How I Raised My Income by $50,000 in 2 Years

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  • Proving how valuable you are can be lucrative.
  • I wasn't afraid to take on new responsibilities -- but I also advocated for fair pay.

It was a combination of hard work and speaking up.

These days, I spend my weeks plugging away as a freelance writer, covering a wide range of financial topics. But my first job out of college was at a financial company where I worked full-time.

When I first got hired, I'll admit that I really had no idea what I was doing. I'd taken some finance courses in college but those in no way prepared me for the specific tasks I was assigned on the job. And between being relatively clueless and coming in as a recent college graduate, the salary I earned my first year on the job was very much an entry-level one.

But between my first year of full-time work and my third year, I managed to boost my income by $50,000. Here's how I did it.

1. I learned new skills

I may not have known a ton about the work I was doing when I first got my offer letter. But over time, I observed people and picked up a lot of new skills on the job. That allowed me to take on more responsibility and become a more valuable employee.

2. I put in extra time as it was needed

Although the hours at my first job were long to begin with, sometimes, I put in additional hours when deals had to close or help was just plain needed. And that help was easy to notice. In fact, there were many mornings when I was the first employee to show up to work other than my boss.

3. I wasn't shy about asking for higher pay

When you work in the financial field, there's often a large bonus component to your compensation. And so when I talk about raising my income by $50,000 over two years, I don't mean my salary went up that much. Rather, that $50,000 lift was a combination of a higher salary and also, higher bonuses.

Those bonuses, however, were paydays I had to fight for. And I wasn't shy about doing so. My boss knew full well that I was a hard worker who possessed skills that would be hard to find in someone else (partly because the company I worked for focused on a specific type of trading many people aren't familiar with, even if they have financial backgrounds). I used that to my advantage and negotiated my pay every time I had an annual performance review.

A big boost that worked wonders for my finances

Growing my income by $50,000 in two years helped me achieve a lot of financial goals. I was able to build myself a full emergency fund and also start saving for retirement. And the higher pay allowed me to do some of the things I'd put off when I was more cash-strapped, like travel, without ending up in credit card debt.

Not everyone is in a position to raise their income by $50,000 over a two-year period. But if you make an effort to grow your skills, add value to your employer, take on more responsibility, and fight for the pay you deserve, you may find that you're able to raise your income nicely, too.

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