This Woman Got A Huge Raise By Asking Just One Question
Have you ever wondered how your paycheck compares to your colleagues? And if those paychecks aren’t equal, do you wonder how much more or less your coworkers make? If so, you’re not alone.
Millennial woman Caitlin Boston had these exact thoughts. She decided to act on them, though, and found herself privy to a huge raise. Boston’s question also enabled her to pay off $200,000 worth of student loans.
Wage disparity is an issue that exists across racial and gender lines. Consequently, it could be happening right in your office. In 2017, women made about 80% of what men made for the same full-time, year-round work. That percentage decreased for Black, Latina, or Native American women.
Why don’t women simply ask for more money?
Well seeking a raise, is typically much more complicated for career-minded women and people of color. Research suggests that women are more likely to face workplace penalization if they take the lead in negotiations.
But that didn’t hold Boston back.
She set a great example for other women who want to get paid fairly.
She made the decision to investigate how her money stacked up next to her coworkers’ income by using one pretty clever and non-invasive trick.
Caitlin Boston Went Viral On YouTube
And it’s not for the reason you’re thinking.
The 35-year-old millennial decided to post a celebratory video when she made her final student loan payment. But it wasn’t the kind of straight-to-camera confessional you’d expect. Instead, her video involved a lot of dancing and skin-tight lycra.
Boston donned a metallic purple jumpsuit…
…Procured two gold hand-held cash cannons, and wrangled backup dancers decked out in gigantic dollar sign to join her. With Lizzo’s “Good As Hell” playing in the background, the video amassed over 100,000 views and counting.
But The Video Got Attention For More Than Just Purple Spandex
In the clip, Boston shares how she got where is today.
What started as a $147,602.95 loan in 2009 turned into a total of $222,817 ten years later. A whopping amount of interest, almost $75,000, raised the price. While she walked away with a master’s in social psychology and two bachelor degrees in anthropology and American studies, Boston had a massive bill to pay. And she wasn’t always sure how she’d accomplish the feat.
She Did It On Her Own
And she never missed a payment.
In the beginning, things were really rough for Boston. Making loan repayments almost seemed impossible. The woman told Buzzfeed News that while she had a job that paid an hourly wage “in any given month, [she] had between $62 and $74 left in [her] checking account” after cashing out $1,488.78 each and every month without missing a payment.
Time Off Wasn’t An Option
Because time is money and student loans don’t wait for anyone.
Boston noted, that she “never took more than four weeks off of work in a single year these past ten years.” In fact, she didn’t take extra time off when her father died from suicide, when her mother had a stroke, or when her dog died even though that all happened within a six month period. According to Boston, “Debt doesn’t give a sh*t about what you’re going through.”
No One Helped Her Out
She paid all her other expenses herself, though.
“I did it all by my single freaking self, as in, no family passing me $$$ at any point. It was hard but I did it alone because I am a f*cking boss,” Boston said. No significant others paid her bills; she never met any generous donors.
And Boston never won the lotto.
She worked incredibly hard for her money.
Asking For Help Taught Her A Lot
Even though it didn’t work out.
Boston did ask her father for help once. “I called my dad and was like, ‘Can you help me?’ And he just said no,” she told Buzzfeed News. “He didn’t apologize. It was a very straightforward conversation. He was like, ‘There’s no way I can help you. You’re going to have to figure this out.'”
And that she did.
Boston got a second job at a shoe store, started doing freelance work, and even lived in a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, queer community house for $425 in rent.
Her Dad Declined For A Reason
It wasn’t just to teach his daughter a lesson.
“My family is super working class. My dad was a police officer in Baltimore,” Boston said. After his tragic passing, her father had “about $50,000 to $60,000 in credit card debt.” According to Buzzfeed News, the young woman believed that amount made her dad feel pressured. She went on to note, “It was terrible watching [my mother] navigate the finances of death, much less the bureaucracy. That was the moment I realized, I’m not dying in debt.”
When She Leveled Up, She Also Demanded More Money
As Boston progressed in her career, she realized she needed to earn more to make a dent in the debt.
She went from working two jobs to finding a well-paying non-profit job. Eventually, Boston landed a position at a design agency that paid her the most money she had ever seen. But it wasn’t enough to make headway on her massive amount of debt. “So I go up for my biannual review and I was like, ‘Listen, I just helped to bring in a $5 million piece of business, here are all of the other things I’ve done, and I think I deserve a raise,'” Boston recalled.
But her boss didn’t think she was ready for a raise.
After Her Raise Was Declined, Boston Changed Gears
She talked to her coworkers about their paychecks.
“I went out to dinner that night with three of my coworkers, a South Asian and Middle Eastern woman who had seven years of just banging job experience, a Black woman with a PhD in cognitive psych and more than a decade of job experience, and a white woman who was 24 and had been working for like two years.” After a bit of food, the group got talking. Everyone had similar stories about their rejected raise requests. Then they all revealed their salaries to each other, realizing they made the same amount, even the person who worked there for just two years.
Then Boston Spoke To Her White Males Coworkers
The story there was a little different.
Unlike the women at that dinner table, the men were a little unwilling to reveal their take-home wage. But Boston was determined to find out their salaries. She said:
I went to work the next day and decided to talk to one of my white male coworkers. I said, “Hey, so what are you making?” He, being a normal American person, was like, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about money.”
She Implemented The Over/Under Question
That changed things.
Instead, Boston told her coworker, “OK, I’m going to give you a number and I want you to tell me if you make over or under that number.” She gave him a six-figure amount and after talking more realized she was making at least $20,000 less per year. Boston went on to say:
This coworker had the exact same job background, and the exact same master’s degree, and similar time at the company as me. There was no reason for this kind of pay discrepancy.
So She Took It One Step Further
Boston started asked total strangers over the internet about their pay.
She actually went to LinkedIn and searched for people in major cities who had the same job title as her with similar educations and work experience. Boston told Buzzfeed News:
I blasted dozens — and I’m talking dozens — of people with the same email, saying, “Hey, I’m looking to make a career jump into one of the big tech companies, and I just want to know what you’re making. Can you just tell me, are making over or under X? I got three responses back.
Those Responses Gave Her A Lot To Think About
And people were surprisingly forthcoming.
One guy, in particular, had a lot to say. He told Boston, “If you have this amount of years of experience the industry minimum in a major job market is this.” The other two women who responded to the query told Boston the same thing.
She Didn’t Feel Entitled To Six-Figures
Until she got angry and frustrated
“Coming from a background where your family does not make a ton of money, I couldn’t even fathom asking for that amount of money until I got so angry and I felt entitled to it,” she confessed. So Boston began interviewing for other positions despite being happy in the job she had. “I got hired by Etsy. I told them what I wanted, and that was what happened. I got a pay jump of about 41%, so tens of thousands of dollars. These are not small numbers.”
And This Is Why She’s Debt-Free
By asking for what she deserved, Boston got out of debt and into purple metallic spandex.
The young woman paid off just under 50% of the total loan amount in 2019.
And she celebrated like a queen, noting:
When I made my final payment and made the video, I said, “I’m going to wear this f*cking traditional Korean crown that’s primarily associated with weddings at this point.” I can wear it to celebrate myself and my accomplishments. I’m doing this for myself.