Asking The "Over/Under" Question Helped Get This Woman A Raise To Make Her Pay Off Her Student Loans
Have you ever thought about dressing up in a metallic purple catsuit and doing an interpretive dance with a couple of backup dancers, who dressed themselves up in dollar signs? For most people, the answer to this question would probably be no.
However, Caitlin Boston experienced the desire to do just that after she was able to finish paying off her student loans that were more than $200,000!
It took her approximately 10 years, but the amazing part is this would have taken a lot longer if she had not asked a simple question to her colleagues. Back in 2009, Boston had a total of $147,602 in student loans, and this was after she had gotten two undergraduate degrees in American studies and anthropology and her master's in social psychology.
Boston was overly excited when she was able to pay off all of her student loans, including the interest, that brought the amount up to $222,817, in just a short 10 year timeframe. On her late father's 72nd birthday, August 6th, she was about to complete her goal in record time. After paying off her student loans, she created the dance video, where she explained how she was able to achieve the impossible and pay off all of her student loans in record time.
She made it known that she did it entirely by herself, without the help of any family or friends. She mentioned that it was hard but hard wasn't the right word. She reported to BuzzFeed News in an interview that she usually only had about $65 left in her checking account every month, because she was only getting paid a low hourly wage. However, at the age of 35, she freed herself of all of her student loans.
How did she do it? She pointed out that she made her loan payment a priority, and she never really took off time from work. Even when her father committed suicide, she made it a point to only miss the work that she had to. When all was said and done, she said that the most important thing she did to help pay off her loans was to ask her peers if they were making more or under a particular amount. After all, a person can only cut back on their lifestyle so much before they can't cut back any more.
The advice that Boston could give was to ask around to your peers, especially male peers, and inquire how much they make. Admittedly, she felt uncomfortable at first for asking these questions, but it was because she asked that she started making an additional 41% more money a year. For Boston and most people, this could equal up to tens of thousands of dollars than what they were making.
In her video, Boston dedicated the video and her win of student loans to her father. She said that thinking about him is what inspired her to work harder to get rid of her debt. Many people wanted to know how Boston managed to pay off her six-figure loan in such a short time, how did she do it without missing a payment, and what made her start asking people about the amount of money that they made.
She told Buzzfeed News, "When I wasn't working, I was spending the better part of those first six months after graduating just trying to understand how much money I owed, where that money was, who I owed it to, and how to set up payment plans."
"I picked up additional work at a running shoe store and started doing some freelance work doing design research for nonprofits. I lived in a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, queer community house for $425 in rent." Boston said. "We cooked for each other. That’s why I was able to pay my loans and not accrue credit card debt, because I was living in a community of people that shared expenses and food with each other as a rule for living in the house. I bought a bike because I couldn’t afford a Metro card.."
Boston was making a five-figure salary at a job that she absolutely loved however, it still wasn't enough money to help her with her debt. So at her annual review, she showed her worth and all the value she brought to the company and asked her boss for a raise. But the boss said she just wasn't ready for one yet.
So then Boston got to talking to her co-workers at dinner one night and discovered they were all being paid the same. She wanted to see what her male co-worker was being paid who had the same credentials and work experience as her.
"I went to work the next day and decided to talk to one of my white male coworkers," Boston explained. "I was like, “OK, I’m going to give you a number and I want you to tell me if you make over or under that number.” And I said a solid six-figure number. And he said, “Under.” I went down by $10,000. He was like, “Over.” And that was all I needed. I was, like, well, there you go, I’m making at least $20,000 a year less than you."
"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," she said.
Boston continued, "Even though I was super happy in my job, I kept on thinking that if I’m being paid literally tens of thousands of dollars less than what I should be making, and I’m working this hard, I might as well be making the money that men in my industry are. I’m not going to work for a place that doesn’t respect my value." Boston got hired by another company where she received a 41% pay jump.
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