Monday, August 4, 2014

Increase your annual income by 5% each year

The single most important thing I learned in college that has stuck with me was when a professor said, "your salary should be about 1000 times your age". For example if you are 25 years old you should be earning $25,000. If you are 35 years old, you should be earning $35,000. We both know you should probably be earning more but that is because the value of the dollar is decreasing every year. The message he was trying to get across is simple. Every year you should try to earn a little more even if that means finding a new job, investing, working overtime, working 2 jobs, getting a raise, etc. A while back I published a new goal because I feel it's very important that I earn more each year in order to keep up with inflation. This also helps me stay motivated in finding new opportunities in my career. So how did I do in the last 4 years?

  • In 2010 I increased my yearly income by 41.8%
  • In 2011 I increased my yearly income by 4.8%
  • In 2012 I increased my yearly income by 21.3%
  • In 2013 I increased my yearly income by 16.4%
  • In 2014 I hope to increase my yearly income by 5% which would make it $34,257

I made up my own rule where I should increase my income by 5% each year and so far I have been successful in 3 of the last 4 years. From 2010-2013 I increased my income by a total of 84.3%. Over the last 4 years the average increase in my income was 21.075%. It was very easy actually because all I did was find a job that would pay me a higher wage. Some of the jobs I didn't like along the way but I made it and now I am in a better place financially because of it. My expectations for 2014 was to simply increase my income by another 5% compared to 2013. I am expected to shatter this expectation by the end of the year for a few reasons. The main one being I currently work a full time, and part time job. Secondly I am now earning dividends and interest as passive income. So this year I technically don't need to look for new employment in order to better myself, however I would like to earn the same amount in one full time (40 Hour) job. What would my yearly income be if I increase it by 5% for the next 7 years? 

If I follow my rule of increasing my annual income by 5% each year, I will be making $48,631 by the year 2021. Is this a realistic goal? It is if I continue to stay motivated and not get too comfortable in my current situation. Let's not forget, the more you make the more they (IRS) take. So what are some other ways I can increase my income by 5% each year?
  1. I could ask my current employers for a raise.
  2. Invest in stocks that pay quarterly/annual dividends.
  3. Save more money and earn more interest in savings and cd accounts.
  4. Find another part time job.
  5. Buy investment property in order to receive rental income. 
  6. Work overtime.
These are a few of the options that I have in order to meet my goal every year. I know friends and family who continue to make the same amount each year and that is because employers are not offering wage increases. One of my employers hasn't issued a raise in 4 years but that didn't effect me because I still earned more. I worked overtime, found a part time job, and started investing in stocks that pay dividends. I am not saying that my strategy would work for everyone, but I do see it as an option to get you out of debt. I read somewhere that you need to treat debt like your hair is on fire! Another great quote that will stick with me forever. Do you have student loans, a mortgage, credit balances, car loans, and personal loans? Then maybe applying this rule isn't such a bad idea to your situation. After all we need to take control of our own finances and everyone is in a different situation. 

What do you think about this approach? Are there other ways to increase your annual income? Do you have any other ideas or thoughts you want to add?


  1. Hi Dividend Mongrel,

    Thank you for the post. It's an interesting read, and I've not considered looking at this figure before. I'm intrigued to see how my income has risen over the last 5+ years....

    Your 5% suggestion is a good baseline to aim for. Based on your success so far, there might be an argument that it's a little too low for you. There aren't many people that have doubled their salary in 4 years. Very impressive!

    The companies me and my friends work for are issuing raises around the 2-3% mark to cover inflation. I can't speak for the rest of the UK though. I know others like you that haven't had a raise in a while.

    I think your strategies to increase income are likely to be effective. My biggest gains have come from reviewing all of my expenses. I've generated more disposable income from questioning every spend more than any other method of earning more money.

    I wish you all the best of luck with it. I'll continue to check in and see how you get on.


    1. Huw,
      I really like this goal because the cost of oil, food, entertainment, travel, utilities, etc. seems to rise at a steady rate. Sometimes we don't realize the cost of a gallon of milk use to be $1.99 and now it's $3.49 where I am from. This week my city now requires that every resident buy "Pay As You Throw" trash bags which will cost me $10 for 8 trash bags. This is an added expense. That's $10 less money I have to invest is how I look at it. I am going to have to cut down on the amount of waste we use by recycling as much as possible. Thanks for your comments! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

  2. Earning more is important, but don't ever forget about spending less. Conceivably there are no limits on earnings or minimum expenditures, but often folks impose limits on themselves for the maximum they can earn because they only have XYZ schooling or the minimum they can spend because they HAVE to have coffee.

    Keep surviving to thriving!

  3. WE,
    I couldn't agree with you more. My expenses were fairly low this month but I know I can do better. There are a few things I need to work on such as getting rid of my student loan debt and then possibly finding a cheaper cable and internet package. Maybe even cut out cable all together. The other option is trying to find a career with a better wage which is also great to. I did receive a call from a great I.T. company that has one position open for a help desk engineer. I am not getting my hopes up but if I were to get the position, I could go back to working a normal 40 hour work week and making more income as well. I will keep everyone posted on my progress and I am looking to add a category with my expenses on a monthly basis. Thanks for all the support!

  4. Dividend Mongrel,

    I really liked this post, great job. I wish I had learned something...anything in college the few years I was there. I had no direction at all back then. You've been extremely successful at this strategy so far with some pretty solid jumps. This also worked really well for me Editing. Working many different gigs got me a much better resume faster and constant rate increases. With rising day job income and our passive dividends growing, we're in for a nice treat in a few more years.

    All my best,

  5. Hey Ryan,
    I tried to take in as much as I could in college. Many of my computer courses were programming related so some of that stuff I forgot besides what I currently use in my day job (MS Access, VBA, and Sharepoint). I think the 5% rule is a realistic number for anyone who is trying to get ahead financially. The dividends and interest that I earn this year are also going to help me achieve this goal because this is part of the income I earned. As of last month I earned over $21K so I have the potential to make over 40K this year which is pretty good in this neck of the woods. 5 years ago I was in a bad spot and had no direction in life. To be honest I think that reading all the great financial blogs, such as yours, has helped me more than anyone of my friends or family. Times are really tough in my city and the poverty rate is 1/5 residents. Last time I checked the median income here was about 31K. So I am applying for jobs in the Boston area to further myself a little better. Boston is a great spot to work but not live. Thanks for stopping by! Can't wait to hear from you again!

  6. Hi Dividend Mongrel, great post. I agree with Huw. In The Netherlands my yearly raise is something to the effect of 3-4% coupled with an inflation correction of maybe 1%. I would need to earn more experience or get some new skills (e.g. as a manager) to really get a bigger raise. Another method of earning more money could be your blog?

    Btw: I would like to nominate you for a Liebster Award. I didn't know what this way until I received a nomination earlier today. Maybe it's a nice small blogpost for you! Check out my blog for more info ( Good luck!

    1. Hey DD,
      That's a pretty solid increase in salary. I am sure your dividends will cover the other 1-2% putting you right in line with the 5% rule. Netherlands seems like a really great place and would love to visit one day during retirement. I have thought about using advertisements in the future, but the blog is still fairly new. It's only been two months but I am happy with the results. Thanks for nominating me for the Liebster Awards. I will post my questions at some point.

  7. Your goals are pretty realistic and I would even say quite conservative. Just keep doing what your are doing and you will crush that mark!

    Good Day and Grind On!

    1. A-G,
      I am super conservative which has it's pros and cons in life. My risk tolerance is nowhere near yours which can be hurtful to my gains. I set my bar low with my goals, but I am hoping to change that next year. I hope I can crush that mark by November, but only time will tell. Thanks and good luck with your recent AAPL investment!