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How I Earned $45,000 More This Year


I was 25 years old and had been out of college for three years, but I was still earning a meager wage compared to the typical college grad that was earning more than $50k per year. I felt as though I were being left in the dust. Instead of wallowing in self-pity (because of a bad economy or a poor degree choice), I decided to do everything possible to increase my income. Now it’s three years later and I’m earning $45,000 more per year! So what’s my secret? Well, there’s not just one thing. It’s many little things. Let’s dive in.

(By the way, while this is a story of how I earned more money, I don’t mean to be flashy about what I have done. Rather, I want this to inspire you for what YOU can do!)

Take Note of Your Current Situation

I used to work for a large company in Florida. The cost of living was high and the average earnings were low. I wish I could say that I loved the company I worked for, but this was not the case either. It was a dead-end job with no hopes of moving up in the company. I was stuck.

It was pretty obvious that if I wanted a better experience with more pay, I would have to do it elsewhere.

Interview Well

For many people, interviews can be pretty scary. Marketing yourself can seem strange and out of place, but if you already have a job, what do you have to lose by interviewing? Absolutely nothing. So, stop being so nervous about it, roll-play some typical interview questions with your friends, and get out there!

Land The Job

With my calm demeanor in the interview, I was able to land a job that paid $8,000 more than I was earning before. And, the location was perfect because I was able to move close to my family again.

Prove Your Skills

presentationThe systems and processes of this new company were completely different than what I was used to, but because I am a quick learner I was able to become proficient after just 4 months of hand-off training (meaning, when I ran stuck, I would just ask, get my question answered, and moved on). By the six-month mark, I realized that there was no formal training material for my work, so I started creating a step by step process that would quickly help someone in the event that I wasn’t able to be at work for a day. Because of the complexity of my work, this turned into a 60-page manual, which no-doubt impressed my boss.

Furthermore, with the advise from my mentor (by the way, that should be another nugget – get a mentor that is 2-3 levels above you in your field of interest and have them guide you in your career path), I decided to host a class about tools in Excel that would benefit my coworkers. The turn-out was awesome and suddenly I became the expert on any Excel related questions. It was obvious to everyone that I was an asset, which made the promotion that much easier.

Getting Promoted

My bachelor’s degree was in Finance, and I graduated at exactly the time when banks were going out of business. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to get a job in my desired field out of college, or even in the job after that. By continually showing interest in finance at work however, I was able to land a job in the Finance department after just one year after I started. I had the recommendation of my mentor and a few other high-level finance employees that I made friends with. This new job landed me an extra $7,000 a year and put me into the field that I’ve always wanted!


This new job came with excellent benefits as well. One of the most impressive for me was 100% tuition reimbursement. With this promise from my company, I have been able to take high-level MBA courses for free and will be receiving my degree in April. The value of these courses? Approximately $10,000 a year, although the long term value will no-doubt be much more.

Side Businesses

lamf pageRather than solely depending on my corporate income, I decided to do something to diversify my income streams. Namely, I started this website! After just two years of work, I consistently earn $15,000 a year, and I absolutely love to do it!

In addition to the website income, I have also been writing articles for other personal finance bloggers. On average, I earn about $20 an article and will have written 250 articles by the end of this year. The income this generates: $5,000.

In total, that’s an additional $45,000! Not too shabby, but I have ideas to earn more, and they will come with time, so stay posted. 😉

What Can You Do?

You’re probably thinking, “Well that’s just great for you Derek, but what about me…???” We obviously all have different talents, so I can’t just say, “Start a Blog” because maybe you don’t write very well, or perhaps it would be absolute torture for you! You need to find what it is that you like to do, have a talent for, and be able to find a market that will pay you for it.

Start a list of what you like to do. Just write anything down! If you like to go out for walks, write it down! If you like to ride horses, write that down! Maybe you enjoy singing, put it on paper. No matter how ridiculous it sounds, put it on the list. Then go back and think of ways that this activity could earn you money. If you’re a good singer, perhaps someone would pay you to sing at their wedding. If you ride horses well, trainers might just pay you to give their horses some exercise. If you like to walk, maybe you could take some dogs with you and earn some cash that way.

What are your ideas? How will you make more money tomorrow than you do today?

Make Money Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Great post Derek. I like the way you’ve diversified your incomes. We all have different skills and talents so we each need to do what makes sense for us as individuals. I decided to take on a part time job teaching graphic design and that’s how I’m making some extra money now 🙂

    • That sounds like a great idea Liquid! Graphic design is a pretty hot industry right now. I wish I knew more about it. Hey…you want to design some T-shirts for me?

  2. Congrats! Your suggestion is exactly what I did to add streams of income to my life. I didn’t like my full time job so I made a list of everything I was passionate about in hopes of changing careers. There were a handful of things on that list that wouldn’t earn enough to be a full time job but certainly could earn enough to be a side job. The key though is to pick things you love. I typically “work” close to 80 hours per week but all of my extra “jobs” don’t feel like work because I love doing them.

    • I would love to hear what’s on your list Jon!

  3. Very impressive. The best part being you don’t just tell us we should be doing this and that but you demonstrate how exactly to do it!
    Pen and paper in hand brainstorming ideas 🙂 And maybe its time to renegotiate a raise!

    • Exactly. I can’t give one piece of advice for everybody! It just wouldn’t work. We all have different talents and interests!

  4. Good job! I’m all about making more money and diversifying 🙂

    • What have you done to diversify your income?

  5. That is exactly what I’ve been saying for a few years, especially lately. Someone made a comment on my post about whether a million dollars makes you rich with something like, “It’s really irrelevant if you’re on food stamps.” Those are the people who really need to dig down and find ways to increase their income. Even in my small little town, there are tons of ways to do that. Honestly, even just walking around with a rake and asking $20 for raking someone’s leaves could net you a few hundred dollars a month. I’m setting my sites a bit higher, but if I made minimum wage, image what an extra $500 a month could do. I think we are only limited by our minds.

    • I know a poverty situation must be tough, but if you start feeling sorry for yourself and accepting your position in life, you won’t ever improve your status.

  6. Great job! I’m working on diversifying my income. I think it’s the best way to go. Don’t rely on just your salary.

    • Diversifying your income is a great idea. Many people don’t and if they lose their job, they are in an absolute bind with their finances. With 2-3 sources of income, losing one of the income streams is suddenly not such a big deal.

  7. An inspiring post – amazing what you can do with brains, common sense and a little ambition.

    • Thanks for the comment GRWM!

  8. It is amazing how much extra money you can make if you put your mind to it and you’re willing to make some big changes in your life! It also helps to have an open mind about it.

    • That’s true Lance! In order to make some extra money, you need to have a positive attitude and and open mind. Oh, and definitely some determination!

  9. This is a great “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps” story. You found the job you wanted after spending a year in Florida. You then made yourself the indispensable Excel guy at your new job, as well as wrote the manual for your position. It’s that sort of drive and work ethic that get you noticed, make people seek you out, and advance your career. Good job, Derek.

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