ScoreCard Research Melissa Gilliam Shaw - The Penny Hoarder

Professional women hit the peak of their careers in their mid-30s, and increasingly, they wait until around the same time to start having kids. The result? Companies lose valuable team members as women struggle to strike a balance between family and career.

Entrepreneurs Katharine Zaleski and Milena Berry launched a company, PowerToFly, to tackle this problem head-on. They connect highly skilled women — largely in the technology industry — with jobs at companies like BuzzFeed and Hearst. The thing that sets PowerToFly apart from traditional recruiting companies is 100% of the jobs it suggests for women are remote.

The duo has gotten a lot of attention for their work, in part because of a Fortune piece Zaleski wrote apologizing to the women she worked with before having her own children for how she treated them. (Critics have said it was a play for press.)

Regardless, Zaleski and Berry have learned a number of lessons along the way that could help you earn more money — especially if you’re a working mom.

Why Remote Work Opens Doors for Women

Remote work,” Zaleski said, “is one hundred percent the future.”

“It’s a huge idea,” she went on. “It doesn’t just affect women in tech, it affects women everywhere. Biologically we’re very different from men in that we have babies. That changes your work paradigm, especially for the first few months.”

If motherhood changes a woman’s work paradigm, PowerToFly is changing their workplace paradigm. More than 600 companies have used PowerToFly to find qualified remote work employees, resulting in more than $2 million in paychecks for women working remotely around the world.

What has raising a startup from birth through the first year taught Zaleski about women, earning potential and negotiations?

Here are the top three tips Zaleski shared on how women can earn more money throughout their careers:

1. Mix Personal Life and Work

Your business life and personal life don’t have to exist in silos. When Zaleski joined forces with Berry to launch PowerToFly, her problem was a personal one: She had a six-week-old daughter at home, and she didn’t want to have to choose between family and career.

Zaleski was on maternity leave from her role as Founding Managing Editor of NowThis News when Berry asked her for coffee. Zaleski saw two ways ahead for herself: Put her daughter in someone else’s care for long workdays and commutes each day or pause her career to raise her daughter full time.

As the two women talked, Zaleski began to see what she calls “the third way.” If the first way ahead is career-based and the second way ahead is all about motherhood, the third way ahead is one that embraces career and motherhood together through remote work.

While she and Berry worked to make the “third way” a more viable path for women in technology, she learned a lot. One of those lessons came in PowerToFly’s first year of business from early investor Jonah Peretti. “Jonah Peretti said that the best companies are a reflection of a personal problem that the founders are trying to solve,” said Zaleski. That problem, she went on, “is really what motivates us every day.”

2. Ask for the Right Salary

Zaleski works with talented, educated, career-minded women every single day. Many of those women, according to Zaleski, say that they’d like to earn a certain salary. For the right opportunity, though, they’d work for less.

Zaleski thinks that that mindset is holding women back from earning to their full potential. “The right opportunity,” Zaleski believes, “also has the right salary.”

“The right opportunity also has the right salary,” says @kzaleski

Sadly, it’s not just the right opportunity that women are willing to be underpaid for. Zaleski says she sees women every day who aren’t asking to be compensated for the value they add to their companies.

“Woman constantly underbid themselves,” Zaleski says. “You know what you’re worth, but a lot of women — because of confidence issues — undervalue their work by at least 20%.”

Study after study shows women in the workforce create a better bottom line for companies, Zaleski explained. Women should understand that their education, training and experience are valuable to employers.

3. Negotiate Using Facts

Zaleski says women should negotiate for pay that’s in line with their professional contributions. Women who negotiate are likely to earn more than their peers, and they might even gain additional respect from their employers.

“When employees negotiate with me around salary, I have more respect for that employee on a lot of issues,” says Zaleski.

She and Berry believe so strongly in the power of negotiation that they train PowerToFly candidates on how to negotiate better pay. One of her biggest tips to readers who want to negotiate for salary, remote work privileges, or other benefits is to keep the conversation focused on facts, not feelings.

“People always get in trouble when they use personal positions when they negotiate instead of the facts of the issues at hand,” she explained.

Rather than saying things like, “I’d like to earn more,” try saying, “This is about my work product. I feel like I’d be a much more effective member of your team if I’m not commuting an hour each way,” Zaleski suggests.

Zaleski believes that negotiations, technology, and remote work all contribute to helping women earn equal pay as men. And from her home office in Brooklyn, New York, she’s doing her best to help that equality come sooner rather than later.

Your Turn: Have you negotiated remote work or balanced telecommuting with parenting?

Melissa Gilliam Shaw is a freelance writer and marketing professional and the creator of MilliGFunk: a travel, healthy living, and DIY blog. You can find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter (@MilliGFunk), Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Two years ago, I left my full-time job when my husband’s job gave us the unique opportunity to move to Bavarian Germany for a few years. Travel the world or work the 9-5? The decision was easy, but the budget ramifications were not. How, exactly, were we going to live on a single income?

Fast forward two years, and we’ve had our first child. We’ve traveled around Europe on long weekends and holidays, and we’ve made two trips home to the U.S. We’ve adopted a second dog, we've moved into a larger home and we've still managed to save more money each year than we did before I left full-time employment.

Before I left my job, we spent money more freely because we could afford to. Afterward, we buckled down because we needed to. Last year we put approximately 60% of our income into long-term savings and investments, and we’re on track to do the same this year.

The trick? Our family’s Epic Google Budget Template, which you can download for yourself right here.

Our budget rules might be simple, but the results are astounding; at the end of last year, we’d saved $6,000 more than we’d hoped to save! Here’s how we do it:

1. Track Every Expense

Every expense goes into the budget. Every last penny. If we spend two dollars on parking, we track the expense. If I buy a three dollar cup of coffee, it goes into the budget. No expense is too small to account for.

2. Keep All Receipts

When either of us is asked the question, “Would you like a receipt?” the answer is always “Yes.” The receipts go into a stack on our kitchen counter, and every few days I enter those receipts into our budget template.

The template’s built-in formulas immediately show us how each expense affects our actual spending versus our budgeted spending — for each category, for the month and for the year.

There are probably smartphone apps out there that would help automate this process for us. However, we’ve saved more than $1,200 a year by ditching our data plans, so it’s worth it to us to manually enter our expenses.

3. Strike a Balance

Sometimes we overspend in a single month in a single category. When that happens, we try to stay under our spending limits in other categories. The idea is that if one category goes over our budget, we can keep things balanced by remaining under budget in other areas.

Take, for example, hosting Thanksgiving dinner for eight hungry expats and baking for two community fundraisers in the same month in 2014. Our grocery budget was maxed out, so we didn’t spend much on personal things like clothes or travel. At the end of the month, we were able to balance things out.

4. When the Month Doesn’t Balance, Look at the Bigger Picture

The exception to the monthly balance rule is this: If the month doesn’t balance out, be sure the year will.

A perfect example of this is our airfare for an upcoming trip to the U.S. The cost of our flights tipped our monthly budget upside down. We still tried to limit other, unnecessary spending that month, but the baby needed diapers, the dogs needed food and there were other expenses we simply couldn’t avoid. We overspent.

When the monthly budget just isn’t going to balance, look at the bigger picture: your annual spending. If you can still balance the year, then you’re doing okay. If not, then you need to either tighten your belt or re-think your long-term savings and investment goals.

5. Remember It’s Not a Diet

This has probably been the most important part of making our family’s Epic Google Budget Template work for us: The budget is helps us monitor portion sizes without completely changing our diet.

We still indulge in nice things. We each have a personal spending allowance category in the budget each month, but because we rarely max those allowances out, we can occasionally splurge on a higher-ticket item.

When you eat healthy most of the time, that decadent chocolate volcano lava cake doesn’t tip the scales. Your family’s budget operates the same way; keep it in balance more often than not, and you can afford the occasional splurge.

We Saved an Extra $6,000

Our Family's Epic Google Budget Template helped us put away $6,000 more than we expected to save last year. We used our savings to pay for an unforgettable experience: A weeklong trip to Tromso, Norway to see the Northern Lights. The memories we made in Norway were worth every dollar we tracked in our family budget last year.

Hoarding pennies doesn’t have to mean living poor. Steal our family’s Epic Google Budget Template, follow these five simple rules, and see if your family can save a little — and splurge a little — this year.

Your Turn: How do you track your family’s expenses? How has it helped you stick to your budget?

Melissa Gilliam Shaw is a freelance writer and marketing professional and the creator of MilliGFunk: a travel, healthy living, and DIY blog. You can find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter (@MilliGFunk), Pinterest, and LinkedIn.