Ryan is a guest author from Millionaire Money Habits, a personal finance site that discusses how to build wealth by developing the habits of self-made millionaires. Subscribe to his RSS feed.
In the Millionaire Next Door, author Thomas Stanley talks about the importance of playing good financial defense in order to build wealth. In other words, controlling your spending and expenses in order to keep more of your money.
Financial defense is one way to increase your net worth, but many people either focus on or want to achieve the flip side of that concept. That would be to play good financial offense by increasing your income in order to produce and build wealth.
What is the Best Way to Increase Income?
Playing financial offense is a proactive, thoughtful approach to increasing income. It’s about planning and executing, as opposed to reacting to a situation. Too often people hope to increase their income by getting a promotion or a raise by working hard. That’s great, but you can take more control and create an offensive strategy to achieve your income goals rather than hope for them.
By taking initiative and having a clear plan on how to bring in more money, it would be virtually impossible not to achieve some level of success. Here is how I would recommend going about this:
Identify Your Goals
Take 15 minutes and give yourself some quiet time with no TV, no kids and no email. Shut it all down. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen and draw a line down the middle. Label the columns “short-term” and “long-term.” Now write down how much money you want to increase your income within the next 6 – 12 months and in the next 5 years. Winning the lotto does not count.
Create a Plan
Now, think about how you are going to reach these goals. Under the dollar amount you just listed, write 3-5 ways to reach these goals. Let me give you an example:
short-term goal = $5,000/year increase in income
- Negotiate a raise
- Interview for a higher paying position
- Start a part-time handyman business
- Get a weekend job
- Find valuable things at auctions to sell on eBay
long-term goal = Make $100,000/year
- Become director of x at my company
- Obtain 25 cash-flowing rental properties over the next 5 years
- Grow my part-time business to bring $X revenue
The examples above are to get you started. For each item, take each point a step further and have an action plan on how you could feasibly make them a reality. To negotiate a raise, for example, do some research on how to negotiate a raise and prepare a case to present to your boss.
Now that you have identified your goals and drawn out a plan, take action and execute your plan. You may fail at one or two of these, but that is why you should have a number of paths to achieve your goal. You will learn from your mistakes, and will be better prepared to brush yourself off and try again.
While Thomas Stanley stresses the importance of playing good financial defense in order to accumulate wealth, you can accelerate your goals by being offensively alert as well. Set some goals that you will hold yourself accountable to, take a proactive approach to increasing your cash flow, and start making more money for yourself.
(FYI, the Carnival of Personal Finance was posted this week at Four Pillars, go check it out!)