The only way to guarantee financial independence

Today, you are going to make a commitment to make more money.

That doesn’t sound like a bad idea, does it? If you are ambivalent (see Word to the Wise, below), consider this: The only way to be truly independent – to not have to rely on relatives, friends, and the government for material support – is to have a good deal of money sitting somewhere, earning interest for you.

But how are you going to put away “a good deal” of money? If you believe in the millionaire-next-door myth, you’ll answer: “By scrimping and saving!” But did you know that most studies that tout “the miracle of compound interest” take place over 30 or 40 years? Who wants to wait 30 or 40 years to get wealthy? Who can?

As I explain in my book Automatic Wealth, the only way an average income earner can set aside a lot of money is to earn a lot of money. Are you earning a lot of money now? Would you like to earn more?

I hope so, because with the war against Iraq, the decline of the dollar, and the overvaluation of the stock market, our economy is straining at the seams. If air starts coming out – and it may happen this year – taxes will be higher and net income, overall, will be lower.

Your best defense is a proactive strike on the income side – by making a commitment to earn more money.

How about promising to boost your family income – the amount of money you bring home – by between 10% and 25% this year? If your family income is now $80,000, for example, set a target of between $88,000 and $100,000.

If you accomplish this goal, you’ll not only be richer, you’ll also be in a much better position to make more money the following year. Each time you boost your income, you develop knowledge, strategies, networks, and habits that make it easier to boost your income in the future.

You don’t need too many years of 10% – 25% increases before you are solidly on the road to financial independence. In fact, at some point in time (and it will probably come sooner than you think if you get serious about this commitment), you won’t have to think about your income at all. It will be plenty big enough to take care of all your material needs and fantasies … and you’ll have enough going to savings to ensure a safe and comfortable “retirement.”

Increasing your income requires work, but it is not complex. There are two ways to do it – and you can (and should) do both at the same time.

1. You can persuade the company you work for to pay you more.

2. You can develop “extra” streams of income by working part-time or on the weekends, by investing in real estate, and/or by starting your own home-based business.

1. Get a Salary Increase in 2006

How do you get your boss to give you a substantial raise this year? There is only one way: You have to make yourself more valuable to the success of the business. Businesses are built to create profits. So if you want to be more valuable to your business, you have to find a way to directly contribute to the bottom line.

The four most common ways are:

Making sales

If you are a salesperson now, you know how to earn more money as a salesperson: Increase your sales. To do that, you must improve your selling skills, make more contacts, and provide better service to your customers. In ETR, we regularly talk about how to do all of those things.


If you are currently in marketing, make yourself a promise to become your company’s No. 1 “marketing genius” this year. You can accomplish this with relative ease by mastering direct marketing. And you can do that by joining Agora Learning Institute’s Direct Marketing University. While you are doing that, attend seminars on advertising and copywriting. Listen to tapes. Speak to the best marketers and profit-center managers in your business. Network with successful people from other businesses.

Creating and/or developing products/services

If you are not in product development, you should become known as a creator of more “profitable” products. I emphasize the word “profitable” to make a point: It doesn’t matter what you think of the products you make; it’s the customers’ opinions (demonstrated by their purchases) that matter. Start the new year with a clean creative slate. Ask yourself, “What’s the single most profitable product I could possibly create this year?”

Managing a profit center within the company

Think about what your customers dream about (or worry about) at night. Making your business better is all about paying attention to the customers. Start with them.

The main point is this: You are going to make more money this year, because you are going to get better at selling, marketing, creating products, and/or managing the production of profits – both for the business that employs you … and for another little venture of your own.

 2. Develop Multiple Streams Of Income

It’s appealing to think that you can earn an extra $10,000 to $100,000 a year in your spare time – and you can. But there’s a risk involved. The risk is that you’ll subvert your primary career. That you’ll blow your chances of becoming a top earner at the company you currently work for by spending too much time thinking about other, smaller ventures.

You can avoid that by:

1. Setting priorities. Until you quit your day job, that’s No. 1.

2. Keeping the first part of today’s resolution – making yourself more valuable to the success of the business you’re currently working for. You won’t have to worry about how much time to devote to this as opposed to that if you continue to focus on directly contributing to the profits of your employer. Do that and you’ll have the best of both worlds – a boss who needs you (and pays you well) … and an opportunity to do something else.

There are several ways to supplement your income.

1. You can buy and sell real estate.
2. You can invest in stocks.
3. You can start your own side business.

Starting tomorrow, these are some of the subjects we’ll be covering to help you refine your goals for 2006.

I know and trust the people you will be hearing from. They have walked the walk and now they are going to let you benefit from their experience. If you are looking to increase your income in 2006, I advise you to take advantage of what they have to say.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]