... and why you might not be able to do the same. I'm sorry if I got your hopes up with the title, but I couldn't fit the whole idea in. I'll make it up to you by not giving some abstract generalizations about how to double your income (I hate those), but giving you the concrete steps I took. Be forewarned that you might not be able to duplicate what I've done, but perhaps one or two of the ideas will help you. More than likely you'll chalk some of it up to the happenstance and luck.
It started off when I was at my old company. A co-worker found a list of salaries on a copy machine or a burned CD fell into hands. I didn't really dig into the means that the information was acquired rather than the information itself. I found that I needed about a 30% raise to get what most of my equals at work were making. One could say that was not a very good day. In fact, I found that I made less than 5% more than one particular junior level co-worker - and she only worked 4 days a week!
At this point, you can imagine what I did. I went to ask for a raise. I couldn't say that I know everyone is making less, but I made a very strong case with proof of how I went above my job description - finding and recruiting our new CTO. I also used data from Salary.com that showed that I was being underpaid (way under their 25 percentile range). It didn't matter how good of a case I made, I was told that there wasn't much money, everyone was taking salary cuts, and invited to go look for a new job. As a consolation prize, they gave me a 6% raise leaving me still a far distance behind my co-workers. Alas, at least the raise was something. I had increased my income a small amount. Getting the raise actually made me more angry. It meant that the company could "forget" about me and another raise for probably another year.
It was at this point that my wife, not happy with her own job, decided to apply for a military transfer in San Francisco. It turns out that you can tell the military when and where you want to go if you are a pharmacist rather the other way around. The position she applied for was going to be more responsibility and get her closer to being a high rank officer. However, it was a 1 in a million shot as everyone applies for San Francisco since the military adjusts the housing pay significantly. Much worse, my wife had no experience at this kind of job. As usual, she continues to amaze me and got the job. Combine that with my dissatisfaction at my current job and we were on the move - paid for by Uncle Sam.
It was my search for a job in Silicon Valley where I got the bulk of my income increase. There were no raised eyebrows when I asked for a 40% raise due to the cost of living. In fact it was to be expected as it would put me in the middle of Salary.com's range for my experience. However after a few interviews, I got one offer that came in at onlya 22% raise. Except for the money being a little low (but still more than I made before), the job was exactly what I was looking for. It came with a lot of intangibles that didn't show up in the paycheck. One of them being free lunches, snacks, and dinners. While this saved me money, I can't count this in my increased income.
I had started Lazy Man and Money a few months previous to moving out west, but it was at this point that it occurred to me that there might be money to be made by advertising on blogs. With only a few readers and a total Adsense of something around $5 for 5 months, I decided to go all-in with blogging. I went as far as paying $10 for this domain name and another $20 or so for a years' worth of hosting. I lastly spent $24 to become a Friend of PFBlogs.org. It actually hurt to spend this money, but once I got going this website started to become a business and earn a modest income - less than I'd get if I spent my time at a part time job.
Just recently my company announced a weird perk that I've heard of at only one other company. If you live within 3 miles of the office you'll get some extra money in your paycheck. Happily I already do live within the range, so I'll pocket another small chunk of change. Overall it's going to amount to another 5% bonus. Come October, I will have been at my job for a full year since I started, and I think it will be reasonable to ask for a raise to my base salary. Since I'm not exceptional at my job, I don't know what I'll get, if anything, but I would expect something that's at least around the cost of living increase.
So to review the keys were to a) start off extremely under-paid b) ask for a raise c) move to a locale of high cost of living for a bigger raise d) start a business where you can extra income e) get lucky with a job bonus. I suppose I'm stuck offering you generic advice after all.
I didn't write this to gloat. I wrote it because it seems like most people live each day like the last. I was in the same situation. I just wasn't making significant progress towards my financial goals. What can you learn from all this? Start thinking about ways you can make more money. Really get obsessed with it just a little bit. Then implement something.
Aerosmith sums this up well in their song, Get a Grip:
Same old same old every day
if things don't change you're just gonna rot
Cause if you do what you've always done
you'll always get what you always got
Uh could that be nothin'
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