Do you feel like you’re not earning enough? You’re not alone. Just 19 percent of American employees feel comfortable with what they’re earning, and 60 percent say they would need another $6,000 a year to feel secure, an Indeed survey found. Two-thirds of Americans are saving 10 percent or less of their income, with one in five not saving anything at all, according to Bankrate research. Among those who aren’t saving, 16 percent say it’s because their job isn’t paying enough, while 39 percent say it’s due to expenses.
Getting ahead in this economic environment requires taking proactive steps to improve your financial situation. Here are four strategies you can use to increase your bottom line.
Take Control of Your Spending
If you feel like you’re not making enough, one reason may be that you’re spending too much in proportion to your income. Taking control of your spending by creating a budget can help you keep more of what you make. A simple budgeting strategy is the 50/20/30 rule, which prescribes putting half of your monthly income toward covering fixed spending on necessities such as rent and two-tenths toward saving and repaying debt, leaving three-tenths left over for discretionary spending on variable expenses such as entertainment.
Setting this limit on your discretionary spending will help you keep more of your earnings. You can even allocate less than 30 percent of your income toward discretionary spending if you want to increase your savings or repay your debt faster. Using a retirement savings calculator can help you determine how much you should be saving each month in order to meet your long-term financial goals.
Position Yourself for Career Advancement
Your shortest path to increasing your income may be asking for a raise or promotion. Your odds of getting a raise if you ask for one are high, Payscale research shows. Among those who ask for raises, 70 percent get one, with 39 percent getting the amount they asked for and 31 percent getting a raise that was less than they asked for. Before asking for a raise, research what other workers with similar positions are earning at other companies, so you know what a reasonable salary request is and so you know what other options you have if your employer won’t agree to a raise.
Whether you’re looking for a raise or a higher-paying job at another company, you can increase your career advancement potential by furthering your education. In some fields, earning a certificate for a specific skill set may be sufficient to boost your salary potential, without necessarily requiring you to complete a full degree program. You can earn your certification in a traditional educational environment or through online distance learning programs such as EdX professional certificate programs. You can also pick up practical business skills through resources such as Amway Education, which offers a comprehensive 80-lesson virtual course covering the fundamentals of sales, marketing, and business leadership.
Start a Second Income Stream
Another way to increase your income is to start a second revenue stream to supplement your regular job. One way to do this is by starting a part-time business. For instance, if you have writing, graphic design, or web design skills, you might consider starting a freelancing business. If you like to drive, you might become an Uber driver. If you like pets, you might consider becoming a dog walker. Entrepreneur lists 50 ways to earn money from side hustle jobs.
You don’t necessarily need to start a part-time job to open a second income stream if you consider passive income opportunities. For instance, if you have a spare room, you can rent it out on Airbnb. Other passive income ideas include investing in crowdfunded real estate, earning money from peer-to-peer lending, or allowing advertising companies to pay you to use your car as a billboard.
Leverage Your Savings and Investments
Another strategy for increasing your long-term income is to leverage your savings through smart investments. If your employer offers a 401(k) matching plan, you should normally max this out before pursuing other investment vehicles. If you’ve already maxed out your 401(k), you can pursue other investment options. Low-risk investment strategies include options such as municipal bonds, indexed annuities, and universal life insurance. You can mix these with higher-risk strategies such as variable annuities and variable universal life insurance.
A different approach to investment is to invest in hard assets. Investing in real estate can be an excellent way to pad your nest egg. If you don’t want to actually purchase and manage properties yourself, you can invest in assets such as real estate investment trusts (REITs), which allow you to pool with other investors to earn dividends from companies that own real estate without owning any yourself. Other popular real asset investment options include gold, silver, and collectibles such as art sports memorabilia and comic books.
If you’re looking to increase your bottom line, decreasing your monthly spending and saving more can be an efficient place to start. Asking for a raise can be a quick way to boost your pay grade, while training for a new position can position you for long-term income improvement. Starting a second income stream by taking a part-time job or pursuing passive income opportunities is another effective way to increase your earnings. Smart savings and investments strategies can help you leverage what you earn in order to build a future long-term nest egg.