You can wear out your scissors clipping coupons. You can pinch every penny until it screams. But at some point, there’s only so much you can do to change your financial situation without increasing your income.
In today’s job market boosting your income can be a daunting undertaking. Raises are hard to get and in some cases, non-existent. It can be risky to leave a steady familiar job for a new unfamiliar one, even if it does pay more. Being a reliable, hard worker isn’t always enough to get noticed anymore.
5 Ways to Boost Your Income When You’re on a Budget
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make a little bit more money while keeping your current job.
1. Adjust your tax withholding. Are you getting a big fat refund check this year? If you are, you need to adjust the amount of taxes held from your paycheck. Stop letting the government use your money interest-free. Use the IRS tax withholding calculator to figure out exactly how much money should be held from your paychecks. Instead of getting that big refund check, you’ll have that money to spend each and every paycheck all year long. This is a great way to feel like you’ve gotten a pay raise and all it takes is filling out one simple form with your human resources department.
2. Work from home. If your employer allows it, consider working from home. Learn how to be a good telecommuter and be very productive at home. With no transportation expenses of getting to and from work, you’ll keep more of your paycheck in your pocket. Working from home can allow you to have a less expensive, more casual wardrobe. The time you used to spend commuting can now be spent on other things – like taking on additional responsibilities at your job or working on money-saving tactics like meal planning. You could even pick up some extra money taking online surveys or earn money with Fiverr with the time you save.
3. Adjust your work hours. How much time do you sit idling in traffic every day? If you spend a lot of time stuck in traffic, ask your employer if you can adjust your work time so that you miss the rush hour. You’ll feel like you got a pay increase because you won’t be spending all that gas money stuck in traffic. And you won’t be as stressed from sitting in traffic, so you can be more productive at work. More productivity at work can mean more money in your wallet. You could also talk to your employer about working fewer days each week, but for longer times each day (i.e. working four, 10-hour days instead of five, 8-hour days). One less day of commuting, one less lunch to eat at work, one less day wearing your work clothes, can all add up to more money in your wallet.
4. Get more education. Some organizations offer salary increases to employees who obtain additional education. This is especially true in the field of education, where taking grad credits can mean a new rate of pay. Check out your local community education department as well as your local community colleges for courses that could boost your resume and earning potential without cramping your budget. Learning a new skill can improve your position (and your earnings) with your employer. And if nothing else, the additional training can make you more marketable if you do decide to look for better paying work elsewhere.
5. Pick up a side gig. If your work schedule allows it, and it is not in direct conflict with your current job, consider picking up a side gig. You could create a website or sell crafts on Etsy or eBay. You could babysit, pet-sit, or house-sit for busy people. You could shovel snow or mow lawns after work and on weekends. You could proctor tests (like the SAT or ACT) on Saturdays, tutor kids after school, or pick up a weekend retail job. Find something you enjoy doing that helps you earn a little extra income without a lot of time or money invested.
These are just a few of the ways you can boost your income when you’re on a budget. For more ideas on increasing your bottom line, check out Women’s Money Week.