When you think about earning more money, do you imagine having to work long nights and negotiating the heck out for your raises?
That might be part of it, but increasing your income can be so much more than that. My mom was an accountant for a commercial real estate company and did bookkeeping for small businesses on the side, and I’ve only just begun to realize how many lessons she taught me about earning more money.
It’s been really inspiring being around a strong female breadwinner who’s showed me what’s possible when it comes to my finances — especially when it comes to earning more money.
1. Don’t be afraid of the side hustle
For as long as I can remember, my mom worked a side job. Part of it was that she started out in a low-paying job and needed more money to cover the bills. Part of it was that she was saving up to pay for extra certifications and a master’s degree she wanted to pursue when I was older.
This meant there were some nights when I wouldn’t see her, except when my dad, sister, and I went to visit her at the flea market stall where she worked. Or when she had me sit beside her in our home office while she ran her bookkeeping side hustle. All the while, she made it a point to never work on the weekends so she could dedicate time to spend with us.
What I’ve learned from her is that earning more money is totally within our control. Even if there’s only so much you want can make in your day job, a side hustle can be a great supplement to your income. I also learned that you don’t have to work at all hours to do so, either — my mom would often cut back hours if she found it too exhausting or it impeded too much into her personal life.
2. Leverage your skills
We used to celebrate the myriad of promotions my mom got at work, or whenever she switched companies and effectively negotiated a higher salary.
When I would ask her how she did it, she told me that it was important to work hard but to prove that you have the skills for the position you’re aiming for. For example, she convinced her boss to pay for her to learn a specialized certification for her job, then after completing it she asked for an increase in her salary. Or she took her bookkeeping skills she used in her day job to land clients for her side business.
It was this knowledge of marketing skills that helped me transition from a teacher to a full-time freelance writer. I knew how to translate what can be complicated topics for children into a more easily digestible format, so I figured out how to do that in my writing. I also utilized my research skills to write more fact-based articles, helping me land more clients.
3. Compounding is magical
Compounding doesn’t just apply to your money through investing, although that’s one component. It also applies to your skills and habits and can affect your ability to earn more.
For example, when my mom was studying for her specialized certification, she told me she would read the materials for 15 minutes at a time, then work on her assignments for 20 minutes. She was able to complete her certification within a few months that way.
I think back to my side hustling days and working towards a full-time income with my freelancing. I didn’t dedicate hours at a time. Instead, I’d set aside 20 to 30 minutes reading about one or two topics, like how to put together a writing portfolio and pitch to clients. It took a few years, but I know that my letting my skills compound, I earn more now than I ever had in my traditional day job.
4. Spend freely on your values to get more from the money you earn
My family and I would travel overseas multiple times each year — during summer vacations and winter holidays. This was before travel hacking and the myriad travel discount services you see now. In other words, my parents paid out of pocket (often a lot) for these experiences.
However, my parents extravagant when it came to other purchases — they owned average cars, rarely bought clothes, and shopped at discount stores as much as they could.
What does this have to with earning more money? For one, it taught me to really cherish what you value and live within your means (or not spend money at all) on things that don’t. That way you’re not susceptible to lifestyle creep, needing to earn more money to keep up.
After all, earning more money is meant to truly enhance our life, not to enable us to buy more stuff that ultimately doesn’t bring happiness, and I’m grateful for my mom teaching me this lesson early in life.