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Living Below your Means
Increasing Your Means

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By strike3yerout
February 19, 2009

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I mentioned in another thread that I would post some ideas on increasing my means instead of simply accepting my means for what they will forever be.

I'm no expert at this and I'm confident all my ideas have appeared elsewhere. I do know they worked for me and like with most investment ideas, given patience and focus, they could work for you.

My credentials - 10 years ago I had a BA in philosophy, a smile and a simple request to a temp agency - I'll take anything at a publicly held company. I quickly went from "temp to perm" at an entry level secretarial salary that was a tight budget but under which I could just LBMM. 10 years later, I make over 8x that salary. Not trying to show off, rather to prove that my simple suggestions worked for me.

So here's what I do:

1. ASK QUESTIONS. Whenever the "higher ups" are around, have a relevant question or two ready. Ask questions of everyone you meet on the job, and at every meeting you attend. Ask, ask, ask. My theory was that in almost every case, the room had smarter, more experienced people than me - and shame on me if I didn't pick their brains to learn a thing or two.

2. KNOW THE PATHS. Every business has at least two paths - how money comes in, and how the product or service goes back out. No matter how small your part in the company, learn the end-to-end paths, then follow the path back and forth and get to know as much as you can about each part of the path - which naturally leads back to #1 above!

3. KEEP YOUR SCORE. I have a "WTG" folder (way to go) and keep accomplishments in various other ways. This is especially important for things outside your immediate job, to track things that are valuable but for which you aren't measured - for instance, lets say you are a nurse, but you want to learn the "path" of a hospital and talk with someone from accounts receivable. While talking, you could explain what YOUR group does, then tell your boss about your missionary work in the foreign land. Makes them look good :)

4. DO THOSE OTHER JOBS. The easiest promotion is into a job you are already doing. So while time spent clipping coupons might save you $10/week, the same time spent doing additional "beyond the normal scope" of your current job may eventually net you an additional $100/week.

5. KNOW YOUR VALUE. Talk to competitors, others in your field, etc. Know what you could get if you moved and what you could get if you moved and took the next job up the ladder at the new place. be careful how you do it but let your current employer know you know this. This is partly #3 above, but also partly not keeping your head in the sand to be taken advantage of.

6. EXPRESS YOUR WANTS. They won't give you what you don't ask for. Don't bring it up every day, but take opportunities to say what you want and ask what you can do to help make it happen. A raise, a promotion, whatever. Ask about it, remind them a few months later if you don't see movement, etc. This only works, of course, if you are delivering on what is required to make that next step happen. So keep at the effort and remind them of what you're doing and what it is you want to achieve.

7. MOVE IF YOU HAVE TOO. Like with investments, there's no prize for sticking with a dog. The days of retiring from your first job are long gone - move on if that's what it takes, even if the move is lateral. Maybe the rungs above you are clear on the other ladder. Don't burn a bridge but be honest when/if you leave. You'll build respect in the industry and maybe even have a place to return.

I have others, but this is a good start. I hope it helps you. You'll probably note that there are many "undertones" of value in these - for instance, #1 is flattering to the bosses, even if the question is stupid. Meanwhile, #5 helps keep them honest.

Do you have any?