I Made 6 Figures At 26 — But My Income Is Unpredictable

Illustrated by Bella DiMarzio.
In our new series My Salary Story, women with at least 10 years of career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.

Today, a 32-year-old content strategist working from Brooklyn shares how she reached six figures — and how she keeps her cash flow constant even when her paychecks vary.

Starting Salary: $32,000
Current salary: $75,000
Number of years employed: 11
Biggest salary jump: $60,000
Biggest salary drop: $69,000
Biggest salary regret: That I always assumed I would be making more money than I had been the year before. I wish I had lived frugally, since I think money is freedom. I also think that it can become too easy to base your identity on how much you make — which is a bad habit to get into.
Best salary-related advice: Don't lock yourself into a job title. I feel like job titles have become so fluid that re-imagining your skill set can put you in a very different salary league than you may have been initially. Always prepare for the worst and have a financial cushion in place. Don't depend on your employer to provide for you.