How to Significantly Increase Your Income Without Working Harder (Part 1)

Many times, I’ll receive emails from people saying how they wish they could be in the financial position we’re in but it’s just not possible because they only make $20,000 per year. Not too long ago, making $20,000 per year would have been a significant pay increase for us as we were barely eeking by making $600 to $1,000 per month.

We knew that we needed to increase our income if we were ever going to get financial traction, but we decided to go about it in non-traditional way: instead of focusing all of our time and energies on getting a better job with better pay, we looked for ways to build additional income streams outside the 8 to 5 traditional job. This has been the key to our financial success. The 8 to 5 jobs have helped to pay the bills, but the nontraditional income streams have allowed us to save aggressively and give generously.

In this series, I’m going to share some things we’ve learned over our eight and half year journey of entreprenuerial endeavors and failures. My hope is to help you see that you’re not stuck, no matter how bad of a financial situation you may feel like you’re in right now. There is always hope–especially if you’re willing to think outside the box.

So, let’s dive in with what I feel is a foundational principle for increasing your income and achieving financial success:

1. Set Big Goals and Break Them Down Into Bite-Sized Pieces

By now you probably know that this is one of the core facets of most advice I give. And there’s good reason for that: I believe that strategic and specific written goal-setting may well change your life–and your finances.

If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know when you’ve gotten there? If you don’t live with purposeful intention, aimlessness will be the default.

One thing that has been amazingly effective for us is to set specific goals for our businesses: from the income we hope to generate in a week, month, or year to detailed projects we hope to accomplish in a specific time frame. We don’t just set big goals, we also break these down into bite-sized chunks.

For instance, I remember many years ago when I had an online book business, I set a goal to make $200 each week. This meant that I had to make $40 each week day. Once I had this goal on paper, then I started to brainstorm every free advertising option I could contrive. Some of them worked, some of them flopped, but had I not had that very specific goal, I doubt I would have been as driven to be creative.

Our business goals propel us to constantly be tweaking our processes so that we’re more efficient in running our businesses, they motivate us to look for out-of-the-box marketing ideas, and they challenge us to not be content with the status quo.

Where do you hope to be financially in a year from now? How about three years from now? What about five years from now?

Choose three to five specific financial goals for the next few years and start thinking of practical ways you can get there. What can you do outside of your 8 to 5 job to build additional income streams? What can you cut from your current expenses to allow you to save and invest more? How can you increase the return on your investment of what you’re already doing right now?

(By the way, if you have consumer debt, I recommend paying it off as quickly as you can. It’s a heavy chain around your neck that will bog you down and keep you from making much traction. In addition, if you are not on a written budget, make that your highest priority–far above and beyond increasing your income. You’ll probably find you give yourself an instant raise when you do so. Plus, if you can learn to live on what you make now, as your income increases, you can continue to keep your expenses low and increase your savings and giving instead.)

Once you have your big goals written down on paper, break them down into bite-sized monthly and weekly chunks. Don’t be afraid to be very specific. Even if you don’t come close to hitting them every week and month, you’ll be much farther along than if you didn’t try at all.

…to be continued next Wednesday

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Saving Money On Groceries In New England

Guest post by JessieLeigh from Parenting Miracles

When I learned we would be moving from Indiana to Connecticut, one of my biggest fears was this: How will this impact my grocery budget?

Over and over I had read how expensive things were on the East Coast. So many times I had seen comments from New Englanders sighing over how they “couldn’t get those deals” or “match those prices.” Happily, it didn’t take me long to find my groove here and my budget hasn’t had to budge.

So… how can you save money on groceries when you live on the East Coast?

1. Face the facts.

The cost of living is higher here. Our base prices are almost universally higher too. That’s just how it is.

Do not waste time and energy bemoaning the fact that you can’t get milk for $1.49 a gallon like someone in Texas or purchase quality beef for the price you’d pay in Kansas. It’s discouraging but, more to the point, irrelevant. Throwing your hands in the air and declaring it hopeless won’t help. Acknowledge that regular prices are high here. Then move on…

2. Celebrate the advantages, no matter how small they may seem.

Here, in my neck of New England, I can get much fresher, and often more affordable, seafood than I ever would have found when I lived in Indiana. We also seem to get “new” products on our shelves faster than many regions.

And, while most prices here seem astronomical compared to when I lived in the Midwest, I have noted that dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and half and half frequently go on sale for better prices than I paid in “middle America.” Much more productive for me to focus on those things than the fact that I can expect to pay at least twice the price for meat here.

3. Embrace more generous policies.

Do you want to know what floored me when I moved out here? Most of the major supermarkets double coupons up to and including ninety-nine cents. That’s fantastic!

A seventy-five cent coupon, doubled, and paired with a sale makes cereal just as affordable here as it ever was in the Midwest. The fact that the small box of Cheerios regularly retails for $4.99 here doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can still get it for less than a dollar.

4. Look beyond the supermarket.

There are two major supermarkets in my town. I usually scan both ads to see if the deals are worth it. Most weeks, one is and one isn’t. But I don’t stop there.

Before even moving here, I searched for the closest Aldi; it’s forty-five minutes away. I can no longer “drop in” for a few things as needed like I did back in Indiana when Aldi was down the street. But I can plan a big monthly trip to pick up staples. (Aldi’s prices are very consistent on most items across the country.)
I also drop by a small neighborhood market on occasion. Their regular prices are ridiculously high, but they have good sales on a few items. In addition, I’ve gotten bunches of bananas, cartons of organic milk, and bouquets of flowers there for free; since they don’t have the turnover or brisk business of a larger store, they just wanted to get rid of it.

5. Seek out creative money savers.

There are more ways to save than just sales and coupons. One of our supermarkets gives you a nickel off for each reusable bag you use. That adds up!

Some stores offer their own coupons in their ads or online. I have discovered an amazing reduced produce rack in the corner of one of our markets. The other sells gourmet cheese as “cheese ends” for a song. I even save money on meat, dairy, and more by scanning and bagging my own groceries as I shop at a local store.

Will all these options be available to you? Probably not. But you may have other unique ways to shave some pennies off that grocery total! Look around, ask around, and don’t be afraid to try something.

Finding deals in New England looks different from finding deals in the Midwest. If I were to focus only on the shelf prices, I’d probably want to crawl into a hole. But, by using the above strategies, I find I can most definitely save money here. It just required learning a new kind of savvy shopping.

JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting Miracles.

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48-Hour Giveaway: $50 Gift Certificate to My Baby Clothes Boutique (3 Winners)

My Baby Clothes Boutique offers adorable and unique baby clothes at a guaranteed lowest price. They offer baby clothes, baby headbands, baby hats, tutus, and more. Best of all, they offer free shipping on every order. I’m pretty sure that’s my favorite feature of their site!

Even if you don’t have little ones at your house, the cute children pictured in their clothes are their site make it worth visiting! And be sure to check out their Last Chance Clothing page for some of their clearance deals.

If you’re considering ordering something, they are offering a 10% off coupon code good on any $40+ orders. Just use moneysavingmom10 at checkout to get 10% off.

My Baby Clothes Boutique is giving away three $50 gift certificates to readers this week. You can use them purchase anything you’d like in their store. And let me tell you, after browsing their site, whoever wins this giveaway is going to have a blast doing a little online shopping at their site.

For more information, visit My Baby Clothes Boutique or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

To enter to win a $50 gift certificate to My Baby Clothes Boutique, click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Three winners will be chosen and posted on Monday. This giveaway ends Friday, September 2, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

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Ask the Readers: Quick breakfast ideas for kids?

Today’s question is from Carrie:

Our oldest daughter is starting kindergarten this year so it is going to be a real adjustment for us to get up and get 0ut the door in the morning. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for quick and easy breakfast ideas that kids will love? -Carrie

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Money Saving Mom® readers? Read the submission guidelines and submit it here.

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