Five Things to Ask for When You Can’t Get More Money

Ripped DollarThe first thing everyone wants is more money.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from asking outright for a larger salary or an increased hourly rate.  After all, I have never heard of anyone reneging on an initial offer just because a contractor or an employee asks for more money.

If the other party is not willing to talk about more money, don’t despair.  There are other things you can ask for that can be almost as good as a larger paycheck.

Here are five things to consider asking for:

1)   More Vacation Time – This is an obvious ask and doesn’t require any additional, up-front finances from the company.

2)   Professional Development and Education – Ask the company to cover you for the time and cost to take a class that interests you.  Knowing more about a topic usually makes you better at your job.  This could be anything from a public speaking seminar to computer programming classes to Spanish lessons.  If you are in New York City check out Smartt Talk, General Assembly, or Brooklyn Brainery to get some inspiration.

3)   Transportation or Travel Expenses – Your employer could offer to cover the cost of your daily commute or reimburse you for business travel.

4)   Special Provisions – The beauty of this is that it can be ANYTHING.  Picture your ideal job – Do you wish you could travel more or less? Do you want a nicer office? A company car? Something else that those lucky people at Google get?  Propose the wild idea and see how the other party responds.

5)   A Scheduled Time to Re-Visit the Issue – If you aren’t completely satisfied, ask the company to give you a date in three or six months to discuss your negotiating points again. Regular and more frequent meetings mean more face time with the people that matter and more opportunities to talk up your skills and hard work.

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised when asking for more at a year-end review?  I would love to hear how the negotiations went!

Clarify Contracts by Losing the “Legal-ese”

bill of rights scrollI have been reviewing a number of contracts and releases lately.  Although the subject matters of each of them have varied, I have noticed they all share the common denominator of using confusing language.  I want to use this blog post to make a plea to businesses and lawyers alike to STOP with the long sentences and giant words.  Confusing terms and ambiguities don’t make your contract better or more important, they only serve to confuse readers and participants.  I always make an effort to simplify my contracts by following these rules whenever possible.

1) Keep sentences short and direct.  Instead of saying “NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the premises and mutual covenants contained herein and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, the Parties hereby agree as follows:”  Say simply: “The Parties agree as follows:”  It saves ink, it saves time, it saves sanity.

2) Use the active voice, and not the passive voice, whenever possible.  This makes it very clear who is supposed to be doing something and who she is doing it for.

3) Definitions are your friends!  If a term can be construed in more than one way, and it is important to you  or the other party how that is defined, clearly state what that term means in a definition section.  This leads to clarity, something all contracts need more of.

If you have been asked to sign something you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask questions of the other party.  Contracts can easily be marked up on the spot with a simple cross out and margin notes.  It doesn’t have to go back and forth for a thousand revisions. Don’t be intimidated by the legal-ese that often shows up.  Instead, ask for clarification and make sure you know what you are agreeing to before signing on the bottom line.

Do You Know Where These Documents Are?

I have been serving as Executor of my father’s estate for the past few months.  In doing this, I have repeatedly been struck by how a seemingly organized man could be so haphazard with paperwork.  I have spent hours digging through shoeboxes full of crumpled papers, trying to locate a single document.  In doing this, I have made a vow that 2013 will be the year I get my paperwork in order.  This list is for EVERYONE, even if, and especially if, you aren’t a millionaire.  Knowing where these documents are can make life easier for you and your loved ones in the future.

  1. Will
  2. Housing, Land and Cemetery Deeds (and any mortgage information associated with these properties).
  3. Proof of Loans made and debts owed
  4. Vehicle titles
  5. Stock certificates, savings bonds, and brokerage accounts
  6. Partnership and corporate operating agreements
  7. Tax returns
  8. List of Bank accounts and safe deposit boxes
  9. List of all user names and passwords (where is/who has information)
  10. Durable health-care proxy or a power of attorney
  11. Authorization to release health care information
  12. Living Will
  13. Do-not-resuscitate order
  14. Life Insurance Policies
  15. Pension, Retirement and 401(k) accounts
  16. Marriage license and/or divorce papers