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Question – Is it okay to ask my boss about money problems?

Wondering whether it’s appropriate to talk to your upper management about financial problems? Our career coach offers a few tips to help navigate tricky office conversations.

Question: Is it appropriate to approach your boss about financial issues? Denise, Oxford

Approaching your boss about financial issues depends upon the situation and what you think they can do.

If you want a pay rise, ideally you’ll have evidence that you’ve earned one. You can’t just rely on a rise in the cost of living or financial difficulties to make your case.

Good evidence would be referring back to previous objectives that you’ve been set, and showing that you have met and exceeded them.

If you weren’t set objectives, you should still compile a list of tangible, measurable outcomes that you have achieved in the last 12 months. Think about bullet points you would add to your CV -achievements, not responsibilities – and you’ll be on the right lines.

If it comes to a negotiation, think creatively about your compensation, because it’s more than just salary.

It could include bonuses, pension contributions, healthcare plans, gym memberships, or season ticket loans for travel. Having a range of things to negotiate on can help your boss find a solution if they’re constrained by their budget.

Some employers can also be flexible about giving you loans or advances on your salary, and many large employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that can provide advice on managing your finances.

At large organisations these things would typically be handled by HR, so if you’re not comfortable speaking to your boss about this topic, you can speak to HR or contact the EAP confidentially.

However, not all employers are helpful and often organisations are limited in what they can do. So don’t forget that many banks offer advice on managing finances, and there are external organisations that can help.

In the UK these include the Citizens Advice Service and Money Helper, and there are equivalents in many other countries.