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Hourly Wage Conversion Calculator

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10 Ways to Boost Earnings and Maximize Income

Managing personal cash flow accounts for spending in various categories, but it also recognizes income as the fuel keeping the financial fires burning. So while prudent decision-making is required to successfully budget spending obligations, making the most of income opportunities is an equally important pursuit.

One of the most appealing aspects of modern employment is an individual's ability to strike his or her own balance, assembling income from multiple sources, if necessary. Conventional income streams dominate, from paycheck to paycheck, but proactive earners find creative ways to boost income and balance expenses. Whether from a single-payer, conventional salaried position, or made from multiple freelance sources, it's possible to increase your earnings during each stage of the take-home process. The key is to remain flexible, leaving no stone unturned in your quest for supplemental income.

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1. Set the Pace with Starting Salary Negotiations

More often than not, earners rely on a primary income taken-home as salary or hourly wages. The steady, week-to-week pay is one of the major advantages of long-term employment, providing consistency and enabling forward planning. Unfortunately, however, pre-employment negotiations addressing take-home pay and benefits are not always conducted for maximum gain.

In the interest of securing employment and appearing agreeable, some would-be hires do not press early negotiations, choosing instead to prove themselves to employers over time. The problem with a passive approach, however, is that base pay is established up-front, so if it is too low, employees have a hard time catching up with reasonable compensation. In order to set the stage for income growth and regular pay increases, it is essential to set a high mark, so that future rewards are based on a competitive compensation package. Consider the following points as you negotiate for the best possible salary.

  • Experience and Qualifications – Salary offers are influenced by a number of factors, including each company's budget for the roles to be filled. Within a perspective employer's hiring parameters, however, your experience and qualifications help determine where your starting salary falls. Hiring managers may have more discretion than you think, so it pays to position your references for the maximum pay level within your employment tier.
  • Job Requirements Dictate Just Compensation – A delicate balance unfolds during job interviews. On one hand, applicants are interested in the benefits a position provides, so money and perks are naturally considered as the hiring process advances. But at the same time, the desire to land a job can cause would-be employees to compromise their market value, settling for too little pay. At a minimum, job candidates should fully understand the nature of a job before seriously negotiating. Travel, training, overtime, and other special concerns should be recognized during salary negotiations, to determine appropriate compensation for these add-on job requirements.
  • Beyond Salary Requirements – Priorities vary across job applicants, so your needs might not mirror typical candidates. Use it to your advantage, whenever possible, to land custom benefits. Work from home options, for instance, save employers money and speak to a self-starter lifestyle. Negotiating these and other win/win conditions maximizes personal job satisfaction, which is a hard benefit to put a price on. Health insurance is another costly employee benefit to consider. If you are covered by your spouse's plan, opting out could save your prospective employer thousands of dollars annually. Don't lead with it, but if negotiations toughen-up, passing on health care coverage provides a bargaining chip to trade for better benefits in other areas.
  • Sign-On Bonus and Relocation Package – In order to attract talent and fill priority positions, employers extend sign-on bonuses and pay for moving expenses. The perks are not automatic, however, so failing to ask for them could leave money on the table. The bonuses are common in certain fields, so requesting information about new-hire policies is a natural part of the application process. Moving results in expenses ranging from the cost short-term housing to cross-country transportation. Selling your home to relocate is also risky, at times, resulting in losses that should be considered by employers. To the best of your ability, estimate the true cost of your transfer and establish terms by which you'll be reimbursed for the actual cost of relocating.

2. Share Organizational Success

Collective thinking is good for business, so progressive employers make sure each worker has a stake in the success of an organization. Bonuses, sales incentives and profit-sharing each spread prosperity among those instrumental in sustaining gains. To maximize your personal income, account for growth potential beyond your take-home salary and position yourself to share in organizational gains.

If you believe in your company's ability to grow, trading salary expectations for a larger piece of the pie might prove more lucrative than guaranteed pay, in the long run. Stock options, for example, pay-off big for some employees willing to embrace upside potential. The best compensation plans balance everyday lifestyle needs, without limiting opportunities capable of paying substantial future dividends.

3. Expect Regular Raises and Performance Reviews

Corporate policies are all over the map, in terms of who gets raises and when. Small scale employers, for example, may rely on informal guidelines to manage human resources, so regularly scheduled reviews and pay incentives may not be in-place. Even multinational organizations are rethinking annual reviews, prompting proactive moves from employees seeking maximum take-home pay.

When annual raises are not a standard part of an employment arrangement, management and staff work together finding added value for workers. Company-provided lunches, paid time off and other coveted perks are used to augment earnings when raises are on hold. And though these feel-good measures do result in savings and increased take-home pay, incremental salary raises should also be included, as part of a reasonable compensation package.

4. Enhance Credentials to Raise Pay Scale Prospects

Corporate purse strings are tied to job requirements and experience, but training and other credentials also impact earning power. Within corporate America, for example, advanced degrees qualify applicants for higher-paying jobs than the ones available to high school and baccalaureate graduates.

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Even though education quality in the United States lags behind other industrialized countries, the degree to which college education influences pay rates is substantial. In the U.S., workers with college degrees are paid nearly 75% more than their contemporaries with high school diplomas. Mobility is stagnant for those without credentials, so education is essential for maximizing income. In many cases, employers committed to personnel growth are willing to share the cost of training and education, whether through MBA programs or certifications enhancing job preparedness.

5. Supplement Earnings with Side Work

Personal earnings are not limited to money made at one's primary place of employment. In fact, multiple income sources help many Americans make ends meet, as household resources are cobbled from various forms of employment. To supplement income, look at opportunities close to your field, as well as money making schemes outside your primary area of expertise.

  • Consulting – Expert consultation is needed in many fields, so your industry experience can be put to work helping others understand your business. Of course sharing trade secrets and working with competitors are not allowed, but consulting income may be available without creating conflicts of interest in the workplace.
  • Research – various employers conduct research, providing short-term employment opportunities for motivated earners. Drug trials, testing new medications, are classic examples of paid studies, but acting as a human test subject is not the only way to bring home additional income. Conducting research surveys and telephone polling, for example, furnish low-impact prospects for making extra money – and the evening work hours are well-suited for moonlighting.
  • Driving – Depending upon your availability and level of comfort behind the wheel, assorted driving jobs may provide sensible sources of added income. Limousine companies, for instance, require airport shuttle drivers at all hours of the day, so making a few evening runs may be worthwhile. Hotels similarly furnish guest transportation, which presents weekend earning opportunities for part-timers seeking supplemental income. And ride-booking services like Lyft and Uber have exploded in popularity, drawing full and part-time drivers to the mix of over-the-road earners. While it isn't for everyone, operating a quasi-cab enables an agreeable income boost for drivers willing to answer the call.
  • Personal Assistant/ Services – People need help with all manner of daily tasks – from personal matters to business dealings. Your expertise – or simply a willingness to assist, opens doors to extra income. As a formal personal assistant, responsibilities range from scheduling appointments to running errands, but even a stint as part-time grocery shopper or occasional nanny duties yield extra cash. House sitting and pet care are additional avenues to pursue, especially if other family members are on-board to help generate income by helping cover jobs.

6. Expand Passive Income Opportunities

Investment income represents an important share of overall earnings, so making the most of each opportunity ultimately adds to personal wealth. Professional guidance is suggested for inexperienced investors striving for the best returns. In fact, even savvy participants benefit from sage financial counseling. Building diversified holdings, for example, protects passive returns by balancing risk, so advisors are likely to suggest a blended portfolio comprised of various investment types. Annuities, 401K investments and mutual funds built of stocks and bonds each provide passive income.

Business partnerships and past efforts you've made to create residual income furnish passive streams, if everything goes as planned. Royalties and other income-generating publishing rights can also lead to ongoing earnings, protecting authors and composers with compensation.

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7. Tutor or Teach

Knowledge has an inherent value, which can be exploited for capital gain. Whether subject matter is specialized, within your vocational expertise, or general; there are opportunities to earn extra money passing knowledge and experience to the next generation of professionals. In the case of ESL, mathematics, science and other scholastic subjects, your own college degree and general education credentials may be enough to support a teaching position at a local community or technical college. Specialized knowledge increases your chances of being hired, especially in high-demand fields.

Freelance tutoring is an informal way to share academic understanding, which fits flexible schedules and generates reasonable side income during the school year. Student services departments at local universities and high school guidance counselors are good starting points for serious tutors seeking pupils.

8. Pursue Active Real Estate Ventures

Depending upon who weighs-in, real estate investing is either a hands-off, passive pursuit, or an active way to put money to work. The distinction lies with each investor, who makes his or her choices about property administration. Are you a do-it-yourself owner, with handy skills suited for maintaining properties? Or is your schedule full, beyond the responsibilities of daily property management? Answering these and other questions helps determine whether or not you are ready to take-on rental responsibilities and other challenges of income property ownership.

Property management companies assist properties owners, covering needs like unit rental, repair and maintenance, as well as rent collections. The services are not free, but using professional managers enables passive real estate investing. Profits are reduced too, when paid to professional management companies, so careful analysis shows whether or not property ownership is financially prudent.

On one hand, real estate represents a tangible, appreciable asset, which helps anchor a diverse portfolio. But tenants and buildings require attention, making them active investments for most landlords. With the help of rent paid by occupants, investment property can generate substantial residual income, especially multi-family units, which are preferred by seasoned property investors. Buying low, making improvements, and then reselling for profit is another way to generate real estate income. However, flipping homes can be risky for investors with little experience analyzing markets and estimating the cost of repairs. Outside help from realtors and contractors hedges against mistakes and adds insight for future dealings.

9. Turn Talent (and Hobbies) Into Money

Pastimes serve vital roles for hobbyists seeking distractions from everyday life, but personal interests can also be tapped for income, under the right circumstances. For some, turning hobbies into money-makers gets in the way of leisure enjoyment, so benefits should be closely considered before taking a commercial turn.

  • Computer Work and Web Design – Nearly everyone relies on a computer, but few operators possess substantial skills beyond everyday use. If you enjoy building and maintaining computers, a word-of-mouth business is at your fingertips. In addition to cleaning viruses from machines and other routine support, ambitious entrepreneurs put-forth web design and optimization skills to earn extra money.
  • Artistic Output – Self-expression often leads to creative output, which most people don't intend to share. Paintings, sketch artistry, and even written passages can be sold for profit, however, as a source of added income. Whether the effort grows into a full-fledged freelance operation is entirely up to you, but even a casual approach boosts family coffers.
  • Cooking for Profit – Home chefs use various strategies to parlay cooking skills into income. Food blogs, for example, can be monetized and maintained as income streams. Cooking demonstrations can also be conducted in-person, for groups and individuals seeking specific culinary knowledge. Your own home-inspired cooking school is one alternative, but hiring yourself out to gourmet shops and area schools can also generate cash. Selling prepared meals is another way to turn epicurean passion into supplemental income. Event-style cooking leans toward intimate catering, but filling orders for meals to-go (or delivered) is another attractive alternative, allowing culinary entrepreneurs to control hours and complement existing work commitments.

10. Cut Costs

Proactive money-saving measures require time and attention, but can trim worthy savings from household budgets. Money gleaned from smart savings serves as added income, to be applied toward legitimate expenses. Reducing work-related costs, for example, like commuting expenses, is comparable to getting an on-the-job raise. And by reducing the cost of living at-home, surplus resources can be directed to more meaningful financial pursuits.

To start saving money now, evaluate your budget and personal cash flow. Cost-effective measures in the following areas often lead to significant monthly savings:

  • Daily Commute – Operating a car to work every day racks-up sizable expenses. To measure the true price of the convenience, consider the cost of fuel, maintenance and licensing, and then add the actual cost of your vehicle. Monthly insurance premiums and parking fees compound the overall tab for those commuting to work, prompting some to embrace alternative transportation. Public transit, bicycling, ride-sharing and other modes of movement are like money in the bank for workers less dependent on their personal vehicles.
  • Energy Efficiency – Cutting electrical costs and other utilities leads to immediate savings. Heating and cooling systems, in particular, are wasteful when poorly managed. And the price of electronic gadgetry is staggering, when electricity is considered.
  • Frugal Food Choices – Dining out has a price tag, so trimming food entertainment is one way to boost spending power. Home cooking is a more economical choice, providing the same nutritional value as restaurant food, for a fraction of the cost.
  • Credit Crunch – High-interest debt saddles income, so reducing rates leaves more money in circulation. Shedding oppressive debt is like earning extra money, so credit cards, mortgages, student loans and other outstanding obligations should be evaluated for savings opportunities.

Protecting earnings and advancing financial interests are fundamental to successful personal cash management. Fortunately, there is more than one way to make ends meet. For some, a single income source provides enough cash flow to satisfy monetary obligations, leaving excess resources to save and invest. Others take-on side jobs or professional consulting roles to supplement primary income. And still another group bolsters earnings by selling creative output, like images, art, and written content. Though each approach is distinct, creative workers use these and other strategies to make the most of earnings and increase personal income.

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