When entering the job market, you should do your homework and get to know what the salary ranges are for the industry and positions you are looking for. More important, however, is to figure out your own salary range. You should also know your bare minimum salary: the figure that you will never reveal to an employer and is what you could live with (barely!) This bottom rung salary would allow you to cover the basics of food, clothing, shelter, transportation and communication plus some (in an ideal world about $5K). Knowing what you can live with will take some of the tension out of the negotiation process. You can still shoot for the stars, but you have a piece of information the employer doesn’t know: the figure you will not go below.
Remember, we are not talking about the drastically reduced budget you are living on as you search for a job. Rather, this is the amount that will allow you to take a breath after you have been hired and work for a while until you are ready for something better.
Below is a list of things to get you started on thinking about your bare minimum needs. Figure out how much you need for each item on a monthly basis then multiply by 12 to get your cost per year. Add everything together to get your minimum annual salary (Don’t forget to add a cushion!)
Gas, Electricity, Water
Clothing and Grooming/Toiletries
Telephone, mobile phone, internet
Credit cards/lines of credit
Taxes (other than payroll)
Books, Magazines, Newspapers
Household (Furnishings, Repair)
Alimony, Child Support
Other Family Expenses or Support