How to Earn More Now For a Better Future

Even with a shaky pandemic-era economy, people are asking for and receiving raises

If you have never asked for a raise, take heart. You are not alone. Research shows that historically, as many as half of all workers don’t ask for more money — ever — often because they are afraid to. And nearly that many people also take the first starting wage they are offered and don’t negotiate for a higher salary.

It may sound trite but it’s true: You make zero percent of the shots you don’t take. It’s time to face your fears, and look for ways to earn more so you can map out a brighter financial future for you and your loved ones. Here are some proven strategies for asking for more income from your employer along with other ideas to potentially add to your bottom line:

Know your worth then ask for it

When working up the nerve to ask for a raise, do your research first. Go online to companies such as to find out what other people in similar positions are earning. If you make less than you should for the market, add that to the list you will eventually present to your boss.

Other items for your list: Write down the ways you add value to the company, including everything from bringing in new business to saving the firm money. Soft skills such as emotional intelligence may be harder to quantify but they also count when proving your worth to your employer. Remaining calm in a crisis is a superpower, so write it down.

When you are ready to make the ask, shoot for midday, preferably right after lunch, so your boss won’t be hangry. If you don’t immediately get the answer you were looking for, ask if you can have the conversation again in three or six months. Also, ask for feedback on your job performance. Let your boss know you are ready to take on more responsibilities, if that’s the case, to eventually earn more.

Look for a better job

If the answer was a solid no when you asked for more money, it may be time to look for a new job, which often leads to a higher starting salary. You can also seek similar paying jobs with better (read less expensive) benefits that can boost your take home pay. Some positions in healthcare fields charge less for health insurance premiums because they can offer it to employees at a discount. Some hospitals and medical practices even offer zero copays on office visits if you use their network of providers.

Jobs associated with built-in retirement systems, such as those in education, public health and even some local municipalities, typically pay more into retirement accounts than other businesses. And you don’t have to be a teacher or restaurant inspector to receive the same benefits. Support personnel in those systems typically receive the same fringe benefits as their colleagues. In some states, the retirement contribution from the employer is as much as 12% for employees. While you won’t see that money for years, it could mean a significantly higher retirement balance (thanks to compound interest) when you are ready to leave the working world.

Side hustles worth pursuing

It’s also not too late to explore the gig economy as a way to supplement your regular income. There are more than just transportation services and food delivery options out there. For those with flexible schedules, other part-time work includes tutoring and test preparation, pet sitting and walking, music lessons, babysitting and housekeeping, including vacation rental cleaning, which often offers higher pay for fewer hours of work.

Uncover untapped income

If you aren’t taking advantage of the 401K or other retirement account matches your employer offers, what are you waiting for? That’s free compensation and you’re leaving it on the table. Check with your human resources department to see if you can sign up now to begin deducting a small amount of your income to save for the future. If you can only sign up once a year, plan ahead now and set an electronic calendar reminder for yourself. You won’t regret it.

With reporting by Casandra Andrews

Jean Chatzky

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