This has been a tough year for the annual raise, to the point where everyone I know is working under a hiring and a raise freeze. We reminisce about the days of double-digit increases and the annual bonus. And, we remind ourselves that money is just one portion of our overall compensation. We have to find new ways to squeeze what we can out of our bottom-line-conscious companies.

In an interview with Computerworld, author Katy Piotrowski suggests training is one place to look. As we've pointed out before, training has value, to you and your company. Of course, when you approach your boss about picking up the tab, you've got to show how boosting your skill set is tantamount to improving the company.

Talk specifically about how each class will help you improve your performance. If you need facts about the results you'll achieve, interview the class instructor for details. For even more ammunition, speak with former students about the payoffs they've already realized.

If your boss balks at the cost, Piotrowski suggests identifying some cost-cutting measures that might offset the expenditure, or even offer to split the cost. When the ROI is there, companies are generally pretty open to educating their employees. After all, they can often write off the tuition expense as a tax credit.

If training's not an option, try asking for more vacation hours. A few hundred bucks of "non-productive time" is a lot better than the few thousand that usually comes with your annual raise.

What's worked for you. Let us know by making a comment below.

-- Chad Broadus