Written by Beth Braverman
After all, the more money you earn, the easier it is to find extra cash to direct toward saving, debt payments or other financial goals. With that said, we’re looking to bump up our bottom lines in the new year.
A couple of things are working in our favor to get that paycheck to carry a little more weight: After years of flat salaries, worker wages are creeping up, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plus the strong economy means that we are in a better position to negotiate for more money. Here are some tips for making more money in 2019:
REQUEST A RAISE
While asking for more money can feel uncomfortable for many of us, doing so is a life skill that will literally pay off for you for the rest of your life. We’ve been there, too, and it really is worth it.
Prepare your case now, making a list of your achievements in 2018 and collecting evidence of accomplishments that you can bring to a meeting with your boss to talk about the raise. Practicing your pitch for a friend or even in front of a mirror can help calm your nerves.
Do research on sites like Glassdoor and Payscale to get a sense of what other workers at your level get paid.
“Going into your meeting with some data on what the market is paying for your role is really valuable,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.
TAKE ANY FREE MONEY OFFERED
Increasing your 401(k) contributions at work to get the full match offered by your company is an easy way to give yourself an instant raise. The company match on your 401(k) or HSA is free money that increases your total compensation.
Yes, that money is going into a retirement account that you can’t immediately access, but it’s still your money. That money will grow tax-free and, thanks to the magic of compound interest, it will be worth even more by the time you’re ready to tap into it in retirement.
GET A NEW JOB
You asked for the raise and they turned you down? Or if you can tell that you’re not going to be able to earn significantly more at your current company, it may be time to move on.
Update your resume so it’s ready for the new year while you have some time off over the holidays. Spend some time reaching out to your network to get a sense of roles that might be available and a good fit.
With unemployment rates at record lows, it’s a great time to be in the job market—and to negotiate for a competitive salary. Remember that most employers expect workers to negotiate—whether it’s for a higher salary, more vacation time or even equity in the company—no matter what their first offer is, ask for more.
“It’s very rare for employers to start their offer at the top of the scale,” says Laura DeCarlo, executive director and president of Career Directors International. “I’d respond with ‘Thank you for the offer. I’m incredibly interested. With what I bring to the table, is there any room for negotiation?’”
GET A SIDE HUSTLE (OR A FEW)
The growing gig economy means that there are more options than ever to earn more money, outside of your 9-to-5 job. The amount of time and money you invest in your side hustle will depend on whether you’re thinking of it as a quick way to make some extra cash, or as a stepping stone to a full-time freelance business.
“Figure out what you can do for hours and hours and not get bored,” says Anna Runyan, founder and CEO at ClassyCareerGirl.com. “You’re going to make more money doing something that you’re passionate about.”
Both types of gigs are valuable, and it’s possible for the former to evolve into the latter. Whether you’re gigging once in a while or on an ongoing basis, make sure to keep detailed records. You’ll need them at tax time, but they’ll also show you exactly how much money you’re making after expenses, which will help you evaluate whether the gig itself is worth it.
FIND WAYS TO MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT YOU HAVE
Does your job offer flex time? Really use it next year. Take a look at your schedule and make it what you’d like your life to be. Want to make a resolution to hit the gym every day, cook dinner with your kids or go to a painting class with your friends? Use that flex time to come in later or leave early a couple of days each week. Earning more doesn’t have to be just cash—your time is valuable. Take time to get some of your life back in 2019.
This article originally ran on HerMoney.com.