How We Increased Our Annual Income From $0 to $160K to $400K+
One of our subscribers asked us to write a post about how we increased our household income (HHI) from $160K to $400K+. This post is going to tell you how we did it in 5 years and in our early 30’s using conventional and unconventional ways.
And we are going to challenge ourselves to double it again for the next 5 years. Can you join us? Let’s all challenge ourselves. Doesn’t matter if your household income is $40k, 60k, 100k, 300k, 500k, 1M,… Let’s all challenge ourselves to double our income/household income in the next 5 years.
In our previous ‘About us’ post, we talked about how we increased our household income from $0 to $160K and this post here is going to be about how we increased our household income from $160K to $400K+.
Disclaimer: Note that even though our income is high, we spend mindfully as we want to achieve financial independence sooner rather than later. See our previous post on how we live on only 15% of our income.
How do we increase our annual income to$400K+ ?
Ok, let’s dig into it.
Well Ms99to1percent, Mr99to1percent and our consulting business all bring in 6 figures each for a total of $400K+ a year.
In this ‘About us’ post, I detailed how I started as a broke immigrant living in a not so safe neighborhood surrounded by alcoholics, gang members, gamblers, prostitutes, drug dealers/users…to putting myself through school, getting an entry-level accounting job that paid $40,000 ($70,000 with overtime and bonuses).
At that time, after landing the job, I thought I had made it. I worked hard, did plenty of overtime, was even nominated the employee of the year out of 3,000 employees. I worked plenty of overtime, paid off my $40,000 students loans within a year, before even graduating.
During that time, come tax time, my colleagues used to ask me to prepare their tax returns for them which I did (has also turned into a side gig). Which means I got to see what everyone else was being paid 😊. And that’s when realized that even though I was the most qualified person in the team, I was the least paid!
The reason why I was the least paid was because I did not negotiate the salary. I accepted the offer right away without any negotiation at all. This is probably the biggest career mistake of my life that cost me a lot of money over the years.
So how did I recover from this mistake?
I asked to move teams and in the hope of getting a nice raise, but my manager blocked me. I was too good, and she wanted to keep me in her team.
Instead she promoted me within her team and gave me a 10% raise. That’s not what I was looking for but she agreed to pay for my CPA (Certified Professional Accountant or Certified Public Accountant in US).
This was a sweet deal as getting a CPA in Canada is kind of an expensive long process. But I knew a CPA was going to take me to next level, and open up doors for me. I worked during the day, and studied during the night.
And when I got a new manager, I was able to also impress her and she allowed and helped me get a transfer to another department. I negotiated my new salary and got a 15%, the maximum raise allowed as per ‘company policy’. Don’t you hate those?
Again, I was still the lowest paid among my new team, because of my original sin of not negotiating my first salary. And this really frustrated me.
To top it off, I had to put up with a bully who did her best to try to get me fired. But that’s another story for another time 😊.
I focused on finishing all my CPA courses and getting the experience I needed in order to get certified. As soon as I became a CPA, I started applying to at least 20 jobs a day using Indeed, Monster, Workopolis, LinkedIn, Glassdoor… And I only applied to high paying jobs in high paying companies.
In less than 2 months, I had 3 offers, and 2 pending offers. I pitted the offers against each other, and I was able to negotiate an even bigger salary with what is now my current employer. I have a feeling I even make more money than my manager 😊.
And I love the fact that there’s a huge potential for growth within the company, I haven’t regretted my decision ever since.
As I also mentioned above, me doing taxes for my colleagues and friends turned into a side gig. I don’t do any advertising for it, it’s by referral mainly as I don’t see myself doing taxes for 80/hrs a week.
Actually, for a slightly higher fee, I teach my clients how to prepare their own taxes, a win-win for everyone 😊. I also prepare taxes for free for low income family with a HHI of $30,000 or lower. They are mainly new-comers/immigrants or students.
- Use Glassdoor, Indeed and Monster to find out the best paying jobs and best paying companies. Remember to also read the reviews of these companies, and figure out if you they are a good fit. I personally only look at 6 figure jobs and companies that I know pay at least 6 figures for the titles I’m interested in.
- Save in your favorites career sites of the best paying companies in your field and check the sites often. Check them every day if you are actively seeking for a new job or once every week or 2 weeks if you are not actively looking.
- Find the best paying certification in your industry and go for it (ie: CPA, PMP, …) and get your employer to pay for it.
- Set up and beef up your LinkedIn page. Don’t forget to also invite as many recruiters in your industry as possible. This will also help you reach at least 500 connections which makes you look good and connected.
- Ask for the job description and salary range when recruiters contact you from LinkedIn or other places: By also asking for a job description, and not just the salary range, it won’t make you look unprofessional or rude. Don’t listen to people who tell you to wait till the interview process is over before you talk about money. I learned my lesson after going through many interviews with a company, and then at the end of the process realizing the company paid even less than what I was making at the time. That was a lot time and vacation days wasted for nothing.
- List your accomplishments on your resume and quantify them if you can. Eg: Saved the company $10M doing XYZ. Or I increased sales by 60% from $5M to $8M, … You don’t need to follow the 1 or 2-page resume rule especially if you are in a highly competitive industry such as business, finance, … I have a 4-page resume, and I have no problem landing an interview/job.
- When first reading the job description, read only the first few paragraphs. If you read the whole job description, you might get intimidated and end up not applying. Read the full job description once you have scored the interview.
- If you have a partner, make sure you help, motivate and support each other 100%.
- Check your company’s internal career site as often as you can and always apply for the positions that you are interested in even if you know you won’t get the job. But by at least applying, your boss, HR, and company get to know that you are interested in moving up.
- Always negotiate your salary, even if you are satisfied with the initial offer. Most employers don’t mind and expect it and even respect it. Not negotiating, can make the employer think that you are desperate; or you don’t have any negotiation skills; or not qualified enough. I have noticed that the higher you are paid, the more respect your boss and colleagues give you!!!
- Don’t allow yourself to get lowballed by a company. Instead highball them (did I just invent a new word?). A lot of “experts” will tell you to never name the salary you are looking for first, to let the employer name the salary they are offering first. I say do the opposite. Tell them the salary you are looking for first, and high ball them, that way they won’t dare lowballing you. Note that the highballing idea is easier to implement when you are not in a desperate situation: You already have a job, you have multiple offers and/or you have a big enough emergency fund. Thus, if you can, avoid being in desperate situations. For example, don’t quit before you have another job lined up.
- Train well your (potential) replacement(s). Sometimes, when you are good or should I say too good, your boss might not let you go for that promotion, they might want to keep you for themselves. The solution is to train well your (potential) replacement(s). Some people will tell you to do the opposite: Don’t hire someone better than you, don’t show everything you know, don’t train well…blah, blah, blah. Don’t listen to those people, take the risk, and hire and train your (potential) replacement(s) very well. This will help you get that promotion faster and earn a good reference from your manager.
- Read the book Lean In. This book is geared towards women and how to assert ourselves. But I think men can benefit from reading the book too.
- Read the book The First 90 Days. This book will help you WOW your boss the first day, week, month, quarter, …
- Check out other resources that we recommend that have helped us get where we are.
You can read here on how I also started as a broke immigrant living with 5 other guys in a 2-bedroom apartment, going to college during the day, and flipping burgers, serving coffee and valet parking during the night in order to put myself through college; and how I landed a $60K programming job and was later bumped to senior making $90K and then moved to Canada where I met the love of my life Ms99to1percent.
Making $90K, I thought had really made it. I even kept getting raises every year, and before I knew it I was making 6 figures. I thought I was overpaid and I never bothered asking for anything such as more promotions and bigger raises. I was content with them giving me whatever they wanted to give me.
But Ms99to1percent told me to always ask so I could receive (more). But I didn’t really listen to her until one day I saw that one of the new employees that I was going to be managing had asked for a ridiculously high salary (even higher than mine) and HR granted it to him!
After venting to wifey and hearing her say I told you sooooo 😊, I started looking for options. I started asking for more promotions, more direct reports, and higher raises. Ms99to1percent and another ex-colleague of mine also convinced me to venture out and become a contractor.
I listened to them and quit and became a contractor, and was able to move from making $100K+ to $200K+ and sometimes $300K+/year.
Becoming a contractor was hard at the beginning because of additional expenses and going 3 months without getting paid due to contract terms and delays. But thanks to $100K emergency fund Ms99to1percent set up in her 20’s, we were able to manage.
- Make yourself indispensable, produce results, and make genuine long-lasting connections
- Become a contractor if you can
- Work hard, and take advantage of paid overtime when available. The good thing about being a contractor is that you always get paid for every hour you work.
- Never assume you are overpaid
- Always try to further your knowledge. Take advantage of free or cheap online courses. You can find them at Coursera or Udemy. Right now, I’m taking an Artificial Intelligence course through Coursera
- I agree with Ms99to1percent, that you should name the salary you want first, and highball them. And salary/Rate should be discussed during the first conversation.
- Always keep your resume and LinkedIn page up to date. Create a LinkedIn page if you don’t have one already and invite a bunch of recruiters in your industry.
- Conduct your own Personal Exit Interviews. Just like HR, I conduct my own exit interviews 😊. Every time someone I know in the company quits, I always talk to them and ask them where they are going, and get any other information they are willing to share. Note that I call or talk to them in person (not email, IM, text…). I noticed that people are willing to share more when it’s over the phone or in person, they don’t want to leave any trail.
- Check out other resources that we recommend that have helped us get where we are.
We have opened a consulting business in a very nice, small but potentially lucrative niche. We just found a way to recruit clients easier, but now we have to figure out an easier way to recruit the specialized, talented employees that we need in order to service the clients.
This business has the potential to make us millions a year. Here’s to hoping!
The one advice we can give you here is that it’s necessary to have multiple streams of revenue. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.
Find your passion and see if you can turn it into a side gig. Whether it’s setting up a consulting business, tax preparing, or blogging, find what you are good and do it.
One of our favorite blogs ESI (Earn, Save, Invest) also emphasizes how important Earning is in order to achieve financial independence faster, and we agree with him wholeheartedly.
But let’s reiterate that even though our income is high, we spend mindfully as we want to achieve financial independence sooner rather than later. See our previous post on how we live on only 15% of our income.
The ‘Double your income in 5 Years’ Challenge
We are going to challenge ourselves to double our income/household income again for the next 5 years. Can you join us? Let’s all challenge ourselves.
Doesn’t matter if your income is $40k, 60k, 100k, 300k, 500k, 1M, … Let’s all challenge ourselves to double it in the next 5 years.
We have so many tips to give you, we could write a book 😊. But for now, we will stop here as it’s already 2400+ words. We will continue to dish out advice in our future posts, subscribe to make sure you get notified when we publish new posts.
Do you need help managing/tracking your finances/investments? The Personal Capital app can help. Do you want to start blogging? Bluehost can get you started. Make sure to also check out other resources that we recommend that have helped us get where we are.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment and share! We love ya and wanna get to know ya!
Do you want an easier way to manage/track your finances/investments? The Personal Capital app can help. Do you want to start blogging? Bluehost can get you started. Make sure to also check out other resources that we recommend such as books that have helped us get where we are.
Do you want to learn more about us? If so, you can also read these other posts:
- About us
- How we live on 15% of our income
- Joining the Million Dollar Club/Challenge and So Can You
- How To Pay Off A Mortgage In 5 Years
- Our Biggest Money Fight and 9 Lessons Learned