The traits of an underearner


Read this list to see if you or someone you love is earning less than they should.

Here are additional characteristics of underearners, adapted from the books Overcoming Underearning: A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life by Barbara Stanny (Collins, 2007), Earn What You Deserve: How to Stop Underearning & Start Thriving by Jerrold Mundis (Bantam, 1996), and Why Women Earn Less by Mikelann R. Valterra (Career Press, 2004). Underearners:

> Don't adjust fees on a regular schedule and have no idea whether their fees are really covering their costs. (Does "I'm just going to increase my fees by 8 percent across the board" sound familiar?)

> Don't market their practices.

> Don't attempt something unless they're absolutely positive it will work. (In business management-unlike clinical skills-competence does not equal flawless performance. Running a business is all about taking risks.)

> Are codependent, constantly putting the needs of others ahead of their own.

> Live in financial chaos and are often financially stressed.

> Have inadequate record-keeping systems or don't understand the systems they have.

> Are vague about their financial situation-they don't know how much they have, how much they earn, how much they owe, or how much they need.

> Cannot articulate what financial success would look like to them.

> Incur late fees or other financial penalties.

> Live month to month, are unable to pre-plan financial expenditures or income, and have little or no savings.

> Are confused by the concepts of net and gross. Your practice may gross $1 million, but that doesn't mean you have $1 million in the bank-in fact, it doesn't mean you have anything in the bank.

> Have an unsteady work rhythm. An underearner may work in damaging cycles of energy and exhaustion.

> Know that things must change but feel powerless to make it happen. Underearners tend to blame others for their circumstances-for example, making comments such as "If I raise my fees I'll lose clients" or "There's no growth potential in this area unless I take clients from another practice."

> Depend on a future rescue.

Underearners believe they'll be bailed out of their financial condition by some future event such as a lottery win, an inheritance, a spouse's income, or retirement.

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