First of all, congrats! Now here’s how to put that extra income to good use.
Landing a raise at work is a big achievement. Major kudos. It helps justify the job you are doing and makes you feel like a valuable part of your company. But salary increases are never guaranteed. They tend to be directly correlated to the success of the business and the economy. And let’s face it: It can be easy to get a raise at work and then continue living your life business as usual, without making the most of those extra funds.
When you get a raise at work, think about how you can really benefit from your increased earnings. Enjoy the success hard work has brought you, of course, but remember that it’s also important to continue to grow your net worth when deciding what to do with a raise.
When you get a raise at work, consider the following five ideas for that hard-earned money:
1. Calculate your new take-home pay
“After getting a raise at work, don’t immediately start spending your new money,” says Michael Banks, founder of the blog FortunateInvestor.com. “Instead, take a moment to assess your current financial situation and plan for future financial security.”
When you get a raise, start by figuring out how your boost in salary will affect your paychecks. Just because you’re going to be earning an extra $4,000 per year, for example, doesn’t mean that will be your additional take-home pay. You’ll need to factor in your tax withholding and any other deductions from your paycheck (think health insurance, commuter benefits, office gym membership). To determine your net pay increase when you get a raise, subtract your old paycheck from your new paycheck. This is the amount that should inform adjustments to your monthly budget.
“You want to get rid of high-interest debt as soon as possible. That interest will devour your hard-earned money.”
2. Wipe out any existing debt
If you are working to eliminate debt, then when you get a raise it could be a great time to accelerate your efforts. Credit card debt, student loans, or even a car loan—the easiest way to build a positive net worth quickly is to eliminate any debt standing in your way. While reducing your debt load may not give you instant gratification like a treat-yourself splurge, just knowing you are debt-free (or moving in that direction) can be a major victory.
“You want to get rid of high-interest debt as soon as possible,” says Jackie Lam, founder of frugal blog Cheapsters.org. “That interest will devour your hard-earned money,” she adds.
3. Build your emergency fund
“Paying off high-interest debts and creating an emergency fund are two great places to incorporate this increased income,” Banks says.
It’s never fun to think about an emergency that may require you to dip into your savings, but building, or beefing up, your emergency fund is one way to put your increased salary to work. When deciding what to do with a raise, think of an emergency fund as peace of mind if an unexpected cost does creep up. It’ll be there for you to fall back on if your water heater brakes, you need to have work done on your car or someone in your family loses a job. Most experts agree that your emergency fund should cover three to six months of living expenses. Place your fund in a savings account so you can have easy access in the event of an emergency.
4. Contribute to your retirement
When you get a raise, you can think about your golden years regardless of your age. “Using your windfall to increase monthly retirement contributions, even if just by 1 percent, can have a dramatic impact on the stability of your future financial standing,” Banks says.
One of the easiest ways to make sure your retirement account is getting the attention it deserves is to make it automatic. Determine how much of your raise you want to place into your IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or 401(k) every year, and then automatically have the maximum amount possible transferred each month. If your employer will match your contribution, take advantage of that opportunity to grow your savings at an increased rate.
5. Do something for yourself
You worked hard to earn your raise, so enjoy it a little. Set aside a portion of your increased income and treat yourself. Maybe you’ve had your eye on a new pair of shoes, or you’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on some new furniture for your home. You could even place a portion of your raise into a separate savings account to be used for vacations.
“Whenever I got a raise at work I’d put a small percentage of it toward my 401(k) contribution and saved the rest toward my monthly savings and short-term goals, like buying a new computer or going on a trip,” Lam says. “I was careful not to undergo lifestyle inflation.”
Enjoy your success
Getting a raise at work is cause for celebration—and identifying new financial opportunities. Deciding what to do with a raise when extra income comes in can lead to long-term benefits and help ensure your extra cash doesn’t disappear each month.
As costs rise, look for opportunities to educate yourself, cut back and earn more.
Ballooning expenses in cities across the country are making headlines, causing many people to wonder how to cope with the high cost of living in their areas.
In some cases the high cost of living is due to economic growth. In others, it’s due more specifically to an increase in home prices. Take Nashville, Tennessee, for example.
According to a study by GOBankingRates, from 2016 to 2017, the Music City experienced a “live comfortably amount increase” of $9,135 per household, topping the list of cities with cost of living increases for this time period. In 2017 it took a salary of $70,150 per household to live comfortably in Nashville.
“Although our unemployment rate was below 4 percent in 2017, our wage increases haven’t kept up with our cost of living increases,” says Kate Dore about Tennessee’s capital. Dore is the founder of personal finance blog Cashville Skyline and a Nashville resident who moved to the area in 2006.
Dore has seen firsthand how the high cost of living has affected people in her city.
“To make matters worse, home values increased by almost 40 percent” from 2013 to 2017, she says. “This means higher property tax bills, and consequently, an increase in rent.” Many of Dore’s friends who were renters have actually left Nashville because they didn’t know how to cope with the high cost of living.
Nashville isn’t the only city feeling the squeeze. Cities like New Orleans; Jacksonville, Florida; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Louisville, Kentucky also saw a significant increase in cost of living from 2016 to 2017.
So how do you save money when your cost of living is high, especially if you have debt or haven’t seen a raise in ages? Consider the following tips for dealing with the high cost of living in your area:
Look for personal finance education
Kimberly Studdard, founder of The Entrepremomer—where she works as a blogger, consultant and virtual assistant—is dealing with the high cost of living in Overland Park, located in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Studdard, a mother of one, had been struggling to cover basic expenses while working full time as an accounting assistant for a plumbing company. Together, she and her husband brought in $2,800 a month. They realized they needed help dealing with the high cost of living and managing their money.
“We started really cracking down on our finances and started focusing on personal finance blogs that would help us,” she says.
One strategy she learned from her personal finance research, and continued for several months, was to raise the temperature of her air conditioning by a degree or two every few days. Because her family was using less and less AC, without sacrificing comfort, their monthly energy bill started to decrease. After two months of implementing cost-cutting measures learned from her research—the air conditioning hack included—she was averaging savings of $100 per month.
“It may not sound like much, but I was making minimum wage, so a $100 difference was a huge deal. That was food on the table for two weeks,” she says.
Learn to cut back
If you are trying to save money when your cost of living is high, spending less can be one of the fastest ways to make a difference.
When Studdard was determining how to cope with the high cost of living and how to cut back in her own life, she got creative. She lowered her utility bills by showering at her job and scheduling regular maintenance on her air conditioning and furnace to keep them running efficiently. Eventually she was able to save between $150 to $250 each month on utilities.
Implementing such cost-saving measures, and sticking to them, can be a challenge for many people. Dore, the personal finance blogger from Nashville, says budgeting and cutting back often fail because people return to bad habits. If you’re not sure how to stay on track, or the thought of trimming your spending makes you queasy, Dore suggests starting with what she calls ‘mindful budgeting.’
She recommends creating a mindful spending journal by logging how and, crucially, why you spend money for at least 30 days. Note in particular if you overspent in the company of certain family or friends or if feeling stressed prompted your overspending. Monitoring which purchases make you feel fulfilled, versus those that trigger guilt, can also be valuable. Tracking your behavior can clarify how much money you are spending on things that aren’t necessarily important to you, which can then help you figure out where to trim. Once you know what you can cut from your budget, the answer to how to cope with the high cost of living becomes clearer.
Since monitoring your spending can also reveal what you value most, it can help you start funneling money toward your financial goals. In Dore’s case, she found that purchases like clothing and food delivery weren’t that important to her. What she truly craved was the feeling of security that came from increased savings.
“When experimenting with my mindful spending journal, I uncovered a lot of frivolous spending on food and drinks—especially delivery apps like Postmates and Uber Eats,” she says. “The pattern was pretty obvious because I rarely shop or buy anything else I don’t need.”
After uncovering where her money was going, Dore was able to cut back by better planning her groceries. “By setting a couple of hours aside for weekly Trader Joe’s or Aldi hauls, I’m more likely to have food around. This means fewer impulsive food purchases,” she says.
By spending her money more consciously, dealing with the high cost of living became easier.
Tracking your behavior can clarify how much money you are spending on things that aren’t necessarily important to you, which can then help you figure out where to trim.
Find ways to earn more money
If you’re wondering how to cope with the high cost of living, and cutting back isn’t enough, you could find ways to increase your earning potential. Consider negotiating a raise or looking for a new job with more opportunity and better pay.
Dore and Studdard advocate having a side hustle, which is a gig outside of your day job. Both have side hustles of their own, and they recommend side hustles as a way to save money when your cost of living is high.
“I started with freelance writing, social media consulting and event planning,” Dore says. She recommends focusing on projects you enjoy to ease the sting of working extra hours in addition to your regular job.
Studdard started as a freelance writer on top of her primary career, then transitioned to working as a virtual assistant. In September 2016, she shifted her side hustle to full-time employment and now earns triple what she and her husband used to bring in together. Her husband is now able to stay home with their daughter, and their family is more easily dealing with the high cost of living.
Dealing with the high cost of living
From one year to the next, increases in the cost of living around the country are common and often inevitable. If how to cope with the high cost of living is top-of-mind, considering your options to cut back and earn more can make your finances more manageable. It may take extra work, extra patience and some careful thought, but it can be done.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.
To open your own credit card, you must be at least 18 years old. A common misconception is that the minimum age requirement varies by state, but this is not the case. Opening a credit card at a young age can seem overwhelming, but understanding the steps and benefits of doing so will help you through the process.
Can You Get a Credit Card Under the Age of 18?
While 18 is the minimum age to be the primary holder of a credit card, there is a way that those under 18 can still use one—a parent or guardian can make their child an authorized user on their credit card account. An authorized user is an individual who can use a credit card without being responsible for the bill, and you’ll need to submit a request to the credit card company to add your child as a user.
Also note that some credit card companies issue a minimum age requirement for authorized users, while others do not.
By doing so, you give your child a head start in building credit for themselves. This will become useful when your child is ready to qualify for a loan or apply for their own credit card. Becoming an authorized user will also help them establish healthy credit practices early on. Make sure your child knows how to properly use their card, because as the primary cardholder, you’re still responsible for the bills.
How to Apply for a Credit Card as a Teenager
Applying for a credit card as a teenager is a similar process to that of an adult, but with a few exceptions. To get a credit card, you must initially apply. Based on your credit history, credit score and personal financial information, you’ll be either approved or declined. As a parent, you can become a cosigner to help your child get approved for a card if they haven’t had much experience building credit yet.
Getting a Cosigner
A cosigner is someone that agrees to take responsibility if the primary cardholder can’t pay off their outstanding balance. Applying with a cosigner (presumably with good credit) can help you get approved and even a higher credit limit. Keep in mind that some credit companies don’t allow cosigners, so you may need to do a little research beforehand.
Best Credit Cards for Teenagers
With so many credit card options, it’s easy to feel lost when deciding which one to apply for. Consider applying for a card that is made for younger people and first-time credit applicants. These cards are designed for users that may not have a high stream of income or any preexisting credit. The following are a few cards that are popular for first-time credit applicants:
College credit card: These cards are designed for college students without experience in building credit. Since pursuing an education is often quite pricey, student debt makes it harder to get approved for a normal credit card. College credit cards typically offer users low fees, low interest rates and perks such as money back when using their card. Although it’s easier to get approved, you are still required to show proof of income and enrollment in school.
Secured card: This card requires an initial cash deposit in order to use the card. Think of it as a prepaid credit card. The amount of your cash deposit acts as your credit limit. As a result, secured cards typically also have higher interest rates than normal credit cards. Even with a cash deposit, all activity put on a secured credit card still impacts your credit score.
Store credit card: Some retailers also offer credit cards. While these cards are mainly for customers to shop at the specific store, the card can also be used for purchases elsewhere. These cards are easier to acquire since they often don’t require a specific credit score. Store credit cards intrigue customers by providing exclusive discounts and rewards, but beware as they often come with high interest rates.
Tips on Getting Approved
Getting approved for a credit card as a teenager can be difficult, since you likely don’t have significant preexisting credit or income. Both of these factors highly impact whether an applicant will get approved or denied for a card. The following are some tips on getting approved as a young user:
Take into consideration all forms of income. When your application asks for your income, you can include much more than just your income from a part-time job. You can also include student loans and parental allowance as income.
Consider getting a part-time job. Having a stable salary will show credit card companies that you have the ability to pay off your card.
Add a cosigner if your credit card allows you to. As mentioned above, this will help the company see that you have someone to rely on for your spending habits.
Apply for a card designed for young adults. College credit cards and secured cards are a few great ways to get started with building credit. Both cards are designed for those who may not have previous credit.
How to Build Credit at a Young Age
Building credit is always important since it takes time. Having good credit will open up more doors for you down the line. The time you dedicate to building your credit early will pay off when you’re applying for a loan, buying a car or making a big financial decision in the future.
When Is the Best Time to Build Credit?
The best time to build your credit is as early as possible. The length of your credit history impacts your credit score by 15 percent. By starting at an early age, your credit score will be positively impacted in this regard. As a general rule of thumb, seven years of credit history is ideal for building good credit. If you’re unsure about opening up a new line of credit, consider speaking to a financial advisor first.
Everyone’s financial situation is different, so it’s a good idea to know what will work best for you before getting started.
Best Practices When Building Credit
Building and keeping up good credit can be new for those who haven’t had much experience yet. The following are some best practices for doing so:
Apply for a credit card. You can’t build credit without a form of payment that affects your score. Do your research and find a card that you have a good chance of being approved for.
Be responsible with your spending habits. Having a credit card can positively impact your score if you use it responsibly. Be careful not to overspend—it can feel like you have unlimited funds if you’re new to using credit. Make sure you can pay off your balance in full to avoid a negative impact on your credit.
Keep utilization low. A general rule of thumb is to use no more than 30 percent of your card’s spending limit at a time. This will show lenders that you can be smart with your spending habits.
Make on-time payments. Late payments hurt your score immensely. Payment history actually affects 35 percent of your overall score. If you can’t make full payments at the card’s due date, at least pay off the minimum amount due on your balance.
Why You Should Build Credit Young
Building good credit doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes years of smart moves and healthy practices to build a solid foundation. If you wait too long to start building, you’ll have a harder time when applying for loans or engaging in other financial decisions later.
Starting young also helps establish good credit practices from the very beginning. By doing so, you’ll be less likely to engage in activities that hurt your credit down the line. It can be easy to damage your credit, but hard to repair it. By learning this now, you hopefully won’t need to do much damage control later.
Although 18 is the required age to be a primary account holder on a card, there are still ways to start building credit at a younger age. This can be very beneficial for the future, as long as it’s done right. We know the process of applying for a card and building credit can be stressful at times—visit our credit repair blog to learn more about credit best practices.
Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.
Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.
Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.
Data show that a good economy is helping workers leave their jobs for more money.
According to The Wall Street Journal, career experts used to tell people to stick to one job as long as possible, even if there was a down economy. The idea was that if you were planning on finding a new job at some point and had a history of job hopping, employers might have considered you unreliable.
The Journal reported this in 2004. Fast forward to the present, and more recent data suggest the opposite may be true. The 2017 Q3 Workforce Vitality Report from ADP, a payroll processor, found that among full-time workers, job switchers saw an earnings increase by an average of 4.9 percent. Job holders lagged behind at 4.3 percent. A similar ADP report from the first quarter of 2017 found that a better economy is giving workers more leverage, meaning they feel more comfortable leaving a job and negotiating a salary increase.
This significantly changes the career game. Now that switching jobs won’t necessarily hurt you, it’s crucial to discuss ways you know it’s time to quit your job.
Here are six warning signs you need a new job:
1. You haven’t seen a raise in two years
According to another ADP survey, there is a sweet spot for trading in your current gig for a new opportunity. The survey found that individuals who leave a company after at least two years, but before five years, get the highest salary increases at a new job.
Individuals who try to switch jobs after working five years at the same company won’t see as much of an increase as those who leave between the three- to five-year mark (this, the survey found, is when employees get the greatest salary bump). The longer you stay past five years, the less of an increase you’ll see, the ADP survey found. More experience often means you’ll have higher pay at your current job, so you’re less likely to see as much of a pay bump if you leave.
2. The company is having money problems
One surefire warning sign that you need a new job? “If your paycheck suddenly starts becoming irregular,” says Sandy Smith, a senior certified human resources professional with seven years of experience working in corporate human resources. It’s a clear indication of cash flow issues within the company, she adds.
Smith, who is also the founder of the personal finance blog Yes, I Am Cheap, says this is one of the major signs it’s time to change jobs.
“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs,” she says, “and you should immediately jump ship.”
If your employer is starting to cut benefits or lay people off, Smith suggests that it might be a warning sign you need a new job and time to financially prepare for a job transition. While one layoff or cut may not be definite signs it’s time to change jobs just yet, Smith says to keep an eye on it.
“Layoff after layoff indicates a serious issue, and you should never take for granted that your job is safe,” she says.
“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs, and you should immediately jump ship.”
3. You’re stagnant
Going as far as you can go with a company is one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.
“If you are upwardly mobile but you have no opportunity for advancement within the company, it might just be time to move,” Smith says.
And because you alone are in charge of your career, it’s essential to be proactive, Smith says. That means you can’t wait for your manager to give you a promotion or tell you when there’s no promotion anywhere in the foreseeable future.
So, if you find yourself lacking mobility, it may be a warning sign you need a new job, and finding a new employer could be the best way to advance. Smith also points out that taking a new job in this scenario will likely allow you to increase your earning potential as well.
According to a 2016 global report by LinkedIn, 74 percent of job candidates want a job where they feel like their work has a sense of purpose. If that need for fulfillment isn’t being met, it may be one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.
While there were several factors that contributed to Tara Falcone’s decision to leave her well-paying job, a lack of purpose was one of them. When she started her own investment firm in 2016, ReisUP LLC, she was seeking more personal and professional satisfaction.
Before going out on her own, Falcone spent four years working as an investment analyst on Wall Street. She enjoyed what she did, but she wasn’t exactly feeling fulfilled by it. She spent her days helping people who were already wealthy manage their money. Instead, she wanted to help people who came from backgrounds similar to her own attain more wealth.
74 percent of job candidates want a job where they feel like their work has a sense of purpose.
“Coming from a humble, blue-collar background, I yearned to find a way to use the skill set I had acquired on Wall Street to help people like my friends and family.”
Even if you identify a lack of fulfillment as a sign it’s time to change jobs, leaving a secure paycheck is a difficult decision for anyone, especially when, like Falcone, you’re making a pretty hefty sum. Yet, money was not the biggest factor in her decision to leave her job. Ultimately, she valued other things more—like helping an underserved community and having more personal time.
“The money was good, but not good enough to tie me down, nor more than I thought I could ever make doing something else,” she explains. “I grew up without money, so I wasn’t chasing it. And I knew that a big shiny paycheck would never fulfill me on its own.”
6. Your job is negatively affecting you
A final way you know it’s time to quit your job: It’s negatively affecting your life. Of course, this may look differently to different people. For some, health problems are the warning signs you need a new job. For others, like Falcone, it’s when your job starts getting in the way of your personal life.
“My work started negatively affecting the limited time I spent with family,” she says. “As an investment analyst, you don’t really get true vacation time when the market is open.”
Falcone recalled going home for Christmas and still needing to be available for work via phone and email. Eventually, she felt like it became too intrusive.
It’s time to find a new job
If you see yourself in any of these six scenarios, take them as signs it’s time to change jobs. Dust off that resume, get on LinkedIn and start reaching out to your contacts. Now that the job-hopping stigma seems to be a thing of the past, you have far less to worry about should you decide to quit your job and find a new one.
From selling unwanted items online to launching a blog, there are side hustles you can start today.
A side hustle may just sound like extra work. Like coming home from your 9-to-5 job only to work another one (goodbye, free time). But a side hustle that generates income beyond your primary job doesn’t have to be a drain on your energy or time.
It’s easier than ever to find ways to make money on the side of your day job. As the side hustlers below show, it can be as easy as digging out forgotten treasures from the back of your closet.
Whether you’re looking to leverage a side gig to more quickly build wealth, or you’ve set out to increase your emergency fund or save for a specific financial goal, consider these four side hustles you can start today:
1. Sell unwanted items online
If you’re considering ways to make money side hustling, look no further than your own home. Chances are you have items lying around that you don’t actually use—books, toys, kitchen gadgets, exercise equipment, tech accessories, you name it—that sounded like a good idea at one point but are now just collecting dust. Selling unwanted items online is one of the easiest side hustles you can do while working full time.
“You can really sell anything on Craigslist and Kijiji. If it’s still in decent shape, there’s a buyer out there for items you’re no longer using,” says Tom Drake, founder of MapleMoney and no stranger to selling items online in his spare time.
Drake and his wife declutter their home and sell unwanted items online as often as they can. A recent focus was video games: Drake says he sold about $2,000 worth of video games that were sitting in his garage for over a decade. Based on his calculations, he expects to sell about $10,000 worth of unwanted items in 2018.
If you’re thinking about posting items online as a way to make money on the side, Drake says it’s easy to start. Listing items doesn’t take long, though he suggests taking a decent photo and writing a detailed description to make the item easier to find in search results and more likely to sell in a timely fashion.
PriceCharting, which documents prices for every video game ever made, to check value.
Outside of video games, Drake says you can find clothing at thrift stores, then list it for 30 to 50 percent off retail price to make a sale. For collectible items like coins, you can Google the item and add the term “price guide” to the search query. This type of information could come in handy as you build out your pricing structure. Don’t forget to explore e-commerce sites to gauge market rates for items.
3. Start an online store
Briana Ford is a search engine marketing campaign manager for a marketing company based in Dallas. Her way to make money side hustling is through three stores she runs on Shopify, an online e-commerce platform. She generates about $1,000 to $3,000 in total revenue each month.
Her stores Ciao Toots and Karma Outfitters sell phone covers and graphic tees, respectively. Her most popular store, PinLivingColor, sells ’90s memorabilia. She creates the designs through Printful, a printing service through Shopify, and uploads the photos to her store. When someone buys, say, a cell phone case, Printful prints the design on a case and sends it off to the customer. She took a weekend each to start her stores.
“We live in a day and age where you can literally have an idea in the morning and have your business launched in the evening. There is an audience and a customer for almost anything,” she says.
She also helps fellow African Americans start their own stores as a consultant via Startup Noire.
4. Launch a blog
Eric Rosenberg, founder of Personal Profitability, has tried side hustles from web coding to organizing flash mobs. He found a winning side hustle you can do while working full time with his blog.
“Personal Profitability led to freelance opportunities and eventually a full-time job. But it all started with weekends and evenings,” Rosenberg says.
He has tracked his online earnings publicly since 2012, when the blog earned him about $700 a month. In 2017 he had a six-figure business. Most of his income comes from writing services and website support, with some affiliate income, Rosenberg says.
Blogging is one of the side hustles you can start today, and it doesn’t necessarily cost much to get up and running. However, as the online income reports on Rosenberg’s blog show, it does require patience to make it really pay off.
Ways to make money side hustling: The possibilities are endless
These are just a few of the possibilities available to you as you explore ways to make money on the side of your primary career. As you compare the various side hustles you can start today, consider activities, skills or experiences that you’re passionate about. Enjoying and finding value in your side hustle may make the extra income and increased earning potential even more rewarding.
Femme Frugality writes about money as it pertains to young adults, brides, parents, Pittsburghers, and, of course, college students. You can read her blog here.
Recently Michelle shared that W was returning to school, and asked for some tips for non-traditional students. I recently graduated, and now my fiance is going to college for the first time.
We’re about as non-traditional as it gets, both being far beyond “traditional” college age, and having children. So I’ve got a plethora of tips that have been helping us get through this stage in our lives. And Michelle was kind enough to let me share them in a post.
Work as Little As Possible
I know that sounds crazy. As a non-traditional student, you’ve got very grown-up bills to pay. But trust me. If you’re serious about your degree, trimming down your work schedule will help not just your grades, but your overall mental health. I am not suggesting you go into debt in order to go back to school. (Both my fiance and I are doing this without any loans.)
What I am suggesting is that you sit down and look at your monthly budget. Look at your bills, how much you’ll need to be contributing to your emergency fund, how much you’ll need for other essentials such as gas and groceries, and a realistic entertainment category (though it might not be a bad idea to trim it down a little bit if you can).
Figure out the lowest number you’re willing to commit to (be realistic about this) for your overall monthly budget.
Now, figure out the minimum number of hours you’d have to work in order to meet that number. The next step is having a conversation with your boss about lowering the amount of hours you are working every week as you return back to school.
I was really lucky when I decided to go back to school. I was able to not work at all. Granted, part of that was because I was having a child at the beginning of my return to my education, and daycare costs would have been more than my working salary at the time.
My fiance supported me through the completion of my degree, and for that I am so thankful. But I did things to contribute to our combined coffers, too. And it’s something you can do if you don’t have someone there to help you out with the bills:
Apply for Scholarships
I know this sounds obvious. But so many people don’t apply because they think they won’t qualify. Or they won’t be able to write a perfect essay. Or a million other reasons. Just do it.
Start with the scholarships at your school and branch out from there. (I wouldn’t necessarily apply at sites such as FastWeb….your odds are so low when there’s so many people competing.)
When you’re applying, first look for any scholarships you can get your hands on; they all cover tuition. But once you have your tuition fully-funded, look for scholarships that cover tuition and other educational costs. With these, your school with cut you a check for every penny that’s paid above and beyond your tuition.
For example, if your tuition is $5,000/semester and you get $6,000 funded via scholarships, the school would cut you a check for $1,000 that semester. That $1,000 (or however much over you earn in scholarships) can then be used for things like books, rent, groceries, etc. Depending on how much you earn you may find that you’re able to stop working and focus completely on school, too.
Get Involved Without Over-Committing
A great way to kick-start your career is to be involved in a fraternity, national club, or some other scholarly organization pertaining to your field. Doing so can also increase your networking power when you’re looking for a job after graduation. So join. Something. Get involved. But be incredibly aware of your constraints.
Are you working? Then don’t promise to volunteer as a full-time “job.” Do you have kids? Then don’t say you can serve as club president when the weekly meetings are held when you need to be getting the kids off the bus.
Make a Schedule
Scheduling is so incredibly important. Make sure you schedule for things like
If you’re in a relationship, have kids, or other people that depend on you, there’s even more you have to schedule for, and it’s incredibly important:
time to talk and catch up with each other
time to spend with your kids/whoever else may depend on you
The task can seem daunting. It can even be tempting to eliminate things on that list. But remember, you’re in this for about four years. Can you really go four years without socializing? Maybe. But you’d probably be hating life. Can you skip the talks with the girlfriend? Probably. But only if you’re trying to kill your relationship. And the studying? It’s necessary if you want to be any kind of good in the the field you’re entering. Schedule purposefully, and live life accordingly.
Spread It Out
If you’ve done the fall semester full-time and it’s just way too stressful or your grades are suffering, instead of giving up try going half-time in spring. Then you can go half-time in summer, too, and not be behind on your classes.
Most of the classes offered in summer are general electives that a lot of people need to take, so keep that in mind. If you’re receiving financial aid such as a Pell Grant or state aid, if you go half-time you’re only awarded half of your grant.
The other half that you qualify for can be applied to the summer semester and completely cover it the same as if you had gone full-time in the spring. So you’re not losing any money. At least that’s how it worked at my school.
Double-check with your financial aid office. And if you’re concerned about not having a summer break, don’t worry. Most schools have a 3-4 week break between Spring and Summer semesters, and then another 2-4 week break between Summer and Fall.
If you’re going to do something like an internship at the end of your course of study, think about that now. How will that work out with work? If you have kids, how will childcare work?
Talk with your boss about it early so that they know to expect it and you all have time to work out a viable solution to give you the time you need to complete that internship (without bidding your current employer a premature adieu.) Give yourself years to figure out the whole childcare debacle instead of just weeks or months.
You Will Be Stressed.
And that’s okay. That’s normal.
That’s why scheduling things such as socialization, relaxation, and date nights are important. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is going back to school, it’s going to change your status quo. There will be stress, and stress usually leads to fights.
You will most likely fight. But that doesn’t mean that your relationship is crap. It means you’re stressed out, and you both need to find ways to cope better. Which is why scheduling time to talk and connect is so important.
Going back to school as an adult who isn’t fresh out of high school comes with a complex set of challenges.
Family responsibilities, work responsibilities, and just general grown-up bills and concerns can weigh you down. But don’t let them hold you back. Those few stressful years are so worth it. And you can hold your head a little higher than those younger kids when you walk at commencement, because you know that you had to work a little harder to hold that degree in your hand. But you didit.
What tips do you have for someone going back to college as an adult? How was your experience?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your job?
For many people, a job is simply a necessity in order to cover the expenses of life, but it’s not enjoyable.
If your job is something that you dread each day, have you ever thought about making a change? There are a lot of fun jobs that pay well, offering a rewarding career rather than something that feels like it’s sucking the life out of you.
While we’re all different and no job will appeal to everyone, there are some good options out there regardless of your own interests and your own personality.
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Steady will help match you with a full-time, part-time or hourly jobs to help you bring in some extra steady income.
In addition they have other ways that you can earn extra income by doing tasks online. It’s definitely worth checking out.
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Fun Jobs That Pay Well
Let’s take a look at a number of jobs that tend to be enjoyable, while also providing an opportunity to earn an above-average income.
For the purposes of this article, we’re getting the average salary details for each job from ZipRecruiter. Keep in mind that this is strictly an average and there are a lot of factors that can influence what you’ll actually earn.
We’re listing the jobs according to the average annual salary, with the highest-paying opportunities first. Of course, there is a lot more that goes into job satisfaction than simply how much money you make, so don’t choose a career based on income alone.
1. Video Game Designer
Average salary of a Video Game Designer: $130,000
If you like video games, what job could be more fun than working as a video game designer? Not only will you be able to work on projects that you enjoy, but you’ll also get the satisfaction of creating games that others love.
Like other design-related jobs, this is a career that allows you to utilize your creativity. If you’re naturally creative, this is the type of job you should have in order to find the most satisfaction in your work.
This is one career where your skills are likely to be more important than your education. Many video game jobs will require a degree of some kind, but it’s possible to start a great career with as little as an associate’s degree.
2. Ethical Hacker
Average salary of an Ethical Hacker: $119,289
An ethical hacker is hired by a company to test the security of a computer system, network, or website. The job involves attempting to hack the system and find weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
While there are certainly some unethical ways to make money as a hacker, this career path offers a lucrative option that will actually help companies instead of hurting them.
Of course, you’ll need plenty of technical knowledge and hacking skills. You may need a degree or certification, although the qualifications will vary depending on the job. You’ll also need to be constantly learning to stay on top of new technology and techniques.
Average salary of a pilot: $108,921
What could be more fun than flying a plane? Working as a pilot is not only enjoyable, but it’s also a very high-paying job.
Instead of sitting in an office, you can spend your working hours 30,000 feet above the ground. Naturally, this job will involve travel, although the specifics will depend on the routes that are assigned to you. Pilots also tend to work non-traditional hours, which may or may not be appealing to you.
The requirements will vary depending on the job. Pilots for major airlines are typically required to have a college degree, as well as extensive training.
4. Wedding Photographer
Average salary of a Wedding Photographer: $104,417
Photography can be a very competitive industry, as it seems like everyone has at least one friend or family member that does photography as a side job. But wedding photography stands out from other types of photography because it’s much more suitable for professionals than hobbyists.
Wedding photographers do face some pressure in their line of work (you only get one chance to capture the moment) but it can be highly rewarding. The cost of a wedding photography package can easily total thousands of dollars.
Not only are wedding photographers paid well, but they also benefit from enjoyable work. You’ll get to use your creative or artistic side, work with a lot of different people, and provide clients with photos that they’ll cherish for years to come.
Most wedding photographers are self-employed (although you could work for someone else as a second shooter) so there are no specific requirements in terms of education. The most important thing is that you’ll need a quality portfolio of photos in order to land clients. You may need to offer your services for very low prices in order to land your first clients and start to building your portfolio.
5. Software Engineer
Average salary of a Software Engineer: $99,729
If you enjoy working on your own and spending a lot of time at a desk, becoming a software engineer could be an excellent career choice.
Whether this job is fun or not will depend on your own personality and your interests, but for the right person, it’s a great job that is very rewarding.
Although you’ll be spending the majority of your time working on your own to code or develop software, you’ll also need to communicate and collaborate with teammates and colleagues.
Most jobs for software engineers or software developers will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or some other related field. Of course, aside from the degree, you’ll also need skills in the particular coding language being used for the software.
Average salary of a Veterinarian: $96,624
If you’re an animal lover, a career as a veterinarian is likely to be both fun and rewarding. You’ll get to spend your time helping animals and pet owners, and you’ll probably work with a wide variety of types of animals.
As you might expect, the requirements to become a veterinarian are pretty significant. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree plus completion of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.
If you’re interested in this type of job but you’re not able or willing to invest the time and money into the education, it’s possible that you would work another job in a vet’s office to get many of the same benefits, although you won’t be paid as well.
7. Physical Therapist
Average salary of a Physical Therapist: $89,349
Physical therapists help clients with rehabilitation or treatment of chronic issues. If you love working with people and you don’t want to sit at a desk all day, this could be a great career choice for you.
You’ll need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in order to work as a physical therapist.
8. Air Traffic Controller
Average salary of an Air Traffic Controller: $84,103
Air traffic controllers are responsible for organizing planes that are landing and taking off, in order to keep everyone safe.
Working as an air traffic controller can be an exciting job, but it does come with a lot of responsibility. You’ll need excellent attention to detail as people’s lives will be in your hands every day.
You’ll need formal training in order to work as an air traffic controller, but there are a few different ways that you can get that training. You could get training through the Federal Aviation Administration, or gain experience in the military.
9. Art Director
Average salary of an Art Director: $78,781
If you enjoy using creativity in your work, becoming an art director could be a wise choice of career. Art directors are generally responsible for overseeing things like advertising, publication layout, photography, and more.
It’s similar to a design role, but you’ll be a manager and responsible for overseeing more than doing the actual design work yourself.
Art director jobs are typically senior level and require a combination of a degree and several years of design experience. If you have the relevant experience, this could be a job that you pursue now. If you’re in the early stages of your career, this could be a long-term goal while you build your experience and resume as a designer.
10. Voice Actor
Average salary of a Voice Actor: $76,297
As a voice actor or voiceover artist, you’ll be reading a script and recording audio to be used in a variety of different ways. Your projects could involve things like creating audiobooks, recording sales videos, creating commercials, and much more.
With the amount of audio and video content being produced these days, working as a voice actor is a great job and these skills are in demand.
Many voice actors work as freelancers, so there are no set requirements in terms of education or experience. If you have some skills, you may be able to start landing clients and building your portfolio. The clips in your portfolio will be the most important factor in your ability to land clients and make money as a voice actor.
11. Web Developer
Average salary of a web developer: $75,073
A job as a web developer is fairly similar to the opportunity that we’ve already discussed for software engineers. Instead of software, you’ll be coding websites or web-based apps.
The qualifications will vary depending on the job. Some development positions will require a degree, however, your coding ability will be more important. You may be able to land a quality job even if you don’t have a degree by having a strong portfolio.
Working as a freelance web developer is also an option. You can either focus on growing your own business, or freelance for the purpose of gaining experience and proving your ability in order to help with landing a job.
12. Helicopter Pilot
Average salary of a Commercial Helicopter Pilot: $67,540
Flying an airplane isn’t the only option if you want to work as a pilot. Helicopters can be even more fun to fly than jets, and the income potential is pretty good.
To work as a helicopter pilot, you’ll need training from an FAA-approved flight school, or you could get the necessary training in the military.
13. Virtual Assistant
Average salary of a Virtual Assistant: $67,115
A virtual assistant will perform administrative tasks remotely, from home or wherever you have an internet connection. The specific tasks can vary widely depending on what the client needs.
Most VAs will work for several different clients, so it’s possible to get a lot of variety in your work. One of the factors that makes this job so appealing is the flexibility. Not only can you work from home, but you can also set your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. This job is equally well suited for part-time and full-time work.
The best way to make money as a VA is to freelance and find your own clients. There are VA jobs available, but they tend to be lower paying. If you want to earn a better income, you should freelance rather than working as an employee.
30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success is a popular course that teaches you everything you need to know in order to start making a great income as a VA.
14. Freelance Writer
Average salary of a Freelance Writer: $63,213
Continuing with another job that can be done from anywhere, working as a freelance writer offers a lot of perks. It’s a flexible job that can be done part-time or full-time, you can use your existing experience or expertise, or choose to focus on topics that interest you.
There is plenty of work available and skilled writers are able to make a great income.
You don’t need any specific education or experience to work as a freelance writer, although writing skills are obviously important. There are entry-level gigs available for those who are just getting started, but you’ll need to build a portfolio and demonstrate your abilities to land the highest-paying jobs.
Check out the course 30 Days Or Less To Freelance Writing Success.
15. Cruise Director
Average salary of a Cruise Director: $63,185
For those who enjoy traveling and entertaining others, working as a cruise director could be a dream job. As a cruise director, you’ll be responsible for the entertainment and activities on a cruise ship.
You’ll manage a staff of workers and organize events to entertain cruise guests. It’s a job that involves a lot of interaction with people, and it can be a lot of fun.
To work as a cruise director, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree as well as experience with event planning. You may be interested in gaining experience with other roles on the ship that would prepare you and help you to establish qualifications to be hired as a cruise director.
16. Web Designer
Average salary of a web designer: $60,202
Earlier, we talked about working as a web developer. While developers are responsible for the coding, web designers focus more on the visual aspects. Some web designers also do HTML and CSS coding, while others strictly work on the visual design.
Many web design jobs are remote, so this is another opportunity that can be done from anywhere, depending on the job.
Some web design jobs may require a degree, but your work experience and design ability will be more important than education to most employers. It’s also possible to freelance or even start your own agency, so you don’t have to wait for someone to give you a job in order to become a web designer.
17. Landscape Architect
Average salary of a Landscape Architect: $59,868
Working as a landscape architect is another creative job. You’ll be designing outdoor spaces that people use and love, so it can be a very fun and rewarding job.
You could be designing for residential clients, outdoor spaces for businesses, parks, or other outdoor spaces.
Typically, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in order to qualify for a job. Obviously, your experience and portfolio will also play an important role in landing this type of job.
Average salary of a DJ: $58,267
As a disc jockey or DJ, you’ll get to work at fun events and provide entertainment to people. If you love music and being at weddings, parties, and other events, this could be the perfect job for you.
There are no official requirements to become a DJ and since many DJs are self-employed, anyone can start a business and go into this line of work.
Average salary of a Sommelier: $56,061
If you love wine, what job could be better than working as a sommelier? As the wine expert, your responsibilities may include things like creating a wine list for a restaurant or making wine recommendations to customers.
There are some organizations that offer certification as a sommelier, although certification is not absolutely essential in order to work in this type of job. You’ll need extensive knowledge of wine and ideally some experience in the industry, which might involve working under another sommelier to gain that experience.
Average salary of a Librarian: $55,395
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider fun jobs, working as a librarian can be a great choice for the right person.
If you love books and enjoy working in a quiet environment, this could be the job for you.
Most head librarian jobs will require a bachelor’s degree and possibly even a master’s degree. However, if you don’t already have the required education, there are other jobs at a library that don’t require a degree.
Average salary of a Magician: $54,071
If you love entertaining and delighting others, why not work as a magician? Performing magic or illusions can be a lot of fun while allowing you to use your skills.
There are no formal requirements to become a magician and no education is needed. Instead, you’ll need the ability to perform tricks and to entertain.
Many magicians are self-employed, but you might be able to gain valuable experience by working as an assistant for another magician.
22. Social Media Manager
Average salary of a Social Media Manager: $50,088
If you already spend hours a day on social media, you should consider working as a social media manager. You would be responsible for managing the social presence of your employer or clients on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networks.
A growing number of businesses rely on advertising on social networks like Facebook. You can get paid to set up and manage ads for clients, and this work can be quite lucrative if you’re good at getting results for your clients.
Bobby Hoyt’s Facebook Side Hustle Course will teach you everything you need to know to start your own business managing Facebook ads for clients in your local area.
If you’re looking for employment as a social media manager, you may need a degree. However, you could work as a freelancer or start your own agency regardless of your education. Ultimately, your ability to produce results is much more important (and valuable) than a degree.
23. Restaurant Critic
Average salary of a Restaurant Critic: $50,004
What could be better than getting paid to eat good food? You would be visiting different restaurants on a constant basis, trying the food, and writing your review.
Most food critic jobs will require a degree in journalism or a similar field. However, if you have the desire to become a food critic but you don’t have the education, you could start your own food blog and work on building up your audience. You may get to the point of being able to do it full-time, or the blog may provide you with qualifications that help you to land a job.
24. Event Planner
Average salary of an Event Planner: $49,992
As an event planner, you would get to work with other people planning events like weddings, conferences, parties, and other types of events.
If you enjoy planning and being around people, this could be a great career choice for you.
A bachelor’s degree in hospitality can help, but is not necessarily required. You could find employment as an event planner or start your own business.
25. Makeup Artist
Average salary of a Freelance Makeup Artist: $49,330
As a makeup artist, you may work at weddings or other events, with models, for theater and film products, etc. You could work as an employee or start your own business as a freelancer.
While there aren’t formal requirements to become a makeup artist, licensing or certification can help. Becoming a licensed cosmetologist will help to demonstrate your expertise.
26. Personal Trainer
Average salary of a Personal Trainer: $48,853
If you’re into fitness and you love working with people, especially one-on-one, working as a personal trainer could be a great job for you. You’ll be responsible for developing a training program to meet the needs of the client, as well as providing instruction, encouragement, and motivation.
You’ll need a high school degree and certification by an accredited program. You may be able to find a job as a personal trainer through a local gym, or you could start your own business and find clients on your own.
27. Graphic Designer
Average salary of a Graphic Design $48,283
If you’re artistic and you have some design skills, working as a graphic designer would be a natural choice. Graphic designers can work on a wide variety of projects like logo design, brochure design, advertising design, packaging design, and more.
While your portfolio will be the most important factor in landing work, many graphic design jobs will also require a relevant degree. If you don’t have a degree and you want to start using your abilities right away, you could work as a freelance graphic designer.
There Are Plenty Of Fun Jobs That Pay Well
As you can see, there are plenty of jobs that provide excellent income potential while also allowing you to enjoy your work.
It really comes down to your own interests and skills, so find a job that would be a good option for you and take action. With these fun jobs that pay well being listed, you should have at least a few options to consider.
Experts weigh in on the best way to negotiate a starting salary and raise.
You know the potential perks of negotiating your salary: higher pay and better benefits. But it can feel awkward, or even scary, to negotiate when you’re interviewing for a new job or looking for a change at your current gig.
Devon Smiley, a negotiation consultant and coach, says many people are hesitant to negotiate because they don’t feel like they have enough experience doing it or because the thought simply stresses them out. As a result, they don’t negotiate the best starting salary, and instead, wind up accepting an initial offer without discussion.
This could be a mistake, Smiley says. Recruiters and hiring managers might expect you to negotiate and start with a low-ball offer.
Even if you just entered the workforce, you could be agreeing to less compensation than the company is willing to pay. Smiley says if you can secure even a small increase at the start of a job, “it can have a fabulous knock-on effect, as each raise or bonus from that point on is based on a higher figure.” So why not give negotiating a try?
Whether you’re interviewing for a new job or asking for a raise, here are four tips to successfully negotiate your salary:
1. Do your research before negotiating
You can start your negotiation preparations by finding out the average pay for someone in a similar role. Try to focus your research on similarly sized companies in your local area to get a good apples-to-apples comparison. This step is key if you’re trying to negotiate the best starting salary or if you’re focused on a raise.
“Advice that has worked wonderfully for my clients (and in my own experience) is getting off of the salary websites,” Smiley says.
She recommends talking directly to people in the role at several companies. Reach out through your network to find good connections, or consider a cold email or call after finding someone’s information on LinkedIn or a company’s website.
“You’re not asking people to reveal their actual salary,” she says, “but you can ask them if a range feels like it’s in the right neighborhood.” You can use the findings to help negotiate a higher starting salary or request a raise.
While you’re discussing pay ranges, you can also ask about their general work responsibilities. If you are tackling more work than someone else who has the same title, for example, you may deserve higher pay. And as an added benefit, Smiley has found that people are sometimes willing to share what they wish they’d asked for during their negotiations.
2. Think about the big picture
Negotiations aren’t just about your cash compensation. When you’re considering how to negotiate a higher starting salary or tips to successfully negotiate your salary, think about your work-life balance. How can you align employer-provided benefits with your long-term career and personal goals? There are a variety of benefits that might be on the table, if you ask.
Perhaps you’d be happier and better able to focus on personal projects if you accept lower pay along with more paid time off or work-from-home days. Employers might be willing to help pay for child care or transportation, or even provide paid maternity or family leave if they won’t increase your salary. One benefit that could be especially useful is contributions toward your professional development, such as the ability to attend conferences, enroll in courses or pursue a graduate degree program.
“Professional development ups your earning potential both within that organization and with future employers,” Smiley says.
3. Justify your requests
Your market research can help you negotiate a higher starting salary or raise, but your skills and experience are also an important factor in determining your compensation (and whether you get the job at all).
When you negotiate for a higher starting salary, be prepared for interviewers to ask about your current pay. “My advice is not to share your current salary,” says Cheryl Santiago, a career transition coach in the Washington, D.C. metro area and founder of Get Hired Coach, Inc. If you’re trying to negotiate the best starting salary, you don’t want to peg it to your current pay, Santiago says.
If they ask, Santiago recommends being prepared to answer with a range. The high number is your dream salary, and the low number is the midpoint between your dream salary and the minimum you need to live. To ensure there’s a potential good fit for you, you may want to ask the recruiter or hiring manager about the company’s salary range (if it’s not listed on the job description) early in the process.
If you’re shooting for the higher end of your range when negotiating the best starting salary or raise, you’ll need to demonstrate why you deserve it. Maybe you were part of a successful initiative or project in the past that increased your company’s revenue, recruited new clients or won an award.
“Linking your work to facts, figures and documented recognition helps you support the salary you’re asking for,” Smiley says.
Hard skills, such as certifications or training, could help you stand out from other candidates. Soft skills are also important. If you have an aptitude for networking or team building, try to come up with specific examples of how these skills have helped past employers and how you can leverage them in your future work.
Even if you’re happy with your current job for now, you should keep a record of your accomplishments to use during negotiations for a raise. This documentation will also help if you decide to leave down the road and need to negotiate a higher starting salary.
4. Continue negotiating after your first year
Some employers offer modest pay increases each year to offset cost-of-living adjustments. But unless you receive a promotion, you may find that it’s hard to secure a significant raise without moving to a new company. Santiago says one of the tips to successfully negotiate your salary with your current employer is remembering that it’s expensive for a company to find, hire and train someone new.
One idea is to talk to your manager several months before a formal review and ask what you need to do to deserve more compensation. You can then focus on accomplishing these tasks or learning the skills. Additionally, share positive results from previous performance reviews and projects with your manager. Be sure to discuss new skills you’ve acquired or new responsibilities you’ve taken on since starting the job.
Santiago says another tip to successfully negotiate your salary is requesting that your boss or the HR team do an industry assessment of your job role if you’ve had the same job for more than five years. This would entail the company comparing the responsibilities and compensation for employees at your level with similar employees at other companies. This could help in your negotiations if the standard market rate for your position has risen faster than your compensation. And that could be reason enough for a raise.
Seal the deal
Conquering the fear of negotiating can be difficult, whether you’re trying to negotiate the best starting salary or raise. But it’s all possible with practice.
“You’re more likely to get the result you’re looking for when you can clearly demonstrate the value you’ve brought (or will bring) to the organization,” Santiago says. And that’s why it’s important to have a plan and prepare with these tips to successfully negotiate your salary before even entering the negotiation room.
Rather than asking for more money due to tenure, you’ll back up your requests with facts, figures and examples of your personal accomplishments.
If you get a raise at work or negotiate the best starting salary, consider opening an online savings account so your earnings can grow while your career does.
Side hustling is a way of life for more than 44 million Americans. Here’s why.
The phrase “side hustle” has gained popularity over the years. What started as a term referring to making a little extra money outside of a day job has turned into a way of life for many.
According to a 2017 study from Bankrate.com, more than 44 million Americans have a side hustle, which can range from working on freelance projects after hours to driving for ride-sharing companies on the weekends. Of the 86 percent of side hustlers who earn extra money from a side job every month, 36 percent make more than $500, the study found. Making ends meet was the main motivation for the majority of side hustlers and may be one of the key reasons you need a side hustle, too.
However, side jobs aren’t just for covering expenses. There are several reasons why you should start a side hustle, even if you can live comfortably off of your primary income.
Here are four things to consider as you evaluate your primary job and the prospect of side hustling:
1. Having multiple sources of income is empowering
Nick Loper, creator of the Side Hustle Nation podcast, spends his time interviewing people who earn money outside of their day jobs. His aim, in part, is to show his 60,000-plus followers that there are many ways to make time for a side hustle and numerous reasons why you should start a side hustle.
“Of course, making extra money never goes out of style, and that’s probably what draws most people to create a side hustle,” Loper says. “Other benefits might include learning or practicing new skills, exploring a passion of yours or just empowering yourself to find you have economic value outside of your day job or paycheck.”
When asked about some of the successes his podcast guests have experienced, Loper named several: A man who went from earning $30,000 annually working for a newspaper to $30,000 in a day as a freelance photographer, a man who started a multimillion-dollar company selling used textbooks and a woman who earns up to $5,000 a month teaching people how to bake bread.
Loper believes so many people are starting to focus on increasing their earning potential outside of their primary jobs because multiple sources of income can allow you to be more self-reliant. This may be a reason you need a side hustle.
2. You can use the extra money to pay off debt
Paying off debt is, for many people, among the top reasons you need a side hustle. If you’re paying off debt and don’t feel like you’re making any headway, you may benefit from the extra money you can make with a side hustle.
That’s what Gerald Zingraf decided to do when he was looking at $85,000 worth of student loans. Zingraf, 29, is a product manager for a technology company based in Arlington, Virginia. Although he had always made good money, it wasn’t enough to pay down his debt, cover his living expenses and reach his goal of becoming financially independent by 35. He ran the numbers and they didn’t lie—he needed to make more money.
“I was going to be paying student loans for a long time unless I could supplement my income somehow,” he says.
So between 2015 and 2017, he started not just one, but three companies on the side of his day job. His companies include two e-commerce sites—one that sells healthy office supplies such as standing desks and another that sells baby products. His third company is a subscription box service that provides the “ingredients” (not always food, by the way) for creative date nights for couples. Thanks to these companies, Zingraf was able to pay off his student loans in three years.
Assessing your debt and your financial plan to pay it off could become a reason you need a side hustle.
“It doesn’t take a lot of time to build a side gig. It’s like getting in shape. You don’t go to the gym for eight hours a day a couple of times and expect to see results. Instead, you commit 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for a few months.”
3. You can use the extra money to build wealth
If you’re not working to pay off debt, then you may want to find ways to make time for a side hustle simply so you can build wealth faster.
Whether it’s boosting your savings for emergencies or maxing out investment accounts, making extra money can help you reach those financial goals much quicker than if you rely only on your primary career.
This is exactly what Zingraf does with his side companies. What began as a way to make extra money to pay off debt has turned into a vehicle for him to reach financial independence in his 30s, where he’ll have enough income to pay his living expenses for the rest of his life without having to work full time. Zingraf is on track to reach his goal of financial independence in six years by the age 35.
4. It could turn into a job you love (if that’s what you want)
If you’re looking for reasons you need a side hustle, the internet is full of stories of individuals who started a business on the side because they were passionate about something and then it turned into their full-time job. If making money doing something you love isn’t one of the best reasons why you should start a side hustle, what is?
Chenell Tull, founder of Hustle to Startup, did just that after working for AAA’s e-business department for seven years as a Google Ads and SEO specialist. She had helped her stepfather with his online presence for a marketing company he’d started and shared the experience with her networking group. This helped her secure another client, and soon she was working with three or four clients on the side of her day job.
“I decided I loved this so much that I wanted to leave my day job,” Tull says. “I worked to save up eight months of expenses, which took about one-and-a-half-years.” In June of 2017, Tull quit her job to focus on her business full time.
Loper also turned multiple side hustles into his full-time career. To make extra money, he started his first side hustle in 2006—a comparison shopping site for footwear. He went full time with that project in 2008. In 2013, Loper started the Side Hustle Nation podcast, which became his main focus one year later, and by 2017, he said he was earning $15,000 a month.
Does your side gig have to turn into your full-time job? Definitely not. Many, like Zingraf, choose to keep their day jobs and continue building businesses on the side. The route you decide to take depends on your goals and interests.
Making the time to side hustle
Determining why you should start a side hustle is one thing. Finding the time to actually work on your side hustle is another thing entirely.
Thinking about your side hustle inspiration is a good place to start. Are you looking for more financial security? Trying to pay off debt? Build wealth? Once you have the answer, it becomes easier to work on your side gig in your free time. Tull, who believes if you value your side gig it will be easier to find ways to make time for a side hustle, used early morning, nights, weekends and even her commute to work.
If you’re looking for ways to make time for a side hustle, you may actually find that you have more free time than you think. Zingraf suggests that you audit yourself by spending a week recording what you do in 15-minute chunks.
“I bet that there will be at least 20 hours wasted on fruitless tasks like Netflix, Facebook and games on your phone,” he says. Even if you have excellent time management skills, you may still uncover free time you didn’t know you had and ways to make time for a side hustle.
More than 44 million Americans have a side hustle.
Zingraf also shares a little-known secret to successful side hustling. “It doesn’t take a lot of time to build a side gig,” he says. “It’s like getting in shape. You don’t go to the gym for eight hours a day a couple of times and expect to see results. Instead, you commit 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for a few months.”
This accumulation of small wins over a period of time, not a massive time dump, is essential, he says. That’s why he suggests side hustlers commit to working one hour a day, five days a week, for the next three months.
“Find one thing to go all out on during that time,” Zingraf says, “and don’t get distracted by other shiny objects.”
Thoughtful spending (and saving) is the best way to get the most benefit from your bonus.
A bonus at work is not a sure thing. But landing one can be a great, great thing. Sometimes the only trouble is knowing what to do with your year-end bonus. Fancy new bag? Weekend getaway? Finally getting that emergency fund started? All smart uses for a year-end bonus, depending on your situation.
Employers are projected to dish out modestly larger discretionary bonuses in 2019, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory, broking and solutions company. A discretionary bonus is typically awarded for special projects or one-time achievements. According to the survey, discretionary bonuses will average 5.9 percent of salary for exempt employees in 2019, which is slightly larger than companies budgeted for in 2018.
That means figuring out what to do with your year-end bonus is a question you may well have to answer as you succeed at work. Your best move is to plan in advance for any extra cash that could come your way.
Whether it’s a year-end perk or a recurring reward, here are some important ways to think about and use your bonus:
1. Understand your employer’s bonus structure
A work bonus is extra pay that an employee receives in addition to a salary and is typically awarded for successful individual or team performance. The timing of awarding bonuses and their structure can vary by industry, company and even department.
Before you can decide what to do with your year-end bonus, you’ll need to understand how and when people earn bonuses at your company and whether you are eligible to receive one, says Lance Cothern, founder of the financial blog Money Manifesto. While some employers pay bonuses to all employees when the company reaches its goals, other companies base the rewards on individual performance, or a combination of both. Your employee policy handbook should include this information, Cothern says. If not, consider asking your boss or someone from your human resources department for more information—including when bonuses are determined and paid out.
However bonuses work at your job, don’t count on one as part of your annual income. Bonus amounts can change from year to year, and sometimes they don’t happen at all.
“You don’t want to get yourself into a position where if you don’t get a bonus, you are in a financial tough spot,” says David Weliver, publisher of the independent financial site Money Under 30.
2. Remember that it’s not a lottery ticket
When deciding what to do with your year-end bonus, be careful not to treat it as if you won the lottery or got a prize that you weren’t expecting, Weliver says.
Turns out that people are more likely to spend money framed as a windfall (a large amount of money won or received unexpectedly) and to save money framed as a reimbursement, according to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. The bottom line? When money feels like an addition to your bank account, you’re more likely to feel like you can spend it. On the other hand, you’re more apt to hang onto money that feels like compensation.
To figure out what to do with your year-end bonus, “treat it as earned income,” Weliver says, “because it is. You worked for that bonus.”
3. Avoid frugal fatigue
After the Great Recession, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling popularized the phrase “frugal fatigue”—a tiredness over pinching pennies that’s still commonly felt by anyone on a budget. Smart uses for a year-end bonus can help alleviate some of this financial weariness.
People who feel “frugal fatigue” most strongly are the least likely to stick to good spending habits when their financial circumstances improve, Weliver says. Similarly, young people who are dealing with student loans and credit card balances and focused on getting out of debt as fast as possible can actually get burned out if they don’t treat themselves once in a while.
Enter: Your bonus. Smart uses for a year-end bonus may include spending some of it on yourself, some of it on bills and other financial obligations and some of it to save or pay off debt, Weliver says.
To start, “It’s a good idea to take between 10 to 25 percent of it and use that for yourself,” he says. “Positive reinforcement that you can enjoy a little bit of your money makes it possible to keep working hard.”
“You don’t want to get yourself into a position where if you don’t get a bonus, you are in a financial tough spot.”
4. Make a financial plan
After setting aside funds for a small treat, you can use the remainder of a work bonus as an opportunity to meet your larger financial goals.
Financial plans are extremely important when it comes to the best ways to spend your bonus, Cothern says.
“If you don’t have a plan for how you’d use your bonus money,” he says, “it usually ends up getting spent in small amounts here and there with nothing left to show for it.”
Although each person may spend his or her bonus differently, smart uses for a year-end bonus include paying off high-interest debt first, Weliver says. After paying down debt, consider creating an emergency fund with a few months of expenses in the bank, Cothern adds. Next, consider saving money for retirement or other big goals.
5. Spend and save thoughtfully
Even if you’re in good financial shape, one of the best ways to spend your bonus is in a thoughtful way, rather than spending it all at once on an impulse purchase, Weliver says.
“Whether it’s things or experiences, what brings you the greatest amount of happiness for the dollars you spend?” he says. “Make a conscious choice before you go out and spend.”
Smart uses for a year-end bonus may also include contributing to a long-term goal, like buying your own home, starting a business or jump-starting a child’s college education fund. When considering the best ways to spend your bonus, consider a donation to a favorite cause or charity, which can often be tax-deductible.
“If you don’t have a plan for how you’d use your bonus money, it usually ends up getting spent in small amounts here and there with nothing left to show for it.”
6. Share the wealth
If you’re debating the best ways to spend your bonus, there may be some ideas from published research. At least one study suggests that money can indeed buy happiness—if you spend it on others. Sarah Gervais, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, wrote that when researchers evaluate people’s happiness before and after spending a bonus, they find greater joy among those who use the money on others or donate it to charity.
The happiness occurs no matter how big the bonus is. “One reason for this phenomenon is that giving to others makes us feel good about ourselves,” she writes.
The research also shows that when people purchase experiences—such as taking a class or traveling—the resulting happiness increases over time. That’s likely because we tend to share experiences and memories with others, Gervais says. One way to maximize the happiness of spending a work bonus may be to purchase an experience and bring a friend along. You can even use your bonus to plan an experiential gift for your significant other.
7. Stick to your plan
When deciding what to do with your year-end bonus, the best plan is to have a plan. Whether you treat yourself, contribute to long-term financial goals, help others—or all of the above—thoughtful spending (and saving) is the best way to spend your bonus.