The Earning Pillar of Financial Independence is the starting point of your journey.
It sets you up on the path to financial independence or even early retirement should you so desire.
The more you earn, the more you can save and invest to drive you towards your long-term goal of a financially secure retirement.
Let us look at the diverse ways you can boost your income and lay a solid foundation for the earning pillar of financial independence.
How to Strengthen the Earning Pillar
There is no one perfect way to boost your income. There are different levers you can pull to achieve the key objective of increasing your income.
Based on your personal circumstances pick the best option for you.
Leverage Your Core Skills
The best chance you have of your increasing your income comes from leveraging your core work skills and network.
It is much easier to build on something existing rather than starting from zero.
Look for areas that are expected to grow within the coming years. Be alert to what innovation is going on in your industry.
Enhance your skills within those areas with training or certifications so that you are ready to grab attractive job opportunities as soon as they show up.
Become an expert and develop transferable skills that you can take to any new employer. Be the specific skills specialist that all employers will want to hire.
Talk to recruiters in your industry and figure out which skills are commanding a premium salary in the job market. Then work towards boosting those skills.
If you are stuck in a sunset industry, take steps to move out at the earliest to a more promising alternative.
Even if you must take a temporary career setback due to changing industries, it may turn out to be good eventually.
Discuss with your boss your interest in making an internal career move. Take charge of the direction your career is taking.
Be super intentional about what roles you pick with a key focus on boosting your earning potential in the medium term.
Network with people within and across industries.
Join industry groups and attend events that expose you to more people and opportunities.
Even if you are an introvert and hate networking events, try connecting with others online. You can also schedule 1-1 meet ups over coffee.
Starting writing or talking about your areas of expertise. This will help you get noticed in your industry and by recruiters who may be looking for someone like you.
Networking opens options for you even within your existing company.
Networking will help you figure out the market worth of your existing skills set and experience. This can enable you to negotiate a higher salary at your current company as well.
Be open to relocate within India or abroad if your personal situation allows for it.
The best job compatible with your skills and higher income may not necessarily be in the city that you are currently at.
It is easy to get into a comfort zone if you have grown up or lived in the same city for long time. That can be to your detriment when trying to grow your earning opportunities.
Discuss with your family the trade-offs involved if a new job in another location can super-charge your journey to financial independence.
Throw your job fishing net wide. Moving outside your hometown can do wonders for your confidence and earning prospects.
Your spouse too could benefit from such a move and start earning a higher income if they are currently not gainfully employed at the current location.
Use Your Existing Assets
There may be some existing physical assets that you or your family hold. Consider if you can use those assets to generate some additional income.
Is there a spare room in your house or storage space that you can let out for rent?
There may be some open space in the yard or terrace that could be rented out as well.
Every little additional bit of income will help.
In addition to renting out existing assets consider outright sale of things you do not even use.
Any Vehicle / Furniture / Gadget / Appliance that is hardly being used?
Disposing them off can generate additional one-time income and reduce clutter at home.
Start a Side Hustle
Consider starting a side hustle if your employment contract does not prohibit it.
It should not be something that puts you in a conflict of interest with your employer.
Consider something that does not require a lot of money to get started. Be mindful and avoid spending a lot of your own money upfront on an unproven idea.
It could be a project that utilises your work skills. Consider partnering with someone who has the money but not does not have the technical skills to pull it off on their own.
Remote work has the potential to support something like this. Your spouse or other family members can also be engaged to assist in such side hustles.
If there is one thing that can do more damage than anything else on your journey to financial independence it is – DEBT.
Debt makes you spend your future income that you have not even earned yet.
It is like a big hole at the bottom of your earning bucket which drains all your efforts to boost your income.
It is not easy to avoid the temptation of borrowing money.
We live in world that glorifies instant gratification. Delaying gratification to a later date needs a lot of willpower and self-control.
The salespeople & advertisements push you to take a loan for instant gratification.
Saving money first for something you want sounds like a tradition from a bygone era. But there is a lot of wisdom in doing so.
It is good to wait. It is good to save first before spending.
Borrowing money for consumption will give you an instant high but leave you with a bad hangover.
Once you borrow money you are no longer working for your own interests. You now start working for the bank or whoever lent you the money.
It is not just the loan principal that you must repay. You need to also consider the high interest rates and hidden fees that comes along with the loan.
You can lose control of your own destiny. It can destroy your self-confidence, your relationships and hurt your financial wellbeing.
Ask anyone who has reached financial independence and they will tell you that eliminating or avoiding debt was a key part of their success.
The earning pillar is one of the 3 pillars of financial independence.
Several steps outlined here can boost you existing income streams depending on your unique personal circumstances.
Every little bit of additional income will help in boosting your savings rate.
Dushyant Choudhary is the founder of dushyantnomics, an early retirement blog for professionals. Dushyant retired early from his 9-5 corporate life after a successful international career. He brings his knowledge and experience to his current role where he’s dedicated to helping professionals achieve a fulfilling retirement.