Ask anyone who’s gone from making a small income to making a lot—saving and investing becomes SO much easier when you have a higher income.

One of the problems with financial planning for beginners is that many start picking the low hanging fruit, cutting large expenses, but then stop there. The hard reality is, until you get your income up, progress in your finances stays pretty difficult and a slow grind.

In this post, part 2 of our No-Nonsense Financial Planning Guide, I’ll cover some simple and tangible ways to get your income higher.

Another harsh reality: you can’t save a sinking ship if there’s a hole in it.

So if you haven’t read through part 1 and gotten your expenses in check, start there and then circle back around.

Now to the keys of earning a higher income.

The foundation you need to establish within yourself comes down to three important pieces:

  1. Capability
  2. Confidence
  3. Hustle

The great thing is that ANYBODY can work on these, whether you’re a part-time cashier or Fortune 500 exec. Improvement in these places, which starts within, will result in higher (and sustainable) future income to make real progress on your path to financial freedom.

Capability: Know-How, Skills, Education

If you go back to the sentence I wrote about “keys”, notice the important choice of word there. Earning.

Unless you are born with a silver spoon, you’re going to have to earn your piece of the pie that is prosperity in this world.

To earn requires effort.

But it also includes another key: providing value to others.

For example, I could maintain intense effort in working out my body, improving my basketball shot or golf swing, or mastering a game like chess.

But these things don’t inherently provide value to others.

Unless I’m professionally competing in these areas, in which case the performance itself provides value to the audience through the lens of entertainment, then I won’t earn anything for these efforts.

That’s why it all starts with capability.

You have to be capable in the areas that are providing value to others if you want to earn income.

In general, your ability to provide value to others will determine how high your income can go. If you want to earn a higher income, improve your capability in providing value for others.

Why Capability Applies to Everyone

And by the way—it’s never too late to start this.

When I went to college for a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, we had a man in there who had to be in his late 40’s or early 50’s who was taking the same courses as these kids less than half his age.

Guess what? He outworked all of us and was consistently one of the best in every class.

I’ve seen nurses who go back to get their RN in their late 20’s, or even 50’s; boom, instant boosts to their income immediately after completing the certification.

But it’s not just about investing in education, which has so many potential (expensive) pitfalls today.

Notice the order of how I defined capability:

  1. Know-how
  2. Skills
  3. Education

The truth of the matter is that if you have the know-how to provide value to others, and you look hard enough to where those skills can be used, you can very quickly level up your income by leveling up the way you provide value through your capabilities.

Why Education is Not the Silver Bullet

As entrepreneurs, my business partners and I are regularly looking for people with the know-how to provide value to others, whether (A) that’s through know-how about the stock markets and personal finance, or (B) skills like editing or data analysis, or (C) anything else.

NEWSFLASH: Not everybody cares about a fancy Ivy League degree or “who you know”.

I’ll give you a very tangible example of this.

In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, the author described the journey of one of the most successful lawyers of all-time.

Back in the stuffy days of law-firms in New York City, in which the highest paying jobs required a particular pedigree and “type” of individual, immigrant lawyers who didn’t “fit” had no chance at scoring these jobs. Most didn’t.

So these lawyers, with less “impressive” education under their belt, had to attain know-how around very different types of law, even those less desirable and profitable.

But then something changed in the business world, and many companies started doing hostile takeovers, which required a particular know-how that the “white-shoe” firms didn’t have.

This business boomed.

And guess who were the lawyers who profited the most from this—you guessed it, those with the know-how and not the pedigree. By the time the big law firms caught on to this, it was too late for them to take from this lucrative honeypot.

Also.

Consider that 47.3% of jobs today are generated by small businesses.

Think about the local small business owner you might know or have talked to before—chances are many of them care more about know-how and less about education, because it’s know-how that leads to success in entrepreneurship/small business!

If you can roll-up your sleeves and attain the know-how, skills, or education/certification you need to better serve people around you in a profitable way, there’s NO WAY you won’t increase your income eventually.

Simple Steps to Improving Your Capabilities for Higher Income

First, humble yourself.

Then, do some research and figure out how to improve your capabilities around a particular (and profitable) value-adding activity.

That research could look different for everyone—it could be boots on the ground, talking to others, researching online or in books, or even just experimenting with things until something clicks.

We ALL have different capabilities, and we ALL can improve them.

Doing this is the first key step to getting where you want to go in the financial planning process of improving your income, and it will be true for almost any income-earner you talk to.

Confidence: Taking What’s Rightfully Yours

The skeptics out there might bring up the worker bees who are extremely good at what they do but are criminally underpaid.

You may point to this to say, “it doesn’t matter how hard you work”.

In some ways this is very true, which is exactly why capability is just the first step to improving your income.

Sometimes, you have to stand up for yourself to get what you deserve.

Just like you have to fight to earn your way by providing value to others, you also have to fight to keep that piece of the pie that your value is earning.

That’s a dark side to financial planning that’s not talked about much.

Look, there is good and evil in this world.

The world economy can have some really great bright spots, but it also has some very dark places. People will and do take advantage of other people, and that especially includes other people’s hard work.

You have to have the confidence to take what you’ve rightfully earned, and of course that confidence stems from the capabilities you have from step one.

Practical Ways to Exercise Confidence to Get Higher Income

In America (where I live), the land of the free and home of the brave, the one power you can hang your hat on is the power to walk away.

Here’s a harsh reality:

Another harsh reality:

One more harsh reality:

The only control you have over the income you can earn, especially if you’re underpaid and overworked, is the ability to walk away and find something else.

I understand that some feel trapped to their job, and some might actually be maliciously trapped (in which case financial planning is the least of your worries, and please find help if you can).

But there’s a difference between feeling trapped and being trapped, especially if you have the capabilities and can find the confidence to get out of that hole.

Here are some ideas for earning more of what you deserve:

Look, none of these things happen overnight and take some time to approach in a smart way (IWT is a great free resource for many of these things).

But I want to encourage you that making a higher income often requires making a big move, and these big moves only happen when you have confidence in your capabilities.

Remember, if you’re being treated unfairly—the best thing you can do after you’ve tried everything else is to walk away.

Well what if I can’t find anything…

I promise you if you put yourself out there and confidently present your capabilities, and these capabilities are actually valuable, you will eventually improve your income.

Yes, it takes perseverance.

But if you find that inner confidence to ask enough people, to try for enough opportunities, to never give up…

You can and you will get what you deserve.

But you have to fight for it, and be confident that you will eventually win.

Again, I’ve heard many stories of people waiting years for that right opportunity, but that struggle to change your life for the better will be worth it.

Hustle: REALLY Earning It

Assuming you’ve got the capabilities and confidence in place, now comes the “fun” part.

Rolling up your sleeves and getting after it.

Again for all you non-silver spooners out there, look around you and you’ll see successful people grinding all over the place.

The best business people, the best managers, the best leaders, and the best performers… they all have another key ingredient to their lucrative honeypots—good old fashioned hard work.

I never said success was easy.

The story that stands the test of time with people who become financially free is, often, an intense effort to provide more and more value to generate more and more income.

A great podcast called The Ramsey Show has daily success stories of everyday people who pay off mountains of debt by taking two jobs, three jobs, night school, or the like.

Another great entrepreneurial podcast called Smart Passive Income has a stream of guests who went from zero to hero through an impressive collection of intensity through relentless effort, late nights, weekends, and zero vacation time.

In my own business, I went through over 7 years of working a full-time job and grinding on this business on the side until it all really paid off.

The internet has no shortage of motivational stories about hustle.

But it’s because it’s true.

Can’t sugarcoat it, can’t sidestep it.

Work hard to play hard; once you have the capabilities and confidence to earn what you want, find the drive to deserve what you want through relentless effort and an impressive and deserving work ethic.

Takeaway

Again, I never said financial planning was easy, and it can seem overwhelming especially if you are a beginner.

But find out from those around you—the juice is almost always worth the squeeze.

And while the actual path and tangible steps you take towards the journey will look uniquely different for everyone, that key foundation has to always be there.

Remember that income is not really about you.

It’s about the people around you.

If you want to build a successful business, find out how you can best provide value to customers. If you want to improve in your career, find out how to provide value to your boss or the company you work for. Or, find a better company to provide your value for.

At the end of the day, like I said in Part One, financial planning for beginners comes down to the simple adage:

Spend less money than you make.

There are great ways to both spend less and earn more, and I hope our guide has opened your eyes to how you can start doing both. Good luck on your journey. I’m rooting for you.