On Friday, I posted about increasing household income as a means to greater financial security. It’s also easier to live on one paycheck if necessary if both earners in a dual-income situation are making decent salaries individually. And, of course, everyone wants fair pay, to make as much as they can working reasonable hours, and enjoy the benefits of a comfortable income.
In this post, I’ll share some strategies that have helped my husband and I increase our opportunities and income. But first, a few things we haven’t done: neither of us have Masters degrees or professional certifications. We went to a liberal arts college and studied the fine arts, literature, and social sciences. We didn’t go to college on a set career course. On the one hand, this actually gives us a great deal of flexibility in what we can pursue. But it also means there are certain careers (law, engineering, and accounting come to mind) that are never going to be in the picture for us without more schooling.
We’ve also chosen not to work second jobs and not to work for companies that require insane amounts of hours just to stay afloat. These are choices we’ve made because they are right for us. Of course there are exceptions, but this limits how much we can make in our lifetimes to some extent. There are always exceptions, but that subject is beyond the scope of this post.
Here are some strategies that have worked for either or both my husband and I at different points in our relatively short (seven-ish years) careers:
- Say “yes” to more opportunities. Many times we’re given the advice to learn to say “no” more to cut down on stress. Saying “no” certainly has its place, but saying “yes” can open more doors.
- Pursue hobbies. Pursuing hobbies allows us to meet more people and gives us something interesting to talk to others about. It also broadens our skill sets. For example, I’ve found that my background in the visual arts is intriguing to potential employers, even for unrelated positions.
- Take classes. If we feel we are behind in a certain area that could help with our job performance or strengthen our résumé, we’ve taken classes to fill the knowledge gap. For example, my husband is taking a series of advanced math classes because he wants a stronger background in statistics.
- Negotiate salaries when hired. There are many web sites and experts devoted to exactly how to do this, so all I will say is: always, always negotiate when you are hired. Doing so pays off nearly every time.
- Be rock stars at work. Of course we both have “off” days and weeks, but for the most part we kick butt at work. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but we give our jobs our all and try to add significant value to the workplace which helps with…
- Ask for more money. Like negotiating your starting salary, there are many websites (see below) to get advice on how and when to do this. Asking for a raise or promotion can (not always) work out very well if you are appropriate and strategic about it.
- Take calculated risks. Sometimes it pays to switch to a start-up account or take on a new initiative at work. Since many people shy away from change, you can really stand out if you are willing to take a chance from time-to-time.
- Switch jobs. Sometimes no matter what you do or how awesome you are, your opportunities are limited or nonexistent at your current job. Instead of wallowing in it, or growing bitter, brush up your résumé and start peeking at job boards. Set up a LinkedIn account. Tell close friends you are open to new opportunities and see what may come along. Just continue being a rock star at your current job while you look.
- Volunteer. This is actually something I’d like to do more of. Volunteering broadens your network, looks great on a résumé, and can open doors you didn’t even know existed. And it helps people and organizations in need. I should follow my advice with this one.
Looking over this list, I see that many of these strategies are not direct means to making more money. Rather, they are ways of keeping our opportunities, connections, and skills fresh and abundant. There is a recent post on Get Rich Slowly about this, “Invest in Your Most Important Income Producing Asset.”
Here are some more resources:
- Negotiating your salary: “How to make $1,000 a minute” at Get Rich Slowly.
- Getting a promotion: “The hard-core realities of getting promoted” at Water Cooler Wisdom. (Note: number one on her list is way more important than most people want to accept.)
- Networking well: “Five ways to beat the networking stigma” at Careerealism.
- Asking for a raise: “How to ask for a raise” at Your Office Coach.
What’s worked (or hasn’t worked) for you? How do you keep your opportunities, not just your salary, ample?