As a debt free individual helping others become debt free quickly, an increase in income has to be a non-negotiable for your journey. During my debt free journey, I had to be honest with myself and understand that I needed to increase my income immediately and I want to give you a couple tips that I used during my journey. I will say as a disclaimer that I am no financial advisor. I am just an individual that had the right mindset and implementation to alleviate over $30,000 in student loans in one year back when I was 23-years-old. With that being said, my advice has not only worked for me, but it’s worked for my clients as well and it will literally increase your income based on your current tendencies and what your goals are, so please listen and execute what you can. The following are a couple tips I would recommend to passively increase your income so that you can achieve your financial goal of debt freedom or whichever you aim for quickly. My motto is becoming debt free quickly, so let’s get straight to it!
- Reduce your 401K contribution!
One thing you can do to increase your income instantly is reduce your 401K contribution. This tip obviously takes into consideration you have a full time job and have a job with a company that participates in a 401K contribution. For example, let’s say that your company offers up to a 2% match. This means that when you contribute up to 2% of your salary or earnings, your company will match you with an additional 2% to make it a total of a 4% contribution. This is key and important, because the 2% your company is contributing is literally free money. This is where my advice becomes controversial. If you reduce your 401K contribution to 0%, not only are you not contributing to your retirement plan, but you’re also forfeiting free money, so you can take it for what it is.
The theme of this post is to think for yourself and do what’s best for you. For me, I needed all the money that I could receive at the time in order to meet my one year goal towards debt freedom, so this was nearly a no-brainer for me to do. I would only sacrifice one year and then I would get back to contributing to my retirement and claiming my company’s match. This also becomes risky, because I could have gotten laid off or fired at any moment. Luckily for me, I was in a situation that it was very unlikely for that to happen and it did happen. Understand your own unique situation and execute appropriately. This may not be the best situation for everyone, but one year was not a lot for me, and it will likely not be a lot for most people. But, not everyone pays off their student loans in one year. If you’re going to be paying off your student loan debt or striving towards achieving your financial goal for more than one year, understand that you can cycle it on and off. Maybe you can have no contribution to your 401K for one year and then turn it back on as you increase your income other ways, and then cycle it off again if your projected financial journey spans many years. Just understand that this is always a convenient way to increase your income instantly incrementally.
- Forget an emergency savings fund!
Forget an emergency savings fund! However, when I say this, I don’t say to neglect an emergency savings fund completely. During my one year journey towards debt freedom, I had to understand I needed to think for myself and my own particular journey. There are a lot of financial gurus and information that supports having a 6-month or one year expenses worth of an emergency fund. This makes sense and is the most safe route, but I took a different route. I can’t post this and lie like I didn’t, so I’m here to speak my truth and hopefully help one person out there on their journey.
I want to give you permission to not prioritize an emergency fund by using the rule of $1,000/year. Because my journey was one year, I only saved $1,000 and that was it. If your debt free journey is projected to be three years, save $3,000. Understand again, this is very risky, because anything can happen at a given time, but there was a reason why I chose to take this risky route.
The main reason why I chose to take this route was because of the concept of focus. When you focus on one thing, you operate effectively towards what you’re focused on because it’s one thing. However, if you focus on two things at the same time, you’re not going to do either effective, because you’re juggling two things at the same time. The way the brain works isn’t meant to function that way. The money that you’re using for a 6-month or a one year emergency fund can be mostly used for paying off your debt more efficiently if you simply apply the $1,000/year rule!