So far in this series we have examined three types of money disorders that essentially affected those whom already had money; but, what about the people who feel that their wages are simply not high enough? The final money disorder that we will discuss is described as a somewhat newer phenomenon…the Underearners.

Rise of the Underearners!

Underearners are “those who can not seem to regularly earn enough to take care of their needs, don’t get paid as much as they might be expecting given their education, talents, and training, and have difficulty advocating on their own behalf” (p. 3).

But it’s not their fault right? Isn’t the economy bad? Well, not exactly…”underearners don’t under earn because the world doesn’t pay them enough-they under earn because they subconsciously find a way for the world not to pay them enough!” (p. 64). Ask yourself this-If there was a better paying job for the exact same thing you are doing right now would you go for it? We’ll revisit your answer later.

Level the Playing Field!

When it comes to the workplace who has the power: the employer, the employees, or is it equal? Ideally, you would think it should be an equal exchange (compensation for work) however it seems as though it’s less compensation for more work. The biggest problem with underearners is that they willingly accept this status quo.

In his book The Jungle author Upton Sinclair illustrated the horrible working conditions of the meat packaging industry suggesting that companies didn’t care when employees became injured because they had lines of desperate workers ready to go.

Unfortunately, this mentality still happens today in virtually every industry. Employees have become disposable because companies no longer worry about struggling to find qualified candidates. Thus conditions that normally wouldn’t be accepted like not receiving benefits, forced overtime, not receiving livable wages have become tolerated for fear of not being employed at all.

So how can we level the playing field? Establishing more employee unions or special interest groups can help with advocating for better working conditions, benefits, lawsuits, etc. Another great option is to always look elsewhere. Just like people say in relationships “if such-and-such is not treating you right someone else will”-you would be surprised how much other companies would value and appreciate you; but you’ll never know if you don’t see what’s out there!

Warning Signs

The effects of underearning are more than monetary, it causes a distorted mental relationship with money. According to Gallen, even when underearners have some financial abundance come their way they either can’t bring themselves to spend any of it for things they want, or they spend it quickly and with out much thought (p. 67). In other words, being chronically underpaid can lead to having worse money handling skills even when you do get more money. An example of this would be how people blow through their tax returns.

Other potential warning signs of being an Underearner include:

  • Obsessive involvement with investments, savings, and strategies for financial security;
  • Inability to earn enough to meet your needs;
  • Fantasy that a certain amount of money well end all problems;
  • Feeling like there’s never enough;
  • Chronic envy;
  • Fear of financial insecurity;
  • Feelings of self-worth inordinately attached to money, power, or position.


Stop blaming the economy! Underearners suffer more from fear than reality. The reality is that you may have the experience and/or education to work at another company that will pay you more.

So revisiting the question above. If there was a better paying job for the exact same thing that you’re doing now, would you go for it? If you said yes then we encourage you to active keep looking for better opportunities. If you answered no…that’s fine as well as long as that’s you’re decision.

Instead of being afraid of not having a job those who feel that they are underearners should fear being underpaid at their current positions.

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One Thought to “Underearners-Define Your Worth”

  1. Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity,
    Guess I’ll just book mark this blog.

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