If your only approach to finding room in your budget for the things you love is to find new ways to spend less money, you’re selling yourself short.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some huge benefits to learning how to spend less on things that aren’t truly important to you, even beyond the obvious ones. It’s a powerful tool and it shouldn’t be ignored.
But if you really want to build the kind of life where you’re able to make decisions based on what’s best for your family, and not simply what’s the best you can afford, then you’re often going to have to focus on the other side of the coin as well: earning more money.
While spending less is often the starting point of your financial journey, earning more is the piece that can put you over the top. It’s the piece that can open up new opportunities and get you closer to the life you truly want.
Here’s why earning more is such a powerful tool.
The potential is limitless
This is the obvious benefit. While there’s only so much you can cut out of your budget, there’s literally no limit to the amount you can earn.
What would an extra $200 per month do for you? How about an extra $1,000 per month? What about $5,000? Or $10,000?
Those kinds of big results aren’t easy to achieve and they won’t come quickly. But they’re definitely within the realm of possibility and they can start changing your mindset from “what can we afford?” to “what do we want?”.
It may not be as hard as you think
You don’t always have to start a business or go back to school if you want to earn more money. Sometimes the opportunity is much closer to home than you might think.
The first place to look is your current job. Are you being paid fairly? Whether the answer is yes or no, does your current salary reflect the value you provide your company? Are there any specific accomplishments you can point to that would indicate that you deserve to be paid more? If not, can you think of anything you could do in the next few months that would make you stand out?
With a little bit of preparation, you could put yourself in a great position to ask for a raise, which would immediately put you in the “earning more” camp without having to do anything more than present a compelling case. And that increased income would continue month after month, providing benefits for years to come.
You can do it on the side
If you’re like most people, you probably have a full-time job that supports your family right now. Or maybe you’re a full-time parent. Either way, it’s likely that you don’t have a ton of time to devote to a completely new money-making venture.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up your current responsibilities if you want to start making more. There are plenty of ways to spend your free time working on a “side hustle”, testing it out and building it up before you have to make any long-term decisions. Heck, the foundation of my company was 18 months ago when I started a little blog on the side that eventually grew into a full-time financial planning business. Sometimes it only takes the littlest commitment now to eventually grow into something big.
If you’re not sure what a “side hustle” looks like, check out this awesome resource from my buddy J. Money. There are plenty of ideas there that can help you get started.
Sometimes it’s really the only option
Some people have cut their expenses just about as much as they possibly can and are still struggling to find room for savings, paying off debt, or even just paying all of the bills. If that’s you, then you know that beating your head against the wall trying to find more places to cut your spending just isn’t going to work.
Sometimes the simple reality is that earning more is really the only path to reaching your goals. After all, it requires a certain amount of money to do things like build an emergency fund, save for retirement, and get the insurance your family needs. That money has to come from somewhere, and sometimes there just isn’t enough of it yet. If that’s you, then it’s time to start getting creative and find a way to increase your earning potential.
You open yourself up to opportunities you never knew existed
You might feel like you don’t know how to get started earning more money. And that’s okay. It’s actually totally normal.
But here’s the really cool thing (and this is something that kind of blew my mind once I got going with this blog 18 months ago). As soon as you start looking for ways to earn more money, you’re going to run into crazy opportunities you never would have heard about otherwise. You’re going to meet people who are doing incredibly interesting things you never would have considered. You’re going to learn about strategies or jobs you’ve never heard of before.
At first it might feel a little bit strange, but pretty soon you’ll realize that the question is no longer “how do I find an idea?”, but “which idea should I try out first?”. It’s pretty amazing how many different ways there are to make money out there, with the only real trick being that you have to look for them first.
You will learn about yourself and what you’re capable of
More money alone should never be the pursuit. But in the pursuit of more money you have to create something valuable, something that people are willing, and maybe even happy, to pay for. And that will challenge you in a way that perhaps you’ve never been challenged.
I’ve learned more about myself, who I am, who I want to be and where I want to go by running this website and starting this company than just about anything else I’ve ever done in my life.
There’s something pretty powerful that happens when you break out of your norm and push yourself to achieve something. There are a lot of different ways you can do that and trying to earn more money is just one of them. But if you’ve never done it, I would strongly encourage you to try and earn even just a few dollars doing something you’ve never done before. You’ll have successes and failures. You’ll have to learn new skills. You’ll find that you’re good at certain things and not at others.
And each step along the way you’ll learn a little bit more about what you’re capable of and what’s possible. Who knows where that might take you next?