We talked to three Grownups who have increased their income significantly. Learn how they did it and use their strategies to increase your own income.
Increasing income is a goal for many, but it often feels intimidating. If we want to ask our boss for a raise, we need to learn about negotiating. If we want to learn a new skill, we have to find someone to teach us. If we want to switch careers, we need to start networking.
It can be hard, but all these things are possible. One of the best things you can do is learn from the people who have gone before you. We talked to three Grownups who have increased their income significantly. You can follow in their footsteps and use their proven methods to start earning more money yourself.
Tanja Hester, 38, successfully climbed the corporate ladder at one company as a political media consultant. She went from earning $30,000 to well into six figures over her 15-year career, and retired early at 38 years old in 2017.
Negotiating is a straightforward way to increase your take home pay, since you don’t necessarily need to learn anything new or switch fields. Here’s how Tanja used it to land her raise.
“The work I did was structured in a way that a chunk of the compensation came at the end of the year because of how political election cycles go. I negotiated a larger lump sum payment at the end of the year by stressing three main points, all focused on the company. I emphasized the financial impact I’d made at the company first, including things like my personal profitability and the profitability of my teams. Then I stressed my personal commitment to the company including things like how many hours I’d worked and how many trips I’d taken. And I ended with a rundown on all the intangible ways I supported the company, including by leading trainings and making a point of mentoring junior staff.”
Tanja worked in a traditional, corporate work environment. The company only discussed pay once a year. Tanja didn’t ask for a raise every year, but she did do it regularly.
“Every few years, especially when I’d had an especially big year in terms of landing a big anchor client or being especially profitable, I’d press for more. If you’re truly doing great work and are committed to the company, they want to keep you happy, and are unlikely to respond negatively to a positive, diplomatic request for more money.”
Kristina, 28, is a realtor. But it took her a few years to find an industry she was passionate about and where she could earn big money.
“Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to do when I ‘grew up’ like many of my friends. After college, I worked a few tough jobs that didn’t pay well and had corrupt leadership. It scared me away from a typical 9-5 job. After reading many books that I identified with (The 4-Hour Work Week & the BiggerPockets series in particular), I knew that I was passionate about living a particular lifestyle and I knew I could achieve it through real estate.”
Switching careers did come with a cost. Realtors need to get licensed and build up a client list before they start earning sales comissons.
“I paid for an online course to study for my real estate test and a few other things. The most costly part about switching careers was the lack of funds coming in during my first six months! It took me six months to make my first sale, and that was a scary time. Luckily I was working part-time for an agent in my office and had a little in savings.”
Switching careers also come with a lot of work to build a new professional reputation for yourself, to meet people in your new industry, and in some cases, to get clients. Kristina pushed herself to break into the real estate world by getting out of her comfort zone.
“I held open houses for other agents, I door knocked, went to all the events, I started meeting with anyone who said they were interested in real estate. I also began meeting with people in the industry—investors, other realtors, and wholesalers.”
And it worked. Kristina’s first six months in real estate she made $43,000, which was $9,000 more than she made in 12 months at her old wedding coordinator job. Her second year in real estate she made over $100,000.
Melanie Lockert, 32, is a freelance writer, blogger and event planner who comes from the nonprofit world. After getting her masters degree and working in the nonprofit field, she realized the numbers didn’t add up. She had $81,000 in student loans and a job that paid $30,000 a year. There was a hard limit to what she could earn in the nonprofit world, so she turned to freelancing to increase her income.
“My first year of freelancing, I doubled my income to $60,000. I started freelancing by cold pitching other bloggers and networking with freelancers who had established careers. Referrals were a big part of my success!”
Freelancing is great because there is no limit on what and how you earn your money. You don’t tap out at a salary cap, since your income is directly related to how much you want to work or what you can sell.
Melanie found that word of mouth lead to more clients, and that by raising her rates she could earn more for the same amount of work.
“I tend to raise my rates once per year or more depending on the scope of work. I think it’s imperative to raise your rates and do check-ins.”
For those considering going freelance, Melanie has two tips: “Never stop pitching,” and “Diversify your services!”
Increasing the scope of who you pitch and the services you offer will make you more attractive to clients. A freelance writer who can also create social media images is going to be a valuable hire, and can mean more money.
Kara Perez is a freelance personal finance writer living in Austin, Texas. She is passionate about helping people become financially literate and telling people’s money stories.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.