Since the recession, our economy has improved in some ways but not in others. More people are now employed, but wages collectively have stayed the same or fallen in many locations, expanding the divide between rich and poor. While that is bad news for everyone, for professional women, there is an additional problem—the wage gap, which AAUW reported in 2015 held at 20%.
AAUW estimates that if the rate of change between 1960 and 2015 extends into the future, women might achieve equal pay in … 2152.
While that does not mean we should not continue to fight for equality in the workplace, it also means that realistically, we need to look for clever alternatives to traditional wages to increase our incomes. We need to stop waiting around for our bosses to change our lives, and instead explore avenues outside of hourly wages or annual salaries.
If you are looking for a way to make more money now, here are some ideas.
1. Budget your money and reduce your expenses
You know that old bromide that “a penny saved is a penny earned?” It is as true today as ever. For every penny that you spend, before you can add to your savings, you need to first recoup that cost. That means you have to make two pennies in order to add one to your savings.
So the very first thing you should do to add to your income is to look into opportunities to cut your expenses. You can begin by keeping a monthly budget. Keep careful track of both your expenses (including taxes) and your income, and review it at least once a month to find out where your hard-earned money is going.
While there are some bills which are impossible to reduce, there are many which you may be able to trim down. Hand wash more of your clothes or use the cold cycle when you can. Switch from central heating to a space heater. Cook casseroles and soups that last for days instead of eating out.
2. Invest online
One great opportunity to make more money nowadays is to invest online in stocks, currencies, commodities, or other financial assets. The best online brokerages nowadays have very low minimum thresholds for deposits and investments, allowing you to start investing on a shoestring.
This is not to say that investing online is easy money—becoming a profitable trader is a second job in itself. But if you are willing to put in the time and the hard work, the sky is the limit. You have the opportunity to add exponential gains to your earnings—something that will never be possible at any day job.
3. Start freelancing
Speaking of second jobs, another idea is to try freelancing. Once again, it would be deceptive to say that this is easy, but there really are a lot more opportunities out there than you may realize. If there is something you are good at, there is probably someone who needs that skill. Since the recession, there has been a major shift away from full-time employment toward contract work, and that is something you can capitalize on. Even if you just find and take on a couple of freelance gigs a month, that is valuable money to add to your savings.
4. Look for a way to make passive income
Trying to juggle more than one job isn’t easy, so while you are investigating freelancing possibilities, you might also want to check into some ways to earn passive income.
Some people think of investing as passive income, but in reality, making smart investment decisions requires a good deal of time and work, at least if you want to be consistently profitable.
Still, there are many different ways you can earn passive income. You can create an authoritative website—which does require some level of ongoing time and energy, but affords you some passive payoff as well—or you can create and upload designs to websites like Café Press or Zazzle.
No matter what approach you take to increasing your income, the most important thing is to go in with perspective. If you have unrealistic expectations of overnight success, you will be disappointed, and will probably end up giving up. But if you are willing to deal with the extra workload, you may very well be able to close the wage gap and start saving up for retirement through your own ingenuity and determination.