It’s all downhill from here

Yesterday I received some great news. Great news that kind of sucked. I got an email from my agency indicating that paperwork had been processed for me to receive a promotion. Booya for promotions. My annual salary jumps from $62,451 to $74,854. Booya for finally making more than my mom… I’ve been waiting to say that for a loooong time.

As great as yesterday was, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. I was sad for two reasons

1) It’s my last significant promotion…EVER!

2) Apparently Justin Bieber cut off his beautiful brown hair, in an effort to appear more mature. Why Beiber…WHY?!

For the purposes of keeping things financial, we will be ignoring the tragedy of point number two, and focusing only on the on point one. LONG LIVE BIEBER (just had to get that out of my system).

I’ve already told you how the government pay system works. Hopefully you are up to speed, if not take a minute to read through the post. Although I’m really excited to be a GS-12 and bring home about $600/month more, I’m also faced with the reality that, no matter how hard I work from this point forward, I will NEVER be promoted higher than a GS-12.

This my friends is why working for the government isn’t all rainbows and unicorns like you often read about. The raises are nice, because you know when to expect them and how much they’ll be, but when they stop coming they really stop. There’s no bonus structure. I literally have 0.00% chance of ever getting promoted to a GS-13 in my current postion. Doesn’t matter how hard I work, or how long I stick around. There’s no negotiating with the fed.

This my friends causes panic in my heart. I’m 25 years old. I’m a long way off from retirement. What kind of ninja would I be if I just stayed a GS-12 for the rest of my life…answer: a pretty lame one. I got some figuring out to do. I need to find a way to increase my income. Maybe that means I monetize the bajeeezus out of this blog, maybe I apply for some new jobs, or maybe I’ll invent the next Snuggie. One thing is for sure, I plan to make more money each consecutive year for the next ten or so years.

What’s your plan to make more?

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48 thoughts on “It’s all downhill from here”

  1. I’m not feeling sorry for you. That’s a good salary for a 25 year old and you’ve shown from this site that you have tons of income potential outside your employment. The private sector is always an option when you retire after 20 years and get a pension.

    As to the Bieber, now that is the true tragedy of this post.

  2. well…this may seem odd to you, but i don’t always plan on making more. increasing my salary is not my #1 goal. my goal is to love my job. if that means i make less than others and rarely get raises…oh well. i’m pretty darn good at living within my means!

    • I agree with Lisa. It’s not necesarily about how much you make, but rather what you’re doing. If you love your job, the money shouldn’t matter (as much). If you’re just out to make more money, than you may wind up in a job that makes you miserable. Also consider the fact that many times a job that makes $100,00+ requires you to work crazy hours – something you don’t want to be doing if you have a family and actually want to see them.

      It’s not all about money and it sounds like you’re making it out to be. If you were upset that this was your last promotion because there’s nowhere to move up to and you’re disappointed that you can’t achieve more career-wise, that’s one thing. But to be annoyed that you can’t make over $75,000 a year doing something you enjoy just makes you sound money-hungry. When do you stop and look at your life and say, I’m happy with what I have? I’m 25 year old, I’ve achieved a lot and I’m happy with that. You’re living for the future and what you can or cannot do, not looking at the present and seeing how incredible it is. Making $75K at any age, especially mid-20s is huge. Why don’t you just appreciate that instead of just wanting more and more and more.

      • For the record, I make alot more than $75,000 and very much enjoy what I do. I don’t work crazy hours, and I have more flexibility than anyone I know and can live wherever I want.

        I don’t think it’s at all money hungry to be looking toward the future and see little growth path in front of you, and want to do something about it. LG, with all do respect, this sounds a little laced with jealousy. It’s really not up to you to tell Ninja what his financial aspirations ought to be, and many people would see a 75K cap pretty limiting.

        • It’s definitely not jealousy. I’m in my 20s and I have a sweet ass job with the government myself that makes roughly the same. But when I get a raise or a promotion, I appreciate it and I live in the moment. I’m not thinking, geez, that sucks, ’cause I can’t make anymore. I am very goal-oriented and slightly obsessed with my own PF, yet I appreciate what I have.

          @Simple Dragonfly – that’s great that you have found something that you love to do that makes you good money and has flexibility. I didn’t say ‘all jobs that make over $100,000 are awful’… just that the expectations are often different in many cases (i.e. law, medicine, investments, etc.). It’s definitely do-able, but you have to first and foremost love what you do. In my own personal situation, I’m in a very creative field and I love that aspect of it; it’s the reason I’m in this field. However, if I want to make more money, I’d have to go into management and I’d lose much of the creativity that I enjoy. Is it something I want to do now, even though I’d easily double my salary? Heck no. Because most important to me is enjoying my job. But is it a possibility in the future when I’ve had enough of what I do now? Definitely.

          I’m just saying that Ninja should stop and smell the roses. He has a great life – a great wife, a great career, a great paycheque and a very promising future. Looking at it with the glass half empty mentality is only going to bring you down (which is seems to have done). Enjoy what you have. And don’t worry about needing/wanting to make more money two seconds after you’ve received a promotion.

  3. Congrats on the promo! As I’ve worked as a Fed I totally get what you’re saying…however you can get more. Decide in a few years to work in a higher paying location. Even as a 12 the pay varies depending on your location. So in a few years you can relocate for a year or two, get the higher salary then move back. Drastic but believe me, Feds do it all the time.

    Also, consider that you could change to another series. Many of them overlap and some pay more than others for practically the same work. There is also the possibility of becoming a contractor for a few years and then jumping back into civil service.

    I could go on all day giving you the information that was shared with me by my older more experienced colleagues. But that wasn’t your question. You asked what is my plan to make more. I plan (once we get off the high of new home ownership) to do more consulting again. I have a day job but I loved not having all my financial eggs in one basket.

    BTW, you could also do that since you have a popular blog. You could talk to college seniors or entry level folks about how you’ve managed to control your debt and build an awesome blog!!!

  4. Monetize this mofo! Seriously though, you seem to have a great presence within the PF Blog community, and I think you have a real shot! I am around your age and your salary is pretty sweet – You’re blessed to have an income higher than most in our position/age group. Keep whittling away your living expenses, socking money away in retirement and I think by the time you retire, you’ll have ample moolah to live on.

  5. Invest in real estate…kidding;)
    I agree with Austin on this one. Of the 25 year olds I know (my sis and husband’s brother) you are currently making 75,000 times more money than they are. We weren’t making 75k at 25 and were not debt free either. You have an awesome opportunity to make that money grow and do whatever you and GN want with it.
    And, not too read too much into your personality here, but you JUST got a raise and 5 seconds later you are thinking about more money. Sit back and enjoy it…just like Bieber is sitting back and enjoying not flipping his bangs every 5 seconds.

  6. I don’t think not making more money is as disturbing as having a limited growth path, which would really bother me personally. You are making alot of money for your age, but there are other fields that are higher paying. I’m 26 and I work in software sales (which means I work from home and can live anywhere) and I make $128,000 and the growth and salary increases are limitless. I think making a large career move can be really daunting, but often times certain fields are limited by profit margins, and things like software have huge ones. Just something to consider, especially when you’re so young and have options.

  7. Congrats, Please put the extra toward a nice retirement villa for dadninja and I since as you pointed out you are better off than I !

  8. Dude,

    My pay’s been frozen for the past 2 years. I work in an industry that’s hit the wall right now. The only way for me to make more money is to leave a job that I like with people that I love. Sigh. Another year and I’m out!

  9. Hubby’s actually been appraoched by many people at his company to apply for a test tech position that’s becoming available; it would mean a 40% increase in his pay, O/T still in abundance, and it would get him out of the current shop area for good! The posting’s coming up today or tomorrow; he’s already told the people that approached him he would be applying… fingers and toes crossed! With that extra money (if he gets the job), we plan on paying off our mortgage in about 6 years (16 yrs. amortization is left on it), CC debt’s been punched in the face, and we’re going to almost double our monthly retirement contribution.

    I’m kinda stuck in terms of advancement at my job; where I’m at is where I’ll stay, unless 1) my boss retires and I get her job (which I don’t want), or 2) head office makes some positions become available within my dept., but open up the field to those that don’t work in the U.S. (like me)…. I’m hoping the latter will happen. We do get annual raises, so I shouldn’t gripe too much about it.

  10. Don’t you get step increases with longevity? Or am I thinking of a different GS grid. You’ll make a little more each year, but you’re right, not the huge increases as a grade increase would provide. At 25 and a GS-12, you’re in a really sweet spot, even though it may not look like it from your perspective. And future earnings will be affected, but for you to be in the position you’re in now, you’re light years ahead of the game.

    I’d keep making yourself debt free, sock the max away in your TSP and other retirement accounts, start saving for house down payment, annual big vacation, new appliances for said house, etc. Start thinking about what kinds of expenses your future goals will bring and save for them now.

    OTOH, I’m in line for a GS-09 (I keep getting calls from HR asking if I’m still interested because the budget crisis has put my position on hold), so I know after a couple years in that grade, I’ll be in your position. And I’m already 40. So bonus kudos to you!

    In the meantime, I have a side gig that I’m trying to get off the ground. It may or may not pan out, but if I don’t try, I won’t know. I like Austin’s idea. Consult with schools and give seminars (especially to lower income inner city schools – they need financial advising more than most, well, maybe the higher income entitled kids could use it, too!)

  11. I’m much more upset that the Beav has shorn his beautiful chestnut locks, in a futile effort to look more mature. (And in fact “der Biber,” but unfortunately not “der Bieber,” really is German for a “beaver,” leading to such charming compounds as “das Biberschanzantenne,” which is German for a fan-beam antenna, whatever that may be.) What would Wally think? what about June and Ward? What Eddie Haskell harass the little twerp for hours on end?

    Regarding your own situation, I am closer to LG and Trina than to some others. You have just gotten an 8.34% raise at a time of 10% national unemployment β€” at a time when private sector raises (if being given at all) are more in the 2-3% range and you are earning much more than many others your age, more than even your own mother (who I assume is older than you). And yet you’re “a little sad” and even “panicky.” If you’re that concerned with job or wage stagnation, then perhaps you need to look for another job somewhere down the road. But for now, I’d say you should sit back and enjoy it, ’cause the grass is a lot less green most everywhere else.

    • Oops, that should have been “das Biberschanzantenne,” “der Schwanz” being German for an “animal’s tail.”

      And that should have been, “Would Eddie Haskell,” etc.

      (Others to Larry: “Larry, no one cares.” Me: “I’m just trying to help Ninja with his German. You never know when you’ll need the German word for “tail.”)

  12. We make pretty much the same salary (pre-raise). I would like to earn more, purely in order to save more aggressively and retire sooner. However, I’m more focused on trying to get outside income going, doing something I’m really passionate about, and hopefully evolve that into a business. I’m thinking self-employment is actually the way to go for me – would increase both my happiness and hopefully my wealth, down the line.

  13. It is your responsibility as a ninja to build other sources of income to couple with your very stable job. Imgaine a situation where this blog bring in an extra grand or two. You just gave yourself a bonus!

  14. I’ve been stuck for about 5 years now. I don’t even come close to your salary and I’m a quite a bit older than you. Talk about being stuck in a rut! I do appreciate everything that I have, but I’m still looking for ways to make more money. I’ve contemplated opening a business, but it is difficult to leave the safety and security of my job for such a gamble. Looks like I’m doomed to a life of mediocrity… How much of a gamble are you willing to take? Better to do it when you are young.

    • This is exactly why I do not reveal my income or net worth publicly, and feel uncomfortable with those who do. Too often people define their personal worth by their income, and judge themselves in relation to others. Ninja may be doing very well compared to most of his age, but he’s no Mark Zuckerberg. Always a bigger fish . . . and always a smaller fish. But personal worth is not equivalent to monetary worth. Making money is a talent that some people have and some do not. One of my most brilliant friends is an academic in his 50s who has admitted to me he is earning in the $30K range. He has no “marketable skills,” and no talent for making money, but he’s still one of the smartest and most interesting people I know within his chosen discipline.

      • Good point. For some strange reason I do place a great deal of personal worth in regards to income. I think it is how I was raised and who I associate with, that darn peer pressure. Maybe I should troll the poorer PF blogs πŸ™‚

        • Income is quantifiable, and it’s an easy and cheap way for those who have a talent for making money to “prove” their superiority over those who don’t.

    • That is F’in B.S. You are not doomed to a life of medicority! No one in America is. I notice your “name” doesn’t have a website associated with it – have you thought about starting one? If no, why not? At worst a blog can keep you on track and focused and at best it can bring in a couple hundred bucks to get you out of your rut…

  15. You circumstances are not that different from a teacher! I am a teacher for the last ten (10) years. I received increases each year and more because I was willing to take classes. If I teach for the next 25 years, my pay would only change a $2-300 every 5 years. This may be a way to encourage me to go into administration. I am going to retire in 6.5 years. Additional income can be if I am willing to teach an additional class or summer school. I do both, when budgets allow it. This blog is one way for earning additional money, although not yet.

  16. You realize that this really is not an issue of being a Fed. Almost no one can stay in the position they took right out of college and grow their salary indefintely. Most positions have a salary cap. Certainly almost all entry-level positions do. People move into other positions within their company or industry to grow their salaries. I live in DC and Feds who are smart, serious and career minded (they aren’t all) pretty much shoot for GS-15 as their goal. Not everyone hits it of course, but it is a very reasonable goal for people with your drive and hustle. But no one expects to do it by staying in the same role they had at 25.

    Now this may be easier in DC were there are clearly a bunch more Fed jobs, but really, you are hardly at a dead end with only blogging and house sitting to fall back on (but hey if you can make the money you need at the blog so much the better).

    • This is my understanding as well. As another Fed (though on the Foreign Service system, not GS) I thought that civil service personnel have to actively find positions at the next grade and then compete for promotions that way. It seems odd to me that there would be no positions higher than a GS-12 in Ninja’s department for him to shoot for now that he’s done with his automatic promotions.

  17. Congrats on your raise! Bummer that it’s a “dead end”, but I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to increase your earnings every year.

  18. I like your idea of growing and monetizing your blog. But in reality, you can now concentrate on learning more about finances. You can use your time to get a graduate degree or certification in personal finance counseling and run your own business. Yeah, work on that. Running your own business. But if that’s not for you, $75K is a decent pay for a marriage ninja that also has a wife that helps push their income to $100K. You can still have a home paid for in 15 years and live debt free and easily be a millionaire by the time that you are 40, assuming your agency is still employed. Remember, increased pay usually means an increased workload that directly has an effect on your free time. Enjoy being a newlywed.

  19. I think Romeo might have the best answer of anyone! I’m 10 years older than you are and I’d do anything to be making 75K. It’s a LOT of money. Still, you might need to find ways to challenge yourself that may not necessarily involve a monetary raise. You could volunteer for committees and what not. I personally like to do as much freelance work when possible.

    Just a personal aside–I usually stop reading the ‘monetized’ blogs. Too many distracting ads, too many links to crap, too many ‘sponsored posts’. Keep it real, Ninja!

  20. I don’t understand why you have no chance in hell to ever get promoted to GS 13 and make more money? Really? Please explain further.

    Also, if you are making 20% more, there’s no way you can go back and live at home with your parents right?


    • Sam,

      I can’t be a GS-13 because my position doesn’t promote to a GS-13. I wasn’t implying that I could never apply for a position at the GS-13 level.

      I like the idea of sales in the private sector. You’re job responsibilities don’t necessarily change, but you have the potential to increase your income exponentially. The better you are at your job, the more money you can make. I was simply expressing the reailty, that no matter how good of a Special Agent I am, I will never be paid more if I stay in my current position. The only way to make more with the Fed is to change jobs entirely.

  21. Well, there are your step increases, so technically you’ll never make more than 95,444 (plus whatever gets added to that in January in future years) as a Special Agent. And again, assuming your step schedule follows Seattle from now on.

    But I get what you mean. I get paid the same as Joe Schmo who may or may not be spending all of his time goofing off, and besides the annual review our salaries won’t really differ (and frankly, even with an annual review it’ll differ at most 3%).

  22. That doll that is expecting a baby – that is going to give me nightmares!

    Anyway, $62K is ok, but head for the private sector! Better yet, keep your eyes and ears open and when you least expect it, an opportunity may present itself. At 25, you are barely getting started….plenty of time.

    Ray Crock founded McDonald’s in his 50s and saw it grow to pretty close to what it is today.

    Who knows where you’ll be in 2 years if you are open to it.

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