I know the title may sound like a misnomer, but there is a way you can get a raise and boost your salary without asking your boss, talking to HR, or really doing anything – it is simply taking all the vacation days you’re entitled to.
The average American worker leaves almost 7 days of vacation unused each year. Not only could that go to waste (some companies don’t allow you to carry vacation over), but you are not taking advantage of a huge part of your total compensation.
Yes, your compensation – vacation is part of your compensation package, so remember that as we continue.
Vacation Is Compensation
If you are an employee, vacation is factored into your compensation plan. If you don’t take all of your vacation, you are basically leaving money on the table. Let’s break it down. I assume that you get two weeks of vacation total, but I will run three scenarios for you.
If you work 40 hours per week for 52 weeks per year, you 2,080 hours per year. If you make an annual salary of $50,000, you basically get paid $24/hour.
Now, if you work the same 40 hours per week, but only work 51 weeks (you take a week of vacation), you only work 2,040 hours. At the same salary as above, you just got yourself a $0.50 raise to $24.50 (which is actually 2% more – not as bad in percentage terms).
Finally, if you work the same 40 hours per week, but cut it down to 50 weeks (assuming you take your full two weeks off), you work 2,000 hours. That lands you at $25 per hour, a whole $1 more per hour than not taking any vacation (and in percentage terms, 4% more).
So, by not taking your full vacation, you are essentially giving yourself a 4% PAY CUT. Why would you do that to yourself?
What Amount “Unlimited” Vacation Plans
One of the “new age” strategies for companies is to adopt unlimited vacation plans. These are basically plans where the company doesn’t track vacation in the normal sense (i.e. you get 2 weeks per year), but rather, they allow you to take whatever you think is “right”.
This can be really challenging for some people who need the structure, but the same rules apply as above. Even if it’s not tracked, your employer is still considering this a part of your compensation, and you’d be hurting yourself not to take your vacation.
If there are no hard and fast rules, apply industry norms for your position and experience. If you’re more tenured and experienced, work towards 4 weeks or more of vacation per year. If you’re a new hire, stick to 1-2 weeks for your first year until you’ve built up your credibility.
Nobody Gets Fired For Taking Vacation
Okay, so I can’t guarantee that nobody has ever been fired for taking vacation, but in general, you get fired for not doing your job, not for taking vacation. Always keep that in mind.
If you’re never in the office, it could be very challenging to do your job. Your employer might fire you for your work performance, but not the “you’re never in the office” part.
Taking Vacation Can Be Hard To Do
You may argue that taking a vacation is hard to do because of what your job entails – you’re needed for whatever reason, or whenever you leave, things fall apart. Well, that may be the case, but if you’re so needed, why are you getting paid LESS to go to work than to take a vacation?
Furthermore, if things always fall apart, I would argue that you’re not doing a good job – you should always be training people to do your job when you’re not there.
If you still find it difficult, maybe you should consider not going all at once, and spreading your days out. If you get two weeks vacation, that is 10 business days. You could use each of those 10 days to give yourself a long weekend by taking a Friday or Monday off. You could even get more creative and combine it with an existing holiday, and get a 4 or 5 day weekend. Now, is anyone going to fault you for taking a long weekend?
Whatever the case, you should be focused on maximizing your multiple income streams, and for most people the biggest income stream is working. As such, you should always be focusing on ways to boost your salary!
Readers, what are your thoughts on taking all your vacation? Are you taking it all, or falling into the vacation pay cut trap?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.