Let me tell you a secret about the personal finance blog industry. We write a lot of crap.
I’m hardly immune to this. I’ve previously tackled such hard hitting topics as which frozen pizza gives you the best bang for your buck, which gas program will give you the most cents back, and even made fun of Trent Hamm approximately 3,492 times. This is hardly groundbreaking stuff.
The reason we all do it is the basic stuff has been covered to death, brought back to life, and then covered to death again. There are a lot of articles out there on the best ways to pay off your credit card debt, and they all say the same thing. Did you guys know you can cut cable TV and save money? Well now you do.
When you’ve already covered the basic stuff, you expand your repertoire. Maybe the author has paid off their debt, so now they’re expanding into investing or earning more money. Or maybe the author is still swimming in debt, but just got bored of talking about it. It’s kinda like a date with Nelson.
So they branch out into different things. And then they get to more obscure and more obscure stuff, finally culminating with stuff on frozen pizza, as a pathetic cry to get people to NOTICE HIM, DAMMIT ESPECIALLY YOU DADDY WHY DON’T YOU COME TO MY G.D. SPORTS GAMES ONCE IN A WHILE EVEN THOUGH I SUCK.
Sorry. I, uh, got a little excited there.
It isn’t that these obscure financial tips are a waste of your time. Saving money on bank fees is helpful, and so is getting a couple extra cents per liter while filling up your tank. You should probably take advantage of these deals, since all the little things do have a habit of adding up. But will they ever be as lucrative as getting a raise at work? Or downsizing so your housing costs are half as much as before? Or a couple getting rid of one car? Not a chance. They won’t even get close.
There’s nothing wrong with side hustles. I love ’em, and will continue to advocate that damn near everyone gets one. Diversifying one’s income is a good thing, and it could even lead to a new gig or full-time entrepreneurship. It could be the beginning of something really interesting, or even be a complete and utter failure. No matter what happens, you’ll learn something from having a side hustle.
Why promotions are better
But at the same time, getting promoted at work will likely be a far bigger win for your money. Why? Because you’ll work about the same amount of hours for more money. If you go from $20 to $25 per hour and do approximately the same amount of work, that’s a huge long-term win. You can probably still keep your side hustle and make bank at work.
I don’t care what problems you have, putting in the same amount of time and effort for more money will improve them.
Like with sex and driving, most of us think we’re far better employees than we really are. That, combined with a lack of patience (which is practically an epidemic with today’s 20-somethings), means that offices are filled with entry-level employees who think they deserve to be middle management.
The good news is it really isn’t very hard to surpass these people. Yeah, you have to come in early, work late, and cut down your trips to the attractive secretary’s desk, but I have faith you can handle it. They just don’t, because it’s easy to be mediocre and work at the same pace everyone else does.
Focus on big wins
We have three major expenses. We need shelter, food, and transportation. As much as you LURVE your dog, he’s really not a necessity. Especially when he chews up stuff. Bad dog.
Chances are, you can cut back on at least one of these categories. For me, it’s restaurants. My Korean living facilities aren’t exactly cooking friendly — we don’t even have an oven for God’s sake — so I spend a lot eating out. For every cheap meal I get at a kimbap, I’m going to TGIFriday’s for a hamburger that costs $20 Canadian.
I’m okay with this because I’m meeting my savings goals. Squatting illegally in my girlfriend’s apartment for free is also pretty helpful in that regard.
I could probably pretty easily save $200 per month by eating more at home. If I combined that with something like getting a house with a basement suite, I’m looking at a potential $1,000 per month in my pocket, just by making a couple of changes. If you use your imagination, I guarantee there’s a few hundred bucks per month in your budget you can cut. They’re big changes, but they’re worth it.
We’re attracted to tips like buying generic brand garbage bags because they’re literally the easiest thing in the world, and making big changes is hard. In the end though, it’s the big changes that matter.