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    Career Catch-22: What to Do When a Promotion Threatens Your Benefits

    Question

    “I just got offered a promotion, but if I take it, I’ll lose my housing benefit.  I don’t think I can swing rent on my own in this city. What are my options?” — Eloise from Naples, FL

    Answer

    Congratulations on your promotion offer! Now you’ve got a tough choice to make, and there are a number of factors you will need to consider in order to do what is best for your future.

    You didn’t mention the source of your housing benefit or the exact rules governing it, so it’s hard to point you to specific resources to help you pay your rent. If you haven’t already done so, the first step should be to talk to your benefit provider and ask if there is any way to get a partial benefit if your pay is just slightly higher than the limit, in order to help you transition. For advice on finding other rent assistance resources, try calling your local United Way helpline to see if they can offer any suggestions.

    Beyond that, you will need to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of taking the promotion. Keep in mind that unless you are content to stay at the same pay rate until you retire from the workforce, you will need to accept a raise in pay at some point in your career… and most likely, the sooner you do so, the quicker you will reach the level of financial independence you want.

    Questions to Ask Yourself before Accepting the Promotion

    It might help to ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is this promotion the highest I can hope to achieve (given my age, experience, and education) or is it a ladder to something better? What is my ultimate career goal?
    • Do I want this promotion? Will I enjoy my new duties and still have a good balance between work and the rest of my life?
    • Will I take pride in supporting myself without the housing benefit?
    • What possible options do I have for housing, other than renting an apartment on my own? Can I live with roommates or rent a room from a homeowner?
    • What adjustments can I make to my budget to help me be able to live on my new salary?

    If you take the promotion, the last question is vital. The last thing you want is to end up homeless because you got promoted. This is a good time to consult the experts, people who can teach you how to get the most out of your income through financial strengthening training. Check with your local Goodwill or United Way to see if they have free financial training, or can point you to another agency in your community that does. (This is a good idea even if you decide not to take the promotion!). They may have suggestions you never even thought of to help you increase your income and cut your costs.

    Advancing in your career and managing your money well will impact your well-being for years to come. Whatever path you choose, make sure you are investing in your own long-term best interests.

    Vivian Bush
    Manager of Workforce Development Administration at Goodwill Industries of Houston
    Read More Posts By This Author

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