Sunday, February 8, 2009
Guy and I are gathering up our records in one place to do our taxes again this year, and I finally took a good look at our W2s. I'm usually hesitant to do this, though there's no reason in the world I should be. Despite the fact that I'm sharing my life with this tall, furry Yeti who understands building codes and drives a motorcycle, I still feel, well, like his money is his business and mine is my business and ne'er the twain shall meet. I also know that it's 2009 and we're both adults, and if I'm going to feed him applesauce in his wheelchair in forty years, we ought to know what our money is doing and how much we're making.
I think part of it is I also hate being smacked in the face with how much more he makes than me. My 2008 W2 reveals that, including my li'l bonuses in a down year, I made a hair over $60,000 gross (I brought home way less than that due to taxes and medical contributions as well as putting 8% in my 401(k), bear in mind). Guy, on the other hand, cleared a little more than $15,000 more than I did for his gross. To his credit, he too brought home way less than that, due to taxes and maxing out his 401(k) contributions. This would explain part of why we don't look like we make what we make--Guy makes bank, but his rapper name would be Sir Save-A-Lot. And his hit single would be "Baby Got Cash." "I like big funds and I cannot lie / You other brokers can't deny/ When a girl walks in with some itty-bitty debt / and an 800 FICO score / You get SPRUNG / Baby got it goin' on / She likes to buy low and sell high / Well short me short me / call the SEC and re-port me--"
But I digress. Where was I? Oh, income disparity.
I may have mentioned this before, but the two best ways to get a decent increase in income as an architect is to a) get licensed and/or b) change firms. Guy did both over the course of four months in 2006. So, not accounting for being paid less due to my gender (which may have happened but I'm disqualifying that factor for right now because the thought of it makes me angry and the economy reeks so bad that I can only be so angry at one time), Guy got a 15%-20% raise to go to Acme Architects, and he's been paid well and rewarded even better for his performance. And you don't have to be a financial planner or a math major to know that if you start out ahead, you'll likely end up ahead as time goes by and you get raises and whatnot. So looking at Guy's W2 elicits a deep frustration in me, like I'm being cheated and being taken advantage of due to my loyalty to Design Associates.
I realize, on the other hand, that in this craptacular economy, I have actually been rewarded by not being laid off. Well, my loyalty plus my professional abilities have kept me employed, it seems. DA has historically not laid people off, and I know it was bad when they laid off anyone, much less laid folks off in the numbers they did. I also know that, as a healthcare architect with 8+ years of experience, I'm pretty hireable and employable as far as architects go. Granted, there's not a whole lot out there right now, but if I were to be laid off, as soon as something came back, I'd be one of the best candidates. Plus, I'm comfortable with writing, teaching, and public speaking, so I still have some universal job skills that don't limit me to just drawing hospitals all day.
But, as someone with a Master's dregree in Architecture and 8+ years of healthcare experience, I'm pretty underpaid. Most architects are. I suppose I'd rather be underpaid than overpaid, or there goes my job when the time for layoffs come.
Posted by Mile High Pixie at 3:00 PM