Gentlemen — are you getting everything you deserve, financially? If your income doesn’t seem up to the level that you think it should be, it’s time to see if you’re leaving any cash on the table.
1. The 401(k) Company Match
If you work at a job that offers a 401(k) retirement plan, chances are that your employer gives you what is called the “company match.” This means that for every dollar you put into the retirement plan, your employer also puts in a dollar. Sometimes your employer puts in two dollars. Check the specifics of your own company match plan for details, but the short version of the company match is this: if you are not maximizing your 401(k) contributions to get the largest amount of matched dollars, you are losing money.
First, you’re losing money because you’re saying goodbye to the extra match money your employer is offering to give you for free. Second, you’re losing money because 401(k) contributions come out of your paycheck before taxes; if you leave those dollars in your paycheck instead of investing them in the 401(k), you have to accept all of the Social Security and FICA deductions. Lastly, you’re losing money because every dollar you put in your 401(k) compounds over time as your investments grow.
Check out the math on this 401(k) growth calculator: claiming a few dollars of company match money right now means you are likely to get around $300,000 more dollars when you cash out that 401(k) at retirement.
2. High-value CD Rates
CD rates are beginning to rise again, making this a great low-risk investment with solid returns. A CD works like this: you agree to loan your bank your money for a specified period of time, and your bank agrees to pay guaranteed interest on that money when the loan term ends. If this sounds like a savings account, yes, it works along the same principles — except with a CD, you can’t withdraw your money until the loan term is completed. This means you have to do a bit of financial planning, and make sure you can afford to say goodbye to a chunk of cash for the length of the loan term. Just think of it like sending your cash off to summer camp: it gets to have a good time and make new friends, and it’ll come back bigger and better than ever.
Want to know exactly how much money you’re leaving behind by not investing in a CD? Try using this CD rates calculator. Once you see the numbers, you’ll decide that a CD is an essential part of your financial portfolio.
3. Asking For A Raise
You won’t get paid what you’re worth unless you ask for it. The current economic climate means that raises are not as plentiful as they used to be, but if you do not renegotiate your salary at least every two years, you are both leaving money on the table and failing to stand up for the value of your contributions to your workplace.
How do you ask for a raise? You bring in proof of clear, measurable contributions you have made to the company. Maybe you closed a few deals, worked on a marketing campaign that brought in new revenue, maybe you simply increased your sales by 75%. Your goal is to prove to your supervisor that you’ve moved up to the next level, and deserve to be compensated accordingly.
If you have research proving you are being compensated less than the industry standard, it’s time to show that information as well. Use the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics information to determine whether you fall below the median, then negotiate for a salary that is closer to the average rate. Your salary at your current job helps determine the salaries you get at every future job, so it is hugely advantageous to make sure your salary is as high as possible.
4. Renegotiating Your Utilities
Yes, it is possible to call up each of your utility companies and negotiate a lower rate. Sometimes one of the best ways to do this is to look for a lower rate being offered by one of the competitors; then your company has the choice of either matching the lower rate or losing you to the other guy. Of course, if they say no, you have to be prepared to follow through and switch to the other utility company, but either way, you end up paying a lower monthly bill.
So? How many of these income streams are you leaving behind? As you can see, making a few changes now means earning hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the course of a lifetime.