Sunday, April 1, 2012

Learn to Earn More!

One of the goals of this blog is to help you to hone your offensive game, which means earning more. (You can come back later and read about this HERE.) 
Most people think they need to earn more. Surveys have shown that at ALL income levels, people believe that a 20% raise will solve all their money problems. This is because we live in a society that tends to overspend. We think that just a little more money will make all the difference. The fact is, we can often survive and even thrive on what we currently are earning by shuffling the deck a bit.  Chances are that somewhere out there is a family that earns less than you and it is doing just fine. I challenge the idea that you need a raise, when what you may need is a good, solid budget and some discipline.
But, just for the sake of discussion, let’s suppose the issue really is income. Maybe you are just the best budgeter, the most frugal fanny ever, but there is still an income shortfall. Or maybe you really are underpaid and under appreciated in your job. Well, then it's time to earn more. I know, easier said than done, but for most of us far from impossible. 
Someone is getting paid –
why not you?

You can do this!

First, a pep talk: If you are unhappy with your job or your income, you, and only you, have the power to do something about it. This will require effort and energy! It might require a serious job search. It might require education. Often, it requires a change of attitude, but always it will require a plan. Most individuals do not stumble upon their success. Most fortunes, whether large or small, are born of a plan, well executed, repeatedly, over a long period of time. You really need to believe in yourself here – it is essential!  

There are no jobs?

You might find, as countless others have, that the raise or promotion you are wishing for is available at your current company. Failing that, there might be opportunities at another company right up the street. To find, you must seek. If there truly are no better jobs available in your industry or region, then it might be time to reposition yourself for something new. If that is the case, admit it, take a deep breath, then make a plan to reinvent yourself. You might need to learn a new trade, or you might be able to apply your existing skills to a new profession. Take a fresh look at what you can offer, and what employers need. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get there.

Do the Hustle!

Extra work. Odd jobs. Deliver pizza. Tutor. Handyman. Babysit. In-home day care. Yard sale. Shovel snow. Cut grass. Wait tables. Stain fences. eBay. Craig’s List. What can you do that someone would pay for? Don’t be above this line of thinking. The infusion of extra cash from an odd job is sometimes enough to retire some old debt and get the budget loosened up. Many times, the part-time gig turns into a larger opportunity. Most wealthy families have multiple streams of income. What do they know that you don’t? In my early twenties I had four paying jobs at one time. I worked days, nights, weekends, and once took a freelance design job – on Christmas Day. Hustle, baby! Someone’s getting paid, why not you?

It’s never too late

You are never too young, or too old, or too anything else. Mary Kay of cosmetic company fame was 45 when she started her eponymous company. Colonel Sanders was 65, retired and broke, when he began trying to franchise his unique chicken recipe. That worked out pretty well for him.  I know a guy who is 64, approaching retirement, and thinking of opening a hot dog stand. Awesome!

Five ways to get a raise:

I’m just a regular guy, and I teach what I know. Well, I’m a regular guy who is not afraid of a little risk. You MUST take risks to succeed. Those who risk move up. Hiding in a cubicle hoping no one asks for anything difficult while checking your Facebook account will seldom result in the big raises. 
The following actions increased my salary:
I said, “Yes.” Yes to more projects, work, responsibility. Be sure to smile as you do this. “Yes! 
I moved. Switching to new departments or to a new company creates the ideal opportunity to negotiate. There is never a better time to boost your salary than when moving. 
Someone is getting recognition –
why not you?
I educated myself. Gaining new skills is key to advancement. It’s practical, but also shows employers that you are a mentally active person who is interested in improving yourself.  I earned my BA 18 years ago, but I have continued to take classes in topics that interest me, and I am certain that doing so has helped my career. You do not necessarily need to get your MBA, any formal training will suffice. I believe that employers view associates who continue their education more seriously than those who do not. Additionally, I have found that the confidence gained from the education experience is often as important as what you actually learned. 
I asked. Yes, that actually works – sometimes. Timing is key. Ask for a meeting and make your case. Explain why you are worth more. Base it on research and facts, and never on what you need. The worst thing they can say is “No,” but at least they will know where you stand and you will know that you tried. 
I was awesome! OK, I’m not always completely awesome, but on my best days, I really give it all I have! If you do your job as if you are the best in the world, eventually someone will take notice.  If you do your job as if people are watching, eventually they will be watching. If you are going to devote half your waking hours to something, why not be really good at it? Make it easy for your boss to justify giving you a raise by being unusually excellent. 
When preparing to ask for a raise or negotiating a new opportunity, do your research. Find out what the market says you’re worth. is a fantastic resource and respected by employers, so start there. Not only do they have a cool salary calculator, but they offer free podcasts on negotiating skills that are worth a listen. 

It’s all on you

I once worked in what I would call a toxic environment. Many of the employees at the company had been there for years – too many years. Most were poorly paid. The best days of the company and the industry were behind them, and they spent a lot of time complaining, commiserating and whining. I found myself getting sucked in by their constant negative droning, until one day I realized what was happening and made a conscious decision to extract myself.
From that day on, I made two changes. First, I started looking for a new job. Second, I would announce to anyone who whined to me:

“If you do nothing to improve your situation, then you forfeit the right to complain.” * 

This statement became my personal mantra, with the added benefit of creating a whine-free zone of positivity around me. While I eventually moved on to a better job with more pay, many of my old co-workers stayed behind for years, wallowing in a stew of self pity, doing absolutely nothing to improve their situations. How sad.
Never in history have there been more opportunities and more resources available to those who wish to capitalize on them. The economy is awakening from its hibernation. (My pal at the unemployment office swears things are turning around.) This is a good time for fresh starts, new careers, and reinvention. 
If you take no action, take no risks, make no plan, and do nothing about your less than ideal income situation, then you forfeit the right to complain about it. If you choose to do nothing to improve your situation, acknowledge the choice you have made and learn to be happy with what you’ve got. If that’s not going to work for you, then it’s time to make a plan to earn more, and put the plan into action. 
* Note: “If you do nothing to improve your situation, then you forfeit the right to complain.” is copyrighted © 2012 by Marc Bastien. This statement will be appearing soon on t-shirts and coffee mugs, so don’t steal it unless you are ready to lawyer-up! ;-)


  1. Good Morning Marc,

    I enjoyed your post today. Perfect timing as I am entering the negotiating part of a job offer. Your post has given me a boost of confidence. If we fail to reach a happy agreement at least I know there is something else out there for me and I should not sell myself short.
    Hope all is well with you and keep posting because we are reading!


    1. Diane,

      Thanks for reading my blog. I'm truly glad I could be of service!

      Negotiating a job offer can be stressful and exciting. I've heard it said that this is the only time when you can earn $1,000 a minute. Figure out what you are worth, and stick to your guns. I'll give you a tip: When I am anticipating an offer, I write the minimum I'll accept on a card and put it in my wallet. This helps to insure that I don't sell myself short by accepting less than I am worth. Also, it could be useful in negotiations. If you bothered to write the magic number down before you arrived, they'll know you are serious.

    2. Hi Marc,

      I am excited to report your tip work. I figured out my minimum and stuck to it. It was hard because of the economy I was nervous to negotiate thinking they would just say take it or leave it since they have more applicants waiting behind me. I figured I had to go for it since I would not be happy accepting less than I am worth. It all paid off. We reached a nice compromise above my minimum and I start work on 4/23. Thanks.


    3. Wow Diane! Nicely done! Congratulations on your success!

      I am humbled that you took my advice and so happy to hear that it worked for you! Thanks for checking in to let me know how it went.

      Cheers! Marc

  2. Yay Marc!!
    You know, I do sit around saying...if only we made a little more money we could get these projects done around the house, etc. Your article is a reminder that it simply takes effective BUDGETING (whew, its even hard for me to type) of the income we do have to achieve our goals. Thanks for the reminder! However, I'm still going to try to make more $:)

    1. Yay BGW!

      Just imagine if you had good budgeting habits in place and then your income increased, too. You would be an unstoppable wealth building machine! (Or at least you'd be able to finish those projects.)

      I once heard it said that we can have whatever we want, we just need to be willing to give up something else. I think that sums up the budgeting process pretty well.

      Good luck and thanks for stopping by!


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