This is the third part of my Personal Finance Foundation series that serves as a starting place for those who are looking for an organized way to approach their finances. It’s easy to find personal finance articles, but it’s much more difficult to find an organized approach to personal finance. To read Parts 1 and 2 of the series, go here:
When it comes to moving the needle in your financial life and growing net worth, increasing income is one of the three primary steps you can take (with the other two being reducing expenses and investing). You can make an immediate impact by cost cutting, but there’s a limit to how much you can cut spending. On the other hand, although increasing income takes more effort, there’s no upper limit to how much you can earn.
Grow Your Career
One obvious way for you to grow income is to grow your paycheck at your current job or in your current career. There are many ways to do this, with a few highlighted below.
You likely don’t expect “kindness” to be part of the advice you read on a personal finance blog. That being said, with the hiring decisions I make, my number one criteria is bringing somebody on board who is kind, gets along well with people (even during disagreements, gasp), and reflects my organization’s culture (including and especially qualities of kindness and servitude). No supervisor wants to be a babysitter, and no coworker wants to be around a bad coworker who exhibits any number of negative qualities: Negative self talk, blaming, shaming, energy sucking, passing the buck, etc.
On the other hand, we all like people who are kind to us and generous with their time and effort. Who doesn’t like that coworker who will take time out of their day to facilitate a project you’re working on? Also, guess who management will promote when a position opens? It certainly will not be someone who’s difficult to get along with, no matter how smart.
Work More Than Expected
I’ve observed colleagues whine and whine about not being paid enough, all the while showing up late and leaving early on a regular basis. One thing’s for certain: This doesn’t look good to managers.
Putting in more effort than is required is a simple way to build credibility while building your reputation. Stack the cards in your favor by demonstrating to coworkers that you go above and beyond. You’ll build a reputation for being a hard worker and your boss will notice, giving you an additional piece of justification for a pay raise when you next ask for one.
Learning continually about your business vertical and your job responsibilities allows you to grow closer to being a subject matter expert. Expertise in a given field can be parlayed into being a “go to” person, and this usually entails commensurate financial compensation. For example, there are certain niches of engineering-related knowledge I pride myself in knowing well and I’ve become a go to person in my organization for this knowledge. This means more recognition as a subject matter expert and an additional feather in your hat when asking for a pay raise.
You may determine that increasing your income in your current line of work isn’t feasible. Whether it be that you hate your current job, have a limited income ceiling, dislike your boss and/or coworkers, a change of direction may be in order. There are several ways to increase your income while choosing a different line of work.
Get an MBA
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is a common way for professionals to change careers. I’ve had MBA classmates change directions from technical roles to managerial roles. I’ve also seen other classmates completely change verticals, from software engineering to finance, and greatly increase their income. I completed an MBA well into my professional career and found that it generated many opportunities, especially related to leadership, as I moved from a role with a technical focus to a leadership role. An MBA is a great way to learn about the many aspects of leading and managing an organization and, as a result, organizations looking to fill leadership roles often filter resumes and LinkedIn profiles based on this credential. Hint: Look for an employer who pays for graduate education and leverage this benefit to further your career.
Learn a Trade or Become an Apprentice
There are many, many ways to earn a good living while not wearing a white collar. A Google search for plumber and certified welder salaries indicates $50,000 annually is feasible, with much more compensation available for folks willing to specialize further. Of course, as with any skill, it takes time, training, and patience to become proficient. An apprenticeship under a well-experienced tradesperson could be your ticket to accelerating growth in expertise, career change, and income increase.
Develop a Side Hustle
You may be thinking, “thanks, buddy, but an MBA and trade school aren’t free.” While I’m a big, big fan of having someone else pay for either, (whether it be through an employer, a government program, the GI bill, or another avenue), you can immediately boost your income by picking up a side hustle or part-time job while you pursue education. There are any number of side hustles you can pursue that you can jump into immediately:
- Drive for a ride sharing company (i.e., Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc.)
- Walk dogs through Rover or a similar app
- Post your gig skills on Fiverr. Many of the skills posted on Fiverr can be used from the comfort of your home.