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In this episode, Chelsea talks to Tim Herrera, New York Times' Smarter Living editor, all about how to discuss your salary and freelance rates, what he actually made as a new journalist, and how to more openly talk about money online.

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Hello, everyone and welcome back to another episode of The Financial Confessions.

I am your host Chelsea Fagan, founder and CEO of The Financial Diet and person who loves to talk about money and I'm very excited today because I have a guest who loves talking about money I think I'm going to say almost as much as I do although possibly exactly as much as I do. It's hard to say, we'll find out.

But he is someone that I've been following on Twitter for a very long time and is probably one of the remaining reasons why I enjoy being on that website, which is objectively a net negative for everyone who participates in it, it's not a good website. But he's doing some good stuff over there, specifically around the topics of things like wage transparency, salary transparency, freelancing, all of these topics that are obviously very important to us at TFD, both in the media journalism industries where he happens to work and just work more broadly. A lot of the lessons in terms of advocating for yourself and others when it comes to fair pay or advocating for yourself as a freelancer applies across the spectrum, but it's frankly a topic that doesn't get talked about enough and it especially I think doesn't get talked about enough by people who have already achieved these very prestigious posts within an industry.

He happens to kind of be at the intersection of both. He is the smarter living editor at the New York Times so obviously, someone who is pretty secure and probably well compensated as far as journalists go, but he also has his Substack newsletter, Freelancing with Tim, and does also exist at that intersection as well, sometimes freelancing too. And talking about the subject with a level of clarity that most people who have made it in any given industry tend not to.

So I find all of that very interesting and I want to talk to him about all of those things plus the questions that you gave to me slash TFD when we asked you for them. So without further ado, I'd love to introduce my guest Tim Herrera. Hello, thank you for that introduction.

Oh my goodness that was amazing, wow. Yeah, man I stuck the landing on that one. I usually mess up a couple sentences but.

That's great. Thanks for having me. Very excited to chat with you about all the stuff.

Me as well. So as I mentioned, so you're the smarter living editor at The New York Times. So first and foremost, what does that entail?

So smart living at the Times is kind of the whole kind of center base for service journalism, and we define that very broadly. Essentially what it boils down to, any story that helps readers live a better life, whatever form that takes. So that's everything from how to pack a suitcase for a long term trip, to a lot of personal finance stuff, which is one of the areas that I cover, to health, to cooking, all that stuff.

So it really has given me a very wide purview. And I think it's the best job in journalism because I literally just get paid to learn stuff. It's a pretty sweet gig.

That's amazing. And so you also in your spare time run the Freelancing with Tim newsletter and I think also maybe a podcast with that. Yeah.

So it started just as a newsletter and a series of panels that I do every Sunday I bring on industry veterans and people who have been around for a while and really we just kind of talk about the business of freelancing. How to get paid, how to get more, how to break in, and then some specialties along the way. But in a broad sense the kind of core reason that I wanted to start that was freelancing in general is very opaque and can be really difficult to get into because there's not really a playbook and there's not a ton of resources out there for folks who want to get in.

And there are some resources, but sometimes it can cost a bit, so everything that we do we really did it with the intention of making everything free and the overarching goal is really just lower the barrier of entry to journalism. And make the kind of baseline knowledge the foundational things that everybody needs to know super open and accessible. So it's a newsletter you can subscribe at

And then the panels are on a bit of a hiatus, but we'll be getting back in the next month or two. Excellent. So I do want to talk about freelancing and all of that stuff.

But I want to start with the topic of wage transparency, salary transparency, all of that, because that applies to both freelancers, but also people who work in an employee capacity. So tell me a little bit about what got you into talking about wage transparency and kind of some of the work you do around it. Yeah, so this is one of my favorite things to write about.

One of my favorite things to talk about. A lot of the stories that I've written and edited [INAUDIBLE] around wage transparency and salary discussions, a lot of it is a little bit less centered on the actual money itself. It's more dealing with the kind of psychological component.

Because the reason that we don't like to talk about this stuff is because it's uncomfortable, and it's uncomfortable because we don't talk about it. So it's this weird kind of self reinforcing cycle and the only way off that hamster wheel is just to talk about it. So I've written a lot about just the importance of sharing your salary with co-workers.

Being open about what expectations are when you're taking on a new job or new assignment. Sharing as much knowledge that you can with your network peer group and really just taking away the stigma of talking about this stuff. The only reason that it has the kind of weird hold over our minds is that we kind of give that power.

And so talking about it kind of takes that away. So I was I was drawn to it just because it's something that I have always really kind of just been pretty open about. And I think the more comfortable we get talking about the stuff, it's a net win for everybody.

There's really no downside to talking about this stuff and in journalism, I'd even say over the last couple of years, there has been-- I don't know, not quite a shift, but I think a lot of us have gotten a lot more comfortable with talking about this kind of stuff. I don't know if you remember last year or two years ago, maybe a it was actually somebody at Wirecutter, a New York Times company, started a spreadsheet, you could anonymously put in your salary. And it got hundreds and hundreds of answers and that felt to me like kind of a little bit of a watershed moment and I think it just made us all realize that if we don't talk about this stuff there's no way to advocate fully for ourselves.

And so I just think it's so important whatever level a person's is at whatever they, full time, part time, freelance, whatever it is. The only way to kind of get yours is to be open and talk about it with other people. Do you share your salary publicly?

I share it with any co-worker who asks. And I tweet about this all the time. I tweeted my salary history a ton.

Any time I see that there's people talking about it on Twitter, I always jump in. So I just love talking about. Being at the times and being in a place where I do have some level of comfort and stability, I do very sincerely feel like there's a responsibility on people in those positions to be really open and to be really transparent to help folks who are earlier on in their career set expectations, but also make sure that they're getting what their worth.

And I remember when I started out my very first job, I accepted the first offer. I didn't negotiate it. I didn't really know you could negotiate an offer.

I mean it's my first job I didn't want to fuck up the opportunity, right? So I just took whatever they gave me. And looking back, I wish somebody had told me like, thank you for the offer, but this is something that's negotiable.

That's just not something that I knew. And so it's really again important, I think, for people who are somewhat establishing a career to make sure that younger people and people who are earlier on the career know that you can negotiate and here is kind of just some data that you can put into those conversations. When it comes to both negotiating and haggling I feel like one of the ultimate sort of life secrets is that people who don't have much money or experience with money feel like they don't even know they can do it or they're embarrassed to do it or they think it will make them seem a certain type of way.

But meanwhile, rich people are the cheapest motherfuckers on the planet, and they will haggle over everything, they will negotiate over everything. It's unbelievable how much people who have money and comfort with money then become amongst the people who are most demanding in negotiations. Yeah, yeah I totally agree.

And even just the fact that I am at a point in my career where I do have that stability that's why I'm comfortable talking about this stuff. it's still for people who don't have that stability it is still really intimidating, right? And it's just and you're totally right. When I had less money I was much less good with money, and now that I'm like a decade into a career I've gotten much better money because I kind of have a little bit.

Not that I'm rich by any means, but it just I feel like the only way that people ever get good with money is when they already kind of are at a place where they have a little bit. And if I, I wish I had been better with money when I was 23 and starting out with my first job I would be in such a better position. And that's a big regret.

All the opportunity and all the savings that I could have now had I started being good at money 10 years ago it's just gone. I'm never going to get that back. And that's again, another reason I think it's so, so important for early career people to figure this stuff out really early on because, as you know there's only a very small handful of things you actually need to know about money.

The rest is just people on YouTube trying to get rich off telling people how to make money. But truthfully you get the four or five, four things down, and that's pretty much it. And that's something that I write about all the time.

People, It's such a non complicated topic, but we just have this association with it that feels really intimidating and daunting. And I think that prevents a lot of people from taking a hard look at the finances and actually getting a bit of the money. I completely agree.

In practical terms, because that's obviously kind of the space that you inhabit from a journalism perspective, how do you recommend that people start the conversations, both as someone with more power and financial stability in an organization and someone without it? Yes, I think the first thing is just to reach out to people and ask if you can have a frank and open, honest conversation. I think we can talk about freelancers.

So I think it's really, really important for freelancers to network widely and build a kind of a lateral network of people who are in similar career stages. And those are the people that I think it's most important to have these types of conversations with. And I think as someone with a full time job, this is something I've observed, but I feel like freelancers are a lot more open talking about rates than folks who are staff, that's just been my experience.

And I think it's great. Again it's so difficult to be a freelancer and so much about doing the work is very opaque. But I do feel like salary and rate transparency, rather, has become kind of norm, which I think is great.

I see freelancers all the time tweeting about their rates, asking about rates, all that stuff. So I think just having the conversation with other people and not approaching it in a weird way. it's only weird if you make it weird, right? And then in terms of folks who are stuff or full time or whatever is, again, it just starts with your peer group and your peer level and kind of getting a baseline.

And then from there. I think it's important to look at people who are doing the job that you want to be doing or in a position that you want to be in and see if they can open the kimono a little bit and share at least their history, their salary history to that point. People will share what they want to share.

You won't always get an answer, but you're never going to get an answer if you don't ask. The reason to do that is so that when the time comes that you're negotiating salary and negotiating a raise, up for a new position, whatever it maybe, you have some data so that you're not just pulling numbers out of thin air. There's a lot of research like or Glassdoor and those are OK, but I found that they're pretty inaccurate and not super useful generally speaking.

So the best resource that we have is just the people we know who are doing things that we're doing or doing things that we want to be doing. And just sharing, opening. Being back and forth and not being-- again, it's only weird if we make it weird, right?

Yeah but it does feel really weird if you're not used to doing that at all when I got my first job, my first full time job, which paid $36,000 a year which in New York City is not a lot of money, let me tell you that. I remember at one point when I was being offered that I literally said to my then boss I would do this job for free, which is like the worst thing you could possibly say. I mean I don't know what the hell was wrong with me that I was saying that.

But I just had no concept like you were saying that negotiation was possible. I had no concept, I didn't know what Glassdoor was. I didn't know what to look up as far as what would have been a comparable salary.

And I also didn't really know the value of my work. And I think that's also part of the problem is that I think a lot of people who work for an organization or even to an extent freelancers and contractors they don't always realize when something they're doing is very valuable and where they could probably leverage themselves a lot more. For example, if there's something that is sponsored by a corporate entity or it's something that's on a serious time constraint or it's something that has a very particular set of requirements for the person who does it.

Like, there are a lot of instances where, because there are instances being on the perspective of the business owner who's paying these people, you do sometimes have a feeling of like, there are things that we pay for that we don't even pay that much for comparatively. But they lose us money still, like they're not moneymakers. However there are a lot of things where we do make a considerable amount of money off of them, and I feel like part of the problem is not knowing where what you're doing is really creating value.

Right and I feel like one of the reasons that we get into that kind of rut is because we don't have these frank and open and honest conversations. And I think getting, understanding your value and what you contribute that's like the biggest piece of knowledge you keep in your back pocket. So again, when the time comes you know what your worth.

I remember my first job out of school I was a reporter at a newspaper here in New York. I made 45,000. And again, like an idiot 22-year-old I thought that was amazing there's more money than I ever thought I was going to make.

And I just didn't know that it was up for debate, that I could negotiate it. But also I was so new to the industry. And these types of conversations, at least in the circle I was in, were just not happening.

And so I didn't know that reporters in New York can make more than $45,000 a year. The other thing, so I was at that for almost four years. And by the time I left, I think I was making like 46,800 or something.

So almost four years I got annual increases in basic cost of living adjustments of what was like $400 or $500 a year. And at the time like I was just happy to get any raise but those were such crucial years that I just wasn't earning what I could have earned elsewhere. Again it's just a lost opportunity like those are years that I'll never have to go back to that I just didn't save.

I didn't have the opportunities to advocate for myself and again I just didn't know that you could do that. And it's so intimidating when you're young and you're just thrilled to have a job that it's, you don't want to talk your way out of having a job and that's something that I talk on at my freelance panels which is something I talk with freelancers all the time, that there's simply no downside to ask it. There's no editor in the world who is going to rescind an assignment because you asked for a rate increase.

Worst case scenario you don't get. Every so often, I'll hear from a freelancer who gets like a shitty response from an editor and/or makes them feel bad for asking or whatever it is. And in the moment like that sucks and that's a really awful position to be in, but more broadly that's more data to that you have.

Now you can go back to your network it's like, that guy's an asshole don't work for him. He took away an assignment because I asked for more. That's still terrible in the moment, but it's data that you can kind of build into your financial knowledge and that you can kind of use moving forward on what you want to, like continue to work for that publication, whatever it may be.

But it's hard and it's scary and there's such a power dynamic when especially for freelancers that you just, you're so worried and things are so precarious that you just don't want to do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing or rub anyone the wrong way but having been an editor for five years, on the other side of that there's literally no downside to ask. 100%. Although funnily enough, I will say I often will sort of broad strokes paint a portrait that it's always worth asking for more money, because usually companies can afford it, is the thing. However, in the case of, and I hate this word, a bootstrapped business of a dozen people or whatever, like we are.

Oftentimes we really can't pay much more for a job especially. So we just like we list the rates for everything. Any time we put a job listing we put how much it pays.

Because that way also the applicant pool can kind of self select. Someone who is applying for the job like if we say it pays 80 grand a year or $40 an hour or whatever it pays and they need twice that they're not going to apply. So in terms of another area to really push people on, and I've seen people starting to do this more and more is demanding that salaries be listed and making that more and more of a norm and.

Especially if you work for a company in any kind of HR capacity or have any relation to how these jobs get listed, I do feel like that's a massive benefit kind of, again, on both sides. It's good for the people who are applying for the job who may have otherwise undervalued themselves. Also if it's a terrible rate for the job their ass gets exposed.

But also on the other side you're not getting candidates who are wildly misaligned Right. And it's so, so frustrating. I hate that it's just so difficult to get that information.

Like a couple weeks ago I was helping a friend apply for a job and we're going through the application process and we're looking over the color and everything. And it was through Workday, that listing was in Workday. And we're going through it, literally you couldn't progress past a certain point unless you listed a salary.

You had to list a salary. And that just takes away all the power from the applicant and puts it all into the employer, because you're forcing someone to list their salary. If they're, say, well under the cap for that position you just took away that applicants complete negotiating power, and it's so, so frustrating.

And I like what you're saying it's not good for anybody involved. Making it such a secret whittles the application pool in ways that are counterproductive for trying to build out a team. And I think it's just so frustrating.

And I don't have a solution for it, and I don't see that changing. And so it really just comes down to saying like, you just have to have this conversations with your peer group and with people who are doing the jobs that you want to be doing. I wish that wasn't the case, but it is.

And then the other thing I will say is there's a couple of Twitter accounts that are really, really aggressive about forcing particularly editors when they list they're looking for freelancers forcing them to put rates, which I think is great. There's this really good Twitter account it's called Writers of Color. Yeah, that is.

And they retweet calls for work and calls for position and everything. But they reply to every single post, every single listing and say, what is the rate what does this pay. And unless the person follows through and gets the rate, they won't promote that won't retweet it or whatever.

And I think that's just so great. And there's, I think the conversations happening around this stuff on Twitter, I've been in the industry for 12 years now and I've never seen people talk so openly about rates and about transparency and I hope that continues. And I think, honestly I think the pandemic did kind of force a lot of those conversations to happen, just because how much it fucked up the industry.

Newsrooms were shuttered and budgets were slashed and everything. That we really had to have these discussions with everybody, even people who have staff jobs were in such precarious positions that we really need to make sure that our financial stability is taken care of. And I think it's been so great.

And the stuff that I'm writing at the times and conversations I have with freelancers, it's just been I think, again, it's just been my experience, it does feel like we as an industry are at a place where we're fine having these conversations, like it's not weird. That was certainly not the case when I started out and had my first job. It was still like you just don't talk about that stuff.

But I think it's encouraging and so heartening to see all these conversations on Twitter all day people talking about rates, sharing rates, talk about salaries all the stuff. It's great, I love it. Writers of Color is the most effortlessly withering Twitter because, well first of all, it's my life's goal for every position we hire for is like never get sort of effortlessly taken down because basically like to your point, they people we'll be like, we have this amazing job, freelance social whatever creator.

And the jobs kind of a long description and they just respond like, what does it pay. And then, to your point, sometimes people don't even respond because I'm sure it pays absolute shit, if anything. But then sometimes people respond and it's a terrible rate.

So what they'll do is they'll like quote tweet the job listing that's all like, do this amazing fun thing, then they'll be like $200. Literally just effortlessly exposing that this is clearly a shit job that they're not compensating fairly whatsoever. And I know that there are a lot of other industry specific ones.

My husband works in tech and there's a lot of forums and subreddits-- you know those guys are all on Reddit-- and Twitters and things like that where they talk about pay. And also especially things like gender and ethnic breakdowns in different companies. And there are a lot of industry specific places to follow for each of these.

And Lastly I feel like on that note, I feel two really universal things that extend to any industry. One is that we often as employees have a tendency, well I guess we. Employees often have a tendency to underestimate how terrible it is for an employer to have to rehire for a position in many cases.

Most employers unless they're terrible or they don't at all value their staff which does happen, but in a lot of cases it doesn't, they do not want to have to hire a new person. It costs money. IT costs time, which is money.

It's very difficult. you're not going to necessarily find the right person for it very quickly all of that stuff. So you staying and you, just your continuity is often very valuable. It's a similar reason why it's often better for a landlord to give you a rent discount than to just rent it out again.

But the other thing is that usually when it comes to employees the only times you're going to get your really big raises, unless you work for a great employer is going to another company. Or going to another company and then coming back to your boss and being like, you want me to stay, it costs this much. Yeah.

Yeah. I so, so agree. And it's literally this is another thing that I had no idea about early on, but I had to learn and the people had to tell me that you're totally right.

Staying is an asset. It is so difficult to find people, so difficult to hire, and people don't know that. And I think that piece of knowledge alone is such an important negotiating tool to have.

And just knowing that, again you're seeing the continuity of just being there that is an argument you can make. I hate, there's, I don't know, it's really frustrating that I think in a lot of places the way to get a raise or to get a promotion is to go out get a job offer and bring that back. And it sucks.

It's so much effort and it's again, one of those things is bad for employees. It's bad for employers. And yet we're all just stuck in this loop.

I have a friend who works at a national magazine and that's basically an unwritten rule that the only way you're really going to get a significant salary bump or promotion is to go out, get another offer, and then bring it back. And that's, I don't really, why withhold rewards to employees who are good employees and who have stuck around for a while, know the ropes, and are good at their job. It's these hoops that we have to jump through.

It's just such a broken system. And again it's something I don't have a fix for and I wish it were different. Yeah, even that's a conversation we have at different times.

Thankfully it's not usually the situation, but it's something that we all joke about. Like, oh yeah, I need a raise, so I should go out and get an offer. I think we've got a lot better at that, but I know a lot of places that is still the case and it's so frustrating and so much wasted effort for all parties involved.

But who knows what the solution is? I don't know, I wish I had an answer to that. Yeah.

It's really interesting, because I feel like it's, I mean obviously the employer in that case is just trying to maximize the amount of time that they can get away with paying that lower rate, obviously until their hand is forced. Although I do feel like if an employer is savvy they're going to just try and preempt those things, because they don't even want that person because it takes up time and energy from the person to be out there getting another offer like working with a headhunter or whatever they're going to be doing to go get that offer bring it back so we can do the dance, and then I can get the raise it's, I don't understand that. But I will say also, when it comes to whether it's opening negotiations, whether it's looking for a raise, because I do think, and it really is on a good employer to make sure that their employees are being compensated and adjusted fairly.

However, I do think a lot of, especially women, which is the vast majority of our audience, don't advocate for themselves enough to get raises they don't do it regularly enough they don't feel that they even know the way to do it. And one of the best recommendations that I can't take credit for, this is actually our dear friend Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial. Love Erin.

Erin's the best. Yeah, Oh my God, look at that. Another Erin stan in the house.

Who would have thought? So one thing she recommends doing is whatever job you're working including even as a contractor keep a success folder that just has important metrics. Things that you do that are already above and beyond your job scope.

Things that you do, ways that you've noticed yourself being ahead of the curve on things comparative market research on what you're working on versus what other companies are doing. Basically everything that you would need to quantifiably advocate for yourself to get a raise or to be bumped up in whatever capacity. And again, that can happen at the opening negotiation, and you can bring that with you from another job.

Or it can happen in a current job, and I think it also applies to contractors, if you're working regularly with a client. But I think the important thing is to not wait for your employer to come to you if you're already working there. Obviously, any opening offer at a job, that's a negotiation right there.

You should be at least trying to get more money, because any employer who's going to say to you, oh you asked for more money, we don't want to give you the job anymore-- that does happen very occasionally, but that's a terrible fucking employer and you've dodged a bullet. But especially if you already work there like don't wait for your employer to come to you. And say we're ready to give you a raise.

You come, be super professional, say I've put together this dossier for you to take a look at, I've pulled these numbers from comparable companies in the industry I'm very happy here, but would love to kind of adjust myself upward to a more appropriate rate. And I think to your point just be super unapologetic because you're doing it because you deserve it. I one million percent agree with everything you just said.

On your very last point, that is another thing that it took me a long time to figure out. And that I think, particularly with freelancers because when you're freelancing really the industry in general because journalism is so stability just doesn't exist. We're just so grateful to have a job, to have an assignment, to be working for xyz publications that we just don't want to rock the boat.

But what I again it took me years to figure out was that we don't do jobs out of kindness. It's an exchange. We're doing this job, we're doing this assignment, we're doing x, whatever it is for money.

And so looking at a job from the perspective of like, it kind of plays into the whole like, Oh, we're family here, which is such a toxic thing to say. But no, we're not family. This is not a family.

This is a company. I come here to get money, and you pay me to do these things. That's all there is to it.

It's a very specific exchange. It's perfectly fine of course to have warm relationships with your coworkers and love the work that you do and be passionate about it. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how passionate you are about your job or how much you love your co-workers.

You are still expendable because this is still a business. And we just kind of need to shift the way that we think and look at this as, again, just an exchange, right? There's nothing more to it.

A job is a job. I don't believe in the idea of dream jobs. I don't believe in any job being a calling.

We do things to get money. If we didn't have to pay rent or have expenses, we would just hang out all day and do things that we enjoy. That is not the case for most of us, but it's just a job.

And then two the things that you said that I do just want to echo is keeping that wins folder throughout the year. And we just finished up last month our annual reviews and I think for people who are in full time positions it's easy to just fall into the tendency of only reflecting on your accomplishments and your wins over the past year around review time or if you have a yearly check in or whatever it may be. But something I've been doing for years is anytime I do something that I think was great or that I had a big accomplishment or a big achievement, I have a folder in my inbox.

I send an email to myself, which is a couple of bullet points about what it was, why it was so good, why it's worth talking about. And so the end of the year comes and it's review season I'm writing my self evaluation I can basically just copy and paste that email because I've already kept track of everything I've done over the year so I've been doing that for years. And then the other thing is when were talking about asking for raises.

So one thing that I do want to just tack on is that companies handle raises differently and it's easy and I can think kind of default to only talk about raises around evaluation season and that is something that I did for years. But I, at times I kind of, I had a wonderful mentor who would watch me through what the process actually looks like and what the timing looks like and that piece of knowledge alone is so, so invaluable. Because again, every company is different but when budget times happens a lot of the times the decisions about who's getting raises who's getting how much that stuff is set in stone.

And when evaluation comes or yearly check in the decision's already been made. And so I literally coach people at work and people I know, people know that I do this. And so people reach out to me specifically about when and how to ask for a raise because I figured out the system.

And I think figuring that out for wherever you work whatever your work place is so, so important and such a crucial aspect of salary negotiations and asking for raises and I think it's really overlooked. Timing alone, you don't always want to use that default of just talking about money and talking about raises around evaluation season because the decision may have already been made by then. Maybe not.

Maybe that company's different. But you need to at least kind of know what the timing looks like and what the processes can look like. I think that's such an excellent point.

And I also think that it's important to I think too, often to your earlier point about this being an exchange, right? Which reminds me of our depression King Don Draper in his famous, that's what that money is for, line which is one of the best seasons in television history. But he was right.

The man was right. That's what the money's for Peggy. Wait your turn.

Anyway, so but, no. But that did remind me quite a lot of this dynamic that I think that employees and especially freelancers often fall into where they're really made to feel grateful, like you should be grateful to have a job. Fuck that, they should be grateful that you're such a great reliable employee who's doing this work for the company because not to take this to the capitalism discourse but if you're working for a company, chances are you're producing value in surplus of what you're being paid.

That's capitalism. So clearly you're doing them-- you're doing them a favor, if anything. I got too heated.

But in all seriousness, what? I was just going to-- like, it's so important. And I don't want to belabor the point, and we can move on but it is for me, it was such a paradigm shift on how I looked at jobs and careers.

Because for years I was just so, so grateful to be getting jobs. And in an industry like journalism or media in general jobs are really difficult to come by. And so when you happen to get one you are just so overjoyed and you really don't want to rock the boat and you don't want to let this opportunity slip through your fingers and it's really, really intimidating.

When I started my job at the Washington Post a couple of years ago I didn't negotiate my salary at all. On the application it has a little slot to put your requirements right? And I didn't negotiate because I was just so thrilled to get a job at the Washington Post that when the offer came through I didn't even, they gave me $1,000 more than I put down.

I starting salary there was 70,000. And so when the offer came I was like, holy shit I got a job at the post, it pays a million dollars. I didn't even think to negotiate.

And then I learned after I left that the cap for the team that I was on was if I remember right it was 80, 82, or something like that. And I could have had that if I just literally asked. And I know that because I'm so close friends with the person who hired me.

And we have had very frank conversations about money and salaries and literally that was just money on the table. All of that could have been mine I could have been 10,000 more dollars if I had literally just asked. But I was just like too intimidated, because I was like, Oh my God this is the best job ever, I should just be grateful.

But no, they should be grateful that they got me to accept their offer. But I think it's just such a powerful shift in thinking that it took me years to develop. But it has influenced everything that I write about careers, influenced everything I write about money and its influenced like my approach to my own career.

Be happy to have a job if you have one. Happy to have work if you do. But again, don't be grateful that they're handing you an assignment, a job, whatever it is.

No, you need to advocate yourself because you have value, you contribute value. And I think that's something that we don't, it seems like such a small thing but I think looking at careers in that way. Again for me, my experience has just completely shaped how I would think about money and what I think about careers Yeah, absolutely and I feel like on the being grateful tip, your employers should always be very cognizant of the fact that you could leave for a better job.

I do feel like a lot of people in salaried positions of all kinds get into a place where it's just a good enough job to keep them around. The salaries just good enough that it prevents them from like, because especially once you get a little bit further into your career, looking for another job sucks. Especially while you have a job, you have to be all sneaky about it.

You sometimes have to go through a headhunter. It's a whole other job unto itself to look for a different job, so most people don't want to do that. Also, there's the sort of familiarity bias of you know this job, you're more comfortable at it, et cetera.

And I do feel like that often keeps people way too complacent at a job and therefore their employer becomes way too complacent. And I feel like when you bring up for example, you were mentioning earlier bringing up that raise conversation. At the time that is sensible to their budget cycles but also to you.

And not just at your annual review, I think the conversation should be very explicitly, I really like it here. I really enjoy my work here. However just on a sheer competitive level I'm not really at the level I need to be at for this job.

And you can bring a couple of data points to support that and say I'd love to make this work here, but we got to make sure we're kind of on the level. Because that is the nature of the job and chances are if they had to go out and hire another person to replace you they'd probably have to pay them more. Yeah.

Yeah, I mean my very first job like I said, I was there for almost four years. And I those were like I'm earning years that I should have been making more money. But I just I liked my job enough.

I liked my co-workers and for a 22-year-old like $44,000 is a shit ton of money. But I stayed there not necessarily because I loved it and was being paid enough. But it was like and the whole job hunt process is just so daunting, such a hassle.

But the truth is if you got a lame job, leave the job. There's no perfect job was your dream job. And I think there's always something better out there.

I love my job like I love my coworkers. I love the work that I do, but I'm sure there's a better job for me somewhere. But I'm happy where I am.

But I don't want to be married to it. I don't think anybody should be married to anything. And I think there's kind of another conversation, but I think having a kind of plan B that you can call on is another crucial component of building one's financial security, and financial life.

That's something I talk a lot on the freelance panels about. But I think having a plan B, I mean that plan B may just be six months of savings. Having that, I think it gives you a little bit of a level of comfort.

You remember years ago I forget who wrote it. It was the woman who wrote that super famous post about having a fuck-you account. A fuck-off fund.

What's that? Her name is Paulette Perhach. Yeah, OK, the fuck-you fund.

And that does give you a real sense of a sense of safety obviously. But I think it makes being less dependent on the one thing that you do for money is just freeing. And it does give you, lets you take some power back.

If things got super bad at your job you can just be like, you know what? I'm out. Like I can chill for a couple of months I don't need to put up with this shit.

But if you don't have that, if you don't have that fuck-you fund, that's just not even an option. It's not on the table. And I think that keeps people in unhappy positions.

And we can talk about more savings and how to build a savings, but I think just the psychological benefit of having that, you don't really, like you said, it lets you take a little bit of power back and gives you a little bit of leverage. So if you are in a position where things are really not great you can go out the escape hatch. I love that.

So we had some questions from our audience about both employees and freelancers that I'd love to get to. How do you know if you're being paid fairly based on your experience or title? Talk to people.

That's pretty much it. There's a handful of people on Twitter who are super open about this stuff, following blogs like this. And they just getting a sense of who in your industry is making what and who do the people that are doing the job you want to be doing, what are they making.

You can kind of work backward and see what their career trajectory was and how they got there and build your own version of that plan. And maybe you just want to mimic the steps they took, great, cool. But you want to build something of a plan to get where you want to be.

The only way to arm yourself with knowledge is just to talk to people and have frank and open conversations about this stuff. Also Glassdoor, obviously. Go to Glassdoor.

And look for industry specific places where people are sharing their salary. There's tons of, there's even private Facebook groups and stuff where people do it. Yeah.

Oh actually that just jogged my memory. If I can do one a little plug. Last summer, maybe it was in the fall, on Freelancing with Tim, I did a full newsletter about freelance rates and I literally just tweeted like, editors, tweet me your standard rate, whatever it is, whatever.

And so that, I think was last summer we did that. For freelancers I think a lot of conversations happen on Twitter. And I think people are really, really open about this stuff but just ask and talk to folks.

I agree. How do you handle being the only person in your office who understands work life balance? Yeah.

Yeah, yeah. I feel like my answer to this would have been completely different pre-pandemic. But this is something I've written a lot about that just because the lines between work and personal life are essentially non-existent right?

We're all working from home, I'm literally sitting at my kitchen table. This where I before I was going to an office where I did my work for a year. And so I think last Fall I wrote a story about this.

And a lot of it has to do with just trying to set expectations and trying to give yourself reminders, right? So one of the people that I spoke with Arthur Markman. He's a marketing professor at UT.

And one of the things that he suggested was in the place you're working which probably is most people's homes right now. Have physical places that are just for work, just for eating, just for sleeping, whatever it is. Which can be difficult in tinier apartments.

But there is some benefit and value to that. It's not something that I was really able to do when I was working from home. But whatever reminders that you can set up yourself to delineate the time between when you're on.

And when you're off. But it's tough. And like you were saying about setting expectations I think I'm pretty good at that.

And my coworkers know that if they Slack me at like 7:30 they're not going to get a response. They know that I'm not going to check my email before like 8:00 in the morning. And I think in a lot of ways, and again it's more difficult during the pandemic but I think in a lot of ways, we can kind of train people on how we want them to treat us and how they want, how we want them to approach us in a work situation.

And so it's tough. I don't know, there are countless quotes. I've written stories about this and I haven't been great about it.

But I think it's difficult. You've got to do what you can. I agree.

And I would also go one step further and say there are some employers who are absolute petty tyrants and they just care about asses being in the seat for a certain number of hours a day and it gets into this weird passive aggressive competition between the coworkers of who stays longest and who comes earliest and all of that shit, which I've dealt with. And that is just you have to eventually get a new job because that's just a terrible workspace, however. And a lot of this is just spill over from they are managed, though.

If your manager is on until 9:00 PM and sending you emails at 11:00 PM that is really setting such a terrible expectation for everyone under that person. That's obviously not something you can change. But in ways that you can manage up against those expectations but it can be difficult in certain circumstances, it can be really, really tough.

Exactly. But I do think you can, when it comes to things like, for example, when we go back into the office for people who will be going back to the office this year we're kind of a unique case at TFD in that we we were only doing minimum three days a week in office before and basically no one did five. But a lot of people will be going back to full time in office.

I think some will do a mix. But for those who are going back full time in office, and people who are dreading that, I think what's important to remember is that if your employer is not a petty tyrant what they're really focused on is deliverables. They're focused on productivity, and they're actually a lot of really good studies to show that when a person's life is better adapted they are more productive, they're more effective.

So I would say if you're looking to have that conversation with a manager, like for example, you say, OK, we're going back to the office but I would love to keep Friday's work from home, make a quantitatively based argument as to why that will benefit your work. And make it with some real data. Maybe draw some stuff from that success folder you've been keeping.

But make a case that makes sense for them from a business perspective because ultimately if your work improves by keeping one day from home or by leaving at a certain time on a certain day that can be a net win for all, again if the employer is even minimally good. And really last thing to just tack on to that, right now and as we kind of move back into the office, it's a really, really good opportunity to have this conversation. There's been countless stories about this.

About workplaces and companies evaluating whether we need to be in the office, whether we need to be on for five days I don't feel like staying past a four day workweek or something like that. And so right now these conversations are happening. And so there's really never been a better time to have that conversation.

And I have co-workers who are just like done with the office. They just like aren't going back. And that's great.

I think there's going to be a lot of flexibility I think in the way, the expectations employers have of the ways people are doing their work and where they're doing it. And I think building, like you're saying kind of building out a plan right now or when that conversation comes up, I think can be really beneficial. Kind of help people direct and guide what that return to work is going to look like if it's going to happen.

But right now is such a good time to have these conversations. Totally agree. For those people who are excited to be remote forever, how?

How does your home not feel like a prison when you're there 24/7, working and never seeing anyone in person. I can't do one more Zoom, I can't do it. I mean, this one, sure.

But not after this. So what is advice for someone, so, two parter. Advice for someone looking to start monetizing their writing for the first time.

And then advice for someone who's looking to get staffed at a media company. To what? Get a staff job?

To get a staff job at a media company. So break into freelance writing, then get a job as a staffer at a media company. Got it.

So the first thing I will say is that, and this is something that I've only learned over the last year in talking with so many freelancers about the industry and the business of freelancing, is that if you know how to write, that is an extremely fucking valuable skill. In work in journalism, work in media, everybody around you knows how to write. And so it doesn't seem like a novel skill and it doesn't really even seem like a marketable skill, because everybody can write.

But once you get out of media, out of journalism, you find that nobody knows how to write. And so it becomes like an extremely rare and novel and marketable skill. And so I have, I would say most freelancers I know don't make all their income just from journalism writing.

They supplement that with technical writing, or scientific writing, or marketing, or copy writing, whatever it is. So broadening out the definition of what you look at in terms of freelance work is can get you so much work. And again, it's really, this is shocking to me when I first learned this.

There's this freelancer called Kim Kelly. I had her on one of my panels early on last year. And this is something that she said on the panel.

And I at first I was like, Yeah OK I guess that makes sense. But the more conversation about that, every freelancer echoed that. So there's a lot of work.

Writing is a really valuable and marketable skill once you get out of kind of a media bubble and a sliver definition of what freelance work can be. So look for opportunities outside what you might think. They also a lot of times pay a lot better.

Technical writing pays a shit ton of money I have a freelance friend. She does technical writing and she gets like $4 or $5 a word. It's crazy.

Whoa. Yeah, it's insane. So that's the one thing.

This is something that I was stuck on on my panels, as well. When you're kind of starting out a freelance career it's easy to kind of intimidate yourself out of pitching xyz publications. Because maybe you don't have enough clips or you don't have what you think are the right bylines or just you don't feel you're qualified to write for that publication.

I hate when I see this because it's just not the case. The only way to get those clips and get those bylines is to go out and get those clips and get those bylines. You're never going to write for The New Yorker if you never pitched The New Yorker.

And so I think, and this really comes up when I do panels for students and really early career journalists is that they just don't end up pitching great stories to great publication because they just don't think they have a shot. And again I having been on the other side of that, that is just not the case. A great pitch with a great story generally speaking, will outweigh an inexperienced or early career writer for the right editor, for the right story.

When we had a story like that. We do it knowing that we're kind of taking on a project and it's something that's going to take a little bit more time and management and all that. But we want that story so we're willing to work with you.

So if you don't have the right bylines, the right bylines, whatever it may be, the only way to get those is to get those. So that's a quick little tack on that. And the other thing in terms of getting a staff position I don't know like I really think a lot about this a lot over the last year as I've been talking with so many freelancers.

And I know a lot of freelancers who were content to freelance and don't want a staff position. So one I would think through what you are looking to get out of a staff position you couldn't get as a freelancer. And obviously the stability is there and health insurance is nice.

I know so many freelancers who have gone through the wringer and had staff jobs and prefer freelancing. So that's a way to think about the question that hadn't really occurred to me up until a year ago when I was having all these conversations with so many freelancers. So think through what do you actually want out of a career.

Do you want to sacrifice flexibility and freedom for a staff position? Maybe you do come out of this thinking that, that is what you want. But I think, think through again what your expectations are.

And in terms of if you decide that you do want a staff position, get good clips, figure out what you want to be doing. Like you want to be a reporter an editor social person, research person, whatever it maybe. Build up the clips file, get all the right experience.

And a lot of it comes down to timing and budget cycles really difficult right now just because the pandemic fucked up so many newsrooms and budgets. A lot of places closed so aren't hiring. So it's difficult but Yeah.

I mean, I know it's kind of a squishy, non-answer. But just keep at it, I guess. Perseverance.

Well listen we've-- what? 75? We've increased our staff by 75% this year. Amazing.

So we've been doing a lot of hiring and let me tell you. Because this person is getting a job at a media company in parentheses like TFD. Can't speak for them all.

But I will say if it's at TFD. And actually this is true at the only other media company I ever worked out. But I did hire there too.

You would be shocked in this industry of, I mean true fools. The amount-- so every time we put up a listing for a job and it shares the rate and everything so we're trying to self select with our candidates, whatever. We go out of our way per my recent career tip video to put very specific instructions on how to apply for the job. 80% of the applicants do not follow the instructions in some way, shape, or form.

They're out. Also of the 20% who do, when I tell you the pleasure that it is to open an email that is beautifully formatted, clean and copy edited, you have two attachments. If you go the extra mile to make your cover letter and your resume like on a beautiful template that match each other, like Oh my God.

You have immediately risen to the 99th percentile of applications. And I of course, assume that, that varies a little bit place to place. But you would be shocked at how bad so many applications are.

The whole process is awful. And there's so, it's so competitive there's so many people and I just feel so bad. I'm not in a position where I'm hiring or anything.

But a couple of years ago, I was on the committee that helped sort through applications for our fellowship program. And that was maybe the first or second year that we'd done it. And I'm not sure what the numbers were.

But we were hiring for maybe, I don't know, like 15 positions give or take. [INAUDIBLE] And there was something like 4,000 applications for these 50 positions. That it was just like, Oh it's so difficult. I don't know.

I know that's not really an answer at all, but it's tough out there. I feel for people, man. I do as well.

But some of you guys our instructions are not that hard. Read them. And then reread them.

Follow Instructions. That is a good idea. No.

Oh, and on the freelancing point I do have two tiny little notes on that. Number one, holy grail of writing jobs that no one thinks of, but if you get them you're set for life. Airplane magazines.

I swear to God, I never ever miss freelance writing except for writing for freaking airline magazines. It was the best job of my life. Yes they pay so well.

Same with train magazines. Yes I have a friend who pitched with, like, Amtrak's whatever It is. Yeah, they pay a shit ton of money.

And it's not, they're relatively easy sometimes. Oh my God. They pay a shit ton of money because they have the highest circulation of any magazines and people actually read them because they're so bored.

So the value of the advertisements in those magazines are crazy. They will pay you like $2, $3, $4 a word. They will send your ass to go travel to some random place that they fly to so you can go eat at a restaurant and write about how great it was.

That is, oh my God. Those jobs. And then the other thing with freelancing is that, and I'm going to name names here.

So gird your loins magazines. But when I was a freelance writer at the beginning and I was just trying to get my clips, to your earlier point about wanting to get those bylines and people being so nervous about them. That's one step, being so nervous that you don't even pitch that's the worst place to be.

Second worst place to be is where I was where I pitched and regularly wrote for places that I considered to be very big bylines in the day. The Atlantic, Vice. Between the two of them, I don't remember how many articles I did, but it was several.

Zero dollars. Zero dollars, wasn't paid a damn dime for those articles. Oh but what happened?

I literally just-- OK, this is like very dark, but I literally never asked about it. And I always got kind of, one of the editors later was metoo'd so I think I got off easy by just not getting paid by them. Yeah, actually.

And then honestly, crazy story. Another editor that I wrote for at another publication that has since shuttered also didn't pay me and did get really harassy in the G Chat. So, wow.

Pre-2017 media was a wild place for a 22-year-old female writer. But anyway, the point is to say that I was just so bowled over to be writing for these publications and so excited and my editors clearly didn't give a shit about me or know anything about me, so they weren't going to advocate for me. So I never asked for money.

So they never even offered it. That is insane. I want to say I can't believe it, but that is a not uncommon story.

Yeah, you got to chase that money down. Again we don't, you weren't writing those articles for your health and fun. You were trying to get paid.

This is a job and people, I think it's easy to kind of romanticize the idea of being a writer working in journalism. But no, it's not, it's a job. Jobs generally kind of suck sometimes but you do them to get money.

And it's, again there's such a power a power dynamic at work for freelancers because they don't have an institution backing them. And it's just them running their business for the most part. And I think it's really, I don't think there are editors who are actively trying to shortchange freelancers or who are trying to take advantage of freelancers.

I'm sure they're out there. But I think it's very, very uncommon. But they're certainly not going to advocate for you.

They don't work for you, they work for the company. And so nobody's working for-- nobody advocating for you, except you. So got to keep that in mind, and you're not doing them a favor .

And they're not doing you any favors this is, again, an exchange. You are going to do this work for this money. Last quick thing on that is I've heard so many horror stories from freelancers who kind of, like you, who started an assignment, took on an assignment, not knowing what the rate was going to be.

Not knowing, in your case, that you were going to get paid. So just last quick thing on that is never ever start work on an assignment until you have an agreed upon rate in an email. A verbal rate over the phone is not good enough.

Get it in an email. Don't start a lick of work until you get that email with your rate. True that.

So we have one last audience question before we get to our rapid fires. what is the practical difference between salary transparency and advocating for it at a small company versus a large company? Yeah, So that's a good question. And I also want to hear your perspective on this too.

So I generally I've only really worked in one small company and my experience, and I'm curious what you have experienced. But my experience was that transparency at the small company was much less frequent than at the big companies I've worked for and I have a theory about that but I don't know if it's true. My theory is that it's easier when you work at a huge company to look at it as just a faceless corporate entity.

And so I think it makes people a little more comfortable being like, Yeah this is what I make fuck this company, we got to get paid. Whereas when I was with a small company people felt a lot more invested in it and maybe it was a little more personal. I don't know if that's the case, but every large company I've worked for has been much, much, the employees have been much more comfortable sharing salaries and salary transparency.

But again like I've really only worked at big companies, but I'm curious what's your experience with [INAUDIBLE] Well, we're very transparent. I mean, we do everything but literally just publish everyone's salary because we do believe they deserve their right to privacy. But at the end of the year we go over the whole company budget with everyone.

So you can, I mean if you do the math, you can basically figure it out. Also it's just a way to be like, this is what we're working with here. So make all your decisions within that kind of matrix.

I did only ever work for another media company that was very small. However, from a HR perspective a bit of a Chernobyl situation. It was an absolute nightmare on every HR level possible.

I did find out after leaving that I was being dramatically underpaid on so many different axes. But honestly, I consider myself lucky that that was the only real issue that I experienced in that regard. It could have been much, much worse.

Just in terms of the blow back that could have come from working in those conditions. But all of that is to say I agree with you that in terms of being able to speak much more neutrally and have a sense. I think being a large organization both from the perspective that it's a sort of anonymous entity and also from the perspective that there's enough of you that there can be anonymity to some extent does help facilitate the conversation.

You can get a Google Sheets going that people can start filling in. Whereas if you work at a company with 15, 20 people everyone knows who everyone is. So you basically have to go straight transparency with that.

However, I will say that with rare exception, so it is actually illegal for an employer to fire you for talking about what you earn with another coworker. But with rare, rare exception starting that conversation with a coworker that's very quid pro quo and you don't obviously start by revealing the number, but if you just start that ball rolling most coworkers, I think it's fair to say, will be receptive to it. Yeah, because I write about this so much, because I've written so much specifically about salary transparency I probably know more salaries than anybody except the HR Department at times.

But I've never been in a position where I opened that conversation or tried to nudge someone in that direction and gotten a cold response or they were rude about it or anything. I feel like people want to talk about this stuff and I think the hardest part is just starting the conversation. But literally, I've never had a bad experience just starting the conversation.

Sometimes people share what they want and if they don't want to share, they won't. Which is totally fine. But I've never had anybody give an adverse reaction to just trying to start the conversation.

The hardest part is just having it, but I've never, there's not really any downside in my experience. I think people are more willing to discuss this stuff with coworkers than I think broadly speaking kind of thing. Yeah.

I mean especially at places like the Times and you are not expected to even nod or blink your eyes in response to this, but you guys got some people on the payroll that you know are making like seven figures or close to it that you're like, that person shouldn't even be able to write publicly. So hopefully also by getting a little bit of that transparency going around the people who are not paid as well, you can start to be like, well, this isn't fair. Because for every 15 of us there's one of those guys who's constantly getting us in trouble with his terrible opinions.

Yeah. Yeah, I just keep going back to that Google Sheets with everybody salaries. there was a ton of Times salaries on it, too. But that was just I think so helpful.

And I've never anything like that and it was great. But it was interesting seeing co-workers and seeing what other folks at your level are making. Is just like so important to have these conversations. 100% So the time has come, Tim.

Prepare. We are about to get into our rapid fire questions. So, let's go off the dome with these.

What is the big financial secret of the journalism industry? Your industry? Oh whoa, good.

Big financial secrets of the journalism industry. OK so this might be controversial. But I think there's a lot more money out there than people think.

I know freelancers who are making like $1.50 $2 a word, writing for the same place that everybody else writes for. And I think people don't know that. And so they don't ask for it.

But I think there are a lot of places that pay shit. And it's certainly rare that a company or outlet will pay well. But I think it's more common than people think.

What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? It's interesting, it's difficult for me to answer it. Because I don't really I don't budget.

I don't. I don't really think about it. Because I set up automatic systems essentially to do all the budget for me.

And so I don't really think a lot about money I my anniversary last year, actually right around this time, about the journey that my paycheck makes. And the money isn't deposited into my account until it's made three or four stops. And so automating all that stuff like has done away with my need to really budget or save because that stuff automatically happens I just don't think about it.

So I don't know like I don't really think a lot about it. I don't know, I don't know. That's a good question.

Well, let me come back to it. Let me think a bit more on that. Well that's, I mean, that is a good thing to be doing, what you're doing.

What has been your best investment and why? This is going to sound cheesy, but I'll say getting good with money itself. Just because there's sort of a top, there's literally four or five things to know about money and once you know those four or five things that's it.

And I didn't learn these things until a couple of years ago. But since then money just not really something I think about because I'm good with it. Like I set up systems so that I don't have to think about it.

It's not a stressor, I'm never pinching pennies because I already put in the work to build those systems. And I know it's kind of a cheesy answer, but, invest in your own personal finance knowledge. That's the best answer.

What has been your biggest money mistake and why? Not saving early on. My first, I left my first job after four years making $45,000 a year $46,000 a year.

After those four years I left with $2,000 in savings total. Retirement, savings account, checking, my net worth was like $2,000 after four years of working. that is just, I have so much regret that I didn't figure this stuff out earlier on. That's just money I'll never be able to make up for.

It it's just such a stupid mistake. it's again such a dumb, cheesy thing to say. But the more work you put in early on in your career the returns are just so much more massive than anything you could ever make up for and I wish I had known and figured out much, much sooner. Love it.

What is your biggest current money insecurity? I think having it. I don't know, I would say I probably have one of the most stable jobs in journalism.

But like the industry is just so shaky and every one of us is in such a precarious situation that I do have a lot of anxiety about waking up one day and like, oh it's like layoff season. And something drastic happening like that. And I was like tweeting about this a couple of weeks ago just wondering if there are industries where you aren't living in this state of constant anxiety that you're going to lose your job.

And it turns out there kind of are. And that's just not something, I think the idea of stability in journalism is just something you kind of have to come to terms with that it's something you're never going to have. So I do have anxiety about like the floor falling out and being left out What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most?

Not budgeting or saving money. So like I was saying, I don't budget, I don't save. Because when my, again the journey that my paycheck takes.

I'm literally the fourth stop on that journey. So first I maxed out 401K employee contribution match. Maxed out an IRA I put around like I want to say 40% directly into a separate savings account that I that's difficult for me to get access to.

And I buy an individual investment account and then, that I contribute automatically. So after all those four or five whatevers that's when it hits my personal checking account and that's the money that I can use. So I don't have to think about budgeting or saving because I don't do it That's a method that's the paying yourself first method, which is a budget.

It's just you've already pre budgeted so you don't have to think about the rest. When did you last question, when did you first feel successful and what does that word mean to you? I don't know I mean we all have imposter syndrome.

I don't. I don't. I'm overqualified, please.

Anyway, continue. I would say probably, I would say the kind of turning point in my career was when I got my job at the Washington Post. I was, I think I was like 26 or something.

And it was my it felt like my first adult person job and it was the first time that I my starting salary was $70,000, which is a shit ton of money. And so the first time in my life that I wasn't worried and scrounging and that I could start to plan. For all the talk about budgeting and saving and everything, it's really difficult to do that stuff when you don't have enough money to save in the first place.

And so that for me was the first time I felt financially like I was coming into adulthood. But also just career wise, that was a turning point where I was like, OK I have an adult person's career. So I would say that was that.

Love that. Well Tim, it's been fantastic talking to you. And I'm sure our audience is going to be hungry for a lot more talk about freelancing, wage transparency, all that good stuff.

So where can they find more of what you do? Thank you so much for having me, this is amazing. You can Subscribe to my newsletter at

You can follow me on Twitter @timherrera, where I'm always tweeting about money stuff. You can follow my stuff in smarter living, at the Times, Tons of personal finance coverage there.

Love it. And guys, thank you for joining us. Don't forget to advocate for yourself and others at your place of employment or your clients.

And I will see you next week, next Monday in fact for the next episode of The Financial Confessions. See you. Bye.