The wags say that when you're talking about money, what you're really talking about is power, and when you're talking about anything else, what you're really talking about is money. Whether or not the old joke is true, it can be a productive one to ponder when you find yourself longing for a raise.Sometimes, when we think we want more money, what we really need is to solve a problem, and money is just easy shorthand for doing so. But since raises can be notoriously difficult to procure, before you ask, you may want to determine whether your problem really is your salary. It can be a challenge to sort out which aspects of your job constitute the problem, but the main question is whether you love what you do. If you enjoy your job but have trouble making ends meet, something financial will have to give. It may be your lifestyle, or it may be your salary and benefit package. Negotiations on both ends of this question should reveal a better solution. But what if you're not in love with your job? If every time you think about it you find you're bargaining with yourself, that's a different problem. If you often repeat phrases such as "this job would be great if only the X would go away," or "the money would be fine if X, Y and Z would change," then perhaps what you really need isn't money but an adjustment in your job's fit.