Pair of hands paying cash to an outstretched hand.

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What could a higher paycheck do for you? Earning more money could be your ticket to boosting your savings account, socking away funds for a down payment on a home, or eliminating the nagging credit card balance you've been carrying for ages. 

But most companies don't just give out raises for no reason -- at least not substantial ones. Sure, you may get a modest cost-of-living raise going into the new year that boosts your income by 2% or 3%, but what if you're aiming much higher? If you want to see your paycheck increase in a meaningful way, it'll probably take more of an effort on your part, so here's how to make it happen.

1. Take on more responsibility

The more you do at work, the easier it'll be to make the case for more money. If opportunities arise to volunteer for new projects in the coming year, raise your hand. If your boss asks someone to step up and spearhead a training program, be that person. And also, suggest new projects yourself. Your boss may not have that many initiatives in mind, but that doesn't mean you can't come up with ways to add value -- and eventually get rewarded for it. 

2. Learn a skill no one else on your team has

The more essential an employee you become, the easier it'll be to make the case for a raise. To this end, it helps to develop a skill no one else you work with possesses. Maybe that skill is a specific software or coding language. Maybe it's an accounting program. Either way, becoming the go-to person on your team could work wonders for your paycheck. 

3. Create your own raise via a side hustle

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts to do a great job at work, you may find that your employer is unable or unwilling to boost your pay in the coming year. A lot of companies are cutting back because of the ongoing pandemic and recession. So your employer may not be in a position to give you a raise even if you close out 2020 with a stellar performance review and push even harder in 2021. But in that scenario, there's no need to give up on an income boost because you can instead go out and create one yourself.

Though the pandemic has impacted the gig economy, there's still plenty of opportunity out there to earn money via a side hustle. You could do freelance web design or editing from home on evenings and weekends. You could sign up to house-sit, pet-sit, or even babysit for desperate parents looking for a break (assuming it's safe to do so from a pandemic-related perspective). If you have teaching skills, you can try your hand as an online tutor for the millions of children who are struggling with remote learning. And if you're a crafter, you can create an online store using sites like Etsy and earn money while pursuing the hobbies you love. 

A boost in your paychecks could work wonders for your finances in the coming year, especially if you experienced any amount of income loss during the pandemic. Make these moves, and with any luck, you'll close out 2021 with more money in your pocket than when you started.