That’s according to a lobbyist in Washington, DC, who calls himself “Drock” and has a net worth of around $750,000. The 34-year-old tracks his and his wife’s progress toward financial independence on the blog DINKing Around Finance— DINK stands for dual income, no kids.
“I think growing income is really the primary way of driving wealth,” he recently told Rockstar Finance. “The key is, I think you have to proceed in a very strategic manner.”
The couple earns a combined income of $250,000 a year, and puts about half toward maxing out retirement accounts (they contribute to 401(k)s and traditional and Roth IRAs), paying off student-loan debt, and investing in real estate. They hope to be at a point where they can live off their savings and passive income from rental properties within six years, he said.
“Working hard is not going to get you where you want to go,” Drock said. Instead, getting more training, considering other opportunities, and working in “a deliberate and productive manner,” is what will really put you ahead when it comes to salary, he said.
When he began his career, Drock was earning about $35,000, he told Rockstar Finance. Ten years later, his annual salary is $170,000. He was able to negotiate a big pay increase after graduating from law school, which he attended at night for four years, and returning to a past employer.
“They always ask in interviews, where do you want to be in 10 years. And most people make something up,” he said. “I’ve always known where I want to be in five years, and in ten years.”
He continued: “It’s one of the things where growing your income goes hand-in-hand with knowing where you’re headed and how you’re gonna get there.”
Aside from obtaining a higher-paying degree, Drock said he did two things that ultimately helped him lock in a higher salary: He created value at the company and he documented his impact.
“Try to find opportunities both for growth to prove that you can take on bigger, better tasks, but also things that you are likely to succeed at, and then again documenting that,” he said. “Every year, as you’re going into your reviews, you want to be able to show the things that you’ve done beyond one’s core competencies and the bare requirement of the job.”
Financial expert and bestselling author Ramit Sethi says increasing your income is a crucial component to getting rich, but has found it’s often something people are resistant to. Many people either think they don’t have the time or the ingenuity to earn more money, he told Business Insider.
“When they get it, it becomes really powerful,” Sethi said, “because they’ve always thought of their money as a fixed pie and suddenly they’re like, wait, I can actually expand the pie. And that’s an amazing feeling.”
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