6 Clever Ways to Make More Money and Be Happy Doing It
Hot Jobs on The Muse
Of course, you know how to make more money. Just give up your social life, get a second job, or seek out a position that crushes your soul but gives you a big bonus at the end of the year.
If those options aren’t your cup of tea, then how can you make more money, while pursuing your dreams and keeping your center? There is a way; you just need to be focused and clever about it. Here are six ways to increase your earning potential and improve your life at the same time.
1. Learn a Marketable New Skill
It used to be that going back to school for a higher degree was the most obvious way to prime yourself to earn more money. But now, there are so many ways to continue your own education—from online classes to bootcamps that cost a fraction of the cost of grad school—that we think it’s often better to focus on skill building, not degree collecting.
Learning a new skill has threefold benefits. First, it demonstrates your commitment and value to your employer, which could lead to a raise or title change. If that doesn’t happen, you’re now equipped to start shopping yourself around to other employers for a higher-level, higher-paid position. Finally, continuing to challenge yourself and learn as an adult can make you experience more happiness today and in the long term.
So, which skills are best to spend your time on? Programming is a pretty obvious one in this day and age, but not all coding languages are created equal. Python is the highest-earning option, bringing your salary to an average of $80K after graduating from a bootcamp, according to a recent Course Report Study, and is in high demand among employers.
Data science is even better. It can bring your salary to an average of $118,709, according to Wired and was recently named the best job for work-life balance by Glassdoor.
Intrigued? Byte Academy specializes in both of these areas, offering full- and part-time courses led by industry experts, plus networking opportunities with leading industry companies, career guidance—and plenty of financial aid and scholarships (especially for women!) to cut down the price even further.
2. Seek Out the Right Kind of Freelance Work
Freelance work obviously increases your income, but you should go after the right kind of side gigs to increase your long-term value. So skip Task Rabbit, and instead offer your services to small businesses and bootstrapping friends who are in need of the expertise you want to develop at work.
Want to move up at your marketing firm? Help a local business rebrand. Want to show off your new coding abilities? Work on building a website for a friend. Not only are you proving that you actually have the skills you say you do, you’re also learning the holistic skills it takes to manage clients and address all of their needs. And those are things that will help you perform better at work—all the while padding your bank account.
3. Dress the Part
You’ve heard you should dress for the job you want, which rings far too true. People judge women with makeup on as more competent, and are more likely to cooperate with you plus recommend you for a job if you wear clothing with a designer logo. This man makes the bold claim that spending more than $100,000 on designer clothing brought in almost $700,000 in additional business, because people assumed he was successful and thus wanted to work with him. And it’s not just about convincing others you’re awesome, it’s about convincing yourself. Dressing up for work can boost your productivity by putting you into work mode.
Of course, we’re not suggesting you go out and spend thousands on a new wardrobe. You can find professional clothing at retailers like Zara or Cos (or shop second hand), then get them tailored for $15 to make them fit you like a bespoke outfit. As long as that silk blouse and pencil skirt gets you to throw your shoulders back with confidence, it will benefit you in your salary negotiations. On that note:
4. Ask for What You’re Worth
It’s been well documented that women are less likely to ask for a raise, instead hoping it will fall into their lap—and I know for a fact there are men out there who have done the same. But most of the time, if you want a raise, you need to ask for it.
First, do research on your industry through sites like Payscale, Salary.com, and The Bureau of Labor Statistics. But keep in mind this might not be totally accurate, since the level of responsibility may be wildly different for the same title at different companies, and different companies may also have differently sized budgets.
So, go beyond that. See if you can quantify the amount of money your work, projects, and initiatives increase company revenues. Meet up with industry experts for informational interviews or talk to recruiters who know your industry and ask them what they might pay for your current position. If you’ve attended a bootcamp like Byte Academy, talk to the career placement experts there about the sort of salary increases other have seen coming out of the program.
Once you’ve done that, don’t be afraid to go to your boss with an ask for more money. Of course, you need to be prepared to play the game and ask for it in a way that keeps you in good graces. According to researchers, appearing friendly, warm, and concerned for others is the best way to go. So, frame it in terms of the value you bring to your company, not your personal needs or desires. Acknowledge the fact that asking for a raise makes you slightly uncomfortable, ask for a range of salary with your desired point right in the middle (research shows offering a range makes you seem flexible, while still getting you what you want), and then see what your boss thinks about your request.
Still worried about asking for what you deserve? Read our 37 other tips for negotiating your salary.
5. Or, Get a New Job
If salary negotiation is not working out, it may not be your fault. Employers tend to give current employees only small raises each year (3% on average), while employees who jump to new companies can get a 10 to 20% salary increase. Over the course of your career, if you stay at a company for longer than two years on average, that can lead you to earn 50% less than someone who moved often.
And while you don’t want to job hop just to increase your salary, if your boss isn’t budging, consider if it’s time for a move to another company. Your manager’s attitude may be holding back your growth in other ways beyond the monetary ones.
Then, when negotiating your starting salary at your next gig, don’t let your current pay hold you back! You’ve already done market research on your position, so you should be armed with some numbers. Be smart about how you approach giving your current salary or salary requirements, express enthusiasm for the position, and make sure they see that your skill sets make it worthwhile for the company to pay you more.
6. Be Happier to Make More Money
Turns out, approaching your career and colleagues with positivity can make a huge impact on earning potential. This isn’t about trusting the universe to throw opportunities in your lap, but research shows that people with high levels of cynicism earn less now and later in life—on average hundreds less per month. Researchers posit this is because your cynicism could lead you to miss out on collaboration opportunities, fail to ask for help, and spend energy covering your back instead of focusing on excelling at your job.
This isn’t just bad for your salary; it’s also bad for your mental and physical health—which, in turn, is bad for your financial health yet again. You have to take care of yourself in order to continue earning more money! Employees who regularly exercise earn 9% more than their colleagues who don’t. A 2014 study found that taking all your vacation days actually makes you more likely to receive a raise or bonus. Even people who have sex more often earn more. Not to mention the fact that burnout is a very real threat to your advancement.
So don’t think that killing yourself is the key to earning more. Walking in with a positive attitude, killing it, then rewarding yourself with a weekend getaway, is.
Like we said at the beginning: This isn’t about earning money to earn money, it’s about being valued for your work and using that money to increase your overall happiness. And with these strategies, you’ll be doing just that.