One thing that we can all agree on is that income is a huge contributor to building wealth. As much as you can cut your expenses, if you are stuck with a lower salary you are working with less dollars. This especially affects woman who are affected by the gender pay gap – specifically, women make $0.82 for every $1.00 that a man makes (with the spread even worse depending on race/ethnicity).

The first step you can take is to ask the over/under question of your peers to find out your true worth.

So what is the over/under question? This recent video inspired me to share my own story. In my first few jobs out of college, I worked on Wall Street helping large companies raise money. I wasn’t sure what my colleagues (99% male) made, but one day after work I felt bold and asked a few of them if their salary was above or below “$X dollars” (I just threw out a number and kept adjusting it). All in all, I found out that a few of us were getting paid less than average. This gave me the confidence to recruit for another job, where I ended up increasing my salary by over 25%.

Here are tips to ask your own over/under question:

1. Find the right peer group

Try to find 3-5 people who have a similar education, experience, and role as you. This is so that you can best match to what someone with the same credentials as you will get paid. It’s helpful to have them at the same company, but they don’t necessarily need to be if it’s too hard for you (e.g., your company is very small).

2. Start with a number

Start with a number that you feel comfortable with sharing as an “all in salary”. This includes a base and bonus. This doesn’t need to be your own salary, but should be something that sounds “reasonable” (e.g., 30% difference). You will use this number when you start asking the over/under question.

3. Ask your peer group the over/under question

Ask each individual casually “Do you make over/under $X number” based on the above. Feel free to adjust the number up or down depending on if you are getting higher or lower numbers. Expand your peer group if you need to. Don’t overthink it or be intimidated with asking the question. If you feel like it’s challenging to ask, just start with one person first.

4. Assess your current situation

Based on the information you get back, do an assessment of your total salary. Are you making more or less? How much more or less? Could there be any other factors contributing to this (e.g., location, years of experience, degrees, etc.)? It’s important to spend some time reflecting on this.

5. Level up

Decide what you want to do with this information. This could include negotiating for a higher salary package, recruiting for a new job, or leveling up your skills (e..g, learning about social media, design, etc.). Either way, you now have valuable information on what your potential worth can be! The next step is to “level up” and really seize the opportunity to get to that amount.

At Snowball Wealth, we truly believe that one of the key ways to pay down student debt is by understanding your worth and increasing your income. Once women pay down student debt, they can be on the path to building wealth.