Do you remember the first time you made money?
I recall a particular instance in which I painstakingly restored the dusty lawn furniture from our garage to its former sparkling glory for a grand total of five dollars. Unfortunately, my handsome sum dwindled down to nothing while writing out thank you cards for my first holy communion gifts the next day. Each mistake and subsequent cross out cost me twenty-five cents of what I’d earned. Tough life lesson learned.
Some more successful early earnings occasions also come to mind- a surprisingly lucrative lemonade stand being one of the best. There was even an attempt at entrepreneurship when my mother suggested monetizing my hobby of creating elaborate, holiday-themed scavenger hunts. Being a child with no means of transportation and other logistical necessities however, the entrepreneurial itch had to wait another ten years to manifest.
By the time I got my first real paycheck working as a summer camp counselor, I had already formed some rudimentary scripts of what it meant to make money – however ill informed…
- Pay is commensurate with your position and experience.
- Salary is set by your employer.
- Making more than six figures means you have a good job.
By the time I graduated college, I’d adapted some more misinformed ideas about money – mostly that I’d never be able make much because I wanted to pursue my passion (and for whatever reason, passion and paycheck were mutually exclusive in my mind).
While some aspects of my previously formed financial scripts may be true in part, I’ve since come to realize that more than anything else- education, experience, job title, employer, etc. – how much money you make is dictated by you.
So to my younger self, fellow millennials, soon-to-be gen Z job seekers and anyone out there who feels trapped by the limitations of their current income, let me share with you my newfound rules for making money.
4 Things to Know About Making Money
YOU Set the Salary Bar
That’s right, even your first full-time salary can and should be dictated by you. A recent survey by NerdWallet and Looksharp found that only 38 percent of recent graduates negotiated with their employers upon receiving a job offer. Meanwhile, three-quarters of employers reported their willingness and flexibility to increase first-salary offers by five to ten percent during negotiations.
Negotiating an initial pay raise isn’t just about making more money in the moment; it’s about setting yourself up for future growth. Your initial salary will serve as the anchor from which you negotiate future raises, making your starting salary, arguably, the most important of your career. A report from the New York Federal Reserve supports this notion, finding that lifetime earnings are largely determined in your 20s – as the majority of earnings growth happens in that first decade of your working years. So don’t be shy. Set your salary bar high from the start.
You Don’t Have to Wait for a Raise
If you want a raise, don’t wait around counting down the months until you can “appropriately” ask for one, prove yourself to be a top performer now.
Track the work you do, tangibly show how you improve the bottom line and ask for a raise based on that performance. No need to wait until a standard 12-month check-in to renegotiate if you’re adding value worthy of a pay bump today.
You Can Job Hop
Employees who stay at a company for over two years, on average, earn 50% less over the course of their lifetime, reports Forbes. Jumping from job to job may have been resume suicide in the past, but today, it’s become a powerful tool for increasing earnings. Without an existing anchor salary with your new employer, you can ask for anything, even if it’s twice what you were making before.
Sure, you should keep your salary asks grounded in reality, researching similar positions, locations and corresponding pay levels on sites like PayScale and Glassdoor– but being bold in your income efforts by seeking opportunities elsewhere when present opportunities fall short can provide a major payoff.
Your Money Making Endeavors Are Unlimited
I used to think I was limited in what I could earn because I was an artist. Then I thought I was limited by my degree. Then I thought I was limited because of my experience (or lack thereof). Then I thought I was limited by of the budgets of my employers. Now I realize that the only limitations to my money making endeavors are my own.
The permission to take opportunities and demand more ultimately has to come from you. When you create value and demand around what you do, money inevitably follows – no specific age, experience, job title or employer required.
What were your initial ideas around making money? Are you still holding onto any limiting money making beliefs?