Alan Donegan: Rebel Business School Co-Founder, Rebel Entrepreneur podcast host, Rebel Finance School co-founder and Queen's award winner. Marvel movie fan fanatic, breakfast lover and financial independent traveller
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Almost every blog talks about cutting out streaming services, reducing expenditure and not going out to eat. I have a slightly different take on it.
There is almost an air of resignation when I ask people about how much money they make. It is as if they earn what they earn and that is it. Well I am here to tell you that there maybe a floor to how much you can reduce expenditure but the is NO ceiling to the amount of money you can make! You want to pull a lever that is going to supercharge your finances and your path to financial independence? This is the one!
Reducing expenses too far can be dangerous
This happened to Katie and I in 2014! I was driving home from a course one day and got hit by a large truck on a roundabout! I was fine but my car was a right off.
At the time, I was desperately trying not to spent money so I replaced my car with a hideous purple bubble car! I could have afforded a far nicer car but chose to buy a Citron C3, 1l Diesel. We nicknamed it the Shitroen as it had a dead spot in first gear and wouldn’t accelerate off the line!
Katie felt like a sitting duck as she tried to pull out onto roundabouts. She would accelerate, pull out and then the car would dip in power and she would slow. Cars would be coming at her and she would have everything crossed that the power would come back. Of course every time the power came back and the car picked up but it did test our nerve!
After a year of owning the Shitroen, I started to fear for Katie‘s safety! When I realised that it was actually a dangerous car to drive we got rid of it immediately and replaced it with, a still inexpensive, but far more reliable and newer car.
What I realised through this experience was that we had tried so desperately to drop our expenses to nothing that we had sacrificed happiness and safety. This was a mistake that I never wanted to make again!
I am all about reducing expenses where you can but not at the expense of safety, happiness or my values. So if you can't drop some expenses but still want to get to Financial Independence then what are the other options?
Make more money! Increase our income!
On the flipside there is no ceiling to how much money you can make! I have met an incredible range of people around the world that have and make massive amounts of money.
When I first started working I was earning £454 a month ($623) which equates to £5,448 a year working in my dad‘s warehouse. I couldn’t even imagine people earning £30,000 a year! It wasn’t until my mid 20s when I started to meet people that were making quarter of a million a year and more! This blew my mind and sent me on a journey to work out how they were doing it!
Wherever you are right now with your income trust me there is another level you can get to if you want to. I have been constantly amazed at the ways people make money and how much they end up making. One of the things that keeps life interesting for me is the idea that there is always another level if you are willing to put yourself out there and find it!
Wherever you are starting from right now there is a way to increase your income if you want to. It will take time energy and effort but you can do it! There is a price to pay for upping your income but there is a way to do it!
Let's dive straight into the 10 ways to increase your income.
Please remember a few things as we start this journey. The first is that this is a buffet of ideas and they won't all be right for you. Pick and choose the 1 or 2 ideas that you think will work for you and go and test and implement them.
Imagine going to a real life buffet and trying to eat EVERYTHING. You would feel hideous afterwards. Avoid overwhelm, enjoy the article and then pick the top 1 or 2 you want to try!
The second thought is that the power of an article and a podcast like this is in the implementation. If you take 1 or 2 of these ideas and actually do them you might get a result or you might have zero change. If you then try 2 more ideas you might start to make progress.
Nothing changes until you start to change. Take these ideas and have a GO! These are the ideas that helped Katie and I get to financial independence at 35 and 40 years old, they work.
If you prefer to listen then you can hear me deliver these 10 ways to make money on the ChooseFI Podcast here:
10 Ways to increase your income
1. Ask for a raise.
This is going to sound too simple. What do you mean just ask for a raise? Have you ever done it? Have you ever gone to the person you are working for and said the magic words "please can I have a raise?"
My Mum drummed into me for years and years that "if you don't ask you don't get". I still get uncomfortable asking, but I know if I don't go and ask, I will never get something, so I need to get out of my comfort zone and ask.
There are so many deserving people in offices and buildings around the world. They sit there doing their job, working hard and being deserving. The expression I want you to take away here is "you don't get what you deserve in life; you get what you ask for!"
Stop sitting their deserving and start asking!
This one does come with a warning though. It is not quite as simple as just asking.
I had a member of staff At Rebel Business School that came to me and asked for a raise. He just directly asked. I remember thinking in my head "there is NO way I am giving you a raise, you don't perform and I was even thinking of getting rid of you!"
This particular member of staff seemed to leave early from work, not deliver on the projects I needed him to deliver on and not take feedback. He wasn't an asset to the company he was, if anything, a liability. I didn't value his work and was therefor not going to give him a raise.
Before you ask for a raise know your value. What are you providing for the company? Do they value you? Are you doing more than they are expecting? Are you on good terms with the person that makes the decisions about salaries?
If the company doesn't value your services you are VERY unlikely to get a raise. Sometimes you need to spend sometime before asking for a raise finding out what the company does value and then going above and beyond at work to deliver it.
Three final thoughts:
Asking for a raise is something you can start planning for this week. Work out what value means to the company, your boss, focus on being a positive force at work and then set a time to ask nicely!
Let me know how you get on in the comments below.
2. Build a side hustle.
Come on you must have known I was going to add this one to the list? I teach people how to build a business with no debt! If you want help starting a business then go to my company Rebel Business School and go on one of their free courses or listen to my podcast Rebel Entrepreneur for ideas.
Now side-hustles have got mixed reviews in the financial independence world because some people end up doing a lot of work for not a lot of income. This isn't probably going to be the quickest way to make a million dollars but you can nicely top up your income a few thousand a month and do it whilst having fun.
If it is something you would enjoy doing anyway, then why not have a go at monetising it? The latest episode of the Rebel Entrepreneur podcast has a fabulous example of someone who just started trading, asked for the money up front and build an incredible business and awesome profit.
I really don't care if you want to run bike tours on Airbnb, do photography as a side hustle or make money from being an artist. It has NEVER been more possible to make money doing something you love. For inspiration listen to the coaching series with Christina Russo as she took her photography side-hustle to a full time career or Jaymie the artist who decided to turn her passion for drawing into income.
Starting a side hustle might just make the extra money you need to speed up your investments, saving or get out debt and you might learn some skills and have fun along the way!
3. Change career.
Some careers are just never going to pay you that much! If you are hoping to make millions as a poet then you are probably going to be disappointed! Although it is possible to make a decent amount of money as a side hustle!
Why don’t you look up the highest paying careers and work out how to get into them and if you enjoy doing them? I am always amazed at how well paying different careers are. Did you know that as an experienced train driver in the UK you can make up to £60,000 ($82,500)
If you industry doesn't pay that well then stop complaining about it, stop trying to change the industry (this is futile, I have tried) and find an industry you can get into that will deliver what you want.
There may be an educational cost to changing, you might have to learn new skills, you might have to start in a different place but rather than complain about what isn't working find something that does work for you.
Some careers and jobs just aren't going to pay that well.
One caveat to this one is sometimes there are ways to earn more in your field that you just don't know about yet. Before you pull the plug completely ask colleagues & people you know, if there is a way to increase your income in your field . You don't get what you deserve in life you get what you ask for.
4. Become a contractor or consultant
This one completely changed our lives and we were only brave enough to take the leap because we had saved up a big emergency fund.
We had heard that in Katie's field (Actuaries) that you could earn more if you went contracting. We started to ask around about it and we found that you could significantly earn more but if you took a contract they wanted you to start quickly (within a month) and there was no job security beyond 3-6 months.
Katie had a 3 month notice period at her current employer, so if we wanted to go contracting she would have to quit with nothing to go to. As any parent will tell you this is a NO, NO manoeuvre.
We walked round Basingstoke talking through the possibilities and the thing that finally swung it for us is that we had over a year of living expenses saved and my income could pay all our bills if it all went wrong. The downside was that Katie would have a year plus to look for another job if we couldn't get a contract.
So we decided to take the leap.
Katie quit and we had an uncomfortable couple of months waiting and preparing to get a contract. We were super nervous about how it was all going to turn out.
I would not recommend this approach if you are living pay check to pay check but if you have your finances in order then it can be an incredible opportunity. Katie ended up tripling her salary and working from home four days a week. This was a huge part of our journey to financial independence!
Start asking around in your industry if people hire contractors? Speak to some recruiters and see if there is a contracting market and how well it pays. You just don't know what is out there until you start asking around and searching.
5. Discover how to add more value
You can have anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want in life. This expression is how I live my life. It has helped me to grow an amazing business and get to financial independence.
The idea is that helping other people is the route to your success. Entrepreneurship is about finding someone with a problem, helping them to fix it and then charging them for it. That is how you get wealthy.
In a business you get promoted by adding value to your company and more specifically your boss. You help them achieve their goals, build the company, earn more money and then they reward you with a pay rise or promotion. You just have to remember to ask for it, there is no point doing all that work if you don't ask for the order, ask for the raise or request what you want after it.
Focus on giving value and helping your employer get what they want. In most people's worlds they just do their job. They don't think what is my employer trying to achieve and how can I help them get it. I remember one member of staff that was very resistant to me giving them anything extra to do and once actually said "this isn't in my job description". He was right, it wasn't but it would help me build my business, make more money which I then might have been more inclined to share with them!
The key to this one is to find out what other people value and then give them that. Don't mind read, don't guess, ask them. Because you never know until you ask.
If you want a long term route to increasing your income this is it. Ask what the company needs, ask what your manager/boss needs and wants and then set about helping them achieve it.
I don't think I have ever had a team member come to me and say "What are your top priorities this month? " and then offer to help me achieve them. Can you image the power of this?
This is your home work from number 5: Go to your boss, manager, company director and ask them questions. Ask them "What are you struggling with at the moment?", "What are you trying to achieve this month?" or "what's the most important thing I can do to help you?"
Find out what they want and help them achieve it. Don't mind read and guess (you will get it wrong!) ask them and then help them achieve it.
You can have anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want in life*
*please do remember to ask for what you want after helping them!
6. Become a better negotiator
Life is a negotiation. Every single thing. You spend your time in the morning negotiating with your kids to put their shoes on or eat breakfast! This week past I was trying to negotiate with a 5 year old to eat his breakfast and I had to give away my time playing three games on Super Mario with him to achieve my goal!
Most people have never taken the time to learn the art of negotiation. They have never bothered to spend time learning about motivation, influence and negotiation.
Imagine you are going to into a negotiation to buy a car. You go into the car dealership to look at new cars. How highly trained do you think the salesperson in the car dealership is?
How many hours have they spend studying sales, negotiation and persuasion? How many hours a day have they been implementing and refining those skills? The system is stacked against you!
if you walk into that car dealership with no negotiation training who is going to come out on top? If you walk into a salary negotiation at work and you have NEVER studied negotiation who is going to come out on top?
Negotiation is and art and a skill that can change your life. My wife and I have used it to save so much money over the years. We bought our two investment flats at £42,000 ($57,867) below asking price by using the negotiation skills we learnt on courses and in books.
7. Learn how to sell
This is the one I get most resistance to. Have you ever played the word association game? if I say a word to you what's the first thing that comes to mind? Let's play for a second right now.
What comes to mind when I say that word?
It is amazing to me the answers that I get on courses from sleazy to pushy from slimy to used car sales man. People have a terrible view of what sales is.
If you feel resistance to this one then it is the one you need to work on. Everything you want in life is outside your comfort zone.
Sales is an incredibly powerful tool if used ethically. At it's core sales is finding someone with an issue and helping them to solve that issue whilst charging them for it. When you sell something to somebody you should be making their world a better place.
So many of the situations you go into in life are sales situations. In a job interview you are selling yourself to a potential employer. In a salary negotiation you are selling your value to the company in return for a raise. Next time you are going to the cinema you are trying to sell the other person on the film you want to watch!
Sales is such an AMAZING skill to develop. Most people think they aren't sales people so they don't have to learn this skill. That is such a small minded way to look at it; you might not be in a sales role but that doesn't mean you aren't selling your ideas, your work, your value to the people around you.
The more I learnt sales skills the more I increased the turnover of my company, the more cool opportunities I got to take part in and most importantly the more confident I became in the day to day interactions in my life.
When I say "learn sales" how do you feel about it? If you are wanting to run away from it then this is probably the one that is going to help you the most. Find a book on sales, watch Brian Tracy's sales videos on YouTube and start to learn a little bit about sales.
The more I learnt about sales the more my income went up, the more opportunities came to me and the more fun I had. Here is the sales episode from the Rebel Entrepreneur podcast which gives you some of the foundational theories about sales.
8. Become a public speaker
I had to leave my last job under fairly difficult circumstances and that inspired me to want to start my own business. I started a training business before realising that to deliver training courses I had to learn how to speak to a crowd!
This made me super nervous but I knew that if wanted to build a successful business I would have to learn to speak in public and present.
I joined Toastmasters; an incredible non-profit that supports people to build leadership skills and public speaking skills and threw myself into it. I bought every manual, I took every opportunity to speak and I went on every educational course I could.
Warren Buffet (one of the best investors in the world) said the following:
“Right now, I would pay $100,000 for 10 percent of the future earnings of any of you, so if you’re interested, see me after class. Now, you can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills — public speaking. If that’s the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.”
He thinks you would be worth a 50% increase in investment if you just learn communication skills.
I know that learning these skills in my life has allowed me to increase my income, my confidence and the opportunities in my life. I used to be president of Guildford Speaker's Club and we conducted a survey at the end of my year as president. The thing that surprised me most from that survey was what people got out of coming to Toastmasters. Yes they improved their public speaking skills, yes they met some amazing friends but unanimously they felt more confident after coming.
My confidence went through the roof which allowed me to get out into the world and do everything I did. I would not be where I am today without learning to present.
Join Toastmasters, join Craig Valentines mailing list for 52 speaking tips or go on a course at work. Anything you can do to improve your public speaking skills will have a massive impact on your confidence and therefor your future success.
9. Develop a skill that you can sell.
If you want to increase your income then develop a skill that you can make money from. A few Christmases ago my wife (Katie) bought me the coolest present. She organised for an Indian chef, Mr Singh to come to our house and run a Indian cooking class.
He arrived at our house, we had bought ingredients ready, and we had a three hour cooking lesson. We made pakora, vegetable curry and basmati rice. After we had cooked Mr Singh packed up and left Katie and I to a romantic curry together.
It was one of the best presents ever. Probably only second to the pizza making course she bought me!
Mr Singh was a ex-IT professional who left the career as he was burnt out and was now running his Indian cooking class business and loving it. He got to meet cool people, teach his granny's recipes and have fun whilst making very good money.
He had been taught how to cook by his grandparents, he developed his skills and then he sold them for income. We all have varied and amazing skills that we can develop and sell to increase our income. Here are some ideas:
Develop a cool skill and then sell it to increase your income.
10. Increase your efficiency
Over the years at Rebel Business School we have hired many different people for many different roles. Before I worked at Rebel Business School I managed a landscape firm which had 30 operatives in white vans that went out all over the south of England to mow grass and trim bushes!
During this time it has amazed me that it is the simple things that people find the most difficult. I would have a meeting with a team member, we would discuss a project, work out the next actions and then part ways. Then frustratingly nothing would happen at all until I chased. During this time I developed the saying "if someone doesn't write it down don't ever trust it will happen!"
I have been shocked that the simple ability to do things, turn up on time and make things happen is SO RARE! You might be thinking as you read this, that is not me Alan.
Well it probably isn't you, but maybe it is. I still have moments where I fail to make things happen, I am not perfect and I am still working on being a better version of me.
If you could become 10% better at getting things done how would it change you life? If you could get things done with less stress how would it improve your life? if you developed a system of working that made it easier to work with you and people loved collaborating with you on projects how would it improve their world and yours?
I can not tell you how my world has improved because I am good at getting things done. One of the coolest opportunities in my life happened through this exact skill.
Katie and I were at a financial independence retreat in Ecuador having fun, learning and making friends. At the end of the course I decided to create a thank you PowerPoint for the speakers and hustled on the last day asking everyone to write a nice comment for the speakers and got a photo of everyone that came to the course.
I had a lot of fun and we all laughed as we did it. On the final night I presented it to the speakers and organisers as a Thank You for creating such a fabulous event.
The next day one of the speaker's came to me on my way out of the event and asked "Would you be interested in running one of these in Europe for us?" It turns out that he had noticed us hustling around the event and had been so impressed by what we created he thought that we would have the skills to run one of these events!
We have now had so much fun organising and running these events in the UK, Portugal and Greece. It has been an amazing experience and it came from someone noticing that I made shit happen!
Take time to study time management, getting things done and leadership. It is incredible how these skills will benefit you over the years and help you to get more done with less stress. After running a series of time management courses I ran post course feedback and people said they got 45 minutes a day back to either do more or relax.
Imagine what you could do with that extra time!
I truly believe that learning the skills of getting things done, efficiency, optimisation and stress free productivity will change your life forever.
You can start with this episode of the Rebel Entrepreneur podcast where I got to interview one of my heroes David Allen who wrote Getting Things Done (GTD).
Your ability to get things done efficiently and without unproductive stress will directly affect your results in life. This is a huge area to spend time learning! In Season two of my podcast we did a whole series of podcasts about productivity you can check out here. Start with the getting things done episode above and then check out; The Productive Entrepreneur; The Myth of Multitasking and Entrepreneurial Energy.
We all have up and down days and this leads to productivity being up and down as well. The challenge to getting things done is quite often not in the physical world but between our ears. If we can master the internal battle, remain positive and day by day make things happen, well, the world is your oyster.
I feel like I am only average at this skill and I have ended up as a financially independent, nomad who gets to work to help make the world better place. Imagine what you could do if you got really good at this stuff!
The real route to wealth
The real route to wealth is self-development. This might sound cheesy but I believe it. I was incredibly lucky to have the book "Notes from a Friend" by Tony Robbins thrust into my hands at just 21 years old.
That book changed my life by introducing me to a concept Tony called CANI; constant and never ending improvement. He told me that I could have or do anything if I was willing to learn, grow and develop. I took that lesson to heart and have been living that was ever since.
My business partner, Simon likes to say that I have forgotten more about self-development than most people will ever consume. This is the secret of my success. When my friends laughed at me for saying "you can learn anything from a book" I just moved on, kept reading in secret and learning.
Jonathan at ChooseFI talks a lot about skill staking on his podcast. What he means by ""skill stacking" is your ability to learn new skills over time, stack them together to become more valuable.
When I started out in business this time around I learnt how to public speak. This was a cool skill but on it's own didn't get me where I wanted to go. So next I learnt about sales, this helped me sell courses and in my presentations, sell my ideas. Those two skills stacked together made me a more powerful presenter and business person.
Next I learnt about charisma and gravitas, then influence and persuasion and then moved onto facilitation. Every skill I learnt stacked on top of the last and made me a better presenter, business person and more successful.
One of my favourite quotes is:
You will be the same person ten years from now apart from the books you read, the people you meet and the courses you go on
I didn't get to where I am today all by myself. I learnt from other people. I have a virtual set of mentors that advise me through the books I have read. I consume a book and then start to ask what would that author do in my situation.
If I get stuck on investing I ask "What would JL Collins do?" If I get stuck on my business I ask "what would Tim Ferriss or Tony Robbins do?" If I get stuck in any area of my life I think "what would Jen Scincero do?"
I have the most incredible set of advisors that I have never met before that have helped me to construct a better life. I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to earn money to buy books and learn from some of the greatest minds on the planet.
If you are stuck in any area of your life there is a book, a course, an audio programme to unlock you and help you make progress. People have figured all this stuff out before, don't re-invent the wheel; learn from them.
We have been giving away the best entrepreneurial education we can at Rebel Business School for a decade now. There is so much support and information available for free!
If you want the real route to long term wealth, health and happiness it is education. Pick up a book, download an audio book or go on a course and learn what you need to learn to get to the next level!
What is not on my list
There is one major thing that is not on my list of ways to increase your income and that is university. You do not need another degree, a masters or a MBA to earn more. These are all "nice to have" pieces of paper that cost an exorbitant amount of money.
Read the top three books on any niche subject and go and implement what you have learnt. If you do this you will know more than 95% of the population and it will either be free or cost you £30/$60.
It seems to me that a lot of times people hide behind more formal education because they are scarred of going out there and making it happen or unsure of what they want to do next.
If you want to be a doctor then formal education is critical but for most other professions you will learn more from courses, books and being in the field than you will from going back to school.
What are you going to do?
You have been along the buffet line now, you have looked at all the tasty morsels that I have laid out for you. Now the questions is which one are you going try first?
Nothing changes until you make it happen. Repeat after me "If it's to be, it's up to me!" I am serious. Say it out loud.
Which one of these ideas do you want to implement first? If you are nervous about implementation then which one of these ideas do you want to learn more about first?
Pick one of these things and start to take action.
All the good ideas in the world won't help someone who doesn't do anything with them. Take these ideas test them and let me know how you get on. I want to know. I want to help you increase your income. I want you to go out there and crush it and be happy.
The biggest gift you can give me is to take my ideas and use them to get ahead!
Listen and share..........
I recently recorded this content as a podcast with Brad and Jonathan at ChooseFI and had a lot of fun doing it. You can listen to these tips and more ideas from Brad and Jonathan here.
These techniques can make such a difference on your journey to FI and just building a better lifestyle for you and your family. Please share the podcast episode or article with anyone you think is struggling financially or not getting where they want to in their career.
Thank you for reading and listening
Things aren't too expensive
The closing thought for this article comes from Jim Rohn. He used to complain to his mentor that things are too expensive. That gas/petrol is too expensive, housing is too expensive, cars are too expensive and life is just TOO EXPENSIVE.
His mentor looked at him and said "things aren't too expensive; you don't earn enough!"
If you ever feel like life is too expensive then you now have the tools to do something about it. Stop complaining and start by taking action today.
I believe in you