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How to Answer the Salary Question During a Job Interview

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Negotiating your salary may be awkward, but it’s also incredibly important. Your starting salary sets the bar for your future earnings, from overtime to raises and promotions. So, when the topic inevitably comes up during your job interview, you want to be prepared. Here’s how to approach the subject.

ARM YOURSELF WITH RESEARCH.

It should go without saying, but research is key to nailing your job interview, and that includes the salary question. You can get an idea of what the market rate for your position is using sites that crowdsource salary information, like Glassdoor and PayScale.

“If you review this data prior to an interview you will at least have an idea of what the range is for the type of position you are applying for,” says David Carlson, author of Hustle Away Debt. “If you’re interviewing at a smaller firm that doesn’t have salary data available, consider looking at the average pay at large firms. It’s better to go into the interview with this information than nothing at all.”

Also, the nonprofit Educate to Career has a free salary calculator to help you determine your salary benchmark, based on your occupation and location.

WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE AN OFFER.

What’s your current salary? What’s your salary range? When your potential employer finally asks the million dollar question, keep in mind: It’s a loaded one. By tossing out a number, you automatically anchor a value to your work.

“Discussing your salary during a job interview almost always favors the employer,” Carlson says. “Keep this in mind if the interviewer asks you what salary you are looking for.”

The company should offer you a salary based on your skills and experience, and tossing out a number too early can diminish that. In other words, you don’t want to put a price tag on your work before the employer even has a chance to value it themselves.

“Politely tell the interviewer you would be open to discussing your desired salary but would prefer to wait until you have an official job offer,” says Carlson. “This may not be what the interviewer wants to hear, but it can help shut down the salary discussion.”

TRY THE “BRIEFCASE TECHNIQUE.”

Author and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi recommends a specific technique for answering the salary question. He’s dubbed it the “Briefcase Technique.” You can see how it’s done in this video, but here’s how Sethi breaks it down:

“So the client says, 'You know, I'm really just curious. What's your price here?' And what you say at that point is, 'Oh, actually, before we get to that, let me just show you something I put together.' And you literally pull out, from your briefcase, a [one- to five-page] proposal document. And this proposal ... is actually about things you found in their business that you could improve, and exactly how you would go through it.”

With the Briefcase Technique, you’re already offering something to work with. This encourages the employer to determine your value based on your skills, work ethic, and drive—not just a number. It’s not something every job candidate will do, and that’s part of the reason it works so well.

AIM HIGH.

But what do you do if the employer pushes the issue? "If you keep getting pushed to name a salary you could mention the higher end of the range,” Carlson says. “Think of the number you mention as the ‘ceiling’ of what your offer would be—it’s unlikely they are going to offer you more than you ask for.”

According to Clarke University, most employers can budget 15 to 20 percent more than they initially offer. This is important to keep in mind if the employer listed a salary range in the job posting or makes you an offer below market rate. Don't assume there's no wiggle room and walk away too soon.

Once you have an offer in hand (no sooner, if you can avoid it), Carlson recommends, it's time to begin your negotiating in earnest. 

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter
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It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.


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Don't Pour Alcohol on Your Bed Bugs—Try These Tips Instead
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Getting bed bugs is a nightmare experience, one that’s sure to cost you oodles of time, money, and emotional distress. The bugs are painfully hard to purge from your household, and it’s getting even harder as they become more resistant to common insecticides. Unfortunately, home remedies are often no match for these parasitic insects. Dousing them with rubbing alcohol (a tip you'll often hear) won’t kill them; in fact, it might just burn your house down, as a woman trying to rid her Cincinnati apartment of bed bugs found out recently. As The Washington Post reported, the alcohol in that case was too close to the flame of a candle or some type of incense, and ignited. It wasn't an isolated incident.

In the last 10 years or so, people trying to kill bed bugs with alcohol have started several house fires across the U.S., including a different incident in Cincinnati just two weeks ago. So short of burning down your entire house and starting over, how do you get rid of them?

The short answer is: Give up on the idea of saving money and call an exterminator. According to 2014 research, plenty of DIY bed bug-killing remedies are woefully ineffective. Rubbing alcohol, in fact, only killed half of the insects sprayed by the Rutgers University researchers in that study. Researchers have found that other recommended home remedies, like moth balls, foggers, or ultrasonic bug repellers, are even less effective. And don’t even think about using “natural” type products that use essential oils as the main ingredient. They might smell nice, but they won’t help your bug problem.

But before you call in the big guns, there are a few effective, concrete steps you can take to reduce your infestation. As Rutgers bedbug specialists Changlu Wang and Richard Cooper wrote in their bed bug fact sheet, putting your belongings in plastic storage bins or garbage bags is a good place to start. Since the bugs don’t like to climb on smooth plastic, this can help contain the infestation. Just make sure to treat whatever you’re putting inside the bags or bins first by putting them through the hot laundry, steaming, heating, or freezing them.

You’ll need a mattress encasement, too. This will keep the bugs that have already infested your mattress from escaping, meaning they won’t be able to feast on you anymore and will die of starvation. Nor will any new bugs be able to get inside to nest. You’ll want to make sure it’s a scientifically tested brand, though, since not all mattress encasements are bite-proof or escape-proof for bed bugs. (Most experts recommend the Protect-a-Bed BugLock encasement, which costs about $81 for the queen-sized version.)

Next, pick up some bed bug traps. Set them up under the legs of your furniture and around the perimeter of rooms to help detect new infestations and reduce existing ones. According to Wang and Cooper, a one-bedroom apartment might need eight to 12 of these traps, while bigger apartments will require more.

You’ll want to expose all your belongings to extreme temperatures before you even think about touching them again. Putting them through the washer/dryer on its hottest setting will do the trick to kill both bugs and their eggs, but if you need to eradicate bugs lurking in items you can’t wash, you can freeze them in plastic bags (as long as your freezer gets down to 0°F). You can also kill them with a steam cleaner, especially if you need to purge them from your couch or other upholstered furniture.

If you’ve still got a large number of bugs lurking in your house, you can tackle them with a vacuum cleaner, sucking them out of seams, zippers, trim, and other furniture crevices. But you’ll want to use a stocking or some other method of protecting your vacuum from being infested itself. (See Figure 6 here.)

Some research has also found that desiccant dusts that dehydrate bugs to death, like diatomaceous earth and silica gel, can be effective at controlling bed bug infestations (silica gel in particular) when spread around the perimeters of rooms, on bed frames and couches, and on furniture legs.

As we mentioned before, you’ll probably want to consult a professional even if you do all of the above, because if you miss even one bug or egg, you'll be back to where you started. The cost of an exterminator pales in comparison to the cost of throwing out everything you own, moving homes, and then realizing you’ve brought the bed bugs with you anyway.

The bad news for anyone who’s already infested is that prevention really is key when it comes to bed bugs. So brush up on what the pests look like, make sure to check your hotel room for them when you travel, and if you spot them in your apartment, make sure to warn your neighbors.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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