At the beginning of this year, I got a side job and paid off my student loan debt in three months, after spending almost six years making the minimum payments. If I had kept making the minimum payments, it would have taken me something ridiculous like 10 years to pay them off.
Then I went ahead and bought new clothes, paid for a two-week European vacation, maxed out my Roth IRA and topped off my emergency fund. You see, my side job pays me what some people make in an entire year.
Here’s the story of how I got my side job:
I met my side job boss at the dinner party of a mutual friend. I liked his company and started following it. A few months later, I saw that he put out a full-time job announcement, so I contacted him and said I could do everything he wanted as a consultant, and for only three-quarters of the salary he was offering. Oh, and I didn’t need benefits.
He signed my proposal.
You can and should take a few lessons from my story: network your butt off, provide massive value and ask for what you want and for what you’re worth…But you know that already, don’t you? You’ve probably heard that again and again.
I hope so. Because the lesson I want to share is one you probably haven’t heard already:
If you want to earn more, you need to change your money mindset.
Let’s be honest. If you don’t change how you think about finances, you’ll never make drastically more money than you do right now. You’ll never pay off your student loans, you’ll never have an emergency fund, you’ll never have enough retirement savings and you’ll never get to eat spaghetti in Rome with your boyfriend until your lips meet.
Before your brain will allow your heart to take action, you need to change your paradigms about money. Whatever you think or believe you know about money, give yourself the permission to start over.
Here’s what I mean:
For most of us, passion and money are mutually exclusive. We don’t really believe that Wall Street execs love their jobs, nor do we accept that do-gooders actually want to get paid for their bleeding hearts. The stories we tell about money are, in general, abysmal. Money is emotional and messy when it comes to needs, wants and desires. Money is the root of all evil and yet necessary for survival. Its reputation, lacerated by these competing ideas, scares us from managing what money we do have, let alone starting to think about how to make the most of it.
To earn more, I had to realize I am no less deserving of wealth than the next person. I’ve had to let go of the ideas I heard growing up, like “the rich get richer.” And I’ve had to internalize that it’s actually realistic for me to make loads of money.
These lessons are particularly difficult for Gen Y to swallow.
We’re a do-gooder generation. We’ve seen wealth corrupt and businesses go bad, and we want no part of it. We rebel as artists, nonprofit fundraisers, bakers and freelancers. We protest in part as a response to corporate greed, and in part because we graduated into a recession with no other choice.
That’s a lot of baggage to carry around. It’s going to take time to get rid of it. But letting go means you’ll carry less shame around your finances and you’ll earn more money with confidence. Change your mindset around money, and you’ll change the direction of your bank account, permanently.
Do you have mental barriers that keep you from earning more? How can you change them?
Rebecca Thorman’s goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it and earn more money. Her blog Kontrary offers career, business and life advice that works. She writes from Washington, D.C.