Many Americans now, unfortunately, know the feeling of living paycheck to paycheck, due to rising costs of living, high barriers to entry in the job market, and stagnating wages. This is leaving many with the feeling that there is little hope that they will be able to save money or have enough to cover emergency expenses.
It seems financial stress is everywhere these days, and it makes sense, as living paycheck to paycheck can also leave many wondering what they would do in a situation where they lose their job. However, in spite of the many financial difficulties facing Americans, there are still people who are finding success when it comes to managing their personal finances and growing their careers.
While it is easy to get discouraged, taking steps forward in your career can help mitigate financial stress. There are many things that you can start doing today that will boost your career and hopefully set you on track to boosting your income and increase your job security.
Start a Side Hustle
If money is tight, starting a side hustle may be the boost you need to cover extra expenses or have money to put away for an emergency. There are many great options available for people looking to start their own side hustle, but of the best side hustles options for those working full-time are ones that allow flexible hours. Therefore, a side hustle is different than a part-time second job, which could conflict with your current work schedule. One other great benefit of having a side gig like this is that if you lose your primary job, you’ll have something to fall back on while you look for work.
When working a side gig, it might be a good idea to set up a secondary bank account to keep track of the funds of your side hustle. This will allow you to know what the income and expenses of your side hustle are so that you can properly be ready for tax season. A good option to do this is a no-fees bank account, where you could keep your money safe while also avoiding paying hefty maintenance fees.
Before you start putting in the extra work, be sure to look into your company’s policies on side jobs, as some companies may have limits on what you can and cannot do as a side job. You might also want to check in with your company’s non-compete agreement that you signed when you started working. Avoid any side hustles that could be considered competition with your current employment, as doing so could lead to you losing your job.
Build Professional Work Relationships
One of the biggest mistakes people make at their jobs is failing to network once they start working. However, networking internally, and building professional relationships with both your managers and coworkers is a great way to become more ingrained in your company culture. By doing so, you also start to establish yourself as a valuable resource for the company. Now, on top of your hard work and dedication to your career, you also have a network of managers and coworkers who can speak for your talents in the office, which can increase your chances of getting promotions or a pay raise.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid engaging in too much networking during work hours, as this can often appear as though you are slacking off, or just using your worktime to socialize. Instead, check-in with your company calendar and look for social events taking place outside of work hours, where socialization is encouraged, and you can use this time to network and build relationships.
Learn a New Skill
Learning new skills that help you move forward in your career shouldn’t stop once you get your degree. The workforce is filled with people who are engaging in professional development on a daily basis, and if you can’t keep up with them, you could find yourself quickly falling behind. If you’re looking for ways to grow in your position, look into setting up a meeting with your manager and ask them questions about ways you can grow in your department, and the skills associated with the most successful people in your position.
Having this meeting with your manager also shows great initiative on your part and puts you on track for promotions if you can also show them that you’ve taken their advice and tried to improve the skills you’ve discussed. The sooner you take action and have something to show for it, the sooner you’ll be able to move forward in your profession.
If you want places to get started on learning new skills, sites like LinkedIn offer online classes to help you learn about a wide variety of tasks centered around professional development. If you do decide to take advantage of educational sites like this, remember to record your progress to show you’re making an effort to learn more.
Volunteer for Tasks
Another great way to show initiative and set yourself up for promotions at work is to volunteer for more responsibility when the opportunity arises. For example, if your boss asks for someone to put together a presentation for a client, asking to take on the job shows that you’re willing to go the extra step to benefit the company.
Employers quickly recognize people in the company with initiative who want to grow in their role and provide the most value to their team. The less pleasant the task is, the better it will look on your part to volunteer, as it shows you’re willing to do the difficult work that many others shy away from. This lets your managers know that you’re a cut above the rest when it comes to hard work.
However, be careful not to take this overboard. Taking on tasks that you aren’t prepared to handle, or taking on too many at once, could cause you to not be able to give them your best, and if you fail to handle these tasks, it shows your manager that you aren’t up to the challenge yet. Also remember that a little bit of a challenge when it comes to volunteering is a great way to learn, grow, and push yourself forward in your career, so don’t shy away from a task that may seem too hard. Instead, ask your manager about the requirements for the task, and if you feel that they are something you could reasonably handle, go for it.
While living paycheck to paycheck is certainly a difficult to manage source of financial stress, remember that there are always actions that you can take to improve the situation you’re in. However, there are still lots of great options available to help you move forward in your career and earn more, allowing you to start saving for the future and live with less financial anxiety.