When I first started out paying off my debt, I was a new graduate making an entry level salary. It wasn’t much, and it barely left any room in my budget for extra debt payments. I wanted to pay off my debt as quickly as possible, and after reducing my expenses to the absolute minimum, the only option left was to increase my income. But how? How could a new grad increase her income quickly and substantially enough to make a difference in debt repayment? Well, you’ve got a few options. Here’s how I managed to increase my income by 44% in three years.
Full Time Job
I Knew What I Was Worth
My first step was to try and increase my full time income by getting paid more to do the same work. The first thing I did was to thoroughly research what someone with my skill level and years of experience earns. I used sites like PayScale to get an idea of the salary range I should be getting. As it turns out, I wasn’t getting paid enough. Sure, when I was first offered the job it seemed like a lot of money, but I was comparing to my co-op work terms, not to national averages. When my first year of work was complete I bargained with my employer and managed to get a 10% raise.
I Switched Jobs
Last year I quit my first job out of school for a remote working position with a great company from Toronto. Unfortunately that position didn’t last and although I learned a ton, five months later I was switching jobs again. The second job change gave me the opportunity to negotiate a higher income that reflected all of the new skills I’d learned, and I came away with another 11% raise. I was really excited about this and it made the whole job switching process worth it.
Unfortunately, as most of us know, full time jobs tend to have ceilings with how much money you can demand at any time without upgrading skills or killing it on major projects, so after I’d exhausted my options with my full time job, I moved on to trying to hustle some more income from other sources.
Once this blog was established, I started putting the word out that I was looking for freelancing gigs (and still am, more info about hiring me here) and started to accept advertising here on the blog. My first year of freelancing I made $2,345, the second year I made $6,500, and last year I brought home $8,000. This extra money really helped me pay off my debt and also represented a significant increase in my gross income.
As a side benefit, I’ve been able to apply the skills I learned while freelancing to my full time job, making me more valuable and thus able to demand more money. Since I freelance in the same industry as my full time job, any skills I learn can be applied to both.
I Increased My Income by 44%, You Can Too
Increasing my income was something I desperately needed to do when I first started out after university. I wasn’t making enough money to pay off my debt quickly, and I was feeling the pinch. So I did whatever I could to increase my skills at work and I made sure to know how much I was worth. On top of that I looked outside my full time job for other income opportunities. It wasn’t easy and I’ve probably spent the past three years working 50+ hours a week to achieve this, but in the end, it’s worth it. I’m more comfortable financially, I’m able to save more money and I worry less about losing my job because I know I’ve got skills to fall back on and a reliable base of freelance income to draw from.
How have you increased your income lately? I want to know!