Financial Foundations: Part 6 – Earning

This is the sixth of ten posts describing the key pillars of building a strong financial foundation. Read the introduction here. Check back each Monday for the next post in the series.

While a lot of personal finance writers, including myself, focus mainly on ways to be more frugal, control your expenses, save what you can and pay off your debt, one of the biggest factors in financial well-being is earning. Many people think if they could just earn a little bit more then they could live the life they want. And while how much you earn may or may not lead directly to happiness, it can greatly help your financial situation. Below I will discuss some of the ways to grow how much you earn.

Find a Job

It is no secret that your job is where you earn most of your income. Without a job that earns enough to support the lifestyle you live, it is hard not to plunge deeply into debt. Changing your spending habits can be easier than finding a high paying job, but both are extremely important. There are many ways finds a job that suits your background, talents and interests.

Looking for jobs on the internet may seem like the best and easiest way, but is one of the hardest ways to find a job. If you are in or near a college attend career fairs with a plan on who you are going to talk to there. Network with people you know and build relationships. Attend conventions or events in your focus area. Jobs can be found even in a rough economy, just don’t give up or sell yourself short.

Make Your Own Job

If you are stuck in a job you don’t like, are a full-time student or are unemployed and looking for a new job why not create your own? Use your connections to do some consulting work for smaller businesses. Start a blog about a topic that interests you, learn more about the subject and eventually learn how to monetize it. Work on your art (music, graphic design, painting, dance, etc.) and learn how to sell it. A career doesn’t have to consist of a 9 to 5 desk job with salary and benefits. Be creative with it.

Your Most Valuable Asset

Some people claim that your most valuable asset is your house. I would argue that your career is. Your job will give you the highest return on investment, will continue to appreciate in value and enable you to live the life you want. With this is in mind, don’t take your job or career for granted. It is a big part of building your financial foundation. It should match up with your passion, but be sure you have a good plan in place if you are looking to walk away from one.

Prove You Deserve Raises

Anyone can ask for a raise, but not everyone deserves one. To expect a raise you must be sure you have demonstrated that you are working above and beyond the call of duty and that what you do merits more compensation. Like I talked about in my book thoughts yesterday, be a linchpin to your organization and show them how important you are to their success. Continually seek out new projects to volunteer for and take part in learning as much as you can. When you are able to document and show your boss how you have performed better than you were asked to, ask for a raise.

Negotiate Offers

This is a step I was hesitant to in the past, but have seen it work enough to know that I should have done it too. Don’t be afraid to negotiate an offer that you receive from a potential employer or client. A good resource on how and why you should do this can be found at Get Rich Slowly. When you have more than one offer at a time, try to leverage the offers against each other. If you do this though, be sure that you would be happy taking either.

Side Income from Hobbies

A great way to supplement a career with more income is by taking something you are interested in doing anyway and make money doing it on the side. It could be anything from doing web design, tutoring students, babysitting, fixing cars, giving music lessons or refereeing basketball games. Doing things that you have some interest in already allows your work to be more fun. Using this side income to pay off debt or save for a major goal is a great tactic to use.

Sell Your Clutter

A final option to earn money is to get rid of some of your stuff. Every time I take a few minutes to walk through my possessions I find one or two things that I don’t use anymore but are of some value. I have sold these items on Craig’s List, eBay, work classifieds, Facebook marketplace and directly to friends. You might be surprised what some people will buy. If you’d like instructions on the best way to do this Adam Baker from Man vs. Debt has a great guide titled Sell Your Crap that will walk you step by step through how to minimize your possessions and make some money at the same time. 

Earning is a key part of building a strong financial foundation and shouldn’t be overlooked. Check out the other foundations I’ve written about below.

Financial Foundations Series