Conventional money wisdom preaches that pinching pennies is the key to saving enough money. But prioritizing your career is just as important as prioritizing frugality when it comes to building wealth.
So says Vivian Tu, a 28-year-old equities trader turned TikToker known as Your Rich BFF, in a recent interview with Fortune. “You can only save as much as you earn,” says Tu, who aims to dole out unpretentious and digestible financial advice to her 2.2 million followers. She adds that women are often told they’re spenders and are advised not to splurge.
With some anger, she mocks the pretentious talking points. “We love to splurge. We need to pinch pennies. We need to cut out the avocado toast and Starbucks.”
But, she says, “if you’re only making $40,000 a year, there [are] only so many costs you can cut before you’re truly just living a miserable life.”
Rather than scrounging up what little you have and living off the bare minimum, she encourages low earners to keep their head down and focus on climbing upwards toward a bigger salary.
“It’s a lot easier to job hop every two years and get a 25% raise, and then have that additional $10,000 when it’s in your salary, than it is to try and get there by cutting out every penny off of your Netflix subscription, off of that avocado toast, or that Starbucks,” she explains. “You’re just going to have a better life.”
The benefits of a brag book
Part of growing your salary comes with asking for a raise, which Tu believes most workers aren’t asking for often enough. She advises reevaluating your standing with your manager every six months, armed with data and a paper trail of your accomplishments.
“Create a folder in your inbox and call it your brag book,” she says, also referring to it as your raise receipts. “Every time something incredible happens to you, or a client thanks you for the best work of their life, or an internal team member is like, ‘You’re the smartest person I’ve ever met. This is amazing. Thank you for this.’ Anytime anything good happens to you, file it away into that folder.”
Then, she says, reevaluate your pay with your manager and set expectations of what you’re looking for—furnished with said receipts. That way, you can say what you’re bringing to the table, ideally with quantifiable numbers. She rattles off some examples, such as increasing the company’s social media following by 50,000 people or selling three more deals than everybody else. “You need to be asking for this every single six months.”
Granted, that all may feel harder to do in today’s economy, in which CEOs are cutting costs amid recession fears and sky-high inflation. But in a labor market that’s continuing to add hundreds of thousands of jobs and still marked by the Great Resignation, workers still have some of the upper hand. They can still expect bigger raises next year, despite a looming recession.
Just don’t invoke inflation or the cost of living when asking for one, advises Tu. “Your company does not care,” she says. “It doesn’t move the needle for them at all. They need to know why they need to pay you and not the person sitting next to you. You’ve got to be a little selfish.”
Women more than men, Tu thinks, tend to get stuck in thought spirals of all the possible bad results of asking for more money. She insists her followers work past that. “The outcomes in your head are one, you get it, or two, you get fired immediately. But that’s not reality.”
Our new weekly Impact Report newsletter will examine how ESG news and trends are shaping the roles and responsibilities of today’s executives—and how they can best navigate those challenges. Subscribe here.