4 Realistic Ways to Increase Your Net Worth

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There’s more to life than what’s in your bank account. I keep this mantra because I believe it, and my personal experiences have shown me that it’s true. However, I’m coming from a place of financial comfort, and I know it can be a little frustrating to hear someone with money ramble on about how money isn’t important. We all know money matters, and it’s no use pretending it doesn’t.

So let’s talk about how you can get more money. I want you to finish reading this post and feel like you can take action now to put more cash in your wallet. If you feel empowered and inspired and start being proactive, I guarantee you can improve your financial situation. More often than not, the one thing standing between people and their financial goals is just a little bit of effort.

As usual, I have to offer a disclaimer: none of this is easy. I have no secret tricks for making $1,000 in a day, or stocks that are sure to triple in value over the next few months. This article will propose tactics, some more obvious than others, which you can use to increase your net worth. You don’t get rich by waiting for it to happen; you get there by setting goals, taking action and making informed decisions.  

Anyone can start on these four strategies tomorrow. It might feel like an uphill battle at first, but it’ll all be worth it when the financial benefits start rolling in.  

1. Ask for a Bigger Salary

I think of this issue like every romantic comedy set in high school. The main character complains to his teacher or the janitor about how he’s in love with a girl who doesn’t even know he exists, and the older, wiser character always says, “Have you tried talking to her?”

To everyone who complains about their wages - have your asked about getting more? Have you sent your boss an email or tried to schedule a lunch meeting where you can inquire about upward mobility? If you haven’t done this, and I’m guessing that’s the case for most people, why not? If you want more money and you haven’t asked for it, something is clearly holding you back.

The majority of people don’t feel comfortable requesting a raise, and that’s usually because they fear they haven’t earned it. They worry about overstepping their bounds, angering their employer and ending up fired instead of promoted. I get it; I’d be worried about getting fired, too. But is that really on the table? Or do you just want to avoid coming across as overly demanding?

Even those who know they deserve more money don’t know how to go about asking for it. If you don’t know how much other people are making or what your company’s overhead is, stomping into your boss’s office and asking for a bigger salary will feel a bit uncouth. That’s why you need to prepare and formulate a plan.

Understand the Situation

It shouldn’t be too hard to gather some basic information regarding the earnings of your business and the standards for your industry. A quick Google search and a couple visits to sites like Indeed, Glassdoor or LinkedIn will provide information about where you stack up against people in similar positions near you.

If you’re doing the work, you deserve to be paid accordingly. People often earn less than the average wage for their particular position simply because they don’t know better, so arming yourself with this knowledge might be all it takes. Your boss might even be expecting you to ask for a raise, and your failure to do so is the only reason you’re not making more. In any case, nothing bad can come from learning about what other people are earning.

Prove Your Worth

Let me be clear - you don’t get more money because you ask for it. You get more money because you earn it and then make it known that you’ve earned it. No one should expect a raise just for showing up to work everyday.

For those who do go above and beyond, you can use your efforts to prove your value. Show how many clients you’ve helped, how many hours you’ve saved, how many accounts you’ve closed. With a little bit of creativity, you can quantify the work you do and translate that into the revenue you generate. Asking for a raise without anything to validate the request might not go over well; asking for a raise after a powerpoint presentation showing hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits that directly relate to the work you do is a much better tactic.

If you worry your workplace accomplishments don’t result in increased earnings, that’s something to think about. You may need to consider doing more or asking for additional responsibilities. You don’t have to wait for someone to offer you a promotion. If you really want to increase your worth and bring home a bigger paycheck, take on extra duties and promote yourself.  

Time It Right

This all requires a certain amount of finesse, and that’s another reason people are hesitant to request a boost in pay. You don’t want to bother your employer with this right after company profits take a hit or someone else gets a huge pay bump. At the same time, it’s easy to find excuses and push this off forever.

My suggestion is to plan it out and build up to the moment when you make the request. It’s great if you can have a meeting scheduled so you don’t catch your employer off guard, and that will also enable you to get your ducks in a row and have a pitch ready. Asking for a salary hike is a big deal and something that shouldn’t be done on a whim. Think things through, get prepared, and make your move when the time is right.

2. Don’t Buy a House

For some of you, this won’t be an issue. For others, you’re wondering what I mean and why I didn’t come to you with this information earlier.

As you may know, I love real estate. It’s one of my favorite investments and I’ll take it over most stocks any day of the week. However, you may also know that I don’t consider a house an asset. People struggle with this, as the value of real estate almost always goes up and we’ve all been taught that homeownership is a good investment.

The thing is, you’re not making money with your home. You might when you sell it, but when you’re paying down a mortgage and raising a family under that roof, the house doesn’t generate a dime of wealth. Because of this, you can’t really consider a house an asset when all you’re doing is living in it. If you’re renting of flipping, that’s a different story and you may proceed with your purchase.

When you think about increasing your net worth, a lot of people factor in the value of their home, and that’s a deceptive way to look at it. I’m not arguing that owning a house has nothing to do with your net worth; I’m saying it doesn’t equate to immediate wealth, and paying off a mortgage definitely hurts your net worth when you’re dealing with interest.

If you have the money to buy a house in cash, I’m definitely not going to stop you from doing so. If you don’t have that kind of money and are focused on increasing your net worth, let’s hold off on acquiring a new property. You’ll be paying for the house for too many years to consider it a boost to your overall worth, and spending that money might preclude you from making other, wiser investments.

3. Save AT LEAST 10% of Your Income

Do you notice how “at least” is bigger than the other words? I just want to make sure I’m being clear on this.

If you have money going into investment and retirement accounts, your net worth is increasing much more quickly than someone who’s throwing a little bit of cash in a savings account or a shoebox. The more you’re able to set aside, the more that money will grow. This is a fairly simple concept.

The difficult part is finding the money to save. More and more people are coming out of college and living paycheck to paycheck while they wait for their careers to take off. Once people get in the habit of using all their earnings each month, the thought of setting money aside becomes hard to stomach. When you believe you need every penny of your income just to stay alive, it takes a lot of work to convince you otherwise.

If you want to increase your net worth, you have to find a solution to this problem. It won’t be as simple as cancelling your cable or taking the bus to work instead of driving, though those are legitimately useful money-saving strategies. In addition to tightening your purse strings, you have to think of a few of the other ways people increase their savings:

● Pre-tax retirement accounts

● Automatic bank transfers

● Smart spending

● Reduced debt

● Side hustles

Different tactics work for different people, so I don’t want to hear how it’s impossible for you to put any extra money toward your savings goals. I was getting crushed by debt well before I had a good salary, and I managed to fend off those interest charges while still setting aside money for the future. Solutions exist, you just have to go out and find them.

Here’s a counterintuitive example of how you can start saving more: let’s say you’ve got $3,000 in savings and $1,500 in credit card debt. Every month you’re spending nearly every cent you make, and a decent portion of that is going to pay the minimum balance and interest charges on the credit card. Some months you end up adding $40 to that debt because money is so tight. You always feel strapped for cash and you can’t grow your savings at all.

What if you used some of that money to buy your freedom? What if you took $800 out of savings and paid off more than half of your credit card debt? Suddenly, your interest payments have been drastically reduced and you’re much closer to getting the entire balance wiped out. You might hurt your savings at the start, but you’re now only spending, say, 92% of your monthly income and are much closer to hitting that 10% goal. Instead of being stalled out with three grand in savings, you’ve got $2,200 and a plan for making that number go up.

Whether it’s setting aside pre-tax earnings or cutting back on your dining expenditures, there’s a way for you to save more. Once you get the ball rolling and start seeing an increase in your net worth, it’ll be easy to capitalize on that momentum and set aside even more.

4. Slay Your Debts

Debt and net worth are arch rivals. Lex Luthor and Superman, Voldemort and Harry Potter, the Red Sox and the Yankees, whatever analogy floats your boat. When the balances on your credit cards, mortgages leases and student loans put your overall worth in the negative, there’s not much you can do until you fix that problem.

Step one is identifying debt as a major factor in your reduced net worth. Look at your student loans next to your retirement account, or compare the balance on your Visa to the amount you have in savings. If you have a lot of debt, this juxtaposition should frustrate you mightily. That’s good - get mad at your debt and go to war against it.

As with the credit card example from the previous section, you may have to figure out an unorthodox way to get rid of your outstanding balances. You might have to sell a car or start refurbishing old chairs and tables you find at antique stores. When you get these debts paid off, the turnaround on your net worth is immediate and awesome.

I talk about debt a lot in my posts, and that’s because it’s almost always ground zero for creating financial change in your life. You have to stop wasting money on interest payments and using plastic to buy things you can’t afford. Once those habits have stopped, you’ll have more money and you can live more freely, all while increasing the amount you’re able to save for the future.

Boosting your net worth may take time, but it’s something you can start doing right away. If you map out a plan, there’s nothing to stop you from taking one action each day that could eventually make you more wealthy. When you develop that discipline, all your money problems will become more manageable. You’ll feel the bliss of financial freedom, and you will finally be able to focus on all the things in life that are more important than money.

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