Consult a Coach: My salary is struggling to match inflation—what can I do?

As part of our regular career clinic series, Jo Glynn-Smith gives advice to a reader who wants to stay in her role, but is finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet.

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Welcome to Consult a Coach, our regular careers clinic for Bazaar readers. Send us your work dilemma, and we’ll ask our career agony aunt—the industry professional, executive coach, and motivational speaker Jo Glynn-Smith—to answer it.

Here, Jo advises a reader who wants to stay in her role, but is finding it difficult when her salary isn't keeping up with inflation.

Consult a Coach

Jo says...

Dear Kate,

Thanks for writing in. I’m sure this question will resonate with many readers, as there is no denying that the cost-of-living crisis, fluctuating inflation, and political and environmental instability is affecting us all in one way or another. As someone said to me the other day, ‘The Year of the Dragon’ was always going to feel like fire and fury—and they were right!

I congratulate you for taking the initiative to ask for more money, especially after eight years of service. It takes courage to have this type of conversation, and although it’s disappointing that your company is not able to increase your salary, I’m sure it doesn’t mean you are valued any less. It might be worth following up to see whether a bonus or even a promotion might be a way to earn more in the future, and understanding what you would need to do to be considered for this. Don’t be afraid to show ambition: you have already demonstrated commitment to the business, and you clearly have the experience.

For now, let’s stand back and look at whether we can find a solution or identify an opportunity that may help. Since you love your job, I’m going to start by assuming that you would like to find a way to stay on at the company. So here are a few ideas if you choose to stay put—but also a useful exercise in any case...

Create a monthly budget
Calculate your current financial gap based on your income and monthly spending. For your own clarity, work out what percentage increase in salary, or cash number, you would need to cover this deficit. It may be less than you think, but regardless, this exercise often offers all the detail you need to make informed decisions.

Look for small savings
Review all your spending, including social, deliveries, subscriptions, media, apps, phone, and streaming plans—these are the monthly costs, outside your utility bills, that really add up. Could you change providers or negotiate a better deal somewhere? What cut backs are you prepared to make to stay in your role?

Review your rent
Are there any other renting options you haven’t considered before? Ask around, do some research, and try to think flexibly.

Consider a side hustle
If you have the time and the energy, there are ways of making money outside your PAYE. Could you put aside a couple of hours or more every week to earn some extra cash, and if so, what skills do you have that could be applied elsewhere? I see a lot of young people successfully juggling their own businesses on the side. It’s not easy, but it’s becoming more and more popular.

Investigate alternatives
Finally, after considering all of the above, you may have no other option than to look for another job. The reality is that most people climb the salary and career ladder by moving companies strategically. Maybe it’s time for you to do the same?

Good luck!

Jo Glynn-Smith is a transformation coach, speaker and personal-brand expert from London who works with leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to help maximise their team or individual potential. Before becoming a coach, she spent most of her career in the fashion industry working at the highest level with some of the biggest global brands. You can follow Jo for more coaching tips and advice on Instagram (@jojoglynnsmith) or visit her website,


Feature image credits: Shutterstock

This article originally appeared in in June, 2024. 

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