Having issues with your monthly budget? Do you struggle to make ends meet? Financial experts often approach this issue from the expense side. What can you cut to free up financial resources each month? I’m not immune. I enjoy being creative about budgeting, and I like to write about ways to streamline expenses.
I am also aware there are societal issues and pressures that make it difficult for people to get ahead, especially in lower-income work. I’ve always believed we can acknowledge and work to change those societal problems. But meanwhile, sitting still and complaining about societal issues doesn’t pay the bills.
My life philosophy has always been that I am responsible for bettering myself and my situation. Just me. I might get some help if I seek it out, but it is my job to take the bull by the horns and find a solution to my problems.
So for today, let’s focus on the income side of the budget equation and look at some ideas for potentially improving your financial situation. Here are some ways to increase household income.
Ask for a raise
I am not an advocate for asking your boss for more money willy-nilly. However, if you suspect you are underpaid for the skills and effort you provide your employer, do a little homework. Research similar positions and pay levels for people with similar responsibilities and qualifications and build your case dispassionately.
No boss wants to hear about how you NEED a raise. As a boss myself, my hackles would go straight up if that was an employee’s approach. Instead, focus your appeal on what you bring to the table. Calmly present your research results and make the case for why you deserve a higher level of pay.
Ask for more responsibility
Perhaps your research proves you are being fairly paid in your present position. In that case, consider asking for additional work or greater responsibility at your present job, with a corresponding pay increase.
Getting nowhere with your present employer? If you feel that the upward opportunities and pay increases are not in the cards with your current employer, begin looking around. What other employers in your industry are out there, and how do their positions and benefits stack up? Remember that geography plays an important role in pay levels based on cost of living in a particular city or region.
When doing this research, however, don’t forget that your pay rate isn’t everything. Consider the full value of all the benefits to make an apples-to-apples comparison.
Get a second job
If your “day job” has steady, predictable hours that provide a stable base for your income, consider starting a second job to bring in more money. Carrying more than one job requires determination and stamina, since you might be working quite a few hours of your week. You may find working a second job is short-lived once you get yourself back on your financial feet.
Start a side hustle
A downside of a second job can be the dueling demands of two employer schedules. As a result, many people decide to start their own business on the side to have flexibility in scheduling the additional work. What skills do you have that you are using in your current work that might be needed elsewhere? What skills do you have that are NOT currently being used that might be needed elsewhere? Do some deep thinking about the sort of work you enjoy doing and the special skills you possess that others would find valuable. How can you market those skills to find work on the side?
Do virtual work
These days it is often easier to find work, since we are no longer as limited by geography. Improve your computer skills so that you can research finding work online. From my recent observations, the sky is the limit in terms of the sort of work now being outsourced via the internet. Like the side hustle, virtual work can provide more flexibility if you are trying to bring in additional income while maintaining your “day job.”
Sell your stuff
A radically different idea from the previous suggestions. But if you are struggling and trying to piece together other avenues of paid employment, you might need a quicker fix. Most people have things in their homes that they no longer need. These things can be sold locally or over the internet to bring in some needed cash. Some people get so good at this sort of commerce that they purposefully go find “treasures” at thrift stores and yard sales and turn around and resell the items at a profit. (This may be a side hustle you enjoy?)
Find inexpensive ways to educate yourself. Staying up to date on computer skills is enormously important. Technology is changing very rapidly and being unplugged for even a few months can put you behind the eight ball when it comes to upgrading your income.
I bet you can carve time out of your schedule, too. Think about what progress you could make if you eliminated one hour of television or internet surfing time per day and substituted a self-education program! Make a list of things you might like to learn, or things you SHOULD learn to keep up in your field or with the world in general (e.g. technology). Then look around online as well as checking into your local community college to find a way to learn for free or on the cheap. Think outside the box, too, and consider people you know with whom you could barter for knowledge.
Always be scanning
Complacency can be dangerous. Work at a factory in an industry that is moving factory jobs overseas? I’m not suggesting you should like it, but I am suggesting you should be paying attention. Always be scanning to see what threats may be encroaching upon your livelihood as well as what opportunities are out there. I am not suggesting constant paranoia. I am, however, suggesting and advocating that you take the reins in your life. Don’t get lulled into a stupor of complacency.
Adjust your attitude to add value
None of the above makes a bit of difference if your attitude is “what’s in it for me?” If you are always looking for ways YOU can benefit from a situation, change your mindset. Instead, look for ways you can add value in a situation. It is only by adding value on a consistent basis that you will truly be fairly compensated. It might take a while for things to turn around, but don’t give up.
I’m not unrealistic about the required fortitude needed to maintain an attitude of helpfulness when it feels like your world is falling apart. Been there, done that. Just remind yourself that only you are responsible for you, and sometimes the only thing you can control is how you act and react in a situation. Be responsible and march forward. Things will start looking up.
What tips do you have to cope when income is lacking? Share your thoughts below. Or if you want some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!
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