Here's How to Tell If You're An Underearner

I have a confession to make: I am a recovering underearner.

What's an underearner, you ask? In a nutshell, it's someone who doesn't earn enough money, usually due to their own insecurities.

I lived this way for years. It wasn't until I realized I was an underearner and then admitted it to myself, that I could take the necessary steps to change it.

In this article, I'm going to detail some of the signs that point to underearning. While I've done a lot of healing in this department, the signs I'm about to tell you about are still things I need to keep an eye on every day. That's why it's called recovering, not curing.

You twist yourself into a pretzel to please others

Undearners are afraid of disappointing people. This means they'll twist themselves into a pretzel, usually going above and beyond what is even necessary, to please a client, customer or their boss.

You aren’t asking for more money.

Everyone is afraid of asking for more money, but for underearners the fear of asking for more is chronic.

There are a few reasons why underearners are afraid to ask for more, including:

  • Believing that earning money must be extremely difficult. This is a hard one to let go of. I have to work on It everyday.
  • Being afraid of pissing someone off. Otherwise known as the people pleasing I mentioned earlier.
  • Not feeling worthy of earning more. Self-worth and confidence issues definitely play a role here.
  • Believing that if you just work hard enough, that a promotion or a raise will be given to you because you're so good. Yeah, that pretty much never happens.
  • Feeling guilty. Underearners are really good at the guilt thing. We feel guilty for earning more. We feel guilty because we think if we earn more then someone else earns less (not true). We feel guilty for taking money from clients. We just feel guilty all the damn time. (By the way, I'm also a recovering Catholic. The guilt thing is strong in me.)

This list is by no means exhaustive, so I would definitely check out Barbara Stanny's "Overcoming Underearning" if you really want to understand why underearners behave the way the do.

You feel the incessant urge to save people

Many underearners share a common trait: the need to save people.

While it's usually well intentioned, if we're really being honest with ourselves, it's usually some form of codependency where we get validation from saving others.

For example, I have a coaching client who will waive her fees or offer discounts immediately upon quoting a prospect because she feels the need to save them. She knows she can help them, and she really wants to help them, even to the point of devaluing her worth.

I'm working with her now to help her realize that a) it's not her job to decide when someone needs saving b) you can't save everybody and c) you can't save anyone without saving yourself first.

Underearning is an epidemic that affects employees, contractors, and business owners alike. It affects both genders and it doesn't really care how old you are. If you believe you may be an underearner to the point where it's affecting your quality of life, you can check out this list of resources for help.