How to Deal with a Salary Freeze

You’re used to that ever-so-slight pay rise every year, which helps you keep up with rises in the cost of everything from food to gas to rent. So when your company leaders announce that you won’t be getting that pay rise this term, it’s natural to feel the burn. You work hard to stay afloat – and this is definitely not an ideal situation moving forward.

So, how do you cope? Take a deep breath and follow some of these tips.

See also: How to Get a Pay Rise

1. Understand it's not personal

You might be pretty upset right now – but take a step back. The term "freeze" doesn’t mean you – just you – did a bad job and are being punished. Put this in perspective. Everyone at the company is being treated in the same manner, and that isn’t something you can take personally. This move is something the company is doing in order to make sure everyone gets to keep their jobs. 

You might not want to hear it, but be thankful you have a job and that you’re not being forced to live off unemployment compensation instead.

2. Analyze your spending habits

The next step is to look at where you can cut back. You might not be able to lower things like your rent, but if you have a mortgage, is it possible to refinance and get a lower rate? Do you have a discretionary spending budget for things like nights out and clothing, which you can cut back on a bit?

Dig deep and ask yourself what you really need versus what you can substitute for something else. If you’ve been shopping at that gourmet grocery for all of your household needs, maybe it’s time to start getting basic products at the discount store. If you’ve been splurging for that morning cappuccino, maybe it’s time to install your own cappuccino maker at home. You’ve been living off the salary you have for quite some time, so you don’t have to trim much fat at all to account for the cost of inflation.

3. Look for company help in other ways

Since your company leaders are the ones imposing the salary freeze, they’re likely sympathetic to your plight and may be willing to help you cut costs in other ways. Talk to your manager or human resources officer to start brainstorming. If commuting costs are creating a big dent in your pocketbook, talk to your bosses about getting a company-wide discount on public transportation passes or ask your boss to let you work from home one or two days a week. You might also ask your company leaders to arrange group discounts on things like dry cleaning or cleaning services or even on the cost of your group healthcare.

4. Whatever you do, don't let your savings suffer

You might be ready to cut back on your expenses, but make every effort to avoid dipping into your retirement savings. That’s your investment in the future, and when this salary freeze is over, you don’t want to end up even more behind than you are now. If you’re contributing more than the minimum amount to your savings plans, try to keep it at that amount – even if it means fewer nights out on the town or skipping that splurge on a fancy new suit you can wear to the office.

There’s no doubt that company-wide salary freezes are a bad thing, but they don’t have to be the end of the world. By thinking positively and continuing to do good work, you can help your company crawl its way out of this hole and back into the black.

The Wall Street Journal