Thanks to Matt at MomandDadMoney for sitting in the driver’s seat today!
Hang out in the world of personal finance blogs long enough and you can really run the gamut of emotions. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve spit my coffee at my computer in disgust. And at times I’ve even been inspired to reach heights I never before knew existed, such as when Joe recently publicized the huge amount of income he’s making here at Stacking Benjamins. The report looked something like this:
$0 from blog income of any sort
My reaction was something along the lines of this:
Ok, so maybe inspired wasn’t the right word. But it did get me thinking about all of the extra income I am also not making and why I’m not making it. Let’s work through some of that together.
Why I want to earn more money
The more I earn, the more I can save. The more I save, the more choices I have with my life. It’s really that simple. With ample savings, I could afford to take a chance on a new job that comes with excitement and promise but also a good amount of risk. My family could decide to move simply because we liked the new location better. My wife and I could choose to work as much or as little as we want, fitting our money-making ventures in between our kids’ soccer games instead of the other way around.
Money is a powerful tool when used correctly. The better I am at earning it and the more of it I have coming in, the more flexibility I have to spend my time the way I truly want.
Proceeding with caution
With all of that said, I do have some reservations about earning more. The biggest one is the sacrifice of time now for time later. In a sense, this kind of sacrifice is very much ingrained in our culture. The status quo is to work 40+ years in order to accumulate enough money so that you can have some free time near the end to enjoy yourself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this strategy, but I’d like to approach things a little differently.
I don’t want to miss my son’s first steps because I’m working hard in the hopes that I can play catch with him later. I don’t want to neglect my wife today with the promise of endless dates and romance when we’re 60. And I certainly don’t want to trade watching Tom Brady’s glory years right now for watching Tim Tebow play catch with the ground five years from now. So there’s a balance involved. I’d like to earn more today so that I can have flexibility tomorrow, but I’d also like to be able to enjoy my time now.
On that last point, the thing I have to watch out†for is not letting it be an excuse to do nothing. It’s very easy to justify not striving to do better because you “want to enjoy today”. While balance is good, laziness is not.
Ideas for earning more
Since finishing college, I have earned money in two ways: my salary and my investments. Nothing too fancy. So how do I diversify and/or increase those earnings? There are a few possibilities.
Get a raise. This is probably the quickest option, and the one that potentially requires the least effort. If I can document my achievements at work and present them in a compelling manner, I could immediately start earning more without a significant increase in responsibilities. Talk about a double win!
Start a business. This is actually something I was considering as I started my blog. I’ve had an interest in financial planning for a number of years and would love to be able to run a small part-time practice helping new parents organize their finances. I like to manage money and take advantage of software like financial applications from Workday and other accounting programs. Starting a small practice is a relatively significant endeavor, but the potential rewards are pretty great as well.
Freelance. Having a blog opens up numerous freelancing opportunities. I could write for other blogs. I could help people start their own blogs. Or I could take some advice from Pauline at Make Money Your Way†and use pretty much everything in my life as an opportunity to find some extra cash. There are endless ways to be creative and make some money on the side. It just takes a little thought and a little work.
So what’s the plan?
Honestly, I’m not totally sure what my plan is going forward. I want to keep an open mind to opportunities as they arise, and of course make sure that whatever path I choose to pursue aligns with my goals for building a better life tomorrow while still enjoying my life today. Earning more money can be a great tool, but it’s not an end. It’s only useful as a means for achieving the things we really care about in our lives. If I keep that in mind, I think I can find a healthy and profitable balance.