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Spend Less Than You Earn AND Earn More Money

Right now, people are looking for quick fixes for improving their finances. They want to build their wealth and earn more money as quickly as possible. Many of the best personal finance sites talk about spending less than you earn. This is the fundamental wealth law. By keeping your expenses lower than you income you’ll have more money left for saving, investing, and sharing. But that’s not all.

There are two factors in this law that you can change: your expenses and your income. Some personal finance blogs and sites only focus on one side of the coin, but they are leaving money on the table. Building your income, including starting a side business can be a tremendous boost to your net worth.

Decrease your expenses

I start with this because this is something that you can adjust fairly quickly.

Look at your monthly budget to optimize your spending

A great place to start is to look at your last bank statement and see how you can trim your expenses 10-15%. Start small and see what you can do without. My husband and I are not big TV fans, so basic cable fulfills our needs without a big bill.

If you’re looking at some ideas on where to cut some expenses, check out:

  • Look at your package deal for cable, phone, and Internet. Sometimes the deal they advertise on TV isn’t the best deal. Call your cable provider to see if they can give you a better rate. We’ve used this method and extended our promotional deal for another year.
  • Examine your cell phone plan. Can you change your plan? Billshrink can examine your actual cell phone usage and suggest a better plan for your needs.
  • Look at your land line plan. It didn’t make sense for my husband and I to have a land line AND our cell phone plans. We supplemented our home line with a Skype account. It costs around $5/month and it provides the same services other home lines offer.
  • Compare insurance companies for auto insurance rates. We saved $50 a month on car insurance for the same amount of coverage. Shopping around and making calls does pay off. Just make sure you’re given a policy that can comfortably cover you and your situation.

Increase your income

You can only cut expenses so much, so increasing your income is the other half of the plan to increase your gap. See if you can increase your profile at work and ask for a raise. See if you can turn a hobby into side income. There are different ways to build up income.

Work Smart for a Raise or Bonus

Too many people just go in and request a raise and are rejected. Determine and track  your worth to your company in concrete numbers. Keep copies of commendation from managers, clients, and coworkers. Practice going over your presentation to make it persuasive to your manager and overcome any objections that may present.

Start a Side Business

Assess one service that you can offer with your current skill set and become a freelancer. For example,  offer your accounting skills to local small businesses with bookkeeping. If you’re looking to get the word out, considering some low cost ways instead of spending a ton of money on a side project.
Working for Yourself Guide

  • Send out an email to everyone in your address book, announcing what you do, where you are and what you can offer
  • Ask your satisfied clients for referrals
  • Do some pro-bono work for a charitable organization with industry links
  • Contact people you used to work with and ask them to send you any run-off work they might have
  • Practice an elevator speech about what you do and have it ready to go wherever you are

If you need some expert advice on getting your side business, SCORE is a wonderful free resource that allows you to connect with experts in the business field with years of practical experience. Freelance Switch can also help you build your side income in the freelance world.

Take advantage of your company’s 401k match

Here is a way for you to increase your retirement contribution without too much hassle. Try to at least set aside enough money to receive as much as your company matches. It’s basically free money in your pocket.

Sell unused items and re-allocate them towards your goals

Quicken just ran a blog post on reselling your items to gain some money. Here are some places to consider selling your items:

- Craigslist: This has become the new classifieds for many people.Listing your items is easy and free.since you can sell local

- Ebay/ Half /Amazon: This can be a relatively easy way to sell your old DVDs, movies, and books around the country. This can expand the number of potential buyers and possibly increase the money you can get for your used goods. I used Half.com to sell my textbooks. It paid more than what the university book store was going to give me. Amazon makes it easy doing all the work on the back-end (including sending you an alert and shipping label when someone buys your stuff; they shave off a bit of money for doing this work, but it’s an easy and fast way to get cash deposited right into your checking account.

- Consignment Stores: If you have some really nice pieces of clothing or furniture, you may want to consider this as an option. Some stores have clientele looking for items such as yours. It just takes a bit longer to get your cash most of the time.

There are some other ideas on where you can sell your items, but I wanted to list some low hassle options.

Tips to Sell Your Stuff on Ebay

Ramit just published a post this week on making some side income with Ebay. He and his partner Susan Su interviewed professional sellers and received some handy tips. If you’re looking to maximizing your money, you should consider focusing on these aspects of your Ebay sales page:

  • Pictures: How many pictures can help sell your items? What roles does quality of pictures pay?
  • Description: How can you optimize your description to get more interested buyers’ eyes looking at your item?
  • Timing: When is the best time to put your item(s) up for sale?

Check out the post to find out more information.

This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance!

by Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

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  • http://www.LobotoMEblog.blogspot.com LobotoME

    Great tips – we did that last year – spent less, paid off our cards; sold $15K worth of stuff on eBay and craigslist to pay off the last of my school loans; AND EARNED more money to beef up our savings , emergency fund, and IRAS.

  • Elle

    That’s fantastic and I hope you can continue earning more to put towards your personal goals.

  • http://www.growingkidsministry.com Lindsey

    I love getting rid of stuff on Craigslist — the problem is, I usually just “take a look around” and spot something I could use for A GREAT price (of course!). We found a consignment store near our house and we just drop everything off there. That was we can declutter quickly and she can worry about selling our stuff! We usually sell big items on Craigslist like our keyboard, furniture, etc. Great blog!