The following is from my blogging buddy, Martin, over at Studenomics. He’s been trying to help people learn to manage their money at any age since before I knew that blogging existed, and he just published Next Round’s On Me: How-to Achieve Financial Freedom in Your 20s. Great guy and great advice, check it out!
“I’m just not making enough money to get ahead.”
One of my friends complained to me about this. I asked him if he wanted to do something about it or if he was just looking to whine. He wanted to take action. So I decided to helped him out.
What did I say?
Before we get into this, you must remember that it’s not going to be easy. What’s easy is to keep on keeping on. The difficult thing to do is to take action and to do something. I’m also going to assume that you want to either save up some money or pay off some debt to have some breathing space. You’re tired of watching your paychecks go as they come in. You’re fed up with never getting ahead. You want to finally be able to treat yourself to a steak dinner or you want more date nights.
Let’s get started…
You have to do one extreme thing.
I know that you don’t want to live in a van by the river. You also don’t want to start cutting your own hair. I get it. I don’t want you to totally ruin the quality of your life. You just have to do one extreme thing.
What are some examples here?
- Sell your car and take public transportation for the next year as you pay down debt.
- Live at home until you pay off your debt.
- Put off a big purchase so that you can save up some more cash.
- Make it a habit to eat your own food at work until your savings are where you want them.
- (Crystal’s suggestion – get a roommate!)
Do that one extreme thing. You won’t regret it. You’ve been getting the results that you’ve been getting because you’ve been doing the same crap forever and ever. It’s time to change this up. I don’t want you to be in the same boat one year from now or even five years from now.
It’s not going to be easy but it will be all worth it when you finally start building up some savings.
You need to make more money.
You can complain all that you want but you have to make more money. There’s no way getting around this sometimes. There’s only so much that you can save. Look at what happened to Crystal when she increased her income. She was able to save more, quit her job, and to budget in more fun.
This is where things get tricky. You obviously need your job to stay afloat. It’s unrealistic to tell you to quit your job because then you’re going to be screwed when the bills come in.
Here are my tips that I shared with my friends and readers who wanted to make more money:
- Drive for Uber. If you have a car, you can drive for extra cash. The barriers to entry for increasing your income are generally fairly low right now. I drove for Uber and made some decent cash on the weekends last summer.
- Find a part-time job. Have you looked around for a weekend gig? The additional income can go a long way. A friend worked at Starbucks until he was able to save up enough for a down-payment. He enjoyed the free coffee and took the time to work on his social skills.
- Start freelancing. Have you ever used your skills to increase your income? This is a different for another post, but we all have it in us to use our natural skills to make some more money. I personally amp up my freelance writing duties when I want to beef up the savings.
Those are the three best ways to increase your income. Of course, you might struggle at times, but once again, think of the end goal. You’re going to have X amount in the bank account or you might be debt-free. You may even find yourself quitting one day to go full-time with a side hustle.
Try to figure out your problem areas.
“Eww that smells awful.”
A friend in college was pretty offended when I busted out a container of tuna for lunch. I knew that tuna didn’t have the best scent, but I had to save some cash. I couldn’t afford to eat out constantly as a student. I wanted to make some moves.
My problem area has always been eating out. Whenever I needed to save money I would cut back on my spending on food.
What’s your problem area?
You can figure this out by tracking where your next $100 goes. Notice what’s eating up your finances and try to work on it. You don’t have to be perfect. The most important step is identifying your weaknesses so that you can work on them SLOWLY. It’s going to be a lot easier to get ahead when you know where you’re messing up.
If you want to get ahead financially this is what you need to do:
- Try something extreme for a period of time.
- Find ways to make more money.
- Work on ONE problem area.
Just because you’re not making enough right now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your situation.
You shouldn’t be broke forever. We all go through rough periods in our lives. This is what helps us appreciate the good times even more.