If someone offered you extra money right now, would you take it?
Of course! We can always find a use for additional funds. The problem is, we tend to assume that we don’t have much control over how much money we make. After all, you can’t just wish your way into a higher paycheck.
But you do have some say in how much money you earn each month. It might take a little creative or outside-the-box thinking, but opportunities for earning more surround us.
Check out this variety of suggestions on how you could make a little extra money if you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, in order to help fund your biggest financial goals.
Start Where You Are: Negotiate a Raise
Earning more money doesn’t have to mean doing something drastic. If you have a job that you enjoy (or at least value), start there.
Earning a higher salary makes it easier to max out your 401(k) or another employer-sponsored plan. These are usually top priorities when it comes retirement planning, thanks to the presence of employer matches and tax advantages.
Consider how you can work with your employer to negotiate a raise. You may not just be able to walk into your boss’ office and ask for more money, but you can start laying the groundwork for success right now.
Can you take on more responsibility to justify a higher pay grade? Are there opportunities for promotions or advancement that you can work toward right now? Have you brushed up on negotiation skills so you can make your request at the right time in the right way?
Consider If It’s Time for a Change
If a raise seems out of the question at your current job and you don’t see opportunities for growth, take some time to contemplate whether making a bigger change in your career is the right move.
This takes serious consideration and you need to carefully weigh the benefits, downsides, and pros and cons. But one good thing to keep in mind: it’s always easier to look for a new job when you have one.
Just respect your current employer and work to avoid burning bridges. You may need to do your job hunting outside of the office (seriously, do people still leave resumes on the printer?) If you do find a new opportunity, make sure you give your current employer plenty of notice and work to wrap up your loose ends before leaving.
Also, you may want to look into certifications, trainings, or certain types of education before you make a switch. Adding to your credentials could make it easier to negotiate a better starting salary with a new organization.
Get Proactive and Explore Working for Yourself
Entrepreneurship can be a great avenue to a greater income and more wealth. But it comes with serious risks, big expenses, and simply isn’t for everyone.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But even if starting your own business isn’t in the cards for you, you can still explore a little part-time self-employment through freelancing or consulting.
Work that you do on your own and on the side of your day job is often referred to as a “side hustle,” and can help you boost your income so you can reach your financial goals faster.
Not sure where to start? A good place to explore is the intersection of these 3 things:
- What do you already know how to do?
- What are you good at and enjoy doing?
- What will someone pay you to do?
Start brainstorming and try to chart out your answers to these questions. If there’s something that falls into all three categories, that’s a good place to try and hang out a shingle as a freelancer.
There are countless excellent resources online to help you get started with freelancing if you’re completely new to the idea. Here’s a quick collection to help you get started:
- Freelancer’s Union
- A Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Freelance Career
- How to Earn More Money Freelancing (Even if You’re a Total Beginner)
And don’t stop here! Run a Google search like “how to become a freelance graphic designer,” or “how to start a freelance business” to find more.
Try Some Traditional Part-Time Work
If freelancing or consulting isn’t for you either, you can always go a more traditional route and look for part-time work or odd jobs around your community. These could include:
- Babysitting, housesitting, or petsetting.
- Lawncare and maintenance.
- Home repairs or upkeep.
- Run errands or perform household tasks for family, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance.
Offering to help can provide a benefit to both you and the other person. You can make extra money in your free time, and you’ll likely give someone access to a service they need for less than it would cost them to hire a full-time, professional provider.
You can also look at part-time work around your town if it makes sense for your schedule. And just like with freelancing, make sure you think about ways you could contribute that you would enjoy.
If you’re a people-person, for example, you might love working as a barista or bartender and interacting with patrons. It might feel less like work if you get more value than just extra money out of the gig.
What Should You Do When You Make Extra Money?
Let’s say you take one of these ideas for making more money, and run with it. And it works! You start earning a little more on the side.
It’s critical that you have a plan for that cash. The temptation to spend or use it to treat yourself can become overwhelming, so create a strategy before you start earning more.
Here are a few suggestions of what to do with your extra cash:
- Increase your retirement account contributions.
- Pay down any existing debts or balances. Eventually, pay debts off entirely.
- Open a taxable brokerage account and put all your extra earnings into it (or add them to an existing brokerage account).
- Choose a specific financial goal you’d like to fund. Create a special savings account just for that goal, and contribute all your earnings
But first, remember to set aside about 30 percent of all payments you receive. Your money can be taxed as 1099-MISC income, so be sure to report it! The exact amount you’ll owe will depend on a variety of factors, but 30 percent is a good rule of thumb to use to get you started.
Stash that money away in a separate checking account that you won’t be tempted to spend from so you can avoid any unpleasant tax-time surprises. And if you start making more than just a bit of spare change from your efforts, call your financial advisor.
They can help you strategize for bigger money moves and show you how to properly invest your additional income to maximize your ability to grow wealth.