5 Signs You Might Be Underearning

Underearning is a subject I have been learning about for a while now as I have struggled with being an underearner (however I didn’t know I was or even what underearning was). In this post we are going to discuss –

  • What is Earning?
  • What is Underearning?
  • What Underearning is Not,
  • The Two Aspects of Underearning, and
  • 5 Signs You Might Be an Underearner.


What is Earning?

Let’s start with the definition of earn. The definition of earn is –

  • “obtain (money) in return for labour or services” or “gain deservedly in return for one’s behaviour or achievements.” ~ Google
  • “to gain or get in return for one’s labour or service” ~ Dictionary.com
  • “to receive as return for effort and especially for work done or services rendered” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • “to gain or be paid (money or other payment) in return for work or service” ~ Collins Dictionary

Subsequently as an individual, when you are earning you are doing the above. For example – you are receiving an income, salary or another reward for the service or labour you provide. Now let’s look at underearning.


What is Underearning?

From looking at the dictionaries, underearn was a little harder to define. The couple of definitions, I found for underearn were –


The definitions of underearning from a couple of the people I have read about on the subject include –



What Underearning is Not…

Underearning is not the same as –

  • having a low income – some people who earn a low income are not underearners,
  • underachieving – as people can achieve less than their potential and earn more than they need, or
  • underworking – many underearners can work very hard.


The Two Aspects of Underearning

In his book, Earn What You Deserve: How to Stop Underearning & Start ThrivingJerrold Mundis talks about two aspects of underearningThey are

  • active underearning, and
  • passive underearning.

Active underearning “involves doing something that results in underearning.” (p. 268). Passive underearning “involves not doing or failing to do something that would – if you did it – cause you to earn more.” (p. 290).

Some examples of active underearning (i.e. doing something that results in underearning) include –

  • Making unreasonable demands on a client or employer,
  • Spending time on activities or projects that will make little or no money,
  • Accepting work that you know will pay you less than what you require/need,
  • Making promises you cannot fulfill, and
  • Investing more time on a job, than you are being paid to invest.

Some examples of passive underearning (i.e. not doing or failing to do something that would – if you did it – cause you to earn more) include –

    • Ignoring opportunities that come your way,
    • Refusing to request a raise,
    • Remaining unclear about your financial expenses,
    • Not being fully responsible for your life,
    • Not valuing your skills or abilities,
    • Not owning your skills or abilities,
    • Not following-up on phone calls, and
    • Not planning your life or business and being clear on your vision.


5 Signs You Might Be Underearning

There are many signs that you might be underearning. Some are already identified above, however a couple more signs you might be underrating including –

  1. You undervalue your time and/or give your time away through excessive volunteering and/or undercharging for your services.
  2. You undervalue your skills and abilities and give them away through excessive volunteering and/or undercharging for your services.
  3. You are unclear of the future you want to create and don’t take the time to plan.
  4. You live in a financial fog around your living expenses.
  5. Feel like things are out of your control and you cannot change things.

What are some other signs of underearning that you can think of? Please feel free to share below or on our Facebook page.


I hope this post has given you some insight in to earning, underearning, the two aspects of underearning and signs of underearning. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?



Mundis, J. (1995). Earn What You Deserve: How to Stop Underearning & Start ThrivingUSA: Bantom Books.

Stanny, B. (2009). Overcoming Underearning: A Simple Guide to a Richer Life. USA: Harper Collins Publishers.

Valterra, M. (2004). Why Women Earn Less: How to Make What You’re Really Worth.USA: Career Press.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field