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10 ways to make more money

Key takeaways

  • Boosting your income doesn't necessarily require a career move. You might be able to get more cash from your current employer.
  • Opportunities for higher income at your day job include asking for a raise, landing a promotion that comes with a salary bump, working paid overtime or extra shifts, or getting employer matches.
  • Options outside of your workplace include redeeming cashback rewards, finding unclaimed money, and investing in the market instead of letting money sit idle.

When you think of making more money, you might think you have only a few options to make that happen. It turns out there are a bunch of different ways to up your income—and some might be easier than you'd expect. If your budget needs breathing room or you want to get closer to your financial goals, read on.

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1. Ask for a raise or promotion.

If you enjoy the work you do—and who you do it for—you may be able to pad your paycheck by asking for a raise or promotion. Prepare a compelling argument for why you deserve either. Some tips that might help:

  • Speak to your value. Your manager may have an easier time justifying a raise or promotion if they can tie your work to revenue. Know your performance metrics and how they translate to business goals. For example, maybe you can show that you brought in a certain dollar amount of new business.
  • Point to accomplishments. Did you complete an important project with real business impact? Have you earned new credentials related to your job? Do you regularly take on work outside your regular duties?
  • Brag. Anytime someone emails you a compliment or sends a thank-you note for work well done, hang on to it. Move emails to a brag folder in your inbox and keep physical notes in a folder to make it easier to keep track of all the positive feedback you've gotten.
  • Know what's fair. Search for similar roles in your industry and location, and with your experience level, on salary-reporting sites. Some states have passed pay transparency laws, so you might be able to check job listings for comparable positions' salary ranges and then share the discrepancy with your manager.

2. Make sure you're not leaving money on the table.

Take full advantage of employer benefits, especially matches. While not guaranteed, many employers offer to match your contributions up to a certain level to retirement accounts like 401(k)s and 403(b)s, as well as health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). They may come with vesting schedules, meaning you can't keep the whole match until you've worked for the employer for a certain amount of years; check your benefits package or with your HR department for more information.

Not contributing to these accounts because you're prioritizing your student loans? Thanks to SECURE Act 2.0, your employer can match your student loan payments by contributing to a company-sponsored 401(k).

3. Consider changing your tax withholding.

If you historically have gotten tax refunds, it usually means you've overpaid tax the previous year. You might get bigger paychecks by decreasing your tax withholding, or the amount your employer takes out every payday to cover federal, state, and local income tax. But keep in mind you're still on the hook to the government for what you owe. If you withhold too little, you might even be hit with underpayment penalties—plus interest. So consult a tax pro to make sure you've calculated withholding accurately.

4. Work overtime/pick up extra shifts.

If you're eligible for overtime, you could offer to work additional hours, like covering for coworkers on vacation. If you're covered by federal OT laws, you may be able to charge time-and-a-half for work beyond 40 hours per week. Check state labor offices for laws too.

5. Freelance.

You might be able to parlay your skills into doing similar work on top of your full-time role. For example, a software engineer could do programming work off the clock. Just make sure you disclose the gig to your current employer to avoid any conflicts of interest or violation of noncompete clauses.

6. Leverage your expertise.

Raise your hand to judge a competition, give a talk, or moderate an event—they may give you an honorarium. You could also see if local universities or community colleges are in the market for adjunct professors in your field—or potentially get paid to serve on a company board. These offers could come through word of mouth, so make sure your network knows your interest. Again, make your manager aware of your extracurricular activities.

7. Consider making a company or career change.

Even if you don't want to leave your job, you could look for your same basic role at another company in your area that offers better pay and benefits, like more paid time off. Job offers can be used as a negotiating tactic at your current employer. If you have the time, brain space, and money to get a new certification, degree, or license, pivoting to a higher-paying career might be worth it.

8. Pick up a side gig.

If you don't want to make a dramatic change, you can bring in more money with temporary work, like through a side hustle. To help narrow down the possibilities, understand your goals. For example, if you want:

  • Flexibility: Look for work that lets you choose your own schedule, such as driving for a rideshare company or making deliveries.
  • Passive income: Seek opportunities that allow you to turn work done upfront into a steady stream of income later. If you're decent at photography, for example, consider uploading photos to a stock photo agency website and earn fees when usage rights sell. To rent out property, there are apps to connect renters with your spare room, car, and even swimming pool.
  • Fast money: Purge and sell your unwanted stuff online.
  • Guaranteed pay: If you need to know you'll make a certain amount of money each week, consider a part-time job, if you're able to squeeze one into your schedule. Working nights and weekends might be more lucrative than regular business hours.
  • A potential business: Want to be your own boss? Look for ways to turn your expertise into income—and maybe your main gig later. A corporate accountant might, for example, prepare people's personal tax returns during tax season, and build up a large-enough client base to leave the old 9-to-5 behind.

9. Find money you're entitled to.

If you have a credit card with rewards, you might be able to get cash back. If it's been a while since you've redeemed rewards, what you've earned could be enough to pay for upcoming charges. You also might have missing paychecks, abandoned bonds or accounts, or security deposits you're owed. It's worth it to check if you have any unclaimed money sitting around.

10. Make your money work for you.

If you're just starting out and don't yet have emergency savings, prioritize setting aside $1,000 or one month's worth of expenses in case of a surprise car repair or medical expense. Then work up to building 3 to 6 months of essential expenses. Keep this money separate from your checking account and general short-term savings, perhaps in a high-yield savings account or a brokerage account such as a cash management account.1 These accounts could help make you money on your money thanks to compounding and competitive rates.

Next, think about investing more money for potential growth. If you'd like to be able to access this money at any time without risking penalties and fees, consider opening a brokerage account. But if you're investing for a long-term goal like retirement, you might consider upping your 401(k) contributions or opening an IRA. Just be sure to diversify your investments—have a mix such as, say, domestic stocks, international stocks, and bonds, to help spread out risk and volatility.

Considerations as you make more money

Elevating your income could help your financial health, but it could also:

  • affect your tax situation. Earning more money may push you into a higher tax bracket, make you ineligible for income-based programs, or restrict you from writing off certain business expenses. If you start your own business, you're required to file quarterly estimated taxes on any earnings. Consult a tax pro to make sure you do this correctly.
  • affect your retirement-saving options. Whether and how much you can contribute to a Roth IRA depends on your income. Once you hit a certain income level, you'll be able to make only a partial contribution, which gradually phases out until you become fully ineligible. At the same time, it may open up new options, like a solo 401(k) or a backdoor Roth IRA.
  • open you up to liability. Starting a side business, like renting out property, may expose you to legal, financial, or physical risk, so consider your insurance needs and whether you want to increase your coverage or add new types.

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