What to Do if You Don't Get a Raise for 2022

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 22, 2021

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A young professional woman looking thoughtfully out an office window while holding a phone.

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Here's how to cope when your pay stays the same.


Key points

  • Not everyone will be getting a raise going into the new year.
  • If your pay doesn't increase, you may need to trim your spending or get a second job.

You may have noticed the general cost of living has risen over the past number of months due to rampant inflation. In light of this, many workers are banking on a raise in the new year so they can better manage their expenses.

Some companies give out what's known as a cost-of-living raise, which is a pay bump designed to help workers keep up with general increases in living expenses. Cost-of-living raises are generally uniform, so everyone in the company gets the same increase, percentage-wise. Merit raises, meanwhile, are based on performance and can vary from worker to worker.

But what if you're not getting a raise at all in 2022? If your expenses have soared recently, you may suddenly be in a position where it feels like you're taking a pay cut. In that case, there are two options you'll need to seriously consider.

1. Cut back on spending

If your bills have increased and your pay isn't following suit, you could be at risk of landing in debt. That's a bad way to start the new year.

To prevent that from happening, you may need to revisit your budget and find ways to trim the fat. That could mean cutting back on a large expense, like downsizing to a smaller rental or getting a roommate to split your rent with. Or, it could mean spending less across a bunch of smaller expense categories -- for example, dining out once a week instead of twice and dumping cable for a cheaper streaming service.

2. Get a side hustle

If you're not looking at any extra pay from your main job, you can still increase your paycheck by getting a side hustle. Many businesses are grappling with labor shortages, so you may be able to find a local establishment that needs help on evenings and weekends.

You can also seek out a side hustle you can do independently. If you're great with web design, you can update local business websites in your free time. You can also look at getting a job writing or editing web content or doing data entry. If you have a car at your disposal, you can sign up to drive for a ride-hailing service. This option especially makes sense if there's an airport nearby where you can pick up a lot of fares.

Take matters into your own hands

Not getting a raise is a blow at any time. But it's especially problematic this year, with living costs rising so dramatically.

The last thing you want to do is struggle financially in 2022 to the point where you're forced to charge living expenses on credit cards and rack up debt just to get by. By reworking your budget or getting a second job (or both!), you can compensate for an absent raise.

At the same time, though, you may want to consider dusting off your resume and seeing what other job opportunities are out there. The fact that you're not getting a raise for 2022 could mean that either your employer can't afford one, or that it doesn't care about its workers' financial well-being. Neither is a particularly positive thing, so it wouldn't hurt to see if there's a better job worth applying for.

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