You don’t need anyone to tell you inflation has soared to 8.5%. No doubt, you’re feeling the pinch.
Because this is a personal finance letter, I might stamp out a list of ways to cope with rising costs: buy generic, eat out less, buy cheaper clothes, cancel four of your five streaming services, drive fewer places… cut, cut, cut.
Some of those strategies are good. Generic sugar really is the same as the brand-name stuff. And some are just sad. Your world is going to shrivel up if you refuse to drive more than 20 miles from home because of gas prices.
Plus, there are better ways to handle inflation.
Instead of slicing and dicing the pie, you could find ways to make it bigger.
I went through this myself many years ago. When I was 26, I was in the Coast Guard making $45,000 a year. We had a nice condo and a good life, but I wanted more money.
I could have made that happen by living off ramen noodles. Cut all nonessential food, and you’ve got an extra $5,000 a year. But you can only cut so much. Once you get down to the bare bones, you’re not going to be happy. So, I made my way to Wall Street, and made my pie a lot bigger.
You can gripe about Wall Street all you want, but there are some great things about it.
Especially the Wall Street of 10 or 20 years ago.
I worked in the equities division, and when I started, it was probably a two-billion-dollar business. A few years later, it was a six-billion-dollar business. And I never heard the managers say we had to cut expenses.
Instead, they’d say, “We’re going to reach three billion, then four billion,” and so on. They were only interested in making the pie bigger—they had an abundance mentality. Everybody on Wall Street had that mentality back then, and it’s worth emulating.
Start by asking for a raise.
There’s a lot of money out there, and sometimes it only takes a little work to get more of it. Some people are wildly successful at this, and others are a little successful, but I bet you can make more money if you try. And the first step is to ask for a raise.
Your boss has a lot to do. He’s not sitting around thinking about your bank account. So, if you want a raise, be direct and say, “Can I have a raise?” Don’t beat around the bush.
He might say, “Oh, a raise? Sure, why not?” That’s how half of these conversations go. If the money is there, and you’re doing a good job, they’ll probably give it to you if you ask.
My guess is you could also make more money if you looked for a different type of job.
I’ve done that twice in my life—blown up my identity. First, I was a Coast Guard guy, then I became a Wall Street guy, and now I’m a financial media guy. So it’s possible.
When I was in the Coast Guard, I was really in the Coast Guard. I had a high and tight haircut, and I lifted weights all the time. In order to become a Wall Street guy, I had to blow that up—get a different haircut, dress differently, act differently.
I had to change everything. And I had to change everything again to become the person I am now. This is why career changes are hard for people.
The most radical career change is to open your own business.
Everyone says opening a business is hard, and it is hard. But it’s also doable, and one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. The scarcity mentality tells you to give up coffee to stretch your dollar. The abundance mentality says to open 10 pizza places. Not just one… 10.
The truth is you can make more money. Start by asking for a raise. Then look at other types of jobs you might like that make more money. And then maybe start that business.
All these changes are easier if you surround yourself with the right people.
No matter what field you work in, you want to identify the most successful players—the people worth emulating. Introduce yourself. Go where they go. Do what they do.
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