The answer depends on one factor. Sadly, no one's talking about it.

Earlier this month, pollsters posed a fascinating question to 1,200 full-time employees across the country…

Would you rather receive a promotion without a raise, or a raise without a promotion?

The answers were surprising. According to consulting firm Korn Ferry, 63 percent wanted a promotion, even if it meant no more money. Only 37 would take the increase in salary instead of the increase in position.

Sadly, Korn Ferry didn’t follow up with questions asking why employees chose this way. However, some of the questions they did ask shed some light. For instance, almost all of them expect a raise every year, but more than 70 percent said promotions only come around every 2-5 years.

So perhaps these employees figure a promotion will mean a raise soon after. Meanwhile, promotions are so rare that they need to jump at the chance. Indeed, more than half said the biggest reason for not getting a promotion was a “bottleneck” — their businesses just aren’t growing fast enough to promote everyone who deserves it.

The promotion problem

While I understand that reasoning, it concerns me. Americans owe nearly $1 billion in credit card debt, and well over that in student loan debt. That doesn’t include a huge spike in auto loans that threatens to push us into another recession.

So if you’re burdened with huge personal debt, and you have the choice between raise and a promotion, you need to take the money and run. With those extra few hundreds (or hopefully, thousands), you need to pay down your debt now.

Sadly, crushing personal debt is the new normal. As has reported just a few months ago, Americans have a ton of debt — but more than half don’t even realize it. Under these circumstances, it’s best to take the raise. If you work hard, the promotions will come — and more raises with them.


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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched I’m glad you’re here.

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