Learning to Earn, Part 1 of … Many?
In a previous post, I outlined the Ten Commandments of Personal Finance, the first of which was to earn more than you spend. I went on to say that in order to do this, you need to spend less, make more, and/or do both. This post is about earning more.
You can only cut your spending to zero. There are limited gains from doing this. You have limited upside and a lot of downside. Like living in a box and eating cat food.
But your income potential is limited only by your creativity. There are thousands of people less qualified than you who are making considerably more money than you. How do they do it? They create it. Here’s how you can create more income.
Ask for a raise, but only after you’ve earned it. There is a shortage of great employees, so endeavor to become your boss’ right hand person. Be your boss. Be indispensable. Be a revenue-making machine for your employer. Show your boss, in monetary terms, how much you do for the company.
Take time off. It’s good for your health, your soul, and it will show your boss how much she needs you. Don’t leave your boss hanging, but give him the chance to experience business life without you. If he doesn’t miss you, you’re as good as gone next time there’s a “belt tightening” or, in today’s vernacular, “rightsizing.”
Network. Join LinkedIn. Go to fundraisers and business lunches. If you own a small business, join your local Chamber of Commerce. Always be on the lookout for a better opportunity. And here’s the key: Always give your employer the courtesy of keeping you. You really may not want to change jobs, but you do want to be a free agent. Look at professional sports: As soon as players could “shop” themselves around, salaries skyrocketed. Don’t be afraid to test the waters.
Sell assets you no longer use. It’s amazing what people will buy and how much they’ll pay for it. I sold a speedometer on eBay for $200. I paid $85 for it brand new 20 years ago. Granted, it’s not readily available any more and it was for a very popular car, but still. Sheesh.
Sell books. Amazon, eBay, and half.com are 3 places where you can sell your “previously read” (or in my case, “never read”) books. Sure, you’ll make less than you spent, but those are sunk costs. The idea here is to get “extra” money for things you no longer use or need. Getting rid of stuff you no longer need also will make you less likely to think that you need a bigger house, which can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Sell assets others no longer use. For example, collect cans. I’m not kidding. One year, a friend of mine wanted to take his young son on a fishing trip to Alaska, which is very expensive. He collected aluminum cans for a year, by going up and down the highway searching for aluminum cans. It’s good for the pocketbook as well as the environment. You can go around to local shops and offer to take their cardboard. Businesses never have enough space or recycling capacity. Help them and then help yourself by turning it in to your local recycling center or waste management facility. You’d be surprised how much you can make just being the middle man.
Start a side business. Do you have a hobby that you can “monetize” (which is a made-up word that means turning something into a revenue or income generating method)? Are you a photographer? Sell your photos online; there are many stock photo agencies that will pay you for your photos. Are you a computer geek? Talk to local businesses about their technology needs. Many businesses are wholly inadequate when it comes to technology. Offer ways to help them by cutting their costs, raising their revenues, or becoming more efficient. Office automation, once a buzzword, is ever-elusive.
Perhaps you’re a “crafty” person. Start a scrapbooking service. Or a basket making business.
Are you an expert at work? Parlay that expertise into a side business. Or a book. You can publish your own books now with the availability of PDF programs and the Internet. Or you can publish your own traditional paper book by working with firms like Lulu.com.
Are you a homemaker? Do you love the Food Network? Try a business like Amway or Pampered Chef or Tupperware or Mary Kay.
If you’re reading this post, you’ve found a method for getting online. Now, turn that expense into a revenue stream. Become an affiliate. Sell your own goods or services online. Become a publisher for advertisers through Commission Junction, LinkShare, or amazon. Set up an eStore through Amazon. Sell on eBay.
Doing one or more of these things will increase your income. One of the best paths to increase income is creating multiple streams of income. Don’t just settle for a “job.” In your spare time, learn to create income. It is a surefire way to the path of earning more than you spend, the First Commandment of Personal Finance.