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收入缩水,应对有道

Laura Vanderkam 2011年11月02日

如今,薪酬缩水现象已经相当普遍。问题不在于“究竟要不要接受减薪”,而是“如何应对减薪?”为此,我们提供了一些小窍门以供大家参考。

    曾经,人们一度认为工资是呈直线上升的。一个人从职场菜鸟、只领取较低工资开始,随着职业资历逐步提升,工资也会向着较高水平看齐。

    不管过去这种观点对错与否,最起码在当今的职场,尤其对于曾经的高新一族来说,已经完全不是这么回事了。美国西北大学(Northwestern University)经济学家乔纳森•帕克以及安妮特•维辛-乔根森的一项调查显示,在近来的经济衰退期,美国收入最高的1%家庭(2008年年收入超过38万美元的家庭)受到的冲击比其他任何群体都要大。然而,20世纪80年代初期之前,与普通家庭相比,这些富裕家庭的收入波动并不是很明显。

    美国再就业服务机构Challenger, Gray & Christmas 首席执行官约翰•查林哲称:“现在的收入与以前相比波动性要大得多。”

    如今,人们开始频繁地更换工作,甚至全面调整自己的职业生涯规划;同时,疲软的经济状况让很多人的实际工作时间大幅缩水,这些都让人们不再因为申报单上一年更比一年低的纳税金额而感到不自在或者尴尬。不仅如此,越来越多的年轻人开始更加关注工作与生活的平衡,为了追寻自己梦寐以求的职业,他们甚至能够在一段时间内欣然接受低收入的工作。

    “迫于时下的形势,接受低薪岗位的人越来越多;还有些人是迫不得已,担人们得接受现实,”约翰•查林哲说。

    薪酬缩水在时下相当普遍,这已是不争的事实。目前,人们最关注的问题已不再是“什么时候应该接受减薪?”而是“怎样规划人生,让接受低薪工作在必要时成为一种可能?”现在,我们就给大家支支招:

1. 找机会赚外快

    NBA圣安东尼奥马刺队(San Antonio Spurs)球星托尼•帕克的名字近日频繁见诸各大报端头条。原因是他宣布在NBA停摆期间将以月薪2,000美元转投一支法国篮球队。他持有该球队的部分股权。是什么让他甘愿接受这么低的年薪(约合24,000美元)?要知道,去年的NBA赛季,2,000美元只是他一分钟的酬劳。如果有机会赚“外快”,获得额外津贴,或者有机会承接一个自由职业项目;又或者你的爱人已经下岗,或正在从事并寻求更多的兼职工作机会,放手去干吧,然后将额外赚到的钱存进银行。

2. 清偿债务

    杰米•塔蒂在一家电视点播公司做项目经理时,她的收入是六位数。“这份工作听起来就是人们心目中的那种理想职业,”她说。“我几乎可以不花一分钱就可以周游整个美国,所有费用只要找公司报销就万事大吉了。”但是事实并非如她想象的那样美好。“可是最终我发现,我不得不经常加班加点;而且由于经常需要在外面解决吃饭问题,我的体重大幅飙升。”

    后来塔蒂辞掉了那份工作,借款70,000美元,开创了自己的事业——为企业家提供培训课程(并在eventualmillionaire.com网站上撰写相关博客)。为了还清所有债务,她和丈夫卖掉了豪华汽车,承担更多额外的工作,近乎疯狂地节省开支,直到还清债务。如果目前的工作再也提不起你的兴趣,再高的薪水也毫无意义——还是另寻门路应对弥补薪酬缩水吧。

3. 购房买车,量入为出

    靠收集优惠券、去二手市场购物,我们就可以平安度过薪酬缩水时期——宣扬勤俭持家的书籍和电视节目也许会让人对此信以为真,但是千万不要轻信。事实上,根据美国劳动统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)公布的数据显示,一个普通的美国家庭花在食物上的费用比例不到家庭预算的13%,花在服装上的钱也不到家庭预算的4%。如果将这两项支出减半,也仅仅可以获得不到8.5%的额外预算。然而,普通家庭在住房及交通两项费用上的支出占家庭全部预算的50%以上。如果同样减半的话,将会有25%的额外预算可以用来自由运转。孰轻孰重,一目了然。

4. 不要总拿工资水平的高低来衡量自己的价值

    正如近日美国著名职业顾问及博客作者佩内洛普•特伦克在职业和生活博客网站Brazen Careerist上给读者的建议,“一个人的工资待遇低,并不代表他的自身价值就低。丰富衡量自身价值的标准体系,(而不是只有薪酬这个单一的标准)。这样,减薪就没什么大不了了。”当然,说起来容易做起来难。拿杰米•塔蒂来说,当时选择放弃家庭主要经济支柱的角色以及额外的收入,对我而言真的非常困难;“直到现在我也没有完全适应。”当然,收入水平仍然不失为一个不错的衡量标准——即使下半辈子的工资每年只能上涨10%。

    译者:李淑玉/汪皓

    Once, people assumed income was linear. You'd start out on the low side during your salad days, but then you'd see your income rise as you rose though the company ranks.

    Whether that image was ever true or not, it's definitely not now -- particularly for people who generally do quite well. Research from economists Jonathan A. Parker and Annette Vissing-Jorgensen at Northwestern University found that, during recent recessions, households in the top 1% (those earning over $380,000 in 2008) experienced larger income shocks than any other group. Before the early 1980s, these well-to-do households had less income volatility than other people.

    "What you earn today is much more lumpy than it used to be," says John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

    As people switch individual jobs, or entire careers, more frequently, and as a lackluster economy has translated to some spending extra time out of the workforce, the idea of reporting a lower number on your tax return from one year to the next is no longer remotely weird or shameful. And as younger workers put a higher premium on work-life balance, some have even embraced earning less for a while as they pursue their dream jobs.

    "Today, more and more people have done it, have had to do it, and have come to terms with it," says Challenger.

    Indeed, taking a step down in pay is so common that the best question is no longer "when is it okay to take a salary cut?" It's "how can I structure my life so that a salary cut is possible if I need or want to take one?" There are a few ways:

1. Earn good money when you can.

    San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker recently made headlines by announcing he'd play for the French basketball team he partly owns during the NBA lock-out for $2,000 a month. One reason he could accept the equivalent of a $24,000 annual salary? He earned $2,000 per minute during his NBA games last year. If you have an option to earn overtime, pursue certain bonus payments, or take on a freelance project, or if your spouse is out of the workforce or working part-time but looking to scale up, go for it -- and then bank the extra cash.

2. Chuck your debts.

    Jaime Tardy once earned six figures as a project manager for a video-on-demand company. "It sounded like it was a dream job," she says. "I'd get to travel around the U.S. with an expense account." But it turned out not be as rosy as she had envisioned. "I ended up having to work ridiculous hours and I gained a lot of weight from eating out a lot of the time."

    Tardy was able to quit that job and start her own business coaching entrepreneurs (and blogging at eventualmillionaire.com) by paying off $70,000 in debt. She and her husband sold an expensive car, took on extra work, and budgeted like crazy until the debt was gone. When there's less interest piling up, less of your paycheck will be spoken for -- making it possible to shrink that paycheck if you want.

3. Buy less house (and car) than you can afford.

    Books and TV shows on frugal living would have you believe that you can survive an income cut merely by cutting coupons and shopping in thrift stores. Don't believe them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average family spends just under 13% of its budget on food and a little under 4% on clothing. If you cut both in half, you'd free up less than 8.5% of your budget. But the average family spends more than 50% of its budget on housing and transportation. Spend 25% instead, and you have 25% extra to play around with.

4. Stop thinking your salary says anything about you.

    As popular career blogger Penelope Trunk advised her Brazen Careerist readers recently, "You are not worth less in the world because you are paid less in your job. Get your self-worth from a wide range of things and a pay cut won't matter to you." This is easier said than done, of course. For Jaime Tardy, giving up her role as her family's primary breadwinner, and the extra cash, was tough: "I'm still not 100% over it." But keeping one's income in perspective is still a good idea -- even if your salary goes up by 10% every year for the rest of your life.

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