer treatment. Just the radiation.

          There’s no such thing as being too prepared, having too much income, too much insurance! Major ass kicking in a snap!

    5. Old Lady manager*

      A lot of people have no clue what metrics go into figuring out pay in a lot of countries.
      1. What are other companies nationwide paying for this job?
      2. What money to do we have available to pay for this job?
      3. How much money will having someone in this job/doing these tasks save or make the business?
      4. Is the location a desirable location to live?
      5. What is the minimum we can get people to take for pay for this job?
      6. What can we give the employee instead of a high salary to take the job?
      7. How much would it cost to live a reasonable life at this location?
      Once this get’s taken into consideration a pay band based on education and experience is usually figured out.
      All 6 have to line up.
      I assure you that your employer is not paying you 10 cent more then what these metrics say is reasonable.
      No skill, No education, No experience and you can find yourself working very hard for very little in a location where you need 5 roommates to afford rent.
      Change these factors on your end by changing location, skill set, experience and education and you can do a lot better over time.
      People have moved whole countries on the promise of a better job with better working conditions and better pay.
      A business hires employees with the idea that the employee will make them more money then what they have to pay the employee.
      If you find yourself extra blessed with resources, bless and invest in others in the community not so lucky.
      Donate and volunteer.
      As for history, I am old enough to remember being told that I did not need to earn the same as a male doing the exact same job because they were supporting a family. I also have been subject to not being paid the same as a white person doing the same job.

    6. LCH*

      yeah, throw 50% of that into your retirement fund and your take-home pay will feel like $60k/yr.

        1. Double A*

          You can only put $6000/year into a Roth.

          But you can look into LIRPs (Life Insurance Retirement Plans).

          1. Adele*

            There’s no difference between the contribution limits for Roth and traditional. You must be thinking of IRA versus 401k. It also goes up every year, so I think we’re at 7k now.

          2. Daisy-dog*

            With 401k, it’s $23,000 (plus catch-up for age 50+). So with that plus an IRA, that’s still not the whole “unnecessary” $80K, but LW can absolutely work with a financial advisor on how to manage the rest.

    7. Exhausted*

      This one read to me like a boss who thinks their employee should make less and is looking for confirmation. This can’t be real, right? Who is sitting around lamenting having too much money?

      1. Tech boredom*

        It could also be someone who came from a field that has a “if you have downtime you are just lazy” mentality. One of the hardest things to accept with he Tech field is that the level of work needed to be successful is no where near what you see in other fields. So like you could be a rockstar but feel like you aren’t doing anything at all. It was something that was hard for me to accept in my job.

        1. Abundant Shrimp*

          I like to think of tech work in the terms of the old joke about the old engineer, whose itemized bill for a fix read “Hammer: $5, knowing where to hit the machine with hammer: $4995”. Off-topic, I’d support people in tech spending a decent-sized portion of their work time and effort on learning newer tech, in order to stay, and keep the products they create and support, up to date, but that was frowned upon by almost every manager I ever had in my career *sigh*

      2. Lenora Rose*

        I’ve considered asking for less money, at a prior job, but there were several factors:
        – I was being paid through an agency so my take-home pay was less than the amount they were paying the agency (Ie, my $19/an hour the agency paid me was actually $25/hour or more on the agency bill)
        – Being paid through an agency meant no insurance/benefits
        – I’d been there well over a year and there was no good reason to keep it a contract. (Though there was a contractor who’d been there like 5 years and where it surprised people to learn he was still a contractor because he was such an essential role).
        – If I was paid even $1 less an hour, it looked by my calculation like it would cost the company LESS than paying the agency – and even at $2 less an hour, the benefits would more than make up the visible shortfall on my end (not paying out of pocket for dental care, etc).

        (Instead the next time my contract lapsed I just started applying elsewhere.)

        1. AngryOctopus*

          There is a big difference between contracting rates where you pay your own insurance/benefits, and then taking a FT position where you get those. It’s cheaper for the company to have contract employees at $25/hr (say $30/hr to contracting company) than it is to have an FTE to whom they pay the suite of benefits and things like 401(K) match, etc., even if the hourly wage is lower. It’s partially why you have to lay off all contractors when a company does a large layoff (at least in MA)–you can’t swap your whole workforce for cheaper contractors under the guise of “layoffs”. And if you’re a 1099 contractor paying your own taxes, etc., Alison always tells you to ask for a higher wage to cover all that. LW here is just saying “I think what I do is worth $60K not $140K so can I ask for a cut” which is completely different (as well as being insane, but that’s a different issue).

          1. Lenora Rose*

            Yeah, I think my point was, it’s not impossible to be willing to work for a salary cut, but this LW’s reasons are not the sort of reasons that *make sense*.

      3. metadata minion*

        People who look at others who make a quarter what they do and are working horrible, dangerous jobs? Individual tech workers negotiating a lower salary isn’t going to fix capitalism, but it’s not pathological or fake to think the system is broken.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I just re-watched Reality Bites and was screaming at Lelaina not to pick Troy – that she would live to regret choosing a lazy slacker who, even when he was unemployed and sleeping on her sofa, didn’t bother to help with the household chores. Plus he was mean.

    9. PleaseNotifyMySnoopervisor*

      LW 1 — you are the problem here.

      “I don’t need all the money they are paying me, and I feel that the company is wasting it.”

      This type of thinking is why companies want to pay married women less. Why they want to pay younger employees less.

      If you feel guilty about the money being ‘wasted’ on you – please consider therapy. Not because you should be grabbing all the bucks — but because this indicates that you have a skewed image of what you are worth – and feel guilty about your compensation.

      It is one thing to feel like you have enough, so disperse funds to causes you deem worthy. It is quite another thing to believe you are not worthy of the pay.

  2. lincva*

    There’s no way so many people are being asked to share beds on work trips, right? This is the third letter mentioning it recently.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’ve done that before at a job. It was when I was in my 20s so it seemed perfectly normal to me (and it wasn’t with my boss), but it’s a thing that happens.

      1. Merrie*

        As a 17-year-old intern assisting on an educational program, I spent a week sharing a hotel room with two thirtysomething coworkers and sharing a bed with one of them. There were the funds for two rooms, but we decided to all share one room and stay at a nicer hotel (idk how that one worked out in terms of reimbursement). They thought it would be fun to all bunk in together like a sleepover. I wasn’t bothered. I think by current standards this wouldn’t have happened with me being underage and all. (It’s possible they thought I was 18.)

        But now as an adult, it would have to be someone I felt pretty comfy with.

        1. Laura*

          Yes, when I was fresh from uni I’d have said, “No prob, I’ll bring my sleeping bag and crash on the floor.” My first work trip made me feel vaguely guilty for all the luxuries: Paid ticket on a fast train! Very nice hotel room for myself! Food allowance!

          I adapted quickly.

          1. NotBatman*

            When traveling as a grad student, I was not only expected to share a bed with a coworker, I sometimes shared a bed with an opposite-sex coworker. It’s considered normal enough in that field that it wasn’t until I read AAM that I went “You know what, that was horribly awkward and I shouldn’t have been asked to do that.”

            1. Annie*

              That’s absolutely crazy that they would even contemplate you sharing a bed with an opposite-sex coworker. I’m guessing by your tone that it was all good somehow and there were no problems with that.
              But no…just no!

      1. Person from the Resume*

        This here! A great percentage of the folks being asked to share beds have an issue with it and ask for advice to deal with it.

        People who get a hotel room to themselves May write in about different concerns but aren’t concerned about their accommodations.

        1. Armchair analyst*

          The flip side of this is all the people asked or expected to share beds on work trips who don’t have problems with it and don’t write in

    2. scmill*

      I shared a bedroom with a coworker once. We were in a tiny one bedroom apartment in a company apartment in NYC. We were good friends, and I had my own bed. It was my first trip to NYC, and I was pretty overwhelmed.

    3. amoeba*

      I’ve definitely done that as a grad student/postdoc, room but also (European style, separate sheets!) bed – OTOH, back then most of my colleagues were actually good friends of mine, which is still fine for me in private life! If it’s a way for the company to save money… nah.

    4. I forgot my user name againn*

      Working in retail, we more often than not had to share rooms when we traveled. Reading this column makes me realize how most people don’t even find that acceptable, but sharing beds, NO, NEVER.

      1. Thegreatprevaricator*

        I used to book accommodation for theatre tours and, not an industry with a lot of money. But I would always aim for individual rooms, only when the touring company members explicitly said it was acceptable would I book a shared room. When people are travelling for work you want to make sure they will be able to deliver at their best. If you’re working closely with people you need to have time apart to survive that :D . Of course tours are longer than a few nights but I still think principle applies. I absolutely need down time when I have been peopling all day. Sharing a *bed*, I can’t even! There is always budget to get separate beds at a minimum.

        Coincidentally I’m really good at finding good options for holiday and leisure accommodation now :D .

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      I’d say it’s uncommon. At least I hope it is. And people just write in about the shocking things. This site has such a large following that even if one in 500 people has been asked to do it, that’s a fair number of people who read this.

    6. Ex-prof*

      In education shared rooms are the norm. I shared bunkbeds but never beds.

      I slept on the floor many times– probably about as many times as I got any kind of bed.

      In fact, I splurged on a deluxe Thermarest camping pad for the purpose. I think I’d take the Thermarest before a shared bed, though the question never came up.

    7. trust me I'm a PhD*

      I work in higher education & shared a bed as a first-year PhD student.

      After that, I went to fewer conferences per year, so my funding covered a room to myself, or I paid for a room to myself directly.

      1. Anonny now*

        Also higher ed. I had to share a room with 2 beds with 2 co-workers. I refused to share a bed with my supervisor so my other colleague did it. It is highly unusual but not unheard of.

      2. Former academic*

        Yeah, I think this is pretty common in PhD programs– I think I shared beds at every conference I went to as a grad student because conference travel was expensive and not fully reimbursed by our university (we got a small travel stipend but it usually covered just the registration and maybe the flight if you were lucky)

    8. PalmTree*

      I had to at my first fulltime job, at a nonprofit. 5 people, 2 double beds. I ended up sharing with a senior person. Friends, I am a sleep farter.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Five people and TWO double beds?! So one of those beds held THREE people?

        Yes, at one time in America it was considered perfectly standard for several strangers to share a single large bed at a (less than posh) inn, but we’re no longer in the 19th century. How on earth was it considered acceptable for any agency/company to cram five people into two beds??

      1. Retired Merchandiser*

        I’ve never had to do it, but I have a friend who used to work for a merchandising company and on their work trips they had four to a room and two to a bed. I would hate that.

    9. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Oh I believe it. Hey its a cost cutting measure. Never mind its years 4 of a pandemic and this much proximity is a bad idea.

      1. Antilles*

        Is the bed-sharing even “cutting costs” though?
        Most hotels offer a room with two queen beds for approximately the same price as the room with a single king bed – the two-queen room is often even cheaper! Oh, and many hotels will bring up a cot to the room for free if you ask.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Actual cost savings? Probably not. perceived cost savings – yes.
          Like so much corporate bean counting, in the end it doesn’t really affect things.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Yeah what’s the most ridiculous is that you’re generally saving zero dollars sharing a bed. A room with two beds typically costs the same if not less. My org is very firm on sharing *rooms* – which I hate – pointing out how much money they save by doing this and claiming that doing this allows them to send four more staff people to career development opportunities. Again, I hate this. But beds is dumb. Just switch hotels or don’t go.

        3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          Two queen beds fits four people, though! In grad school, where everyone was on food stamps and poverty wages but still somehow expected to travel to conferences on their own dime, that wasn’t a terribly unusual arrangement.
          Thankfully, in the actual working world, I’ve only been asked to share a room (ie, two queen beds= two people).

      2. lilsheba*

        Tell me about it. There is no way I would share a bed with a co worker anyway but during a pandemic? HELL NO.

    10. Mina*

      I worked a job where we were expected to share a bed (4 people per room) with people we MET THAT AFTERNOON.

      I slept on the floor. The others were annoyed but not scandalized.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Heheh when I was in college four of us once slept short-ways across one big bed but at least we knew each other (and were fortunately all relatively short). And more importantly, we were 18 and had few standards at the time ha.

        1. JustaTech*

          On an overnight trip in middle school I was assigned to a room with two girls who had gotten into a huge fight the week before the trip, the kind of fight that only middle school kids are capable of.
          There were five of us in a room with two double beds and a pull out cot, but with two people not speaking to each other one of the girls ended up sleeping in the bath tub.

          It was a very uncomfortable trip.

      2. Britpoptarts*

        I have, with reluctance, shared a bed with very close platonic friends I’ve known for literally decades, when in a pinch. (I still won’t share a bed with my own mother because I have poor sleep hygiene and sometimes read or use a rain/white noise app…and also she snores and thrashes.) I would lose my mind having to buddy up with a co-worker. Part of that is being an introvert and part of that is just having boundaries that do not include co-sleeping with people I also have to deal with at my job. No, thank you.

        1. Picky sleeper*

          Man, I hate even sharing a bed with my kids! One wears a back brace, so she’s painful to crash into whenever I inevitably flop around, and the other will worm her way around and underneath me…. while taking up 90% of the king-size bed. *facepalm* I also hate sharing a king-size bed with my husband, but that’s because then we aren’t touching each other. :D If we’re in a queen, it’s rare to not have at least a foot grazing a calf.

          Sharing a bed with coworkers? Oh H3ll No. Sharing a ROOM? Nah. I’ll pay for my own bed and write it off.

    11. Rock Prof*

      It’s still pretty accepted in academia, unfortunately, particularly for anything involving students.

    12. Old Cynic*

      When I worked in tech, I once went to an accounting software conference with our CFO. Ahead of the conference he suggested we share a hotel room to save {owners-name} some money.

      I looked him dead in the eye and said “I’ve seen the financials, he’s doing just fine…”

    13. TooTiredToThink*

      Oh it happens! It even happened to me. What was maddening too (especially now that I am older, looking back) is that we were all in our own town! They just wanted everyone to literally spend two full days together. Thankfully I didn’t have to share a bed, but there were 3 of us in the room – the other two shared one.

      1. AnonORama*

        I’ve been asked to share rooms but not beds* a couple times on work trips and have paid out of pocket to avoid it. These weren’t situations where I could’ve pushed back and gotten the employer to pay, and I feel strongly enough about not sharing a room that I coughed up the funds. Thankfully I’m in decent shape financially so I pulled it off without major pain, but it was still a weird situation to be in.

        * Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if it would have been a shared bed because I didn’t see the room I was supposed to share! Either way: NOPE.

    14. Megan*

      I’ve had to share beds with a coworker before and our direct supervisor was in the room with us too on the sofa bed. Was not a preferred arrangement, but was pretty normal in our industry, so no one questioned it. It ended up being fine.

    15. EvilQueenRegina*

      I’ll admit that when one of them appeared recently, I did find myself wondering if I’d missed the fact that it was a rerun, before going back to the letter I was thinking of and realising that it wasn’t the same one.

  3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    OP1, you should be asking this question: “why do I feel I am only worth $60,000 per year if my employer values me at $140,000?” My guess is that you are vastly underestimating your own worth and should look into why this is the case. Examining this (with a therapist or job coach) may help you very much.

    1. Support Project Nettie*

      I’m unsure why people are assuming the OP requires therapy – isn’t armchair diagnosing banned on this site? It could well be that the OP has made an objective appraisal of their job and does not feel factually it is worth the money they are getting. In a similar vein, I know of a number of people who make additional voluntary tax contributions for altruistic reasons, not as a form of financial flagrigation.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        It’s hard to tell. When I was last interviewing (as the hiring manager) I encountered quite a few people who, objectively, were significantly overpaid relative to what they were doing, and had unrealistic expectations for the role I was interviewing them for as a result (we are already paying a bit more than market rate).

        1. ferrina*

          True, but it’s unlikely that a company is overpaying OP by $80k. IME the overpayment runs $10-40k. When it’s more than that, there’s usually nepotism of some kind involved.

          My take is that it’s either:
          1) OP is completely incorrect in evaluating their role and market value, and naive in how compensation is set. In this case, OP might feel better doing some salary research and perhaps studying anthropology to learn more about value systems and society, then accepting their payment and funneling it into causes they feel passionate about.
          2) OP feels inadequate and that is being projected into compensation (perhaps because compensation is a quantifiable value of an individual). If this is also coming out in other aspects of their life (even if they just feel generalized anxiety around self-worth), therapy might be a good option.
          3) OP got a job where they really are ridiculously overpaid, possibly through nepotism. In this case they should accept the salary and seriously consider funneling a chunk of it into schools and programs that support underprivileged communities. OP should also consider if they feel happy and fulfilled at their job, and if not, look for a new role.

          Or it could be a combo of any of those. Any which way, asking for less money isn’t the way to go about solving whatever is bothering OP. Redirecting that money and/or delving into those feelings is more likely to get OP what they want.

        2. AngryOctopus*

          Ugh, one of my friends is being way way overpaid at her job (retention effort from a failing company), and now she has an unrealistic set point for salary as she looks for another job. It’s a problem!

      2. Allonge*

        For me the issue here would be still: why does OP not go ‘hot damn, I got lucky with this job’ instead of ‘my salary needs to be less’.

        Especially as they are not earning anything outrageously high, and there are plenty of good causes to support even if OP is not willing/wanting to spend the extra money on themselves.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        It could easily just be a mistaken take on how salaries work; it wasn’t that long ago that people were paid on a “what do they need to live” basis, which includes paying men more “to support a family”. It’s still in effect in a lot of places, and the OP makes a specific reference to their single status. A lot of people don’t apply for high paying positions because of these concepts, but it’s significantly more dramatic to object to a salary someone else has banded you in; why would they care that the company gives high salaries over what it’s factually worth? It’s not different to those of us in low paid fields accepting that there’s no logic to it. Giving it back is not altruism. Even though this idea of worth being linked to what we need is super common, I don’t think therapy is a terrible idea though; encouraging people to see a doctor is the very opposite of armchair diagnosing, and probably a lot of us would benefit from digging into those messages about how much we’re “worth”.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I don’t think people were ever actually paid on the basis of what they need to live. It was always just a very transparent pretext trotted out only when it supported what the person saying it wanted it to support. As evidenced by the fact that they didn’t pay trust fund babies less, or single mothers more.

          1. WS*

            It’s been an economic, religious and philosophical debate since Plato, and the idea of a “living wage” is still considered a basis for setting the minimum wage for a 40-hour week in many countries. Of course this doesn’t match the reality of casualised work, parenting and other care responsibilities, or illness and disability, and was often calculated for white men only, but it is very much a real thing. It was also the basis here in Australia for paying single parents from the early 1970s onwards, but of course that too has been undermined.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I don’t think that’s a rebuttal of what Emmy Noether is saying. A true debate about paying people on the basis of need would be about how to reduce the wealth of the the richest, and that’s not been a serious part of anyone’s political agenda in North America or most of Europe for several decades. If you’re only talking about the living wage and the lowest paid, you’re not really discussing “pay on the basis of need”, you’re discussing who can be excluded from political and economic debates without repercussion for the people making the decisions.

            2. doreen*

              I’m not sure that what you are talking about is what I would consider being paid based on what you need to live – did/do employers in Australia pay single parents more for doing the same job than they paid single non-parents or is it that the government provide income to single parents below a certain income? Did employers pay married people with non-income earning spouses more than married people in two income households or people with five kids more than they pay people with one?

              That’s actually one of the problems I see with the concept of a “living wage” – it’s fine to say that a family of two adults and two children needs a particular annual income to live and I don’t have a problem with government benefits bringing people up to that level, but I don’t think people should be paid more for doing the same job which is what some “living wage ” advocates seem to favor.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            I agree that it was just a line; I mean the earliest strikes were people saying “No, you do not in fact pay us enough to live on”, so I agree it was never a true basis for working out pay, but female strikes were definitely met with an attitude of “Oh, you can’t live alone; you’re supposed to get married”, and when women were already married they were told they were only working for pin money. I do think a living wage concept is important to consider when you’re talking about minimum wages, but it loses all meaning higher up.

          3. Laura*

            yeah, exactly. The idea that a man (and let’s be honest, they meant white men only) needs to be paid more because he has to “support a family” is just a post hoc rationalization to justify discrimination.

      4. Gloria in Apt 3D*

        Suggesting therapy isn’t armchair diagnosing – therapy can help people deal with many aspects of life, with or without a diagnosis.

        1. HonorBox*

          Agreed. Suggesting therapy or talking to a job coach about a specific issue like this isn’t saying, “OP, you appear to have (condition) and need to be medically evaluated.” This is a suggestion that OP might benefit by talking through … with someone … why they feel the need to give back $80,000!

          1. Britpoptarts*

            I mean, if they are looking for someone to throw money at, I’ll gladly accept. It would be nice not to have to eat fifty-cent ramen cups, be able to see the dentist/doctor more often than I do, repair my ancient vehicle, or not stare at the ceiling at night due to worry about bills, even if only for a little while.

            (OP, this is not a serious request. Just to make that clear. Please put what you think is excess into your retirement account, and be generous in your Will to charities and causes you support.)

        2. Cat Tree*

          I agree. And even if it is a mental health condition, there’s a big difference between saying “you probably have X” and “seems like something is going on; maybe a professional can help”. As an analogy to physical health, if I saw someone limping and wincing with each step, I’m not qualified to say if they have a sprain, broken bone, or something else. But I can recognize a symptom and recommended getting input from a medical professional. And of course I would never say that to anyone unprompted. But if they were asking for advice, which LW is doing, it would be reasonable to suggest it.

          1. Smithy*

            Absolutely this.

            For better or worse, the question “do I have to share a room/bed on a work trip” is clearly a repeat, AAM pragmatic question. However, I want to give money back because I don’t deserve it is both uncommon and clearly tied to how the OP feels about themselves/their worth.

            In this case, where arm chair diagnosing/fan fic could come into play would be to guess why they’re feeling this. Are they seeing extreme pay disparities at work between them and women/minority groups and see this as a path to either solidarity or increasing their pay? Is the health of their bank accounts due to a recent inheritance that they don’t feel they deserve? This is a game that is both pointless and unfair to the OP – but calling out the benefit to for the OP to talk more about why they’re feeling this, is not diagnosing.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Yeah, I’d be really surprised if the state just randomly let you pay more taxes than due. What you can definitely easily do is not take advantage of tax breaks. Like, don’t declare the stuff that will lower your taxes (for example, charitable giving is tax-deductible here – you’ll get the taxes back on the money you gave away. If you don’t declare it, you obviously don’t, and therefore sort of voluntarily pay taxes you don’t have to pay).

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            In my country you can literally write the IRS equivalent a cheque (check) if you’re so minded.

            I strongly agree with Alison that the best solution is to write cheques for targeted good causes instead. It sounds as though poverty/equality is an important area for LW and there are lots of relevant local, regional, national and international bodies to support.

          2. Green great dragon*

            UK here, but – if you send money to the tax authorities without identifying details, they will take the money. There was also someone a few years back who left money in her will ‘to help pay off the country’s debt’.

          3. Alf*

            the Canadian tax forms have a spot at the bottom of the last page where you can voluntarily pay extra to bring down the national debt. I laugh every year when I see it.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              Ooooh, fascinating. I’d be interested to know if it would then actually be used for that purpose? I guess it would have to be, but also… that’s not really how national debt works.

              It’s difficult to imagine whatever government body decides on debt approving next year’s 50 bajillion dollar debt – hold on, 49.9999…99999980 bajillion, because you gotta subtract the 20$ that Penelope Prudent earmarked to get the debt down…

              (also also, thinking that national debt *should ever* be paid down to zero is in itself a misunderstanding of how national debt works)

            2. PhyllisB*

              The only thing I’ve seen on my tax forms (US) is asking if we’d like to donate $3.00 (I think) to election fund. On our state taxes it was do we wish to donate to a forestry fund. We don’t have to pay state taxes anymore, so don’t know if it’s still included.

              1. Britpoptarts*

                Georgia tax forms do ask if you want to donate to about a dozen (worthwhile) causes that, to be frank, the state (and federal) government should fund better than it does (or they do). I generally throw a bit of cash at spay/neuter programs and groups supporting struggling families/children.

          4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            This is in fact a thing in Massachusetts — you can choose to pay 5.85% taxes instead of 5% taxes. (If I know anyone who does it, they aren’t talking about it.)

            Link in next comment.

          5. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Actually helping pay down the national debt IS a thing. There’s an IRS form and everything. You can just — send in money. It doesn’t count towards future tax debt or anything. Just something as a citizen you may want to do.

          6. Darlingpants*

            Massachusetts has this. You can click a box and pay 5.85% (I think, just looked at it yesterday but didn’t fact check today) instead of 5%.

        2. Pescadero*

          There is a box on your federal tax form where you can enter a dollar amount of extra money you wish to donate. It reduces your return, or increases what you owe equivalently.

      5. amoeba*

        Yeah, I’m also in a pretty high-paying field and I’m absolutely convinced that our work isn’t actually worth that much. (The field is also super crowded and it’s hard to find a job, so not even as though it’s a supply/demand thing… probably just historically grown). That in itself is certainly not irrational or has anything to do with low self worth or whatever – just objectively, I make much more money than may people who have much harder jobs with more responsibility, and that’s absolutely not fair.

        It won’t help anybody if I take a pay cut and am then underpaid in comparison to my coworkers! And possibly nudge the company to make salary cuts across the board to save money? No way.

        I agree with what many have already said – donating is the way to go! The money definitely can do more good there than in the pockets of your management…

        1. Laura*

          One way to get a pay cut if one does not need the money would be going part-time.

          But I would do that only if 1. my employer and my type of work support that, 2. all my financial bases are covered, and 3. I really feel that I can put that free time to better use than the money.

          As others have said, never underbid your co-workers, and never raise doubt about your worth. It invites trouble.

        2. Also-ADHD*

          In my experience, the more I’ve been paid, the easier the work, so the notion of in difficulty being in any way relevant to pay is weird to me. I work in tech now too (in a semi technical function) and I make way than I did when I had harder jobs.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            This has been my experience too, though I think some of that has to do with freedom to contort my work style to fit my ADHD and also just general experience making things easier over time. But even if it’s easy *for me* I know that it wouldn’t necessarily be just as easy for anyone stepping in without my education, experience, perspective, etc. I feel like the fact it’s easier is part of the value I’m bringing.

          2. Rex Libris*

            This. The life stage where I’m wandering in around 9:00 am to sit at a computer pays about five times as much as the life stage where I was at work by 6:00 am (Do NOT be late.) to mix pizza dough and do kitchen prep all day. Welcome to Capitalism. OP; look into a supplemental retirement account and some charities you like, and go on with life.

        3. Sloanicota*

          It’s not at all irrational, to me, to feel that you are overpaid for what you do. I’m amused by the suggestion that this is something that requires therapy. Many people are overpaid for the value they contribute, they just convince themselves that they earned it and deserve it. However, I agree that OP should find other uses for the money, not return it, while acknowledging that it’s a stroke of good luck to be in such a position. There are many ways to use it to help others who are not in so fortunate a position (which returning it to your employer almost certainly does not do).

          1. Tio*

            Feeling overpaid isn’t necessarily worth considering therapy. But I think feeling overpaid and then going to “Let me give all my money back to this company because I’m not worth it” is a context where, yeah, maybe you should consider therapy.

            1. Allonge*

              I would say that a feeling (which, to be fair, I am getting between the lines) that there is no way for OP to spend more on themselves (or others) is also worth exploring in therapy.

              Maybe it’s coming from a conviction e.g. that money is not everything and OP and everyone should focus less on financials, or that consumption should be as limited as possible, which of course is fine. But I know people who don’t feel they deserve better (better food, clothes) and/or are reluctant to use money for ‘frivolous’ things, or similar. It’s not a personal failing, but it’s something that maybe therapy can help unravel (even if the end result is still that they are not going to buy more things).

              1. AnonORama*

                I admit I’ve spent a fair amount of money on some pretty bad therapy, so I have a knee-jerk reaction to therapy as a solution…

                But I’m baffled here. IMO, it makes sense for OP to think about options for the money that don’t involve giving it back to their employer, which is not optimal in the many ways explored above. But they didn’t say “I’m worthless,” or anything that suggests a mental/emotional issue, they said “I’m overpaid.” I think this is insightful, and probably correct. (While also thinking: you have so many great options, OP. Create a health emergency fund! Donate! Travel! Create a scholarship for your field! All of the above, if you’ve got it!)

                1. Tio*

                  It’s definitely possibly correct! Plenty of people are overpaid. I think what’s changing the tone of the letter from “An observation that is perfectly normal and fine” to “You sound a little sad, friend” is that it is coupled with the context of giving the money back.

                  A more healthy version of knowing you’re overpaid is to think about the things mentioned by you and others – retirement, charity, travel, etc. Then it’s “I’m overpaid, what do I do with the extra to make it useful/meaningful”. Or “I’m overpaid, and I fear that they’ll find out and lay me off or something, how do I increase my value to match my salary” and you get ideas on what makes you “live up” to your salary as a form of job security. But there’s a flavor of “I earn too much, I should give it back to the company because I haven’t earned it” that’s hitting a little differently, and that’s the vibe I think some of us are reacting to.

      6. BaffledBystander*

        My dad’s side of the family is all immigrants. My grandma hates wasting food because she’s seen people starving—a neighbor once dropped of some chicken scraps because my grandma insisted on making it a broth.

        Making $140k when you know other humans around the world are making less than a 10th of that can feel not great. OP shouldn’t give it back to the company though, donate it to charity.

      7. Irish Teacher.*

        I suspect people are interpreting it as the OP thinking she isn’t adding enough value to the company to deserve $140,000, which could be true, but it could also be simply that they don’t think they are working nearly ten times as hard as a minimum wage earner and that nobody deserves wages of $140,000. There are also people with religious objections to wealth.

        I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to suggest that if the LW feels she is struggling with confidence issues or low self worth that it might be worth looking into therapy because that is a possible reason why one might be uncomfortable with a high salary, but I don’t think feeling uncomfortable with earning maybe twice the average income is in itself indicative of a need for therapy.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I think people are getting hung up on the therapy suggestion as if those who are suggesting it are implying there is mental illness or something “wrong” with OP when that’s simply not the case. Therapy can be a good place to explore minor issues too and doesn’t require a diagnosis or pathology of any time to benefit from.

          I just wish CEOs and billionaires had OP’s attitude – we’d have a lot fairer pay across the board and so much less poverty.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            of any *kind not time. I haven’t had my morning caffeine yet.

            And for the record before people come for me, I am in therapy and it is because of lifelong mental illness. I’m just saying it’s not the *only* thing therapy can be good for.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              You’re completely right. No one is telling OP something is fundamentally wrong with them, but this is bothering them enough that they wrote into an advice column about it so why not sit down with someone and work through that mental block and how to handle it moving forward?

              They can certainly afford to do it.

              1. AnonORama*

                I know I’m risking annoying folks as an anti-therapy troll (I should probably get therapy for it, lol) but I don’t see this as a mental block or emotional issue. OP may well be a great worker and they’re still probably right! If the position is overpaid, that’s not OP’s fault, and it has created a great opportunity to do so much for others who don’t earn this kind of living. I think this person is doing just fine on insight; they just need to think through a better way to use the money they don’t need, than to give it back to the company.

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  Therapy can help with that kind of thing too. It can help identify personal priorities, think through what causes might be closest to someone’s heart and different ways to support them, get a second pair of ears on whether or not OP is covering all their normal bases with savings and retirement (you don’t really need a financial planner for the level of insight this would be).

                  Therapy isn’t just for processing trauma.

      8. Annony*

        Saying that someone may want to consider seeing a therapist isn’t armchair diagnosing. Armchair diagnosis would be saying that they probably have bipolar or depression or some actual diagnosis. Suggesting they talk to a professional about their feelings is just a benign suggestion that they may or may not take.

      9. Zona the Great*

        “Go see a therapist” isn’t diagnosing anyone with anything and is a common suggestion on this site for lots of letter writers.

      10. Starbuck*

        Suggesting therapy isn’t a diagnosis – you don’t need to necessarily have a DSM level illness or anything diagnosable to benefit from it.

      11. Rose*

        It’s natural to feel like you don’t deserve what you get paid, for things like imposter syndrome. I’ve never in my entire time on this planet heard someone ask if they should go to their employer and ask to be paid less than half of what they earn.

        I work at a nonprofit and if an employee came to me with this I’d seriously question their mental health and their ability to make work decisions.

    2. ThatOtherClare*

      ‘What you’re worth’ is always a difficult thing to nail down.

      Theoretically it should come down to basic market economics of supply and demand. If there’s not many e.g. cactus whisperers and a lot of people who want happy cacti, then your company will have to pay a lot of money to secure the services of one. On the other hand if there are a lot of people out there with cactus whispering skills, then a company can lower their salary offer and still be confident of hiring one. The ease and objective societal benefit of cactus whispering as a job don’t really come into it.

      Of course we don’t live in a theoretical world where we’re all spherical objects on an infinite plane in a vacuum, but the general principle does still mostly hold. Statistically, in a captalist economy you’re worth what the market forces of supply and demand say you’re worth.

      1. amoeba*

        At least in Europe, that really doesn’t work very well – there’s a *huge* shortage of nurses, for instance, but salaries are pretty shitty, which obviously doesn’t help at all. Same for kindergarten teacher, etc. (Weirdly, always jobs associated with care and connotated mostly female!)
        OTOH, a lot of science and tech fields are actually pretty crowded now, but if you do get a job, you’ll likely still have a very nice salary. Now, that may also be a holdover from times where there were actually much less of us, but also certainly with the fact that they were traditionally held mostly by men… unlike media/social/etc. jobs, where even with a similar job level (e.g., PhD required), you make much less.

        1. TechWorker*

          Well I mean it’s also definitely to do with the fact that tech companies have made a shittonne of money. Ones that don’t still pay their tech employees an awful lot less. (Everyone sees the sky high Silicon Valley salaries but there’s a whole lot of jobs that don’t pay anywhere near that too).

        2. KateM*

          I think there’s a huge shortage because salaries are pretty shitty… At least here I so often see forum dialogues going like “teachers complaining about their salary? well go get a better-paying job then instead of striking, my kids have such bad teachers and in some subjects none, why should they be paid more!” – “umm, weird how you can’t connect teachers’ shortage and bad teachers to the teachers who are able to leave for better-paid jobs doing just that…”

          1. bamcheeks*

            Yeah, the UK media keep reporting on strikes as, “nurses/teachers/doctors say they need more money– is £30k a decent salary or not?” and it’s such a blatantly ideological way to frame it. It’s irrelevant whether a random retired bloke in Wetherspoons thinks it’s a lot of money if you can’t hire enough people to do the job! Funny how little you care about ~market realities~ when it’s not convenient.

            1. Shelly*

              This a thousand times and it’s always interesting how if a job becomes identified with being female the pay shifts…

              1. Butterfly Counter*

                And vice versa. As more men enter traditionally female-held jobs, the pay rates start to increase.

            2. Me, I think*

              Yeah, funny how when it’s the CEO making a gazillion dollars a year, it’s because of The Free Market, but when it’s a large group of mostly female underpaid employees it’s because the job is really a Calling. Teaching, nursing, caregiving, preschool, etc. And now when we can’t find enough employees for any of those jobs, everyone wonders why. Like, hmmm, maybe try applying the same logic that you do to the CEO positions and raise the salary? Might attract more and better qualified applicants? Sounds crazy but maybe worth a try?

              1. ThatOtherClare*

                Exactly this! Count me in as yet another woman Called to work in a male dominated industry where I make a livable income – even though I’m told I’m a good teacher and I enjoy it

        3. Laura*

          Yes, supply and demand is limited by perceived value creation, which boils down to by what those who have the demand can pay.

          If I construct machines that sell for million Euros apiece, there’s a good chance that my company will pay me well.

          If I care for people — kids, the sick, the elderly, the poor, the vulnerable — few people who distribute money will have a self-interest sufficiently enlightened to see the value I create, (and the very least, workers like me keep the company in business,) and even those will forget it in a crunch.

          Also, “caring for people” often is a death spiral job. It’s not just the pay. The jobs are demanding under the best circumstances, there are not enough workers, so working conditions detoriate, moral injuries accumulate, people burn out and quit, so, less workers, worse working conditions… and so on.

        4. ThatOtherClare*

          That’s just a demand-side problem. The people who fund nurse salaries don’t actually want nurses enough to pay them more. They’d rather let the healthcare system collapse, because there’s enough nurses for them to recieve medical care, so they don’t feel the need to demand any more. They’d prefer to demand more roads or houses or trains, for example. So they spend their limited money on those things and the salaries for construction workers go up instead.

    3. Kella*

      It may not be an underestimation of their own worth but a recognition that the amount they are paid vs. the worth they contribute is very out of wack with other professions that contribute a similar amount of worth, or more, and are paid far far less. OP maybe paid completely fairly according to market wages but how market wages price things can be very different from your own values on the subject.

    4. bamcheeks*

      Honestly, I would consider reckoning your self-worth in financial terms to be the pathology, not not reckoning it high enough. It’s absolutely bananapants to look at someone who is happy living on a solid wage and think, ahh, that is a problem that needs to be fixed. Self-worth and the value of your labour in a wildly screwed and irrational labour market are two separate things, and if you have them confused, that’s something to consider a problem, not the converse.

      LW, one of the reasons that tech is highly paid is because there isn’t a huge amount of job security. One of the ways people are forced into chasing ever-higher salaries is by individualising risk and holding the threat of destitution over everyone’s heads as a personal problem to solve rather than a communal one. But you’re in a better position than most people if you’re not spending your full salary, so sort out some income insurance, do whatever is the most you can for your retirement fund, and then send your extra $80k into the world to do good and sit back happy.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Interesting perspective about tech, that I haven’t thought about like that before.

        I actually think I have a decent amount of job security – certainly more than for example my daughter’s preschool teachers, who, I’ve recently learned, do not know if they will have a job from one year to the next, depending on inscriptions. They make less than I do.

        Though I’m under the impression that in Europe, tech salaries are much lower than in the US (maybe *because* we don’t get those layoff cycles I hear about, at least not in my sector?)

        I’ve always assumed that the salaries were linked to the fact that it’s viewed as difficult. When I tell people I’m a physicist, about 2/3 respond with some variation of “I could never” or “you must be really smart”. Personally, I just think I lucked into having an aptitude for something that is highly valued by society, as opposed to an aptitude for, say, dealing with children, which isn’t (but really should be. That stuff is harder and more tiring than differential equations!). Also, the whole traditional men’s work/women’s work bullcrap.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Yes, but also, the baseline in the US is a much higher level of individualised risk than most of Europe, I think– healthcare obviously, but also pensions, higher education, etc, which can really push you into a situation where doing anything other than maximising your personal earning potential and wealth feels an “irresponsible” choice. I feel like it’s something that’s really changed in the UK since I was born, and I felt it very acutely in 2008, when I had just finished a postgraduate degree and was considering career options, and there was a financial crisis. When everyone was talking about pensions collapsing and things like that, I felt a real pressure to take the highest paying career option I could and hoard as much wealth as possible. In the end, I decided I didn’t want to play that game and I didn’t want to earn myself out of the class where voting and campaigning for communal healthcare, education, transport, safety nets etc was solid self-interest rather than altruism. But I do think that’s a pressure that exists, and it has become a much more salient part of middle-class life in the UK since I was a child in the 80s.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            I agree. It also becomes this self-perpetuating cycle: once one has made whatever personal sacrifice to maximize earning potential, most people want to keep as much as possible of it.

          2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            This is EXTREMELY true. I feel a constant pressure between my moral/ethical beliefs about money and fairness, and the simple reality that if I crash and burn, probably 90% or more of my safety net will be what I have personally built and hoarded. The idea that living my values is “irresponsible” is exactly it.

            (And that doesn’t even touch on the part where as a queer woman in tech, maximizing my personal earnings and climbing the career ladder is in some ways a DEI move.)

    5. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I’m not sure that therapy is needed, I don’t see that OP1 is suffering in any way. OP may have an “alternative world view” to capitalism, and have compared their salary and perceived usefulness against that of healthcare workers and teachers. Reading everyone’s comments here will probably be enough for them to understand why they shouldn’t forego a huge chunk of their salary and the suggestion of giving what they don’t need to charity will help alleviate any guilty feelings.

      1. borealis*

        Thank you for helping me formulate my own perspective on this. I think therapy can be helpful (it has been immensely helpful for me!) and “accept the salary and donate what you don’t need” is a great suggestion, but there is something about advising a person to seek therapy just because they think their salary is unnecessarily high that makes me uncomfortable.

        There is nothing in the OP’s letter that hints at them undervaluing themselves as a human being, nor do they say that they don’t think they do their job very well. (That’s an important difference to the OP in the letter that’s linked from today’s #1). They are also really clear on the fact that they could get by very well on a lower salary, so it’s not any kind of self-abnegation really. Having a different approach to money isn’t something that needs to be corrected in therapy. (I know nobody said that OP’s outlook needs to be “corrected”, it’s just what I read into that line of reasoning.)

        1. Alanis*

          I think the suggestion to seek therapy is because their solution to thinking they make too much money is to go to their company and suggest that they pay them less. This suggestion is so off for the many reasons enumerated that it suggests that their judgement is impaired. They’ve lost so much perspective that they may need outside support to regain it.

          1. borealis*

            I understand that’s what some people commenting here feel – I simply do not agree that OP’s viewpoint has to be a sign of impaired judgment or loss of perspective.

      2. Starbuck*

        Right, that LW asking to be paid less probably doesn’t mean that money is going to go to a teacher or nurse instead, so it still doesn’t really help.

    6. cloudy*

      I feel for LW1 a lot. I get the same feelings on my 50k salary – that it is more than I need.

      It’s not like a self-worth thing for me though, it’s that I have friends who are unemployed or working minimum wage or on disability, and even friends who have been homeless. I grew up in small towns with extremely high rates of poverty. And I too have been there. So in a way it feels unfair that so many of the people I am close to are working so hard and yet have so little, while I am getting by comfortably.

      BUT I would never give my pay back to my employer! They need it even less than I do! If anything, I’m almost certainly underpaid. I just help cover unexpected expenses for friends and family and donate to charity. I accept I’m more privileged than the people I care about and so I use the extra to support them. It sounds like LW1 might feel better about things if they did the same.

    7. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Hi all. Thanks for the comments. Please note that my suggestion is not “there is something really wrong with you, you need a therapist to diagnose you” as much as “there is something really bothering you and your are seeking expert help”. Maybe this could be a job coach or a mentor, but also could be a therapist of some kind. Either way, this is no different from asking Alison for help. It’s seeking guidance from someone with deep knowledge and an outside perspective. Let’s not continue to stigmatize therapists (I am related to many) who are trying to help all people then can.

    8. DeskApple*

      If I worked my ass off to be worth that much and a colleague didn’t think that work (or maybe they aren’t working as hard) was worth that much and unilaterally lowered the pay band because they are so out of touch/have a complex, I’d be so pissed, ESPECIALLY because that would affect me, as a woman, and the extra work I’ve done because I’m a woman, more.

    9. iglwif*

      Job coach, sure. Therapist? No.

      It is objectively true that jobs in some industries pay much, much better than they should (tech and finance spring to mind) while jobs in other industries pay much, much worse than they should (teaching, childcare, social work, nursing), given the value they provide to society or the difficulty of the work.

      It makes perfect sense, if you are earning $140K in a role that doesn’t seem particularly difficult to you and doesn’t seem to you to provide $140K worth of value to society, that you would question why you are paid that much. Especially if your location and lifestyle are such that $60K would meet your needs just fine.

      The problem is that, as Alison points out, there’s just no good outcome for you or your coworkers from asking for a salary decrease, and a high probability of actively bad outcomes. So if you really don’t want the money, donate to charity, sponsor a peewee hockey team, start a foundation, secretly pay off other people’s medical debt …

      1. Rose*

        The therapy part is the “solution” of asking to be paid less.

        There are two possibilities the LW thinks this:
        1. They feel imposter syndrome and feel like they will be “found out” and don’t “deserve” to be paid that amount, which is 100% a therapy thing especially when they are considering sabotaging their job to basically self fulfill their own prophecy.
        2. They think they earn too much money under capitalism in which case why would they give the money back to capitalists? Makes no sense.

  4. Ms. Murchison*

    LW1: You could look for a job at a nonprofit doing some kind of “tech for good” work and accept their lower nonprofit salary.

    1. Jane Bingley*

      I was coming here to second this – or to speak with a charity whose work they deeply value and see if they can calculate the cost-benefit of working for them at a lower salary vs donating a chunk of their current salary to the organization. They may find that the best way to make a difference is to do what they do now and give generously! If working the capitalist grind for a corporation is soul-sucking, organizations like 80,000 Hours can help you find meaningful work.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I used to work at a school, and I moved to a tech company. Almost doubled my salary in that move. So, yeah, if you want to be paid $60k to do the same work, work for a school or non-profit. They’ll pay you less—don’t worry.

  5. Over It*

    Many hotels can bring up a cot to your room at no charge if you ask the desk. Many hotel room couches are also sleeper beds and sheets/blankets will be in the closet or can be provided by the desk. While it’s outrageous to share a room at all on a work trip(!!!) hopefully one of these options can at least get you out of sharing a bed if sharing a room is unavoidable.

    1. Magpie*

      Roll-jn cots and sleeper sofas are so uncomfortable. LW would likely still be getting a terrible night’s sleep using one of those. They deserve a real bed of their own if they’re being required to travel for work.

        1. ABC*

          Same (on a personal trip). The regular bed was hard as a rock, but the sofa bed was much more comfortable. My friend and I had agreed to trade off every night, but I was like, nah, you can keep the bed.

      1. iglwif*

        They can be not-great, but I personally would sleep on the FLOOR rather than sharing a bed with my boss.

    2. It's all elementary*

      I’ve used those cots and sleeper sofas. they are not comfortable. Usually the mattress is thin and you can feel the springs. She deserves more than that.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I think these are helpful tips that every traveller, particularly budget traveller should know. However OP is running this person’s business, and has kept the business open – this is so much leverage! They also know there is money in the pot to pay for an actual, real, bed. I say OP holds firm on the “If you want me to go, I will need a room.” and any grouchiness should be met with “that’s disappointing, but I will need a room if you still want me to go.” repeat ad infinitum.

    4. Over It*

      I fully agree with all of you that LW should have their own room and that hotel cots are not very comfortable (I know from experience). But personally, if things got desperate and my choices came down to sharing a bed with my boss, or sharing a room with my boss but sleeping on a rollaway, I’d choose the latter.

    5. Anonny now*

      I’ve done this and, while uncomfortable, it’s better than sharing a bed with a supervisor.

  6. Ginger Cat Lady*

    LW1: You would be doing an *extreme* disservice to your coworkers and future employees who do know their value, have families, and need the job to be paid the market rate.
    So go be the person who leaves a thousand dollar tip for someone working their way through school, pays for someone’s vet bill, anonymously pays off all the “lunch debt” at a school in a low income way, etc. It’s what I would *love* to do if I could!

    1. AJ*

      Donate to charities that help single parents, pay for scholarships for activities for children in poverty, start a nonprofit to help daycare providers cover their start-up costs….

    2. Forensic13*

      Donate to bail funds! That’s a place where money can make a HUGE difference and it circulates more than some other charities.

    3. stratospherica*

      Yeah, if they took the pay cut I would forevermore file them away in my head as the kind of person who in school reminded the teacher that they had homework to collect, or would hold up the entire class just as it’s finishing to ask a long string of questions.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Oh man, that kid who’d remind the teacher about the spelling test on Friday afternoon!

        1. I'm on Team Rita*

          As an adult, it occurs to me that those kids must have a lot of anxiety. The rest of the kids are anxious about the test, but this kid becomes anxious if things don’t happen in a certain order, or if something isn’t finished. So the whole weekend is an anxiety attack because that thing was skipped.
          Thanks for the opportunity to think that through.

          1. iglwif*

            Also, what if the class gets in trouble for the teacher’s mistake? I’m not saying that would actually happen, but I *am* saying that it is a thing I would legitimately have had anxiety about as a kid.

        2. Cabbagepants*

          I was that kid. If the teacher didn’t give it in Friday then it would just be rescheduled for later the next week. So why not get it done with? Why have people study for it twice?

    4. AnonSoAsNotToRiskMyHealthInsurance*

      If anyone is looking for a way to help as many people as possible at once, I’d like to raise donating to endometriosis research as a strong contender.

      If you’re born with ovaries you have a 1 in 9 chance of having endo, too. Despite only affecting approximately 50% of the population it affects the same number of people as diabetes. Yet it receives less than 1% of the research funding. We don’t even know what causes it. If we did, we might be able to prevent or cure it, or develop better treatment options than just addictive painkillers, hormone therapies with a high risk of side effects, or scraping it out and hoping for the best.

      Donating to research specifically into finding the cause of endometriosis helps 0.9 billion people alive now and billions more into the future.

    5. Roy G. Biv*

      That was my first thought – paying lunch debts or proactively funding a food program that sends kids home with food.

    6. I Have RBF*

      If you feel you are making “too much” money, don’t get a pay cut, just increase your savings and donations. IMO, that’s what the wealthy should do, instead of squandering money on multiple sports cars, yachts, airplanes and multiple mansions.

      I donate to certain charities that are non-religious and help people without strings. Second Harvest/Feeding America is a big one. Habitat for Humanity is another good one.

      If I ever win the lottery with enough left over after I pay off all my bills. my family’s bills, my retirement savings, etc, I want to be able to build or buy and convert an older hotel into efficiency studios for lower income people. I have seen studio apartments with less space than some hotel rooms, so it would work, it would just need a certain amount of “fees” to be paid to the zoning commission. (They bulldozed a lot of SRO housing to put up luxury condos in my area, so this would help counter that.)

  7. Viki*

    LW 5, a colleague I work with but on separate teams recently lost his mother in law. We don’t interact besides work related things.

    I sent him an email offering mine and my husband’s condolences. A few weeks later when he came back, he reached out to thank me.

    It was the right move. There was nothing in the email more than that we’re sorry for the loss and keeping you in our thoughts.

    Sometimes it’s just acknowledging it, in a completely non work related way, that can make people feel somewhat better

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I lost my husband recently, ans I am currently remote. It has been surprisingly comforting to receive messages in Teams from co-workers in other departments.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I am someone who would very much prefer things not to be acknowledged at work, so I give other people that same space. Recently a colleague mentioned how [other colleague] was the only one to send them condolences after a big event so I’m trying really hard to remember other people have different preferences than me and I shouldn’t assume.

      It can be hard to know what the correct social norm is in these cases, but I think erring towards letting someone know you’re thinking about them is usually the better choice and I need to be more deliberate about that in the future.

  8. Mia*

    What’s so interesting about LW 2 is that I had a boss who would get pissed if we brought her something like that. She would tell us to figure it out. One day it blew up and she fully blamed us because she wouldn’t step in when there was an issue. I’m glad I know longer report to her. She handled other things really badly.

    1. urguncle*

      I had a boss like this and I just started sending post-1:1 emails where I put what we had talked about in the email.
      Hi Sally,
      To recap our 1:1, we spoke about Scissor Inc’s budget cuts, Paper LLC’s problems with receiving online invoices and Rock Co’s inability to move to the new billing system. I also brought up that the Rochambeau has not submitted their requests for tournament funding. Our action items are to contact all of these people. Below is the link to my ongoing account update spreadsheet. Please let me know if you’re missing anything here.
      Completely covered my ass when, a few weeks into a quarter, she accused me of never bringing up Scissor Inc’s budget cuts and I had the emails to prove that I had.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        This is a good move tp CYA. Unfortunately, some people will say, “Well, I didn’t see the email/never check my inbox” and that will be okay with their boss for some reason. Ask me how I know…sigh…

  9. Daria Grace*

    #1, Your employer is not paying that to be nice, they clearly think it’s worth paying or they’d fire you. Part of the flipside for tech jobs often being paid well is that they can be very unstable. There is a LOT of layoffs going through the sector lately. Use this time to save as much as possible as you may find future jobs aren’t so well paid, you run into unexpected expenses or you need to take a sabbatical.

    #4. If you cannot do your job searching from your tablet even once a bluetooth keyboard is added, you really need to get a laptop that isn’t your work one. In addition to the risks to your current job Alison has mentioned, if you were to suddenly loose your job you’re going to need to job hunt more than ever and won’t have anything to do it on. Given you can probably take zoom calls on your tablet you likely only need something with enough power for word processing so second hand may be fine. See if someone you know has one you can borrow or if there is any schemes near you selling cheap refurbished computers.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Or visit the local library–most now have public access computers.

      1. LW4*

        Getting to the library is a little more difficult for me but that would be a good option as well if I’m doing several applications at once.

    2. Phryne*

      Or maybe a chromebook. They can do all the basics of typing stuff, mail, videocall, watch a movie but with keyboard and you can get one for less than a good tablet would cost.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I second the Chromebook suggestion. Double check that you’re getting one with a processor that supports the Android and Linux subsystems (which is the majority of the newer ones). Once those are added to the core of Chrome OS, a Chromebook becomes a pretty decent desktop replacement/alternative for most of the use cases that don’t involve gaming or virtualization.

        1. LW4*

          I haven’t looked into Chromebooks (my kids use them for school) but that’s a good suggestion.

      2. Runner up*

        Just here to third the Chromebook suggestion. As long as it’s new, it should do everything you need (my old one doesn’t like to do videocalls anymore, and it would never do artificial backgrounds).

    3. Garbkesnark*

      I’m not saying this because I think you’re not savvy, LW4, but you can often get a refurbished laptop good for job searching for about $150 from microcenter or bestbuy. I know that’s not free, and there have certainly been times when I couldn’t have afforded it, but most times it would have been worth it for the peace of mind.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Also local universities often sell old computers. I know mine did, and it was probably around $150

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I have very low-end needs for my personal computer, and I think all the ones I’ve had for over a decade have been a bargain/refurb bin find – Microcenter, BestBuy, Dell Outlet, even Swappa or eBay. If I can access the internet, use basic MS Office and PDF functions, and hit my email, I’m all good. I don’t think any of them have cost more than $150.

    4. Old Cynic*

      I have a tablet with a keyboard and it can handle 90% of what I need to do. But the laptop sure does come in handy a lot; there are just some things that are easier to do on it.

      1. LW4*

        Yes agreed! I can do quite a bit on a tablet keyboard but a computer is much easier for typing and I would want that for my cover letters – they will flow more naturally if I’m not worried about my keyboard.

        1. lina*

          You may also want to consider an external keyboard that connects to a tablet, if a tablet will meet your needs except for the keyboard!

    5. LW4*

      I hadn’t considered buying a refurbished laptop. That would definitely be more manageable financially and would be so much better than using a keyboard attached to a tablet (for me anyway).

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yes, a refurb is the way to go if you need a full laptop. Amazon has some okay laptops for under $200, including some refurbs. I have a couple of those HP “Stream” laptops that are small and cheap, but they don’t even have enough disk space to be able to update Windows, so I put Linux on them.

        A Chromebook can work too if you don’t need anything more than a browser, an email client and the ability to access Google Drive, Docs, etc.

  10. Brain the Brian*

    LW3: do bring this up to your team. They may think you *really like* doing this task, since you do it so often. When they hear that you’d prefer to split it more evenly, it’s quite likely they will agree to it.

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      That happened to me at an old job. I was always given the mind numbing tasks because I did them quickly and efficiently. It’s because I wanted them gone. I stopped taking them on when it became clear that no one was doing their fair share. It’s hard to argue when they hadn’t taken their turn in months.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Lol, this happens to me at my current job. No one else seems to have the skillset for the most mind-numbing of our tasks.

      2. Chip*

        I am LW3. Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. This one from Old Lady manager resonated with me the most so I chose to reply to this one. I hate group projects also. I would like to be judged on my own merits. I hate having to nag people to do their part and not getting paid to manage.

        I did speak to my boss about it, and the boss backed me up and said that the other coworkers needed to step up and take over this task since my other duties have taken priority. They have taken over the task.

        They were absolutely aware they needed to do it, it’s not “Chip loves this task so I’ll let Chip do it.” I mentioned that I had been unavailable to do it and consultants were aware they were behind, and errors were pointed out by other teams. The task isn’t enjoyable, so they let other stuff take priority.

        I would love more specificity in tasks and will mention it in a future meeting with my boss! Excellent ideas, thank you.

    2. Old Lady manager*

      This is why I used to hate group projects while in school.
      You couldn’t really force other people to do their share of the work, most teachers would leave it to the students to work it out, yet you were graded as a team.
      So if something didn’t get done or done on time, all our grades got dinged.
      What usually happened is that one or two of the team would pick up the slack doing the not fun stuff, so that we all would get a good grade.
      It happens in real life also BUT, if you could somehow get the work assigned to them in real life and just let them fail.
      Letting the boss know that Chris was assigned the XYZ report in the last team catchup meeting and that you need that report so that you can pull the monthly numbers for your bosses meeting with the Grandboss and you don’t have them yet. If you don’t get them soon, you won’t have time to work the numbers but since you are not Chris’s supervisor, you can’t do anything but just remind them to do it.
      Then step back.
      Pretend as if you doing the report is not even an option.
      Don’t volunteer.
      Don’t mention how the report or task can be done.
      As long as you remain a viable option for whatever task it is, it will float back to you.
      If the boss tries to put it back on you, do the
      “OK and what task of mine are you going to assign to them so that I can do this tasks that is currently assigned to them, keeping in mind that me asking them to take on work as a none supervisor is not working?”
      (Also, if they try to make you a team lead/project lead/supervisor and it doesn’t include at minimum a 20% increase in pay along with the ability to reward and discipline folks, DO NOT TAKE IT. You will find yourself responsible for ALL the work of your team.)
      Keep batting it back to the person whose job it is to manage it.
      Yes it is a pain for them but that is why they get paid to manage.
      Currently, they are not managing.
      Your team has a bucket of work.
      For a while they let you guys pull from the bucket as long as work kept getting done.
      You noticed that the ugly or boring jobs kept getting left in the bucket so you started doing them all the time, even though everyone in theory agreed to split the duties.
      Now it is time for your manager to come in and manage the jobs that no one wants to do.
      On a tight team, you do more process managing and less people managing.
      As long as your boss see’s this a people managing instead of process management issue, they will keep batting it back to you guys to figure it out.
      Go back to the play ground and play nice kind of thing.
      Make it a process management problem.
      The team in theory agrees that we all should take turns doing the boring or ugly duties but with no one managing the process of how this is done, it’s not happening.
      The bosses needs to manage the process.

      1. HailRobonia*

        I hear you. I hated group projects as well… one time I worked with another student who did WORSE than nothing. He purposely deleted the files for the project because he didn’t like them. I complained to the professor who said that “group projects prepare you to work for the real world.”

        If I knew then what I know now, I would have said “then treat this like the ‘real world’ and fire Loki for sabotaging a company project.”

          1. JustaTech*

            Seriously. I had a professor (in *grad school*) ask my team if we wanted to ding the grade of a team mate who had gotten really, really sick and couldn’t finish the project.
            One, in the “real” world you just finish the project, you don’t randomly dock the pay of someone who got sick, and two, she had already finished her section anyway.

            We all felt like it was super bizarre.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        The problem is — the boss isn’t even assigning specific people the tasks that aren’t getting done. It is more like the group project — okay everyone here’s what needs to be done – go do it. Then, of course, everyone expects everyone else to do the tasks. When everyone is assigned, no one is assigned.

        This is a boss problem. The boss needs to be specific – Jane you are doing task A, George, you got task B, OP4 task C. The manager needs to manage which includes assigning tasks and having a general idea of everyone’s workload so they can adjust as needed.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          I agree, I feel like I would talk to the boss and say that you are worried some of the shared tasks are falling through the cracks and ask if it would be possibly to try specifically assigning them.

          There’s a chance this then ends up being specifically OP’s task but at least if it’s assigned to them they can point to it as part of their workload if other assignments come up.

        2. A. Tisket & A. Tasket LLC*

          Yes, this is a management problem; the manager isn’t keeping a close enough eye on what their team is doing if this has become a pattern. That manager should know what work each team member is responsible for completing and should check up on the team periodically to monitor their progress – and to ensure that everyone is pulling their own weight. This may feel like micromanaging (and with some teams it WOULD be) but this situation calls for it.

      3. Mockingjay*

        @Old Lady manager, you wrote what I was going to. This is a management failure. LW3 is a conscientious employee, but it’s not their role to ensure all the tasks get done.

        I used to be like LW3, picking up everyone’s slack. I was miserable, coworkers were happy, boss didn’t notice because the work got done. LW3, you need to talk to your boss and stop worrying about your coworkers and whether the tasks are on track. Give the responsibility back to your manager where it belongs.

      4. My Useless 2 Cents*

        While I agree this has strong school group project vibes and it is definitely a management issue. The OP can’t just start assigning tasks to coworkers. It would be a huge overstep on their part. OP need to figure out how to mentally get over the “tattling” thought process. OP it is NOT tattling to let your manager know that the process is not working for you, or that tasks are only getting done because you do them but fall through the cracks when you are too busy to get to them.

        I’d suggest either a rotating assignment for tasks or assignment of all tasks to specific workers. The problem with the bucket task lists like this is there are always people out there too busy to work on those tasks. I have literally worked with people who could turn a two-hour project into a two-week project but still do nothing on the project but bare minimum required. When busy they could do the same project in two-hours, when slow it took two-weeks. They just somehow slowed down so that the project fit the hours they had to fill but truly believed they worked at the same speed and were “busy” the whole time.

    3. Butterfly Counter*

      Or it could just be that since it’s on LW3’s plate so often, the others aren’t even thinking about doing it.

      I had a similar situation where I’m part of a group who has one member who takes on the lion’s share of tasks (at her own preference). However, one task she was doing was falling through the cracks, so she just assigned it to the rest of us without much fanfare.

      Group member 1: With things going on, I can no longer do X reliably. Group member 2, could you take it on for March? Then Group member 3 can take it for April, Group member 4 can do May, etc.?

      1. a clockwork lemon*

        My team definitely had a bunch of “everyone does this” type tasks. Once I was brought on board it became pretty apparent that the system wasn’t working so now we have defined ownership of recurring tasks.

        I don’t know that we ever had an explicit conversation of “Okay, as of now Grapefruit and Tangerine do X and Y while Lemon handles Z” but after a couple months of me handling Z, people stopped asking who was responsible for it.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      I had something like this happen with one task that I seemed to have ended up with even though it was meant to be shared. I raised it with my then-manager after issues with it (the team who sent it across had jumped the gun in sending it when they still had a lot of work to do themselves, meaning I wasted quite a bit of time checking records I didn’t need to and got shouted at by some woman whose record hadn’t been updated by the other team when it should have been) – then-manager cheerfully told me that no one else could access the system.

      Turned out what had happened was that a few months earlier, we’d been emailed about an update we needed to download for this system, I’d done mine at the time, but the rest of the team hadn’t bothered and that was why they couldn’t get in. Then-manager hadn’t seemed concerned about so many people suddenly having trouble and hadn’t looked into it. In the end I said “Okay, I’ll forward on the email Tangerina Mongoose sent about the update at the time, then everyone can download it and someone else can do it next time” and then just didn’t do it until someone else had.

  11. Roland*

    LW1 – Our salaries are paid from the pockets of the people who profit from our labor. They believe that we generate more than they’re paying us. My salary going down means profits going up for top shareholders and executives. They certainly don’t “deserve” money more than you or I do.

  12. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – Please do not even THINK about asking for less than market value for the work you do!! If you feel that you are not doing a role that merits the money, find another job that fulfills you. Or give money to charity, or go down to part time.

    WHY? You should not affect others’ livelihoods because you feel overpaid!! Accepting less than market value for your work WILL cause your employer to pay your coworkers less. Or at least try to. While you are financially fine, you don’t know what your coworkers’ situations are. And artificially inflate the earnings of your employer by giving up the income that your role should pay – well, that just means the company owners make more money. They’re not going to give it to your coworkers.

    I do recruitment, and I often encounter people who are being taken advantage of by employers – sometimes it’s because they lack in-country experience, or are immigrants, or have an accent or are not the preferred gender, or any number of other illegal reasons why an employer thinks they can get away with paying the person less than their market worth. I take a VERY GREAT DEAL of personal satisfaction in doing what I can to make sure that companies have to pay people fairly. Don’t go making it possible for companies to do otherwise, please!!!

    1. Alexa*

      Or donate it to political campaigns to influence them to tax the rich, because we all know most of them won’t do it unless bribed.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      YES, THIS. I have a friend who was promoted into an underpaid role because her coworker who was doing the same role refused to advocate for a raise for herself. Because it was a nonprofit, Coworker viewed the work as an act of charity and service and said she didn’t “need” the money. It took a year and a half for my friend to argue for a raise.

      Your salary is not based on your personal needs. If you got married and had children, you, OP#1, wouldn’t expect a raise just because you have dependents, right? So why should you expect a pay cut just because you have low personal expenses. Save up that money! You don’t know what’s going to happen!

  13. Emmy Noether*

    #4: as an alternative, check if your local library has computers you can use. They sometimes aren’t great, and use is limited to opening hours, but it’s generally free!

    You can probably use them to make your basic resume and model cover letter on a weekend, and then do the rest ( search, tweak, send) on your tablet.

    1. ThatOtherClare*

      I was coming to suggest this. This was one of the more common reasons for people to come in and use the computers in my local library when I worked there as a teenager.

    2. amoeba*

      Very good point!

      (Although I actually have no qualms updating my resume on my company laptop – they do require an up to date version on the intranet, so I can always justify that part! The cover letters and actual online application process I’d do elsewhere if at all possible…)

    3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Is your work computer a laptop, so you can take it home, and do you have WiFi at home (I assume you do, as you have a tablet)?
      In that case, you could boot a “live Linux” system like Tails. You’ll place it on a USB thumbdrive and boot the computer from there – it will leave nothing on the work computer’s storage at all, and any surveillance software on the laptop won’t run (as the laptop’s company-issued environment is not running at all). Consequently, you will not have access to the company network and other resources.

      1. LW4*

        Yes it’s a laptop and I have Wifi at home. I have never heard of such of thing! Off to the Google to look into this more. Thanks!

  14. LoV...*

    LW1 – The wrong people in our society feel guilt. You are worth what they are paying you. Store the money away because you never know when you’ll need, big expenses can crop up in ways we can never expect. But if you’re not worried about that or want to be generous, I’m sure there are worthy charities or organizations that your community or you benefit from. For example, I donated money to our city library because our family spends a ton of time there. It seemed only right to send extra money there way since we get so much enjoyment out of it.

    1. ThatOtherClare*

      LW1: if your company has enough money to hire you, then this is your opportunity to be Robin Hood (without the actual theft and reckless shooting of arrows near people’s heads). You can take from the rich and give to the poor! You’ve been given the opportunity to be the hero you always knew you were.

      I bet you watched the good guys on TV as a little kid and thought “That’ll be me when I grow up!”, right? And then you grew up, got a job, became older and tired-er and grimmer and more pragmatic, right? Heroes are stories to entertain children, or the very bravest and strongest of us who go into the emergency services, not comfortable single people in easy tech jobs.
      Except they can be.
      You can be one if you want.

  15. FunkyMunky*

    LW1 – I’m getting married this year, wanna help us with wedding costs since you don’t think need all that extra cash?

    1. kitto*

      me too (and also i’m… financially ill-favoured (is that a term?))!

      silliness/wishful thinking aside, i hope that LW1 can put the money they don’t need to good use. there are lots of people across the globe who’d get so much from even $10 or $100 so there’s potential to help a lot of people. perhaps you (LW1) could consider giving some money into your local community even? places like food banks and homeless shelters often run out of key items like shelf-stable, in-date food and period products. most charitable organisations allow you to set up a regular payment with them so you could choose a few places to send your extra money to each month? it’s also worth setting aside money for a rainy day, even if it’s not going to use right now.

  16. K-Chai*

    LW1: That’s a nice position to be in! If you haven’t already, meet with a financial planner or advisor (see if your bank has any, or if anyone in your personal network has someone they recommend if not) and focus on your options. You say you have plenty of money saved, but a professional might be able to help either confirm that, or show you areas that you could save/direct more in (for example, few people plan to become disabled, but if you had a big health problem, had something happened that requires life changes like accessibility alterations, or require long-term care at some point, all that is very expensive).

    If you haven’t already, you can also look into estate planning rather than leaving that for later. And as others have pointed out, there’s lots of options for donating or being extremely generous! Do you have niblings or other young people you could gift/create savings accounts for? Does anyone in your extended social network do minor fundraising? (I work in a college library, we’re lucky to get $2000 total on “Giving Day” to help fund laptops/replacements [which are ~$1200 each] for student checkouts, and most of that is donated by personal friends and family of us employees, so we’re always grateful.) If GoFundMes from people you trust cross your social media feed, would you donate (anonymously if you prefer) a chunk? Even assuming that maybe you’ll keep some of that “extra” over 60k into more savings or whatnot, even if you “only” had ~$40k to play with each year, you could do a lot of good to a lot of people and organizations, either a few or spread out, however you feel.

    But don’t ask them to cut your salary. If you change jobs and you actually were being overpaid, you’ll be in a good place to not mind a salary decrease and that probably helps give you flexibility when considering jobs, if it comes to that.

  17. Medical Expenses Are Real My Friend*

    Oh man #1 sure has a rosy view on life. Sh*t happens, unless I had millions of dollars in savings I wouldn’t feel set for stuff that can happen. Once I had those millions I’d go on donorschoose like a freaking fairy and fund everything. Does this person not know anyone in need?!!

    1. JSPA*

      #1, As one person, there is no way that your sacrifice will keep an entire company afloat, or even affect their decision to outsource, or not.

      If the company decides they can do better by outsourcing jobs (which is what this sort of pay cut would make you competitive with, I guess?) you won’t have the option of getting the lower paycheck, but will instead go from $140K to unemployed.

      That means, some period of unemployment payments, while job searching, plus the cost of health insurance. And then, no unemployment, plus the costs of daily living, plus health insurance.

      And your next job may have delays on health care and paid vacation days, or overall lower pay and fewer benefits. At which point, having some spending money from this job to take you through the lean years is what will maintain your quality of life.

      And even people who don’t think they have or will have family depending on them can end up being or feeling responsible for the well-being of others.

      Even paid off houses need major repairs from time to time; paid off cars are just as subject to entropy as cars you owe on.

      Put much of the perceived extra into retirement funds that can be tapped in case of a major life event. If you don’t want hassles on your taxes or requests for money, you can set up a Donor Advised Fund (aka “giving fund”), make one larger donation into that fund every couple of years, and have grants sent to nonprofits in the name of the fund, while you remain as anonymous as you wish.

    2. mlem*

      While I’m sure there are any number of possible reasons LW1 would think the way they do, my immediate image was of a young woman who was pushed into tech in order to support the family … and then some older dude in the family is offended on hearing the salary. “You think tapping your little buttons is more important than my mining coal / ministry / ditch-digging? You think you’re so much better than me? Just who do you think you are, little lady?!”

      My point isn’t the comment fanfic so much as that it’s easy to get siloed into messed-up ways of thinking. I’m glad LW1 thought to *ask* a site like this.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Doesn’t even need to be gender related. Sometimes peoples’ families get their nose out of joint, especially if the family has usually done a specific type of job, like factory work.

  18. Lilo*

    I do feel like I don’t work as hard now, ten years into my career than I didn’t when I was just starting out. But the reality is I actually get quite a bit more done at a much higher quality level, I just have ten years of knowledge to fall back on and it takes me much less time to get it done.

    So from my perspective back when I was paid less, I felt like I worked harder. But my employer knows I developed specialized knowledge (and can get paid by a competitor for that knowledge).

    So maybe that’s where LW1 gets the idea from? But of course asking for a pay cut would absolutely be a bad idea.

    1. ferrina*

      This is a great perspective, and I needed this.

      I don’t work nearly as hard as I did when I was starting out, and I often stress about that. I’m not putting in the crazy hours and spending all my time thinking about work. I’m not coming home exhausted any more. I often feel guilty that my life isn’t devoted to work any more. But you’re right that I get a lot done at a very high level. The kinds of things that someone without my experience would need 5x-10x the amount of time to do (if they could do it at all). A lot of my work depends on soft skills that were very intentionally developed over a couple decades, and really forged in fire. My approach gets results that others can’t get. So yeah, the value is definitely there for my company.

      Thank you for this!

  19. Spicy Tuna*

    #4, use the computers at your library. or, purchase a keyboard for your tablet to make it more functional

  20. LJ*

    #1 – I hope you have good insurance policies and fund your retirement accounts to the max. Most of us who have to work for a living (to be clear, including OP#1, unlike the CEO class out there) are all 1 bad accident or string of back luck away from potentially lifelong expensive medical care and no job.

  21. Filicophyta*

    OP1: Donate, as many have said above.
    Or, take a year off and volunteer teaching in your field, abroad or in an under-served neighbourhood in your city. Research the orgs carefully before you go. VSO and CUSO are among reliable ones., depending on your nationality.

  22. T2*

    LW4. Here is my advice as an IT professional. Never ever ever use a work computer for personal things. I am serious.

    These days security software is setup so that everything you do is logged and we have to look at it. Many company networks are setup so that even encrypted sessions are decrypted. Which means that usernames and passwords to websites, even your highly personal sites are visible in the logs.

    Further, if you have to leave your job immediately, the very first thing we have to do is lock you out of your computer. And the company will not accept liability for any personal data on the computer.

    If your computer is lost or stolen, most data on your computer is not backed up because we have rules to place data on the server. Your data is therefore at risk.

    You do not need a powerful or a new computer for personal tasks. Even a used one can be had for as little as $200. But no one should mix personal and business on the same machine under any circumstances.

    Conversely any business that allows company data on a personal machine is asking for trouble. I can tell you many many horror stories that result in the failure of both users and employers to respect this rule.

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      From a fellow IT guy specializing in industrial cyber security: You are absolutely correct.
      As a minimum, keep all your personal stuff on external storage (such as an SD card or USB thumbdrive). You can also place a live system such as Tails on a thumbdrive and boot your computer from there; that will give you effectively a separate computer with strong privacy – but that is only practical on a laptop you can use at home, not a desktop.

    2. Old Lady manager*

      I came here just to say that and to also say if you are using the company cell phone, buy your own phone also. Most companies have the ability to monitor and remotely wipe both company call phones and laptops. I know that during covid, used laptops increased in price as so many students had to work from home but there still deals out there. There are libraries, chrome books, rentals and barrowing from friends. If you get a good enough cell phone, you can do a lot of searching and writing from it. There are even some that will allow you to add a full size keyboard and mouse via bluetooth or USB which is great for heavy duty resume writing. Good luck!

    3. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      As a counterpoint, my small-ish company (150 people) sends us brand-new laptops still in the shrink wrap from the retailer. No security software, no company networks, no ability to lock me out of my computer.

      I’ve always felt reasonably comfortable using my work computer for all types of personal things (except adult content! that’s a hard no for me!) BUT of course I have the knowledge that my company’s system is not anywhere near what you’ve described.

      So it’s important to know what you’re dealing with — if there’s any risk of a system that does have security software / can lock you out, then absolutely agreed, don’t do anything personal on it! If your company doesn’t do any of that… then you can probably relax a bit.

    4. Smithy*

      This is completely pragmatic, fair and reasonable advice that I’d never argue with.

      Now for those of us who don’t work for the government or another entity that forbids or disapproves of using work computers for personal use – I’d actually argue that your job hunt can be one of the easier things to do on your work computer while only having a personal smart phone/tablet. Especially if checking personal email isn’t an issue. The majority of “applying” for jobs these days is via email – so provided that you’re largely looking on sites via a personal smart phone or other devise – writing the cover letter/updating a CV on Word, attaching them to your personal email, and then not saving the final copies on the work computer (particularly after core business hours) is going to be much lower risk.

      I get that there are people like my mother who never got a personal email address, only use their work email, and the idea of transitioning post-retirement to a personal computer is terrifying. It’s 100000% behavior that shouldn’t be encouraged and literally leaves their entire digital life in a precarious place. But in the grand scheme of work/personal separation – I do think there are ways you can do work on job applications that really are less vulnerable.

    5. Tech boredom*

      I remember early in my career someone went on maternity leave during a change from a random encryption software to bitlocker. It was in the company onboarding not to store personal information on a company laptop. Well suddenly she couldn’t access her kids school photos that apparently were only stored on her work laptop. She was lucky the senior tech knew the way to reactivate the software and let us unencrypt the files. I also believe he made a call to the vendor and sweet talked them into allowing it. But yeah any work issued equipment now can be remote locked and wiped at a moment’s notice.

      As for a job search, while IT won’t site and watch everything you do to, there is a log. All it takes is a manager asking for the data to have them know. And no incognito isn’t a way around it.

      I’m thankful that my company no longer has the ability to wipe the entire phone if you have installed outlook or teams. I guess they got tired of too many people saying if they had that right then the company could pay for a phone.

    6. Peanut Hamper*

      1000% this.

      I actually bought a decent used laptop on Windows marketplace for $100. The guy who sold it to me had barely used it. I wiped it, installed Linux, and have been using it ever since.

    7. LW4*

      Replying here in the hopes that all see it – Nothing personal is stored on the computer. I use an external drive with cloud storage for all of that and haven’t stored in on a work computer for many years. I do not access anything super personal from my computer – most of that is done through my personal phone or tablet. I have two separate phones for work and personal and they rarely have any crossover. I think given all of this, I will be looking for a very basic computer for my job search. Thank you to all who commented in this thread and others.

  23. Harper the Other One*

    OP 1 – I hope you read the advice above about options for donating etc. excess salary or working for a non-profit. I’d also consider looking into organizations that do micro loans or small business startup funds.

    That said, another option which I’ve seen in tech is part time work. If part of why you feel you’re overpaid is because you work fast and aren’t putting in a full week, you could opt to move to, say, 3/5 time with proportional compensation. Then you’d have extra time you could use for volunteering, travel, or just enjoying the fact that you don’t need to put in a full work week to meet your financial needs.

  24. archangelsgirl*

    LW 4 – you should also know that if you use a personal computer on a work login, you can be tracked too.

    Say you have a google login at work, And you login to that on your home computer and then use tabs from there to job search. You’re searching on your company login then, and there is still the possibility of being tracked. So not only make sure you’re searching on your own computer, make sure you’re searching under your personal login tabs.

    1. LW4*

      Good to know! Thankfully I don’t have any sort of work login that remotes me into my work network so I should be good there. But appreciate you flagging it!

  25. bamcheeks*

    LW2, what would happen if you declined to go on the trip unless you get your own room? Would your boss go without you? Would you go without your boss? Would nobody go? Would you miss out on the opportunity to purchase stock or meet customers? How necessary is the trip to the business’s existence? How necessary is it that both of you go? Game out some realistic alternatives and have them ready to suggest to your boss, and then frame the discussion as, “I’m not able to share a room again, so here are some alternatives I’ve considered that will help us reach our objectives”.

    Externalising a problem as “here is the situation (including your own hard lines and boundaries), here are the options, let’s look at them together and find the best one” is a way of turning something that can feel like a confrontation (“you want X, I want Y, only one can win”) into a discussion where you both want the same things and you are addressing the situation together.

    I really recommend Ken and Kate Back’s “Assertiveness At Work” for a longer look at how to do this– their definition of “assertiveness” is that you value for your own needs AND value the needs of other people, and they give you lots of communication aids for how to do that. If you really struggle with anything that feels like a disagreement or a dispute, it’s a really super useful book.

    I would also counsel you to look at other jobs, however. This isn’t to say you have to jobsearch and leave, it’s just that when you don’t feel that’s an option, every problem can feel so much bigger. It’s much easier to SOLVE problems in your current role when your fallback position is that other roles exist compared to when this is your whole entire reality.

    1. Wendy*

      That works if you are working with reasonable people though.

      Back in 2011 I was working as a contract visitor parking attendant at a university located in the city where I live.

      The manager over the account tried that with the Director of Parking and Transporation services, who was over the visitor parking garage, but she shot down all of his ideas.

      He just wanted to come up with ideas that would benefit the university, the 2 vistitor parking atttendants, and our employer.

      But the Director of Transportation services wanted to do things her way.

      And both wanted to be in control.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Hence my last paragraph! There are two possibilities here: the first is that LW is so scared of confrontation she’s not pushing back on any of the bananapants things her boss wants because she just can’t. The second is that no matter how assertively and reasonably she pushed back, her boss would still insist on the bananapants thing. I am not sure that LW knows which it is yet, but if it’s the latter, then knowing that there are other jobs out there is definitely a help.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I agree that if OP can’t get at least a private bed, she should simply decline to travel. She shouldn’t pay for her own room for things that benefit the business more than her. Admittedly, there’s sometimes a middle ground – an educational conference in a “fun” city, say – where maybe splitting the cost doesn’t feel so bad. But if this is like a sales meeting, OP’s boss could decide perhaps they don’t need to come themselves (leaving the room for OP) or that it’s worth it to pay for OP’s room. Or it’s not, and OP stays home. Based on what you say – you make the whole business possible and they’re unlikely to fire you – they can’t decide you have to go and that you have to share a room.

  26. Sam*

    For #3, I’m not fond of Alison’s suggested language. This sounds like OP is asking the co-workers for a FAVOR. That’s not the case. This is a shared task; they need to step up and do their part. They are not “helping” OP; they are doing their assigned job.

  27. DJ Abbott*

    OP1, you should save some of your extra money for your retirement/old age/anything unexpected. You don’t know what will happen down the road, and having some money saved can make a big difference.
    I would do so research about how to fund retirement, and then add at least 1/3 to that just in case.
    Then, donate the rest to causes you care about. You can research those charities too, to make sure that as much of your money as possible is actually going to the people or animals they’re helping.

    1. I Have RBF*

      This. Over-fund your retirement – put away the maximum you can pre-tax, and look into setting up some CDs or other long term savings accounts. Especially in tech, things can go from flush to failing in under a month. If you are making $140K but only need $60K to live on, that $80K should go into savings that mean you can retire earlier.

      I know people who made bank when their startup went IPO. The foolish ones squandered their money on sports cars and other displays of wealth, and ended up needing to go back to the grind. The smart ones paid off their debts and mortgages, made sure they were set for retirement, and some then retired early.

      If you make more than you need to live, don’t lower your income, increase your savings. Future you will thank you for it.

  28. Helvetica*

    LW#1 – interesting question because I also had a thought this year that I am being paid too much. Not for my position, per se, but for my financial needs; however, I also understand that that is not how the compensation works.
    At this point, more money would not make me more satisfied with my job but other things would – so I carefully craft my work-life balance, I spend money on things and activities that bring me joy and are “small luxuries” that I can easily afford, I save for retirement on top of the governmental scheme (in my country). Someone upthread mentioned donating and I do that for three non-profits whose cause I support.
    Overall, I’m not really thinking I am not worthy of my salary but rather enjoy the financial freedom my salary gives me; it is a privilege in itself to not have to think about money.

  29. Drag0nfly*

    OP1, do you not have friends or family? Interests? Hobbies? There were subjects I wanted to study in college, but I had to trade off money and time. You have money, do you have time? Are there not skills you want to acquire or master? Knowledge you wish to gain? Places you want to see, and people you want to see those places with?

    Do you have nieces and nephews (blood, or honorary) who could use a good college fund? You could be a “funty” or “funcle” (fun aunt, fun uncle) who funds camping trips, travel, experiences in general.

    To me the point of wealth is that you get to be generous, to yourself and to others. When your best friend’s car breaks down and she’s pressed to pay for it, you can be generous. When your nephew needs a new computer for school, you can get him one. Take your niece to Paris for her graduation so she can indulge her love of art with a trip to the Louvre. Don’t you like the ability to bestow meaningful gifts, like topline cookware for your friend who is an aspiring chef, or Broadway tickets for the theater lover?

    I’m single, so I only “need” one bedroom. But instead I have a three bedroom house because I like having a gaming room, and a guest room. When loved ones need a place to stay, either for fun or for an emergency, I can host them. Three rooms is more than I “need,” but I don’t believe in having only exactly what I need. That leaves nothing for me to give to others, which is a distressing situation to me. Abundance let’s me be generous, so I have the pleasure of helping loved ones when they need it. And on fun visits, friends and cousins don’t have to pay for a hotel because I have “extra” room.

    You’re not obligated to restrict yourself to a narrow amount of space, as it were. I tithe to my church, and I give to other charities. There’s a line in the book of Hebrews, about how people should encourage each other to do good works. I want to encourage you to think beyond yourself — as Alison points out, lowering your salary screws over your coworkers, which I imagine you wouldn’t want to do.

    If you can’t bear to have extra in your investments and savings, then consider whose load you can lighten, whose day you can brighten with your own generosity. My mother likes to watch this old show from the 50s about a plutocrat who gives million-dollar checks to random people. Wouldn’t it be fun to do similar, within your own means?

    1. UKDancer*

      This so much. Do what you need to give you a good quality of life. Then try and do good. I grew up Methodist and lapsed years ago but there’s a saying by John Wesley “do all the good you can, in all the ways you can for all the people you can for as long as you can.”

      While i lapsed ages ago I find the saying helpful and try to do good. I don’t have much discretionary income but I support causes that matter to me. Currently I give to aid for Ukraine and support a local classic music festival. If I had more money I would do more.

      I suggest OP finds ways of doing good that are personally meaningful, and d Do those.

  30. Person from the Resume*

    I have said what LW#1 has said … somewhat jokingly.

    I work in tech. I don’t have kids. My salary has gone up a lot recently because my org is making an effort to keep up with market value.

    I take the money and save for retirement and help other people generously. I think I feel this way because nearly all of my friends are struggling, and I am not. Some single moms with kids who are not paid enough. Some work in public libraries and education. Some are artist or work in retail. It’s that they should be paid more. Librarians and teachers and even retail workers should be paid more. It’s not that you should be paid less. They are more exploited salary-wise than you are. Lucky you; that doesn’t mean you should allow you to exploit you more to fall down to their exploitation levels.

    As others have said if you want to give money away; give it to deserving people and not your company.

    And also if you were to ask that you’re putting a target on your back because it is such an unusual request. You would probably not last much longer in the job.

    1. HonorBox*

      100% to your last paragraph. If someone told the company they wanted to reduce their salary at all… and especially that significant an amount… they’re probably going to start looking at your productivity. And if there was a need to cut labor at any point, they’d be a likely candidate for the first cut.

  31. Llama Llama*

    Regarding 4, my company pushes us to have an updated CV that is published internally (I think we have to update it at least once a year). So I would have no qualms about updating it for non work purposes and the same for cover letters.

    However I would not literally job search on my company’s computer.

    1. Coffee Protein Drink*

      That’s interesting; I’ve never seen that anywhere I’ve worked. I rather like it because you can add new responsibilities as they come your way and ideally this supports a strategy of promoting from within.

      Also, I was terribly tempted to change my name to Ding Dong just for this comment. :D

      1. penny dreadful analyzer*

        My company has that too, although it’s not specifically for promoting from within (although that probably helps). We are a consulting firm and they are used as part of proposal packages when bidding for projects – proposals usually include both info about company-level experience on related sorts of jobs, and a section that’s like ‘if you hire us, here’s the key team members who will be working on your project’ with individual resumes/profiles. So the resumes need to be up to date and include all the experience we have at the company that is bidding for the job.

    2. AF Vet*

      When I worked for the US Govt we were encouraged to keep a Word doc on our desktop that we updated regularly with bullet points of our work. Not only did this make resumés easy to build if we came across a new job, but if we were told by a supervisor that we were being put in for a quarterly award, it was a much easier cut and paste. Considering the normal turnaround on a quarterly award was…. at most half a day? The advice came in very handy on multiple occasions.

  32. Nancy*

    LW1: no, that’s weird. Save your money because you never know when an emergency will occur and you will need it. You can also donate to charity.

    LW2: hotels have cots for situations like this. Yes, I know they are uncomfortable, but they are an option when others aren’t feasible.

    LW4: No, go to a library.

    LW5: you don’t need to do anything else.

  33. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

    LW2: I’m going to assume that you’re a woman. If Pam had hired a man to be the store manager, do you think that she would insist on his sharing a hotel room (let alone a bed) with her, or would she have found a way to pay for two rooms?

    1. RVA Cat*

      True, though now I’m imagining Pam adding sexual harassment to her bananapants ensemble.

    2. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      Great point and that makes sense to probably all of the commentariat.

      But sharing a word of warning that unfortunately I’ve found in my experience that hypotheticals don’t work with unreasonable bosses. In their mind, it doesn’t matter because “well I don’t have a man employee so it’s a moot point.”

      Definitely recommend setting a hard boundary like Alison suggested and brainstorming outcomes like other commenters have suggested – what’s the impact if you’re not there? What happens if you decline? etc

    3. Coffee Protein Drink*

      This. And once the resume is uploaded to job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn, the LW can use their phone to apply outside of work hours.

  34. BlandToast*

    LW #4: use a computer at your public library. Assuming you’re in the US, that is – your library card entitles you to computer time, you can store your resume/cover letter/etc. in a personal account (google docs or similar) and access it at the library, you can do the searching from the library computer. Just clear your cache before logging out.

  35. Debtfordays*

    LW1 if you need a different solution to your concern I can send you my Venmo! ;-)

    1. HonorBox*

      Yeah, I have a few home repairs that some of that $$ would be helpful in making happen.

    2. helio*


      In a very different life circumstance and having a hard time overlooking my own experiences/struggles and trying to understand or be empathetic to why LW1 is thinking the way they do.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        I’m financially comfortable now, but there was a time I had $80k in medical debt on top of my $120k in grad school student loans. And a salary of $40k. And I was behind on all the payments. I cried so often because I felt trapped and I was sure I was never going to escape the debt. I would have been extremely angry to see this letter at that moment in my life.

        Now, I’m like – LW, give money away! set up a donor advised fund! get a hospital wing named after you! be an anonymous donor that changes someone’s life! Or just save up enough that you can afford the $8k/month assisted living facility in your future.

  36. Tea Rocket*

    LW3, you might suggest that your boss introduce a rota for this task. People can swap turns if they’re particularly slammed on a day when they’re scheduled to do the task, but it should all balance out in the end. It ensures that everyone know who is supposed to do the task ahead of time instead of letting it fall on whoever steps up to do it that week.

  37. K*

    Number one kinda pisses me off. It does other workers a disservice for OP to have this attitude about helping out a for-profit-company who would, almost certainly, pay their workers literally nothing if they could get away with it. OP has been brainwashed by capitalism.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Hm, I think it’s the opposite— “you must sell your labour at the highest rate the market will bear even if your basic needs are covered multiple times over” is a wholly capitalist ideology IMO. LW has landed on the wrong solution, but the reasoning they’ve given is the opposite of what capitalism needs from workers. Highly-paid workers are *supposed* to be motivated by money and spend up to their salaries so that the reward of more money can be held in front of them: “be satisfied with less” is usually for lower-paid workers who don’t have options because their basic needs aren’t met.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. I can see why it would rub people the wrong way but it’s not coming from any kind of malicious motivation. It’s refreshing, in a way.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      I felt the opposite, that the OP is rejecting the idea of capitalism, that we are worth whatever we can earn and is instead thinking that they don’t deserve more than others just because of the job they happen to have. I don’t see any sign that they are thinking about helping out their company. I think it more likely that they feel that earning so much makes them a capitalist and “part of the problem.”

      But yeah, refusing their salary isn’t going to improve income equality.

  38. dobradziewczynka*

    Thank you!! I was feeling the same way…. like take the money and keep it moving. What on earth???????

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Agreed, dobra. Many moons ago my dad (the gardener) told me that money is like manure: if you get too much of it in one pile it stinks to high heaven, and it doesn’t do anybody any good unless you spread it around.

  39. LovelyLibrarian*

    If OP1 is looking for a worthy cause, this underpaid librarian would be happy to share my Venmo or cashapp link, lol!

    All jokes aside, if you’re so inclined, look into your local libraries and see about making a donation. US libraries are struggling and some states may be losing major funding in the next year if they are forced to disconnect from ALA. Those fighting for the freedom to read and access information are desperately in need of support!

    *puts library soapbox away*

  40. TG*

    LW #2 – there is NO WAY I would share a bed with anyone in a business trip. NO WAY. also her taking $509 out of your check is horrific! And probably illegal. I don’t know why you stay with a boss like that.

    1. Gem-Like Flame*

      LW 2 answered that: “She has been able to stay in business due to my continued employment.”
      If LW 2 left, the store might go out of business because the owner is not all that competent; she’s seldom there and, when she IS there, her personality repels others.

      But Alison has addressed very similar concerns many times, and her advice is always the same: a company/agency CANNOT depend solely on any one employee. It’s too precarious a position to be in! What if that employee were hit by a bus? Suffered some other catastrophe that left them unable to do that job? What if they won the lottery? Then the company/agency would HAVE to sink or swim without that particular employee!

      LW2 is understandably concerned and loyal, having spent 15 years propping up that business. But their loyalty is clearly not returned by their employer, who mistreats them terribly (criticizing them for ordering a soda instead of going with the free tap water at a restaurant? Making them repay travel costs that should be absorbed by their company?) and who makes ridiculous demands. LW2, you’ve done more than enough. Time to get out of there!

  41. TG*

    LW #1 – I’m actually kind of mad at your letter and that’s not your fault but with so many struggling to get companies to treat them fairly and your saying cut my pay…idk it’s kind of ridiculous to me!

    1. helio*

      I am so thankful to find in the comments that I’m not the only one kinda irked by this letter!!

  42. HonorBox*

    OP2 – Go to your boss and tell her that requiring sharing a room is one thing… requiring sharing a bed is completely different. If you’re willing to sit out the trip, tell her as much. If she values you being there for the trip, it is on her to figure out how to book you a room so you’re not required to share a bed.

    OP3 – I think I’d skip the conversation with your coworkers. They know you’re doing it and probably figured that because you’ve (mostly) always done it, they don’t need to worry about it. Your boss may already know that this task hasn’t been done for a couple of weeks because they’ve heard from the consultants. Point out to your boss that your other work has been your priority and no one has picked up that task. Then you can ask if you need to either shift priority to ensure that this task is done, letting something else go, or establish a work flow for that task where everyone is assigned to do it at a specific time.

  43. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    LW1- Unpack why you believe you’re overpaid and what you hope to accomplish by cutting your own salary. I’m guessing that your feelings are probably rooted in guilt. Others work harder and make less, often with greater financial needs, so you don’t feel that you deserve your full salary. By refusing the compensation you don’t feel you need, you would alleviate feelings of being part of the problem.

    While you might rationalize that as helping, advocating for your employer to keep a large percentage of your earnings does nothing to correct inequities and, as Alison points out, makes them worse by devaluing labor. Your company’s CEO doesn’t need/deserve their comp package either. In both cases, equity and personal needs don’t determine value; the (heavily biased in favor of employers) market does.

    I emphasize with the feeling of tech work being overvalued. In my first career, I did important community advocacy work for <50k/year in today’s dollars and needed a masters and unpaid work experience to break into the field. A decade ago I transitioned to the tech roles in the private sector, and today I make 260k+/year doing work that is objectively easier and less impactful.

    Do I feel that this is the way capitalism works? Absolutely. Would I ever consider accepting a lower salary so that my for-profit employer could return those funds to the (even less needy) shareholders? $&@# NO!

  44. RVA Cat*

    LW #2 needs to move on. If they’re the only reason Pam is still in business, Pam shouldn’t be in business.

    1. Sara without an H*

      I was just coming here to say this. LW#2, why are you still there? You’ve been there for 15 years. What will you do when/if “Pam” retires or becomes too ill to carry on the shop? And how financially stable is this business? You said: “I’ve seen enough of her financials to know that there’s not a huge amount of money laying around to book separate rooms while staying cost effective.”

      So you’ve put in 15 years working for a business owner who is unpleasant to be around and a business which is marginally profitable and, possibly, financially unstable. It’s high time you started looking for other options.

      1. HonorBox*

        Yes. It sounds like Pam is in position to retire in the not too distant future. She’s not old old, but clearly being done with work is far closer than it is for you. You don’t want to get caught off guard if she decides it is time to be done.

      2. TeaCoziesRUs*

        My guess would be that she’s hoping to buy the business from Pam when she shuffles off to retirement. Buying a well-established business with loyal clientele could be worth the PITA that is dealing with Pam, especially with the end so close in sight.

        1. I Have RBF*

          That assumes that Pam is willing to sell, and that the LW can afford the high price she’ll put on it.

  45. Need More Money*

    The only people I think are vastly overpaid are pop culture entertainers and athletes. Millions and billions for acting, singing, dancing and playing games is ridiculous.

    When you grew up poor like me, there is no such thing as too high of a salary. OP should go self-employed and stop working when they have the profit they are comfortable with. But don’t possibly muck things up for others by messing with the compensation rate.

    1. kiki*

      I do want to bring up that with athletes, part of the reason it is really well paid at the top is because that the vast majority of the players will only play for a few years but have had to devote the vast majority of their lives to the sport to make it where they are. A lot of the time they would have spent developing skills to put to use in more typical jobs/careers instead goes to training in their sport. Some of those athletes will pivot from playing to sport to becoming spokespeople, sports broadcasters, etc. but most won’t actually.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I was just reflecting (thinking of Caitlin Clark actually) that every single time she steps on the court she risks a career-ending injury that would prevent her every earning another cent from playing the game. Okay, someone like her can probably still expect money from something adjacent like coaching or announcing or whatever, but still – I never had to risk my entire livelihood in one swoop like that. I will say that “big” entertainers who travel all the time seem to be working extremely hard to me. Thinking of someone like Taylor Swift. When I think of people who seem overpaid I think of our lazy politicians first, I guess.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        +1 I don’t think I would take an athlete’s salary to do that kind of damage to my body

      3. bamcheeks*

        Only a tiny number of full-time or near-full-time athletes actually are making those incredibly big salaries, though. and only in a few sports. Professional and full-time but barely earning a middle-class salary, or semi-professional and also working in another job/career are much, much more common scenarios, and they carry many of the same risks of time-limited careers and injury. The high rates that some players are getting are much more to do with sponsorship and huge audiences for specific sports/leagues than real compensation for the risks.

        1. Dinwar*

          If risks determined compensation fire fighters would be paid way more than any athlete. Construction workers would be paid millions (though to be fair, there is insurance in case of injury; I’d rather not lose an eye to earn half a million, though). Electricians, especially power line workers, would probably make billions–they risk instant death routinely.

          The NFL is paying for the brand and for the cost of replacement. A top-tier athlete can bring in billions and take years to replace (if they can even be replaced). Results in bidding wars that jack up prices. And since sports have no practical utility (the way power line work or fire fighting do) there’s nothing to keep the costs realistic. It’s a bubble, in other words, but an apparently sustainable one.

      4. I should really pick a name*

        The really well-paid ones at the top are paid that because of the amount of money they can bring in for team owners, sponsors, etc…

        There are way more athletes who are not making millions of dollars despite focusing on their sport.

      1. Dinwar*

        This is a false dichotomy. For every athlete on the field there are hundreds of other people working to make sure they can play, from refs/umps to grounds crews to managers to laundry services to the folks selling beer and hot dogs. Training also doesn’t just consist of coaches; there are a bunch of people involved, from fellow trainers to doctors to the guys who get the mud for the baseballs (this is a real thing). Most of these people are underpaid.

        There’s also the 99% of players who AREN’T star athletes making millions. I don’t know how the NFL works, but I know MLB has tiers–for example, the Toledo Mudhens feed into the MLB. Those lower tiers get paid squat or less (some pay to play).

        Professional sports has a huge tail-to-tooth ratio.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Self-employed is a lot of work not doing things that that are needed to be self-employed versus whatever is the LW’s primary job. Unless you really want to run your own business or be a freelancer you should not do it. And you should not assume that it’s easy to do so.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      While I’m not saying there aren’t folks in those careers who I feel are overpaid, can we not pretend like there isn’t more to it than acting, singing, dancing, and playing games? It is physically grueling and can require availability at all hours of the day and long stretches of time away from loved ones.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also hey, if people want to give their money for a concert or a game ticket, hey, that’s at least something they a value for their dollar. I have more anger at the people charging huge fees for ticket processing or some of those more “mysterious” black holes of money that come up where you’re like ?? what am I paying for and why.

      2. Abundant Shrimp*

        Exactly – and for every overpaid entertainer, there are thousands of musicians, comedians, other performers and creators struggling to make ends meet and having to take a day job to be able to keep doing things that the rest of us consume and that bring us joy.

  46. kiki*

    I am wondering where LW 1’s doubts about their work’s value are coming from. They mentioned tech, so I’m wondering if they’re thinking this would be a layoff deterrent? If that’s the case, I want to make sure LW knows that them taking a pay cut is really unlikely to prevent a layoff, especially in tech right now. A lot of the big companies laying folks off right now actually have plenty of money, they’re just trying to make their profitability look even better to increase their shareholder value or whatever. If LW is at a smaller company or start-off, maybe them taking a paycut could help delay or prevent a layoff, but I also think there are likely bigger problems contributing to that situation.

  47. Scout Finch*

    LW#1 – donate to Heifer International (wonderful hand up for struggling families) or any org you choose that does good in the world.

    You are paid appropriately. Don’t give it back to those who are set already.

  48. Caramel & Cheddar*

    A lot of people have suggested great places for LW #1 to spend their money, but may I also recommend planning for early retirement? You’ll accomplish the two fold goal of having enough money for the rest of your life *and* satisfying your desire for your company to pay you less when they are no longer paying you at all.

    I know a lot of people live for work and can’t imagine what they’d do with their spare time. I am not one of those people, and would love to be in LW #1’s situation if it meant I could shave years off my career.

    1. Sloanicota*

      You can also achieve both ends, but saving conservatively for the future while creating a provision in your will for the funds left to be used for a good cause. It doesn’t have to just go to your heirs, you could set up a scholarship fund or support one of the excellent nonprofits that work hard for a cause you are passionate about.

  49. I Edit and I Know Things*

    OP1, I scanned the comments to see what everyone else was saying. I agree with Alison that you shouldn’t lower your salary. Here are a few ideas of what to do with the excess:

    1. Donate to charity (Alison’s idea).
    2. If you’re in the US, sock it away for your future care needs. Nonmedical in-home care is expensive, assisted living is expensive, memory care is expensive. Medicare will cover some of these costs, but not all.
    3. If you have young nieces/nephews, start college funds for them (assuming you want to help with that). If they’re older, offer to help with a down payment on a house, their children’s college funds, fertility or adoption expenses, whatever. Just don’t neglect your future needs and wants.
    4. Travel! See the world! Use that PTO to the fullest!

  50. BecauseHigherEd*

    LW 1 – that’s lovely of you to say, but advocating for a pay cut for yourself would in theory undercut the value of the labor for individuals in the same role. But yes, as other people say, a) you should keep some of those funds to plan for retirement or a rainy day fund, b) never balk at an employer giving you a decent wage, c) there’s nothing wrong with taking the money and paying it forward.

    I do think some of the others are being a little too harsh on OP, though. I know every time I get a raise, I always think “Oh my god, that’s SO much money! Did they make a mistake?” (Mind you, I work in higher ed and make…about $60k a year.) I think it’s normal for some of us to have those feelings, especially people with imposter syndrome who undervalue their intelligence, skills, experience, and education.

  51. Lurker*

    LW4, Your local public library is another great resource! They most likely have public computers you can use, and often even have job search resources in case you need them. Highly reccomend!

  52. Grouchy*

    Bitterly looks at LW1. #mustbenice
    -incredibly underpaid Higher Ed person

    I agree, pay into retirement and retire early or donate it.

  53. Timothy*

    Early on in my career (twenty-something), I had to share a room with my boss when the hotel ran short of rooms. I didn’t mind it (separate beds), but he was CLEARLY unhappy with the situation. Possibly unrelated, he gave me a poor review after that, causing me to leave the company. Travel wasn’t booked by me — definitely not my fault. Oh well.

    Using your work computer to search for a new job? Well, 1. that’s a poor choice, 2. you’re using company equipment to do something that’s completely unrelated to company business, and 3. the company might be looking over your shoulder while you do that (since it’s their equipment). Conclusion: Don’t Do That.

  54. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

    LW1: Take your overage salary amount & consider purchasing Long Term Care insurance. For those without kids to take care of them when they’re elderly, it’s something to consider and it’s less expensive to purchase when you’re much younger. (But it still costs a pretty penny.) It’s hard to think of those things when you may be early in your career & it’s feels like it’s forever away, but any senior living/care option is insanely expensive and will only be more so a few decades from now.

  55. TA DA!*

    LW 2 You have more than paid your dues here. This woman will not give a single red cent for you, and you are bending over backwards to keep HER business from failing.

    I’m petty enough to find another job and give her notice as she’s wheeling her rolling back to the airport.

    LW 1: If you are looking to do something with your money, donate to your local schools theatre and fine arts. Or me. :) BUT NOT SPORTS!! Sports have plenty of money!

  56. I'm just here for the cats!*

    Here’s a solution. LW 1 can give money to LW2 for a hotel room and buy #4 a computer

  57. Pizza Rat*

    I strongly recommend using your local library’s computers to look for a job, unless you’ve been given a date when you will be laid off or a contract ends.

    Always assume your work computer is monitored, and some URLs can trigger an investigation. If your manager know about you searching, then you might be told, “Well, you’re obviously unhappy here if you’re looking, so why don’t you be on your way?

  58. Sara without an H*

    LW#3, it’s high time you spoke up more directly. Use Alison’s script, tailored to your circumstances, but speak up now before your resentment starts to affect your relations with your coworkers. And giving your boss a heads-up about a situation that affects your work is not “tattling.” (I’d really like to wipe that word out of the English language.)

    Your experience illustrates why assigning tasks to a group, rather than individuals, and without any system to assure accountability, is a really bad idea. I wonder what else doesn’t work in your organization?

  59. Purple Cat*

    lW4 – it’s a common reality that people use their work computers while searching for a new job.
    HOWEVER – please, please, please do not be like several of my current (and one former) coworker who apply to jobs using their work emails and have job alerts and notifications coming to their work emails. Use your personal email for those!

    1. Office Plant Queen*

      LW #4, go to the library! They have computers there, and in my experience, having a set time and environment for job searching also helps with the exhausting feeling that you should always be working on it. It should be pretty easy to access on your tablet too if you need to, as long as you’re using cloud storage like Google drive/OneDrive for all your documents

      1. Office Plant Queen*

        Well that wasn’t supposed to be nested! At least it nested under a comment for the same letter haha

  60. Coffee Protein Drink*

    I think I would tell my boss, “You don’t want to share a bed with me. I toss and turn and thrash, and you won’t sleep well.”

    Asking the hotel for a rollaway bed or, as someone said above, sleeping on the floor sounds like a much better option.

  61. Kotow*

    How in the world have we had multiple letters about employees having to share **BEDS** with co-workers and bosses?!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Next month, watch us get a letter from an employee whose boss wants them to share underwear.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Ha! There was a “My boss offers expensive hand-me-down clothing to staff” letter in the past, and a letter where the boss asked to borrow the letter-writer’s shoes (“our boss constantly asks us to do personal favors for her”) so we’ve gotten pretty close already.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Didn’t we have something ages ago about a boss wanting to approve underwear purchases?

  62. AmberFox*

    LW4, be aware that if you’re not a remote worker, people walk past your desk.

    Many years ago, we had a new guy who was struggling quite a bit. I walked past his desk one day, and he was literally on Indeed searching for jobs instead of working. (He also, bless his heart, chose to go back into the little echo-y corridor by his desk to take interviews instead of going outside.) So every single member of the team in that office? We knew he was leaving. And so did everyone on other teams. And I’m sure the boss walked past his desk at some point and saw it, too.

    So don’t do your searches during work hours, if you’re gonna do it.

  63. Owlet 101*

    For LW#4 may I suggest going to your local liabary? They may have computers for community use. And with google drive you can work on your resume and store it on the cloud.

  64. Heffalump*

    ~15 years ago the head of IT at my then job mentioned to me that some employees were accessing job-hunting sites from their work computers. There was the definite implication that this was a bad thing. I don’t know if the people in question suffered any consequences.

    Looking for a new job: OK. Using your current employer’s resources to do it: not OK.

  65. FormerTechie*

    OP 1: you might want to look into an organization called Givewell – they have lots of advice about the best charities to donate to.

  66. TeaCoziesRUs*

    LW 1 – I have a couple philosophical / theological questions for you. Feel free to use or ignore as you wish. :) I have fallen into windfalls a couple times now (receiving years of back pay due to former boss shenanigans combined with selling a house at double what we’d paid for it), which meant we had more than we knew what to do with. Hubby has a job that meets all of our needs and most of our wants, so we all of a sudden had this huge amount of excess. From that, here’s what I learned:

    1. It can feel REALLY weird, especially in the US, not to define yourself – AND your worth – by your job. Thomas Merton once said that the three biggest lies we tell ourselves are “I am my job,” “I am what I have,” and “I am who I know.” For you, how do you define your “I am _____”? From where do you find your worth or value to society? If you answer is mostly in your job, what would happen psychologically, spiritually, socially, psychically if you were to lose that job in an instant – and could never again work in that field?

    2. How do you see money and wealth in our society? What are its uses? What ways make the most sense for you to use? You already seem wise in that you have no debt, you have substantial savings, etc. I answered these from my Christian tradition, and my answer was stewardship – seeing wealth as being given responsibility over something that wasn’t really mine. What does it mean to be entrusted as a steward of these blessings? For us, it meant being wise in how we used the money. We paid off all of our debt (we also currently rent, so no mortgage). We were able to fill the retirement accounts with previous years’ contributions, as well as college funds for our kids. And we replaced worn out vehicles. I also kept an eye and ear out for different needs we could fill or help – everything from buying school supplies for a sick friend’s kid to buying a few hundred dollars worth of kibble for a local no-kill shelter. The more generous we have become, the less of a throttlehold our possessions have had on us, which means we’ve also been able to give away thousands of square feet of THINGS to those who needed them because we didn’t NEED to sell them. So, how can you be a good steward of your assets? How can you use your abundance, joyfully and generously, to alleviate burdens for those you love and care for? Which of “the least of these” would it bring your heart the most joy to provide for?

    3. Are there any things you have put off doing until ______ happens? I.E. You’ll take that long-desired trip to check out the beautiful beaches of Croatia, or research your family roots, or… or… or once you have the time and money to do so? Or you’ll renovate that bathroom / kitchen, find yourself some acreage to build a custom house on, etc etc etc. You get the idea. What have you been putting off until tomorrow that you could enjoy today? I was able to take my best friend on a trip she desperately needed for a sanity break, my kids to see their heritage, etc. I’m so glad to have done all of those!

    I agree with those who mention a therapist, or else someone in a mentoring / guiding role. Not only to unpack any underlying potentially negative ideas about not being worth what you’re paid, but more so that you can start looking at these deeper questions. If you are of a religious persuasion, consider a spiritual advisor or director (I found one at a local Monastery) rather than a therapist. They can guide you through these questions along your faith’s framework. Also consider talking to a financial advisor or two, ESPECIALLY one that doesn’t work on commission, about your finances and if there are any glaring gaps they see. We used one who pointed out that with my husband’s guaranteed pension, we could invest much more aggressively than we had been. (I was already saying this, but it helped to have an expert back me up. :) )

    Regardless, I hope you can enjoy your bounty for as long as it’s available to you. Congratulations on living well below your means. I hope you find the wisdom to live with the responsibility that comes with financial blessings comfortably.

  67. Khatul Madame*

    LW4, I think it is relatively safe to use your work laptop to polish and customize your resume. It is access to job sites, and maybe competitors’ sites, that can be flagged by IT.

  68. I have opinions...*

    LW1 – If I were the employer I would be concerned from an HR/liability perspective. There is no amount of documentation you could provide that this was what you actually wanted that I would trust you couldn’t come back later and claim was coerced.

    Not that I would believe you’d be conning me or anything. I wouldn’t read malicious intent. However, things go wrong later sometimes. So people get what’s fair and right, even if they ask for less. They just have to.

  69. Katara's side braids*

    As a social worker I simply can’t relate to #1. OP1, after maxing out your retirement contributions and savings, please consider donating to some mutual aid groups near you or a charity you care about. RIP Medical Debt is one great option that I wish I could spare more money for. Or you could just donate large amounts to NPR during their pledge drives so they can end them early. So many options.

  70. Jamboree*

    I’ve only read to question two so far, but I had to stop reading and scroll to the comments to proactively beg for an update after LW gets back from this trip. Pleeeeeeease!

  71. anywhere but here*

    Jumping on the train of comments offering to help LW1 dispose of their excess income . . . I’ll take your money if you don’t want it. :)

    That being said, I think you’re onto something with the idea that you don’t necessarily “deserve” that wealth – not because you personally don’t, but because a lot of the time people who are making gobs of money aren’t really more deserving or harder working than anyone else. They just happen to be lucky. I think the solution to that is to use your excess for the common good, especially those who are not as comfortably paid, and consider that evening the scale. If only more wealthy people had that mindset rather than thinking that the billions they make from exploiting their employees is exactly what they deserve.

  72. LJ*

    OP1, another thought occurs to me – are you bored? That is, it’s good that you didn’t inflate your lifestyle, but alongside savings and charity, you could also use some of your income to take up more expensive hobbies that used to be out of reach. Wanted to ski as a kid but you couldn’t afford it? Now you can! Want to go on trips to watch F1 races? Why not! Obviously don’t get carried away, but if there are things that bring you and your loved ones enjoyment, go enjoy them while you’re all healthy and able.

  73. Dawn*

    OP#4: You say you can’t afford a new computer at this time but a laptop capable of running a job search should cost you less than $100.

    That may still be out of your reach, and if so I can absolutely see why you’re job searching after 20 years with the same company, but I think it’s probably more likely that you’re just not aware of how little an entry-level Chromebook or Windows laptop costs nowadays, or thinking that a Macbook is your only option.

    1. LW4*

      Thanks! I have seen several people comment that a decent enough laptop (or refurbished ones) are far cheaper than I was expecting. So I may be looking into that route.

  74. Mad Mac*

    LW1: They’re paying you for your years and not your hours! You’re worth every penny you’re earning.

  75. Have you had enough water today?*

    I have a slush fund which is set aside specifically for bereaved employees which I can use at my discretion. It gets used to send flowers, Uber Eats vouchers, to pay for accommodation near hospice, supermarket vouchers, etc.

  76. Caramellow*

    I’m an RN and have encountered people in my profession who are cavalier about pay or outright think we made too much money. I’ve been in a position to counsel one or two of them and say following:

    We worked hard as a profession to overcome bias and stereotypes. What we do is grueling, technical and can be life or death. Do not minimize the profession by complaining it’s overpaid. Understand that we may just now are being paid what we are worth.

  77. Jordan*

    Hi LW1! I can’t imagine the number of comments already suggesting what you can do with your extra salary, but I guess let me add one more to the pile. I was introduced to a great program called Black and Pink, and a similar one called the Prisoner Pen Pal Program, both of which connect those on the outside to primarily LGBTQ+ incarcerated people. Can I tell you how nuts it is to be helping my penpal of a few years plan to get out, and what a Catch 22 the US is for getting a job and a place to live? You need a job to get money to pay rent, but you need a place you’re living to get a job, sure there’s halfway houses but if you’re trans forget about finding any but the tiniest and most cash strapped (but truly the most passionate) organizations trying to give you a safe place to land.
    Anyway, a lot of people directly, personally need a truly small amount of help to make a profound change in their lives, to get a start in a system not built to give them one to live safe and productive lives outside. Black and Pink and Prisoner Pen Pal Program are two great programs you could donate to that send books and resources directly to prisoners in addition to connecting them to the invaluable emotional support of pen pals; you could also look at local mutual aid organizations which essentially serve to get money straight to the hands of people who need it most. Don’t let your company keep that cash even if they would! Give it to your community, you can truly, profoundly change lives with amounts that are insignificant to you and me.

  78. PleaseNotifyMySnoopervisor*

    I am part of a small team that supports a large group of consultants. One specific task often falls to me. I have been assigned to other items, so the others really need to step up and start working this task.

    It is not tattling to make your your boss aware that the task is now 2 weeks overdue. You have been assigned other items, you can’t do it & it can’t remain undone. Your boss needs a new strategy for getting this task completed as the strategy of ‘not pay attention or follow up on completion’ is not working.

    Additionally, if your coworkers are not going to do this task in a reliable way, tell your boss that since it majority falls on you, it should become part of your job duties, and that you should be given a new title/promotion to reflect this. Because if you do more, you should get more.

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