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I am a certified government employee. By certified, I am referring to the reams of paperwork that come with any government job, and not the “paperwork” that happens in the bathroom.
As a gov gal, pay raises aren’t dictated by a vague overlord. No. It’s dictated by time (step increase) or an act of Congress (many vague overlords).
As an impatient sort of human who is used to instant rewards thanks to my millennial training, instead of waiting for a raise, I decided to give myself a raise.
More Retirement, Please
For many years, I was a strong subscriber to the 15% retirement rule.
15% of my income goes to retirement. Sometimes that was a traditional 401(k) but when I lacked that option, a Roth IRA got extra attention. The account didn’t matter as much as the magical 15%.
In those wayward years, I included the company match too. Free money still added up to 15 but with less effort from my bankroll.
When I had my existential crisis with FIRE, I realized that 15% was like diarrhea on a holiday. Vastly short of hopeful expectations.
I needed to increase my contributions and should have done it years ago. Now is better than never.
TSP, the gov version of a 401(k), has a traditional IRA and Roth IRA. Currently, 5% goes to traditional to claim a 5% match. Contributions to the Roth went from 10% to 18%. I didn’t go from luxe to poverty, but I felt the burn.
Moving forward, with each wage or step increase, contributions will also grow by 1-3%. The bigger the swell, the bigger the contributions.
That’s the plan! It should have an acronym
but it doesn’t!
The money guru at Accidentally Retired supports this plan
even though it’s missing an acronym, “10% of investing is creating a plan. 90% is sticking to that plan.”
Sundays, holidays, and overtime. Yes, yes, and bring it on like donkey kong.
I work a different schedule from most 9-5 until 65 employees because my work schedule includes extra pay.
The government tries hard to avoid paying employees more than their typical workweek wages. However, I work at a facility where we are open every day (except during winter), holidays, and after hours.
The extra odd hours are occasionally taxing on Mr. BuLL but my life is flexible with a lack of kids, pets, and parental supervision. Flexibility is great when our facility has late evening events or a holiday and someone with a uniform has to attend.
It’s an easy way to increase pay with little effort.
Outside of federal holidays, which stay the same, events like weddings and meetings are random. There are times when our facility is rarely used, and there are times when our building is constantly used. It’s a seasonal flux which is good because I can capture extra pay and avoid burnout that comes with extra hours and long nights.
I Work Out
I’m paid to work out.
As a federal permanent employee, I am allowed three hours of work out time per week. It’s the best of all worlds. Work supplements my fitness so I can be a better functioning human.
Getting paid to work out gives my mental health a raise.
I value time more than money. Having three hours folded into the standard 40, frees up leisure time. It’s the same reason I appreciate gifts like socks, boots, and hiking gear for Christmas. Necessities, by their title, demand payment. But with someone else purchasing them, my money and time are freed up for other endeavors.
Besides, I prefer to avoid cramming exercise between 8 hours of work, dinner, dishes, and any other housework, which is the adulting version of homework.
Attention to Details
I accepted a detail into a higher paid position which is another way to give a raise. Details also build experience and skills for future openings.
My detail is my boss’ role. I’m temporarily filling his position for 120 days since he is taking one too.
For the next four months, I will be learning new skills and being compensated for new responsibilities. I enjoy detail opportunities because I can choose my own adventure. I can make more and invest in my professional portfolio.
Raise the Pay
I can’t walk into my boss’ office with 52 PowerPoint slides and show with painful detail how I deserve a raise. It’s not on the spectrum of gov sponsored solutions.
Instead, I have to get creative.
There are restrictions to what I can do, but I prefer to think of them as rules for a game. Instead of focusing on the restrictions, I use government-issued energy towards finding creative ways to give a raise.