Whether you're 22 years old and eking out a living at your first job or 42 years old and juggling your kids' expenses while taking out ever-larger cash advances on your credit cards, you lack something: enough money.
Sometimes you can pull some more money together by getting more serious about setting a budget and adopting austerity measures. But often it boils down to facing the fact that you just need to earn more money.
Here are some suggestions for doing just that.
If you've ever thought about turning your skills as a pianist or your ability to cast ceramic pots into a part-time teaching job, now may be the time to put that plan into action. Check with community colleges or university extension programs in your area to see if they need extra teachers. Advertise your services by placing flyers with your contact information in local gyms (get permission from management first), libraries or universities. Or check out art studios or music stores in your area to see if they offer classes or lessons. Find out if they're hiring teachers.
Also consider work that you can do at home. Many companies and nonprofit institutions (such as the university where you may have graduated) need part-time staffers to make phone calls in the evening for sales or donations.
Consider checking online job listings for part-time opportunities that take advantage of your knowledge and skills.
Make a lateral move
It may be time to question what your company is paying you. Are you making the most that your company is willing to pay for a job that you know has higher potential elsewhere? If so, you may want to apply for the same job at a different company.
Begin by checking job Websites such as Monster.com or Jobs.com to find out the pay rates for jobs comparable to yours. You may find that other companies are offering higher salaries for a similar job. Apply for any job that makes the most of your skills. Don't get bogged down by fears that changing jobs is difficult or risky. If you find a better job opportunity, you may be able to make more money for doing basically the same work.
And always remember the importance of networking. Ask the people you know whether they've heard about openings at their companies for jobs that are similar to yours.
Time for a raise?
Some companies have annual or semiannual review periods that determine pay raises. Others have standard pay increases that everyone gets each year. But more often than not, companies base pay raises and promotions on less regular evaluations. If you've been performing above expectations at your company, you may be a great candidate for a promotion or pay raise. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Let your supervisor know that you'd like to be considered for a pay raise or promotion. Be prepared to undergo a formal evaluation for your job performance, and plan to make a case for why you should be promoted. Emphasize the quality of work you've done up until now and the skills you'd like to use in the future. And even if your employer says there's no opportunity for a raise now, get a firm commitment for a reevaluation in three months. Let your boss know you're serious about being rewarded for your work.
Another great way to boost your earning power is to increase your education and skill set. Think about what kinds of skills you'd need to get a job with more earning power. For example, if you know your company is looking to develop an online presence, you might decide to take a course in Web design or HTML (that's hypertext markup language, the coding used to put words on the Web).
Or if you're looking at job descriptions for positions that are one step above yours, keep an eye out for skills that would make you a better candidate. For example, if you work in your company's marketing department and you notice that you'd need some accounting experience to get a promotion, you might want to take an accounting course. And before you enroll, check with your company's benefits administrator to see if the company might be willing to pay for you to get this extra education, or at least reimburse you for part of it. If so, you'll be in great shape: You'll have more skills and a better job, and you won't break the bank in the process.