See if this paints a picture of you: You read all the articles online about ways to save money, make an airtight budget, and stick to it as best you can. You may go over a little on groceries, save a little on gas, but at the end of the month, you’ve come in pretty close and you’re still left with next to nothing in extra cash. So what gives?
Let’s face it. Most of us, especially those newly graduated, aren’t pulling in the income that we dreamed we would. I know I didn’t. When I was in my late teens, I thought that by my age, I’d be earning so much money that I’d be able to afford random spa weekends in Colorado on top of an amazing wardrobe and a home that resembled a Pottery Barn catalogue (seriously, I did). And guess what? Even though I earned a pretty decent salary when I graduated and still do (ladies, it took a lot of hard work), I am not yet at that level. I still consider buying a rug from Target a splurge, find most of my clothes at Forever 21 and H&M, and the last time I went to a spa was.....oh yeah, never. For most of us, we’re still struggling to build up an emergency fund or pay off those loans (endless, right?), let alone dream of spontaneous vacation weekends. And while we are more than willing to battle those things standing in our way on the back end by cutting expenses, we’re missing all the potential on the front-end: earning more income.
Now, before you completely tune me out because you WILL NOT get a second job, hear me out. One of the greatest financial minds of our time made a huge statement when he said that we should never depend on a single income. That individual? Mr. Warren Buffet, himself (if you don’t know who this is, climb out from the rock you’re living under and Google him). Granted, he was talking mostly about investments, but it applies across the board. The best kind of income is, of course, the type you earn in the “background” – that from rental properties, stocks, bonds, etc. However, most of us don’t have the extra money sitting around to really make significant cash right away off of these options, which leaves us with option B: getting a second job.
DON’T FREAK OUT. I know what you’re all thinking – you don’t want to give up your evenings or weekends, especially when you can be out partying with your friends, or shopping, or sleeping in on Saturday mornings. But is that all you really want out of life? I enjoy having a good time like the rest of you, but I also know what the sense of accomplishment feels like. And I can tell you, missing a few nights out or extra hours of sleep are definitely worth it. Heck, I woke up at 7am on a Sunday to write this, and I’m not even getting paid for it. Here’s the thing: we all think we’re entitled to all of this “me” time, that we’ve worked hard for 5 WHOLE DAYS and deserve a 2 day break. But have we really done that much? Many of us do not have children or other huge obligations that take up our time and attention, so this is when we should be doing all we can to get ahead in our lives. Instead, we’re taking shots and spending a day’s worth of income on a purse you just “had” to have.
I’m not going to sit here and force anyone to take a second job. We all have different motivations, and we each have to decide how we want to achieve our goals. But if you are struggling or could use an extra $100 a week, all I ask is that you seriously think about it. Babysitting, waitressing, tutoring – it could be whatever. Love photography? Make it a side business. My ex was an insurance agent who was paid solely on commissions, so in his first few years while he tried to build up his customer base, he was coaching high school soccer and working Saturday nights at a downtown bar. And I respected him even more for it.
Now, this has mostly been written towards those with college degrees who are looking to increase their income until they can move up the ladder in their fields. But for those who have not had the opportunity to go to college, the most important thing I can say to you is to invest in yourself. Every education level has a ceiling, and in order to set yourself up for a higher income, you need to be trained in a profession. For some of you, that may be a four-year degree. For others, that may be a trade school or as easy as taking a class in Excel at your local community college. Whatever it is, give yourself the opportunity to greatly increase your earning potential. It’s the best thing you could do for you and your future.